TFI Friday

A light frost clings to the rooftops and car windscreens. Low mist shrinks the world.

Sounds are muffled. Sharp edges of the city are smoothed into soft focus.

The relative quiet amplifies my own noise. The crunch and squeak of metal cleat against flagstone. The reassuring click of that cleat into its home on the pedal. Tyres crunching over eroding tarmac.

No time to ride anywhere other than straight to work. Straight down the hill. Cold burns my fingers through neoprene gloves. My right eye streams as cold air sneaks round my glasses. Legs move quickly to keep pace with the fixed rear wheel gathering speed.

Arriving into the city centre, I glimpse my reflection in office windows. Fluorescent shoe covers luminescent, contracting against the monochrome morning. Black leggings accentuate thin legs that still show signs of doing more running than riding over the winter. I flash past, now looking into a butty shop. Steamy windows and bacon smells.

Despite being tired, my body is not. It could offer so much more if I gave it the chance. Legs rested after a day of train travel yesterday feel light. I want to keep on riding, to stay out for hours. I want to stay in my silent world. I pull up at the last set of traffic lights before work, lazily track standing for the couple of seconds before they change. Do I drag out my last few hundred metres, saving each last second? No, from the standing position, I strain against the bars, throw the bike left, then right, I roll over the heavy gear. The bike pendulums while my head remains still, staring at the tarmac immediately in front of my wheel. Slow, powerful revolutions become quicker, then quicker again. What felt like a tall gear when I set off is now being span out as my body begins to wake up to the exertion. My skin prickles, I take in a couple of gulps of air and just as my legs start to really complain, I am already engaging different muscles, pulling back on the pedals, drawing to a halt.

I am a cyclist.

Within 5 minutes, my bike is locked away. I am sat at my desk, waiting for the computer to awake. I make a cup of tea. I scan through unread emails, while still wearing my lycra. I feel as alien in this world as I look from the outside.

TFI Friday.

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