This Trail

There’s something that seems to happen after a few hours in the saddle. Slowly, everything decomposes from exercise and motion, into kinetics and mechanics.

This coarse, complex system of power, heat and motion begins to become something simpler, more malleable, and dare I say, “purer”.

Balancing comfort and progress becomes a game of fine adjustments: lower the revolutions per minute by five to lower the number of watts I’m radiating; pull my sleeves up 3 cm to increase the energy lost to convection; change up a gear to lower the torque, as the incline shifts by half a percent.

The GPS looks forward for me, projecting all my future successes and failings. Every bit of information helps to optimise my path. Contour maps spring out of the hills surrounding, and round the corner ahead. It took a space shuttle and an army of volunteers to help me shift down a gear, and hopefully the data exhaust I leave behind will help someone do it better next time.

It’s day 4. We’re sitting in Bristol, in the sun, with 218 miles behind us.