Tonight I rode our city's weekly hammerfest out along the highway and back against the wind. I gave the group three solid attacks and, for the first time ever, broke away each time. The third time it was with another rider and we stayed away for a good while before our friends caught us. "Attack" is actually a funny word for what was happening, because giving that much effort and giving it twice more is giving everything I have, giving my heart. Riding as hard as we all did tonight was as much an act of respect and admiration as anything else.
A year ago, shortly after Lo and I moved here from Virginia, I first rode this group ride. I felt like I was dying as I watched everyone ride past me. Had a salt-and-pepper samaritan not come back for me I don't know how I'd have made it home. The next week wasn't much better. Neither was the next month. A year ago, I didn't know how to dream that I could ride this fast, that I'd have friends like these, that I could offer them so much speed. A year ago I couldn't imagine what difference a year would make.
Whenever I'm hurt I tell myself to remember the feeling for when I'm not hurt anymore, to appreciate that freedom. This is me now remembering that feeling. This is me being so grateful I'm not hurt, not at all; so grateful I'm totally free.