You know how these things go. You get ready for a ride. You get dressed, fill the water bottles, top up the air in your tires, stuff your phone, money and snacks into your pockets, drag your bike outside.
You're excited, because maybe it's been a while. Like maybe you've had the flu and moved house all in the same week. Like maybe life has been nothing but chaos, and your lungs have been filled with fluid, and you've been lying on the couch in a bleak coastal village in Northern Ireland with the wind howling outside, wondering what will become of you now and weeping into your mug of Ovaltine whilst watching that trippy advert of hedgehogs enjoying a pizza on Sky TV (they took medication to manage their lactose intolerance, and now they are so happy, so happy). And you've been missing your bike with a feverish madness, running your fingers along its sleek top tube with longing on your way from sofa to bathroom and back.
But those dark times are in the past now. Because you're finally feeling good and you've managed to get it together to make time for this ride, and you're ready to go. You've maneuvered your bike through the maze of tiny rooms and awkward doorways and narrow hallways in your new dwelling (which is the antithesis of open-concept in design - a fact you normally love, except when it comes to getting the bike out of the house). And now finally, finally you get out the door and set off.
And a short while later, you come right back. Because this ride just ain't happening. You deny it at first, even though your bike is getting blown all over the road and you see the local air field has cancelled its flights for the day. You deny it even though the skies - blue and sunny above your house - have turned black as soon as you've crossed the railroad tracks. You deny it even as large chunks of hail start to hit your helmet a minute later. You deny it and push on, determined to ride your bike on this day. Only when the wind grows so strong that you are barely moving forward and can hardly stay in your lane around the bends of the A2, do you give in all at once and admit it's over.
Rolling up to my front door less than 30 minutes later, I ask myself this question. What constitutes the difference between a non-ride, and a very short ride? In that much-quoted tome Just Ride, Grant Petersen assures us that no ride is too short, and I find the idea inspiring. But what are we talking about here - 10 miles, 5 miles, 1.7 miles? Is it a matter of the difference between what you plan to do and what you actually do? Or is it a preparation time to riding time ratio?
Well, no matter. Because damn it, I am calling this one a ride. It was certainly short, but it had a bit of everything: climbing, descending, epic weather, ruddy cheeks, exhaustion, even a tiny patch of dirt. So why not. I will leave the big miles for next time, but for now I am just glad to be back in the saddle.