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3rd October 2010

It’s been three weeks. This isn’t easy; I still don’t understand why I am here or what I did wrong. The door has been locked shut every since the day I was incarcerated; all I can do is look out of the small window at the grass and watch the little birds flitting in and out of the bushes. Louis came in once, briefly, to check that was I was still where I’d been left – I don’t know what he thought I’d be doing as I was clamped hard to his metal contraption holding me upright and preventing me moving even an inch. But Louis didn’t use me like he’d promised when I first arrived in this god-forsaken place; he just stared at me. Looking back, I think my first day here was the strangest ever ,when all the things I was used to doing, suddenly stopped; needlessly bound to a hard concrete floor with a single, dirt-stained window and locked-tight door, I wanted the rumble of the road ‘neath my frame, scared I’d be sidelined, retired, made lame.

 

6th October 2010

Louis came to see me again after his work last night. I think I must have been lost in some forgotten dream as I looked, unseeing, into the darkness of the pane; the sun sets early now and there is virtually nothing of the evening for me to look out on; the little birds are silent. The sound of the key in the lock and the door being wrenched open caught me by surprise, and the blast of cold air, followed by the loud click of the light switch, made me jump in my shackle. ‘I’m going to be using you soon’ was all he said; but with a slightly ominous tone.  He then set up a lap-top on the bench, found the wifi, and set about downloading some software. I watched intently with my chain held tight, but I couldn’t quite see what he was doing. He even sat on me briefly as he adjusted the screen. For a moment I thought I was going be used like before, but I realised that he wasn’t properly dressed for that. When we did ‘that’ he always got dressed up. Besides, it was late, and we never went out in the dark.

 

7th October 2010

Today I’ve waited all day for him to come. I didn’t like the way he’d treated me in the months before he locked me up in here, but now I am just looking for any sort of contact from him; however rough and abusive he’d been in the past, I just want to be with him again. We’d been through a lot over the years and it hadn’t been all bad; I still loved him.

I think it was his new job that had made him so angry. We’ve achieved so much together, but then he started the new job and he used me less and less; we stopped going out during the week because he was too tired from work and at weekends there was always more work to be done on the house, the car, the garden. I think I just got forgotten.

Then there was his weight; only 76 kilos when he started the new job, but within months he was piling on the pounds; I think he was also drinking more than before. That’s when he started to get rough with me when we were together. It was as if it was my fault that he couldn’t perform anymore – every time he went for the finish, the climax of the piece, he failed. I tried to help as much as I could, but he just got worse. Shortly after, we endured that disastrous overseas trip with the others; it was there that he found his new love and I was put away.

She was from Italy and, yes, she was younger and prettier than me – a model that other men would envy him for. I only saw them together a couple of times, but I knew that he was completely taken.

 

10th October 2010

He finally came in to see me this evening, and he was dressed for action. After he fiddled with his computer for a bit, he mounted me and began to turn the pedals. It wasn’t good – within only a minute or two of spinning and heaving, he’d built up a horrible sweat and panted and wheezed like your worst drunken lover. Any finesse or touching words were gone. Just brutish expletives and angry attempts at speed with the machine he used to love and caress. It wasn’t long before he stormed out into the darkness, slamming the door as he left. I sat there in the dark with his lager-laced sweat still dripping from my bars. The light was slammed off in his hasty exit, but the computer screen rudely glared the truth of his failure. There, in numbers, were the results of his seven minutes twenty two seconds of physical collapse. Max Heart rate – 189. Max speed – 42 Kms. Max power – 240 watts. He’d never been so weak.

 

17th October 2010

This is abuse. I can’t take this much more. Louis hates me. This evening he called me a ‘useless pile of shit’. I don’t know what to do. At some point I think he’s just going to smash my crossbar. Neither this evil contraption that he has tethered me to, nor he himself ever get the blame for his pathetic performances. It is all my fault. I’m old, and ugly, and worthless. The computer keeps telling him that I’m the reason he’s rubbish. I even saw what his friends were saying to him on the screen – he moved me closer so that he could read them during a session. One of them, his new coach, Alex, even asked what sort of old bike he was riding – apparently he could see me with the online streaming of Louis’s workout. I’ve never felt so low. Tonight I felt my bearings contract a little as the first frost of winter seeped under the door. My bright red frame is dimming with age and the tiny chips and scratches that have been collected over the years are darkening and looking more pronounced. I’m tired of it all.

 

29nd October 2010

Like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, Louis came to me again this evening. Things are starting to get a little better. The numbers are starting to improve and I can feel his rhythm coming back. I’m not labouring so much at the lugs; my dropouts less distressed, my bottom bracket less bothered; the work is less wretched.  He even smiled when he’d finished with me; his beer infused ballast is beginning to melt away as the time spent burning calories means less at the bar. Things are changing.

