I usually spend the whole winter making plans for the month of May. Yep. I can assure you that the cold season in northern Norway is the kryptonite of road cyclists. We have three months spent freezing, and then another three thawing out.
Meanwhile, in the south of Europe, with their arm and leg warmers, cyclists think that the cold there is unbearable. Bullshit. Cold is when you can’t go riding because the roads are covered with half a meter of snow. Real cold is when you have to do your pre-season training on a home trainer, at the gym and on cross-country skis. You do the math. From December to May you just pedal indoors in a grubby basement, riding between the washing machine and an old barbeque that’s never used anymore. There, or in a gym dripping with sweat whilst watching the BBC news and random dance shows on the flat screen TVs. ‘So you think you can dance?’ More like ‘so you think you can pedal indoors for 6 months…’ I would say. A million pedal strokes bottled like a nostalgic aroma. Is it so bad to feel nostalgic? No, not for me at least. Nostalgia is the fuel for the glory days yet to come. And they’ll come, they always come, I can assure you of that.
“You love bands when they’re playing hard You want more and you want it fast …”
Those of you that are reading this and live in one of those countries that are culturally advanced, with a stable economy and all that crap, will understand what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the grey skies, wet roads and long faces of the people waiting in line for the bus. The south of Europe is a chaotic landmass of corruption and unemployment, but those bastards have a sun that’s so bright that they’ll tan through their underwear. Maybe that’s why the harsh winter turns us into advantaged pupils. A sort of outsider in cycling. Do you live above the horizontal line of Paris? Welcome to the club. We’re like prisoners with long sentences; introverts, with few friends, but muscular as hell from all that training. The indoor trainer is our prison patio. ¨Rebel, Rebel¨ blasts out of our sweaty and stinking earphones. And Bowie means a lot of watts per minute. Watts that some guys will save in their expensive Garmins like kids catching those goddamned Pokémon.
And we pedal harder and faster. Because for months we live inside our never-ending playlist that controls us more than our own emotions. And that´s good. Don’t let anyone tell you that emotions are overrated. Christ, emotions are all we have!
Pedal. Stand up. Don’t stop until your legs tell you to. Ride a Hors catégorie climb. Descend at a 100 km/h. Without disc brakes. Climb that goddamned thing again. Faster than before. Get to the top. Throw up. Have a coffee and a croissant. Talk to the people in the bar. Take a selfie with them. Laugh about it together. Upload it to Instagram, we want to see it. Start pedaling again. Even in the rain. Fall off. Bleed. Clean yourself up and keep pedaling. Argue with a driver. Run out of water. Suffer. Sit under a tree. Pedal into the evening. Break your chain. Repair it and cover yourself in grease. Get your 100 euro bar tape dirty. Turn on your lights. Pedal at night. Arrive home. Shower. Have a pizza for dinner. Drink a beer. Collapse on the sofa. Cuddle up to your dog. Kiss your wife. Sleep. Wake up. Start pedaling again.
Words: Alberto Álvarez Ilustrations: Julian Lemme