It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
Charles Dickens wrote that centuries ago, during the events leading up to the French Revolution. The amazing thing is that he somehow captures all the feelings that can occur during a single 2 hour bicycle ride, without ever likely having ridden a bicycle. But that surely must be what it’s all about right?
I was thinking about the age of foolishness this morning, while climbing Kings and watching the two Kevins riding off the front, just out of reach at first, then one corner ahead, then finally completely out of sight until I got to the top. I was thinking that I officially no longer make the cut for my own ride and may have to consider leaving a few minutes earlier than the rest.
Everything before me, nothing before me. There’s something about mortality in that line, I’m certain of that, and I was certainly feeling very mortal this morning. And yet, once up on Skyline, the road began to unfold in front of me in an enjoyable fashion, reminding me what it is I enjoy about cycling.
It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness. Well perhaps that’s inverted; I wake up, head to the kitchen and turn on the coffee maker in the dark. But thankfully, even deep into winter, the sun is up before I get onto the bike. Or maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe it’s dark outside but the coffee represents the light!
The age of foolishness is easy. The idea that I can keep doing the same mileage, the same climbs, forever. But couldn’t I just as easily have focused on the spring of hope? No, not yet. Spring is what I live for, because it’s warmer and warmer means I breathe better and my weight comes down. But I can certainly buy into the winter of despair. I wouldn’t necessarily single out any particular winter though. It’s every winter. Even the approach of winter saddens me; that first ride that I have to wear leg warmers gets me to thinking how many long months away I am from leaving them behind.
Honest truth? I don’t think I ever actually read A Tale of Two Cities. But I feel like I might enjoy it now.