There is a small dark stained stepstool with a routed out handle that sits outside our bathroom door next to the three cubby holes where I keep my riding stuff. For the longest time it was covered with one black arm warmer and two booties that have laid dormant since the weather changed. This is where most of my rides really end, just before I wash the road off of my legs.
It is the spot where I sit with my jersey off and tossed into the bin near the basement door where my dirty riding clothes go before being washed.
Tuesday night, it was where I sat eating a bowl of spaghetti wasted from the racing that ended just shy of an hour ago. I stripped my socks off between the bites, which is when I noticed not just the tan line created from hours of sun in calf length socks but also the black grime of the road.
After work I rode down N. Columbia Blvd hugging the curb with a fluttery feeling in my chest and legs. The feeling is one I get when I feel like I’m getting ahead of some knotty problem, or when I feel like I’m on the verge of some emotional breakthrough, or when I’m taking control. All those situations normally mean something good is about to happen.
On the ride to the race the fluttery feeling moved down through my chest and into my legs. That’s the point where things went downhill, that’s when I started thinking something good was going to happen that night.
If I carry one superstition it is this: Good feelings or not, you can not go to a race thinking I will be good today. There are a multitude of studies claiming the benefits of positive visualization, but for me this is a sure fire way to ruin said good feelings. My pre race visualizations must be about me suffering. Nothing more, nothing less.
The race went as expected. I tried to make something happen, but nothing stuck. When the move did go I was near the back. My legs felt heavy and weak. No punch. No snap. So much for fluttery feelings.
The next evening I’m back on the stool and noticing the road grit again. There were no fluttery feelings on this last ride, but my legs didn’t feel bad either.The phrase somedays you just don’t have it came into my head. I don’t even know if I had it today, as opposed to yesterday. Maybe he was taking it easy on me because we hadn’t ridden together before. Maybe I was just preoccupied with fluttery feelings and didn’t really feel it when it was hard.
On the ride I thought of cycling as nourishing my soul, at least in the sense that I think of having one, providing me with something no other religion has been able to. I thought that while we crested a hill that put me out of breath. I thought that while descending a section of road that was new to me. I thought it as I pulled food from the fridge when I got home.
When I again contemplated the road grime on my legs I compared it to the devout having ash placed on their head on Ash Wednesday. Which is something I never went for when I went to church. It seemed too public to me. The grime on my legs is a public display telling the world that I just attended my church, but it is one I am okay with. Fluttery feelings or heavy legs. Its all part of having it.