"The Rider," by Tim Krabbe, starts boldly: Meyrueis, Lozere, June 26, 1977. Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching form sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.
Krabbe is singlemindedly focusing on his bicycle, his body, and the race that unfolds over the course of the book. He is brutally honest, and that is why he admits fervently hoping that others in the pack admire his strength; why he describes trying to punish other riders, his friends, with his pace; and why he's willing to write that, be it just for this race or more generally speaking, he is only fulfilled by racing his bicycle.
I know how he feels.
The spring and the racing season are both approaching slowly and I have been doing my best to develop in concert with them. Two weeks ago we had a few days of delightful weather in the high-50s. I went for a ride without legwarmers or tights and felt the air on the skin of my calves. To consecrate this, I shaved off my autumn and winter hair growth on my legs. Later, I realized that the track schedule is up on the Kissena website, so I publicized it far and wide on our local fixed gear message board with the message get excited.
And tomorrow, February though it may be, is the first road race of the season. Last night the team met to talk general tactics and my category split off to talk about Saturday's race. My training buddy and I have a plan; we have a few teammates willing to support that plan.
There are races every weekend from now until who-knows-when.
The coffee is strong. I'm heading out to spin my legs with some friends shortly.
The season begins.