My parents split over ten years ago and as a result I have always been well accustomed to waking up in different surroundings. A good habit for a cyclist to have I think.
All too recently, no matter the surroundings, I would wake up, remember the day of the week and dread the hours of classrooms to come. However these days it's different, I have a new routine…
I wake at seven forty-five, kill the alarm on my phone and check my emails. For the first minute or two I keep the earplugs in, enjoying the clear silence. My mind is out of bed before I am even really awake, my body following a little slower, a result of the previous days exertions. Gone are the school hours, now I relish every single day, the chance to ride my bike, to explore.
Moving slowly through the low light of the apartment I pull up the quintessentially European shutters I have grown so fond of over the last few months. My slow shitty Carrefour kettle comes to life as my eyes adjust to the pre sunrise gloom. At some point my flatmate comes in and steps hastily upon the scales just as I had moments earlier. We share a few words before settling in to our pre-ride routines for the morning.
Back in my bedroom I pull on my socks first. Sitting on my bed in boxer shorts and a t-shirt this is when the day starts. Clothing up for the day ahead is methodical - every rider their own way of doing things. For me, the winter months and a cold early morning bedroom means that pulling on the socks is the only part of getting dressed that is done slowly. But also with the most enjoyment. The rest? A fumbled juggle, pulling baselayers on quickly to trap the heat of my body, shorts following soon after, quickly adjusted and then covered by tights so as to keep my legs, the most important of muscles for the day ahead, warm and ready.
But back to the socks. It all starts with the socks. And I seem to linger on their moment daily. Maybe it’s simply because there is not many things better to a cyclist than a crisp new pair of white socks, not that I have the pleasure or lack of morality to pull on a new pair everyday! Infact quite the opposite, socks can remain in packages for weeks even months after they are first handed over, ‘saved’ for that big day, but that’s another story for another time.
It’s also because these are particularly special to me. I have watched my idols ride in them, conquering mountain passes and ultimately, my dreams, yet I have also grown up in them for the past four years. I have become well accustomed to their length, their feel over my feet, the routine of pulling them on every single day…
I position them where they feel right, no tan lines to adhere too in this deepest of winter month, no real purpose other than pride in their height
for all the layers will soon hide their very existence at all. But to me they
are always there, the smallest of things, but constantly reminding me of so
much. Of home and their origin in London, of friends and family, of that team
stamping all over the biggest race in the world, and as with anything related
to two wheels, of those ever lingering dreams floating endlessly around my
Regardless, I know that when I pull on those socks in the morning, lingering a little like I always do, it is time to do business.
[It's ridiculous but today, my first back in Spain after ten festive days of wet and windy rides at home – black neoprene shoes hiding my socks deep down in the warmth, I took immense pleasure, and motivation, from simply looking down at a pair of ever rotating white shoes and socks. Cyclists? We are nuts…]