I draft behind my friend Janosz who is so beautiful and wears a bright yellow windbreaker that puffs out, big enough to create a sweet spot that my bike and I fit into entirely. In this way I can ride with minimal effort because he creates, behind him, a zone of low pressure. I ride in his wake. I collect his contrail.
I have always wanted to be completely surrounded. It strikes me as funny that now, six years later, I might think of this experience, drafting behind this boy, as the last time I was so completely surrounded. His momentum carried us both.
I just googled him. He works in astrophysics now, in Cambridge. That’s so fucking hot.
The first time I get on a racing bike I don’t trust it. It seems too light, too lean, too fierce. I am a clumsy girl made of flesh and bone; I leak blood. I straddle it, ride in wobbly circles, my cycling shoes clicked into the pedals, an airless seal — that must be how you become one with something, irretrievably bond yourself to it. After a while, though, you learn the bike. You learn the way it moves, it becomes one with your body, the wry, slim thing between your legs. You learn to turn by simply shifting your weight. You go faster and faster, your knee almost touching the ground. Dismounting, snapping the seal, requires a twist of the ankle and makes a popping sound that’s almost heartbreaking. It’s like feeling a lover pull out of you.
Trust the bike, my coach says. It knows balance better than you do. It was built for this, and you are too.