The constantly changing numbers on the screen confused me at first; previously we’d spent more time on the road where everyone knew the best work was done. But Alex wanted numbers; Alex could only work with numbers. Alex didn’t ride a bike and only knew how to coach by numbers. Alex wasn’t a person – he was a ‘virtual’ coach who did everything for Louis except, well, coach. The training plans were expensive and the one-to-one’s using real-time Facetime were paid by the quarter hour. But Alex had coached some of the best. He was worth it. Louis was now earning a lot more with the new job so he was worth it too. Nowadays, he said, everyone has a coach.

 

December 5th 2010

He brought her in this evening. I steeled myself – as only I could – whilst he leant her gently against the wall; she stared at me with the dull demeanor that only carbon can. ‘Can’t you speak?’ I asked. She shrugged her stem and looked down at her neat little pedals. ‘Well?’ I knew she was too embarrassed to engage with an ugly old bike like me. It wasn’t her that was making Louis strong again. She was just for him to look at, to dream about, to pretend he was a ‘pro’. I was the real deal. I would make him a winner again. He knew that I was the one that had made him good all those years before. She was just a pretty thing with carbon this and carbon that and electronic these and calibrated those; she couldn’t make him go faster with the sexy sweeping curves of her rear stays or the gently tapered tube of her steerer. Only I could make him go faster. I was the one he loved. I was the one that loved him.  She never did speak to me. I guess being Italian didn’t help.

 

January 23rd 2011

We’re now moving on beautifully. Our workouts in the garage are beginning to show results. Now I think he’s starting to realise that I am the only bike for him. The numbers are good – we’re doing full mountain stages three times a week, interspersed with functional threshold sessions and a close adherence to the latest online regime posted by Alex. The training Stress Scores are adhered to like they were the bible and intensity factors and variability index’s are calculated to ensure that he’s on target for all the racing he’s planning on doing in the coming season. Well, that is what he wrote to his online friends.  He is certainly putting the time in. Best of all, he’s loving me like he did before; the touch of his hands on my hoods and the reassuring feel of the pressure from his feet make me shiver beneath him. I can’t wait for the sunshine. I can’t wait for us to get out back on the road.

 

April 24th 2011

It’s less than a week before his first race of the season – tonight he came in a did some quick hard repeats – he maxed out at 400 watts for two bursts. Quite an improvement from the dark days of October; I think I’m beginning to understand the numbers on the computer – we didn’t do them in the old days. I also can’t wait see what wheels he’s got for me – my old Mavics have certainly seen better days. He’s going to have to clean me up of course; I’ve got a lot of stains on my frame and my brake blocks need replacing – for tyres, I thought that the new Vittoria Graphenes sounded about right for me – plenty of grip and a long lasting tread that should last the season. That sounds like me; the stayer; the faithful speedster with the slim elegant lines. Come on, bring it on! Let’s race!

 

April 25th 2011

Something strange happened this evening. Louis came in with her again and spent at least an hour with her clamped high in the blue stand. He lightly lubricated all her bearings, and, with a super soft cloth,  gently rubbed her thick green tubes to an even more lustrous shine. Her deep dark carbon rims sat stealthily on their spokes – they never smiled, nor give away any other emotion; they just sat there like miserable black holes against the empty garage wall. Dull, despicable weaponry. She was a machine so bereft of emotion and character that even the lubricants didn’t ease her demeanor.

Oddly, Louis didn’t speak or even look at me as he attended to her. After all those weeks of increasing intensity together, he was now acting like a man confronted with the ex-wife and his lover; I might as well have not been there. Was he embarrassed by me? When he left that evening he took her with him into the house. I knew that’s where they went because after he locked the door on me I could hear her spanking new Vittoria’s squealing on the parquet in the hallway – I could even tell that she was left at the bottom of his stairs where I used to sit. He’s been using me.

 

May 2nd 2011

He raced today. He didn’t win. I knew he hadn’t won because he brought her into the garage and threw her against the wall. ‘You’re a useless piece of rubbish!’ was all he said. I didn’t know what to do. Well, it was never going to be much as I was still clamped into the trainer. But, then, to my huge surprise, he went over to her, angrily ripped her wheels away from her, and turned to face me with a wheel in each hand. He smiled. ‘OK, let’s give it a go – Sunday; it’s you and me again. You ready?’ Of course I was ready.

 

Simon’s Cycle Shorts are now available to buy in both paperback (£8.39) and Kindle (£2.99) versions from Amazon. HERE

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