Ride of the Valkyrie
The sounds of soft tones grow louder with an intensity that cannot be ignored. They crescendo over my lifeless body and awake the matter and form before the soul returns from its rest. Launching myself at the source I make one last effort to silence the infernal terror of the cries. A mass of bones bound by muscle, my movements are instinctual, the animal inside not yet replaced by the soul of a man. But the damage is already done, my being already aroused from slumber.
Mechanical movements begin to build momentum as I pull on the gear that was carefully set out the night before on the Dining Room table. Bibs, HRM, Base Layer 1, Base Layer 2, Jersey, cotton socks, wool socks, cotton socks, shoes, shoe covers, jacket, ID bracelet, headphones (one ear only!), balaclava, helmet, and sunglasses.
Overdressed by all standards, but what waits ahead has no normal, no standard. Garmin on, lights adjusted I open the front door to be welcomed by the darkness of a sky eclipsed of all sun and warmth. Winter’s cold fingers embrace me, penetrate my outer layers, trying to reach the core. Pedaling, I pick up the cadence to escape winter’s outstretched tentacles that seek to pull me back in. Pushing forward the chill in the air enters my chest, freezing my breath in my lungs, tightening my chest, trying to pry at my every vulnerability, expose the weaknesses of my body. But it underestimates my soul, the power of stiff-mindedness and resolve. Each pedal stroke propels me forward towards a pain that normal men would run from. But I run to it. We run to it. Wind at our backs, sides and fronts break over us like a tempest against a mountain, but the mountain remains.
Combating the cold with surges of fire that feed our legs we move forward against legendary conditions. We bear the pain, silently screaming as our bodies are ripped apart and instantaneously returned to wholeness. The only thing that stands between obliteration and completion is the slicing of our legs through the frozen air that surrounds us. Tucked in tight we steal the day from the winter, claiming it to be our own. The Valkyrie scream and howl with the wind, but declare us the victors on the battlefield of the road, granting us the life and soul to bear our arms in battle another day.