I wanted to ride the Tour de France
Then one summer my dreams
Of yellow jerseys fell to pieces
On a downhill descent head over handlebars I flew
My chin scraping the hard tarmac.
Just another crash I thought, no harm done
Until I noticed my white t-shirt soaked in blood
front wheel badly buckled, bike now unrideable
walking towards home bike over my shoulder
a passing motorist picked me up
The doctor spent an hour taking grit from the wound
then one stitch after another
I still have the scar to prove it.
And I’ve never ridden a bike since that fateful day you may say
But some years later I was back in the saddle
Cycling along a shiny wet tarred surface
I glance down to see my reflection
As raindrops sting my face.
Poised like a lance, arms strong
As I grip the handlebars
Living the lie, the bigger they come the harder they fall.
But my only drug of choice is caffeine
in small roadside cafes where
town gives way to country.
An uphill climb
Lactic acid builds up
Thighs ready to die
Lungs take the brunt
in low gear
It’s not the Alps or the Pyrenees
There’s no supporters urging me on
no painted message on the road
But this is one of life’s simple pleasures
Which no drug can manufacture
a multi-coloured carbon fibre and lycra parade.
woods and fields go whooshing by.
Endorphines pumping in
what psychologists call “the zone” –
That transient state of bliss where body meets mind.