It is dark. It is darker than usual because I am up earlier than usual. The sun is still several hours from rising, that’s how dark it is. I am sitting on the couch, looking at my bike on the trainer. Snow is falling, I start searching through the TV schedule to see what I can watch while I ride. My faithful companion, Stella the wonder dog, has settled into the opposite end of the couch. She doesn’t care much what we watch or listen to, she likes to keep me company whether on the trainer or out for a run. Sometimes she keeps me going when I am ready to maybe not go.
Early morning training (or late night depending on your orientation) has its perks. No one can see you so you can ride in pretty much any attire you desire. No logos, no team colors, nothing coordinates. You don’t have to wear a helmet. Your hair can do whatever it wants. You can line up your nutrition/hydration on the back of the couch just within reach. It is quiet. You are alone. You can turn the volume up on the TV full blast. You can actually watch whatever you want. You can grunt, scream, or make bodily noises. No one cares, not even the dog. It is great.
Many people like to train with a computrainer. I don’t own one of those so it is just me, Stella, my remote, and my power meter. I like to watch or listen to something rather mindless and zero in on my watt numbers as they change. Can I push 10 more watts? Ok, did that. Can I go 10 more? I picture Loveland Pass, or Wolf Creek or some unnamed hill I have yet to experience and push harder. Ten more? Twenty more? What will give out first, my legs, my heart, my will power, my Cyclops? I know it won’t be Stella. She never gets tired. Hey, didn’t Julianna Margulies used to have curly hair when she was on ER? Oops! A mind blip! Refocus, stand up for a bit and get the watts back in the zone. Sit down, spin it out and do it again. And again. And again. And . . . .well, you get the idea. Repeating, refocusing, improving. All part of the plan.
But I am still sitting on the coach looking at my bike. That bike sure can look innocent when it is parked on the trainer. Power meter blank, towel draped over the handlebars waiting to catch the sweat that will be pouring off of me in a very short time, emergency fan strategically placed, outside door cracked just enough to circulate the cooling process, it doesn’t look like something that can cause pain. But let me tell you, it can. And lots of it. I walk around my bike, squinting. I check the tire pressure. I yawn. I stretch. I try not to think of all the sane people asleep in their beds. I give the bike one last glare. It is you and me, baby. You and me. Stella looks at me looking at the bike. Finally, I hop in the saddle. As I start my warm up, I feel the power coming to my legs and the blood pumping through my heart. I have never lost a stare down with my bike. Suddenly I wonder, does my bike see me? Oh man, too early for this kind of thinking. Better to just ride. So I do.