Another cycle commute today. Because I'm committed I took the hilly route. Actually it's because I'm anxious that my mountain bike ability is suffering because on the hybrid commute I never willingly tackle any kind of incline. The hilly route isn't really hilly, it just has three or four short sections where it goes up a bit, just a little bit, enough so that I can create different ways of making it harder for myself. Masochistic tendencies are coming to the fore.
So, as you do, I noticed in front of me, approaching the top of the steepest incline of my journey another bike rider. Clearly male, with thighs encased in lycra. Somewhat eye arresting thighs if I'm honest. Big built in a tall not wide way and on a road bike. Man meant business. This of course gives me options for tackling the hill. The lights at the top are red, and I know they stay red there for a bit as we're the minor road of a major junction. So the question is "What kind of condition do I want to be in at the top". So I low gear, high cadence it and am able to still speak through my breathing when I reach my goal (the man) at the top.
It's funny, because I can't imagine any other circumstances I would happily strike up a conversation with this guy. I wouldn't approach him in a bar, waiting for a bus, walking my imaginary dog or at the cabbage display in Asda but on a bike at the top of a hill at a red light I'll happily start chatting, and indeed I do. I mention the hill, and say I'm relieved sometimes to find the lights red at the top so I can recover a little. He smiles and engages in conversation saying that he hates it if he's getting to the top when the lights are on green and start to change - the brow of the hill is beyond the line so there's a period of being slow. We both agree on the fact that the next stretch of our ride is a pleasant leisurely downhill. Then the lights change and I watch his bottom lift off the saddle and wriggle off into the distance. Then I chase.
How many other situations are there when you can actually physically give chase to a man? I appreciate early on I can't catch him, but you know, the thrill of the chase is in just that, the chase. I enjoy it. My legs circling like billy ho, my gear changed up to big ring to take account of the incline. I'm pushing, powering and accelerating. I don't catch him. Well, not until the next set of red lights anyway. These young men, they do keep me fit.