Yesterday, was the worst day on a bike I can remember where I didn’t crash. I was late for the arranged meet. A tiny bit of shoe tongue folded over, not a lot, but when sealed beneath overshoes, every pedal turn niggled shoddy preparation.
Off the bike for 10 days with some chest infection which Santa brought in his stupid big sack that wouldn’t go away. First day back on the bike, A prescribed one-hour spin is the usual plan to re-teach the lungs how to breathe. As the first day back is always hard, an easy hour limits the pain.
I went for a spin with a mate who is fitter -better -thinner… to the hills. Every pedal turn was laboured. I wasn’t talking, and thankfully he is beautiful opinionated, so easy to listen to. My wheel drifted back on any rise bigger than freewheel. I trudged through the ride, pedalling squares. When we parted on Strava my bars turned into the 10-mile headwind home. It started to drizzle. It started to rain. My mudguard was rubbing. I was out of water and was convinced that the folded tiny bit of leather on my shoe was going to sever my whole foot before I reached the bike shed door.
When I hit the 3-mile drag home, things took a down turn. The wheels moved so slow, the bemused cat on the roadside could count the spokes. I considered walking.
Then singularity saved my spin.
Smart people studying the light of the cosmos have determined that the universe is expanding. The further away they look, the faster the stars and galaxies are moving. All moving away from each other, so if you reverse that simple fact, they all started beside one another. The ‘Big Bang’. So every single atom that exists now in all the different elements, before the Big Bang, were all something – together. I have not the brain power to understand the why and how and the names physicists give to this time (because there was no ‘time’ …what…?) suffice to say that you and me, and that tree, and Mars and your Aunt Mary’s cooker were all one thing, compressed into a ball of stuff, tighter than a Ryanair air carry-on suitcase for a week’s biking holiday.
So in this state where physics and philosophy and mythology are all on an even keel, Singularity is the point of starting. Where Me and my bike were all made of the same stuff. Pre electrons of my toe sitting squashed next to the pre neutron of my front tyre. I think back to a spin last July in the Donegal mountains, I had good lags and three hours leave from a family holiday. There is a climb from Creeslough where you hang a left at Rose’s bar into the Glenveagh mountains. It was raining that day too – a light cooling summer rain at 18C, a fresh breeze blew me and my open rain jacket up the hill towards Drumlin. Climbing in the big ring, smiling at my own awesomeness.
Some lad passed me 5 km faster and my brain attacked him silently, “Who does he think he is?!” but he says “Hello” and my brain switches to “Good rider that”
Up again to Faugher and the rain stops. Sun is out and Errigal comes into view. Stunning cone-shaped mountain, just shy of 800 metres, which shoots up from the rock and heather like the punch of a giant. The next 20 km to Gweedore is singularity. The most amazing C-road money couldn’t buy. Narrow, full of holes. All cars are parked and all hedges are low, so the road is yours. Hard up the climbs and low and fast on the twisty descents. I stopped to pocket the jacket and took a picture of the mountains. Racing around corners with my knee licked by wet long grasses on the roadside- I was smothered in the joy a bicycle can give. On faster. The crosswind home didn’t bother me, the hills didn’t bother me-I was headed for the beach and a beer. Gears were smooth, pedalling was free, hard and fast. No brake rub, no misaligned gears, smooth cadence. I was one with my bike, we were totally harmonious, human motion. My bike and I were one, just like the start of time. Singularity
The recollection of that wonderful ride, got me up the hill, slowly and home. The fitness on a wonderful spin in Donegal had to be earned. But the memory lasted. 5 months later, nearly home on this awful spin, a smile appeared.
Climbing in the rain at 12kph, I was setting the foundation for wonderful spins yet to happen.