I am dying. Demonstrably. My heartrate is on an upward trajectory that can only end in my body’s engine blowing its head gasket, but instead of white smoke billowing out from under the hood, blood is leaking into places it ought not be. I taste rust. I see my dead grandmother. I ponder my life’s choices and feel regret pooling in my chamois.
I hope that’s regret.
And then we let up and the world comes spinning back into focus. Nana dematerializes. I’m going to be ok. You know, that wasn’t so bad. Maybe I was being a bit dramatic. A good hard effort really cleans out the pipes. It’s even sorta nice to rev the engine as high as it’ll go. I’m a little proud of those watts actually. Not bad for a guy my….
OMFG!! We’re going again. I hadn’t even fully recovered. Forget the car. I’m a boat, and I’ve sprung a leak. I’m taking on water fast. All hands to the pump!! Jam something in it!! What? I don’t care! Anything!!! Well no, not my soul!! I need that! Oh, screw it! Yeah! Jam it in there! It’s not big enough. It’s not big enough. I’m not….
Oh wow. That was hard. I take back what I said. OK. But I’m still smiling. I think I might barf, but I’m smiling. Because we’re doing this together. What sort of animal would do this on their own? No. We’re in this together. We’re a team. We’re pushing each other to our limits, and it’s nice. The bile is receding. You? How much more time do we….
I should know better by now. I should have been ready. But look, this is the third one, and I’m getting on top of this thing now. Mind over matter! I’m doing it. I’m not doing it actually. No. I thought I was doing it, but I’m not. I’m dying again. This feels like Asteroid, when all the asteroids are fragmented into little pieces and the UFOs come with their lasers and you hit hyperspace, but it moves you right back into harm’s way, and then you’re just pounding the thruster trying to survive until….
OK. WTF? That one seemed to go on much longer than the first two. I was seeing stars. My vision went all dark at the edges. Also, I forget now whether I filed my taxes or not. I’m worried maybe I didn’t. I don’t know why I’m thinking about that now. My thoughts have gone seriously non-linear. Did I say something about my grandmother a minute ago? A century ago? How many more of these….
$%*#!! #@! ?$%#!! Sorry. That was a lot. Honestly, I don’t have the will to push myself forward anymore. I’m letting off the pedals. I don’t care. No. I’m done. I can’t. What? Well. OK, 30 more seconds.
Goddamnit! You said one more, but there were two more. That’s 100 percent more. No, I don’t want to argue with you about math. I’m just saying it’s cruel to say there’s one more when there were two. No, I probably wouldn’t have kept going if I knew there were two. Fine. Fine!
Well, here we are again. Max effort. High intensity. Something about this being the last one makes it less murderous than what came before. I’m dying still, but I’m not panicked. I’ve accepted it. This is what it is to die. You can’t fight. You can’t. It’ll be over soon. Relief is coming. I’m going to make it. This was a terrible idea. I won’t do this again. I don’t even like bikes anymore.