I could hear them in the driveway, talking. Loading bikes onto the rack. Laughing softly. Rolling out. I didn’t open the curtain, because I didn’t want to intrude.
Chap and Koop, the guys I ride with, off with gravel bikes for a serpentine adventure in some western woods. It’s cool and crisp this morning, the trails all littered with leaves, the sun slanting through the red and orange and yellow kaleidoscope.
I can hear the crunching under my tires and feel the cold on my cheeks. I know how it goes. The roll out is slow and deliberate. Shaking out the muscles and the mind, getting into the woods. I can feel that first heave of hard work in the lungs and that first tingle of sweat at my temples.
There is a flowy bit coming, where you don’t decide, the trail does, and you go fast, dipping your shoulder to round a tree on a tight corner, swerving around a sharp rock, carving the turns like you’re on skis, on rails. And I know how it is, at the end of that stretch, when you come to a stop and look over your shoulder, and your friends come through and their smiling without knowing it, because it was just that good. It’s always just that good.
I sound jealous, and I am a little. All this flashed through my mind as I sat on my couch, listening to them in the driveway next door. But I was excited for them too. Happy even, because they’re doing what has to be done, even if I can’t do it just now.
This is the the thing with injuries, getting ok with the world continuing to spin without you. I’ll be back in the mix soon, and in the meantime, the leaves fall and swirl and caper on the breeze and the dog nudges my leg, wondering when we can go. It’ll be ok. I’ll be ok.
And then they drove away.