Ride a bike for an hour today

It may not be fun
Your legs will hurt
Your heart will hammer
Sweat will fall into your eyes
And you'll wonder what possessed you
To put yourself through the experience

But wait a couple of days
And when you ride your bike again
The hour will pass much easier
You won't so much mind
The sweat that prickles on your forehead
And runs down the small of your back
Because it Will testify that you accomplished something

And if you ride again
Enough times
There will come a day
When you feel yourself
Slicing through the wind
Faster and easier
Than you ever thought you would
Simply pedaling
As the miles
And the hours
Tick off all around you

Until you start to ride up hills
When, again, you will suffer
An uncomfortable burning
In your legs
And pedal in clumsy squares
Instead of perfect circles

You may even come to a stop when the road is its steepest
Because your mind will say 'it's not worth it'
As your heart hammering so hard you feel
It cannot take the strain
And will come to pieces if you go on

But if you find a way
to get back in the saddle again
And again
There will come a moment
When the circles come back
And your your muscles cool down
And your racing heart
Feels like a motor,
Freshly tuned
And powerful

Maybe early on a Sunday morning,
You will join a group
In a grocery store parking lot
And ride for three hours
with a hundred strangers

You'll be sore for two days after,
And walk like a man born twenty years before you
But the ride will inspire you
To find spare hours
To ride during the week
So that on the next weekend group ride
You'll be able to keep up

Where you'll chatter with the other riders
Who will be from all walks of life
And all ages
And different in a hundred ways
But all giddy and addicted
In the same way
To riding

You'll buy a new bike
Something in carbon
That weighs only a little more than your first child
And cost as much
As your first car

Oh, and you will wear Lycra,
And be willing to spend
Three times more than you could for
Wheels, bottle cages, pedals, shoes, helmets,
To shave precious grams from your bike
to match the pounds
That have melted
From your body

When fifty miles of riding feels like a good workout
And one hundred miles of riding
Is no more
Than a fun day with friends,
You will meet your destiny
in the entry form of an bike race

You'll soon be standing on a start line
With a pack of other riders
Sorted into your group
By age and potential ability
Some with more expensive and better put together bikes than yours
Who look emaciated and well trained
Who stare with focused anticipation
While you smile a little
To hide the fact
That you had to visit the bathroom
Three times before the race
To settle your stomach

You may be unceremoniously dropped
By the main group of racers
In your first race
Left shaking your head
As the rear end
Of the rider who was in front of you
Pulls his precious protection from the wind
Away from you

But when you race your bike again
You'll find a way to not let
That ten-foot gap
To open at all
And you'll finish
In triumph
Deep in a group of other
Relieved riders

You'll learn.

And when you race once more
You may know the rush
Of sticking your nose
Into the wind
To lead the race
For even a fleeting moment
Trying to gain
Your own ten-foot gap

And if you race enough times
There will be a moment
When you will be the one
To raise your arms in victory
And scream the pure joy
Of the accomplishment
Of winning