Up and up and up. I’ve missed this. Despite the pain in my shoulder. Pulling on the bars is a mistake and a necessity all at the same time. The road closes in on me. A canopy of trees that leads to the sky. Drop the arm. Let it hang. Shake it out. Heat slowly dissipates. Pain declines.

A car descends. A bit quick for my liking. I’m not the nervous type, but harbour no desire to glance off it. My legs now burn. A good burning. Not like the shoulder. Not like where scar tissue meets new bone and damaged nerve endings. I spent weeks on a sofa. Then weeks on a turbo. I did it for this. For today. For tomorrow. For next week.

Blue. Sky. Above. You don’t see that in the garage. You don’t feel the breeze play across your jersey. You can’t hear moorland birds flitting in the heath.

When injury strikes, it is not the competition I miss. It’s this. It’s dancing across fields, dragging up hills, talking nonsense to a mate, shielding beneath a cycle cap, crisping in the sun, leaning into corners, feeling alive.

With thanks to John for escorting me around.

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