My friend Joycelyn asked me recently what I think about when I'm cycling. My reply was prosaic and not worth repeating. But a recent article in the FT's Weekend edition expressed it perfectly. Quote:
The road to hell (and the Tour de France)
The tarmac has turned sticky in the heat. Sweat stings my eyes and yet I’m shivering. My stomach lurches, my head spins, my teeth chatter. Following a train of thought becomes impossible, as if each idea were too tired to pass the baton to the next. So my mind empties, until I’m aware of nothing but the need to maintain the slow rhythm of the pedals, to keep grinding uphill until I reach the next hairpin.
At each hairpin, there is momentary relief as the road levels off slightly, before the next upward ramp reveals itself. It would be easy to panic, especially as we are soon overtaken by a woman jogging, but we stay calm and simply submit to the next 90 minutes of pain. Cyclists love to talk in philosophical terms about such moments – of the opportunity to “find yourself” on the road. Perhaps this is true, but as I near the summit I understand that for me, this is simply the perfect escape: you are so utterly absorbed in the challenge that all daily worries simply vanish. And the beer at the top is pretty good, too.