I'm no masochist. Well, not clinically.
Bike hitched to turbo. This is cycling in its purest form. Just pedalling. It makes no sense to freewheel here. No sense at all.
I start the clock. A half hour of this. Enough time to sweat up a storm; enough to get my fix.
There is no computer. That would be a distraction. Numbers without meaning. The only competition here is me against my heartbeat, seeing which can go faster.
Music is allowed. It hath charms to pace the savage race. The playlist is my soundtrack to sweet agony. You take my pride / And throw it up against the wall. Hurts so good. I try to refrain from chewing on the iPod cord.
It is a race against monotony. The view outside the window is unchanging. A cloud covers the sun, moves on. The metronome in my chest settles into high gear and stays there.
My head bobs like a pigeon in recovery. It's wasted movement but unstoppable for long.
The shirt comes off. Anybody passing would be forgiven for thinking me engaged in a sex romp. I even have chest hair like a 70s stud. Fortunately I have no neighbours. In the country nobody can hear you scream. (If they did they would think it a fox, which can make strange noises.)
The milestones approach. 10 minutes is a bare minimum. 15 is cause for a small celebration; 18 is better, as that's the true halfway point, including time for warming up and down.
Sometimes I stop at 20. It's not that shameful. But it feels hollow.
If the phone rings I can't hear it. It might be the UCI calling to beg me to give the time trial record another try. They need more heroes. Probably it's BT, selling impossible dreams.
Don't drink too much. It takes effort. Easier to sweat. Sometimes I drop the towel on its way to the handlebars. Worse, sometimes the iPod gets yanked off the shelf. I can do this without music, I'm hard that way, but I don't welcome the extra grimness. I ain't complaining / What you're doing you see / 'Cos this hurting feeling is / Oh so good for me.
When 30 comes around it's all downhill. Not literally, obviously. I make sure I keep up a good pace for a full half hour; after that it's a final thrashing of the pedals, which is no problem at all, candy from a baby, then a welcome slackening off. Some people do an hour or more. I did 2 hours once, so long ago it's almost mythical. I keep it to a half hour these days because any more and I suffer. Blisters, numb toes, and almost hallucinatory boredom. Also less likely to do it as often. I'm no masochist. Well, not clinically.
Spend a few minutes with arms in the air. Extra cardio, I tell myself. Really, it's the victory lap. One last kick to show the bike who's boss then the clock tells me I'm done. Until we meet again.
If only I could harness that energy to help mankind, or at least to power the fan
1 - Special turbo tyre
2 - Stem cap pictured above. Irony to fuel the ride
3 - Vol 9 of The National Encyclopædia, a 19th century "Dictionary of Universal Knowledge". This volume covers Methodists to Peduncle, which in this case is not a close relative who you might find on a sex offender register, but the stem of a plant