The Road to Roubaix soundtrack is now available on iTunes and is, of course, the only thing on my shuffle when I'm warming up. But it's almost too much when I'm riding. I really need to focus on my heart rate and my cadence and where I'm applying power in the stroke and my saddle position and my aerodynamics. And when Paul O'Brien's epic is soaring from my earbuds through my body, painting my veins and lungs and muscles with weeping piano brushstrokes, I just can't focus on anything.
Maybe that would be good if the Race Theme only took me from my pain, from my exhaustion, but it takes me away from everything. My mind floats over the road's winter widened fault lines and the scrubby desiccated horizon and everything I've ever believed in suddenly sounds like a cello humming my very own heartbeat--I hang there like the soft secrets between a violin bridge and bow while the summer earth spins beneath me blurring everything but right and wrong, seasons rushing forward crashing into colors until everyone I've ever loved is in the peloton and we're climbing together, mashing our piano key pedals and breathing with tiny ragged tambourine cymbals.
Only the sweeter siren song of today, of my bike beneath me responding with geometric inspiration, of the past where it belongs and the perfect private prayer of a ride through the still hill country brings me back below the horizon. And stronger than anything that bound Odysseus to the mast is what I find in myself, what my legs and lungs pump from my soul.