I woke up with a sudden start this morning, a residual image from the nightmare still etched vividly infront of me in the dark pre-dawn gloom of the bedroom: a hairy, spindly legged, pot bellied figure, wrapped outrageously in tight white lycra, riding an wholly undeserved expensive titanium bike, puffing away at the tail of a group of strong young riders. The red sweaty face turned towards me briefly before I was shocked wide awake. Holy crap – it was me !
Between a spa trip and the miserable weather I hadn’t managed time for a ride last weekend, and this fact was starting to get to me. I’d been feeling listless, unfit and – oddly – feeling vaguely guilty for no good reason, like being eyed by security walking through the “nothing to declare” gate at customs, or talking in unnecessary detail to your wife about an innocent night out with friends. “It’s only you” I whispered to my bike last night, reassuring her, “It’s always been you”.
So, in the dark bitterly cold morning, I fumbled around the spare room, pulling on layers of clothing – not white, mind you – pumping up the tires and getting my bag ready for work. “Cycle commuting day” I decided, and realising I had to make real amends for my inattention, “…I’ll take the Long Route”. This is my 55km roundabout way to work, a 25km stretch of sweet and pleasant river path, sandwiched by hard and sour crusts of city traffic either side.
But today, even that filling was hard and unpaletable: sheets of ice covered the asphalt entirely in front of me. It took only a couple attempts carrying my bike up the riverbank and through patches of snow to know I’d be very very late for work, this way. Beaten, I turned around and cycled back home, weaving carefully though icy patches and the heavy rush hour traffic, the exhaust fumes of buses and trucks at least pushing some warmth into my lungs.
Showered, changed, and joining the other tortured corporate souls on the Chuo line into Tokyo, I was stuck in the train at a standstill for fifteen minutes. Probably a “jumper” I reasoned, waiting to be cleared up from the tracks. And stuck in limbo yet again later, waiting for the Yamanote line to start moving. I joined the Kehin-Tohoku line, like every other zombie with no other option, elbow to groin, packed like bruised sardines. And I arrived in work exactly four hours after getting out of bed.
I could never tell her of course, but some days, well, it just ain’t worth it.