I went against Joe’s advice and picked rollers over a trainer. Joe is definetly a better racer, possibly smarter, and probably certainly a better human being. The thrust of Joe’s advice was that I should stay away from rollers because I didn’t want to fall off after being rendered stupid after an interval. Falling off just happened to be my biggest fear.
I had tried rollers once before, over six years ago when I was still in Cleveland and hanging out at the best shop in my hometown. Jackson heckled me into getting on to drums, with a beach cruiser of all things but such is the force of his heckles. Then I managed four or five pedal strokes before I drifted back toward Jackson. I slammed on the coaster brake and managed to get my foot down with a yelp.
I tossed out Joe’s advice because I knew that I couldn’t hold a line to save my life. Apparently fear of going off the drums and finding yourself in a broken clump on the floor is supposed to develop the ability to ride straight. I’d also heard that rollers would make my pedal stroke smoother, creating the circular pedaling style I so badly crave. Maybe by engaging my fear of broken collar bones would give me a bit of good form.
There was also the fact that a trainer is mindless. There’s no danger, no need to focus, and as such my mind wanders to and fro making it hard to keep the intensity up. I’m aware this is my fault and not the trainers. But the rollers – they require focus. The price to pay for the total loss of focus is trip to the floor, and maybe the ER.
My first ride was timid affair. I set up in the sun room The Lady’s Mom’s house using a high window sill for balance. I didn’t fall off, but I wasn’t that good either. I merely drifted from one end of the drums to the other. No style, but no ER either.
Months later I’m feeling good enough to be over confident. A fan blows a cross wind from its perch on the dryer. In front of me is a table, with our small stereo blaring Prince from its tiny speakers. I’m deep into my third of four threshold intervals. Prince has long faded to the background and just become a noise other than the hum of my wheels on the aluminum drums.
Suddenly I become very aware of the song coming from the speakers. I would Die for You is no longer a song to an actual, or hopeful lover. It has been transformed into a message from my aching body to the better version of myself that exists only in my mind. A place I want to be, but am so distant from. I start to focus on that idea because its a romantic one, with the added bonus of distracting me from the pain in my legs. You can let go like that, but only for a spot before you lose it, and lose it I do.
The bike shots to the right and my hand hand bumps the table next to me. Like I was bumping against another sprinter in the charge for the finish. The table is not another rider and is unyielding. I over correct, go left, then right and back into the table. The wheels fly off the drums and the bike sticks between the table and the frame of the rollers. I manage to grab the table and continue my streak of not falling off and hitting the ground.
Conscious of my dropping HR I quickly unclip, put the bike back on the rollers and push. Clipped back in I resume dying for the person I havent’ become yet.