I did not greet the day with joy when I woke up, not that I would expect to anyway but two late nights in a row did not bode well for an early start, and the demands of the Monday morning fifteen minutes’ tidy. I was awoken by my wife getting up, it was still dark and I lay there willing myself to go back to sleep. It sounded stormy outside, I wondered if today would be a group walk rather than the usual morning ride. I heard my daughter’s alarm go off and knew it was roughly ten to eight; so another twenty minutes before my alarm goes off too. I never know if lying in bed resting is worth it compared to getting up and greeting the day. There would certainly be no more sleep now.

I actually get up before my alarm goes off and struggle to know what to wear. I decide to put yesterday’s clothes on because I will probably be changing into my cycling gear soon anyway. I have twenty minutes spare before tidying which is unusual to say the least, so I hunt around for some pounds coins for my daughter’s dinner money. Tidying, we go through a set of draws under the telephone. Normally small items of clothing are kept here, but I am informed that my wife is hoping to get some clutter off the hallway shelves into these draws. This confuses me for a bit. I thought the things on the shelves already had a dedicated position so I don’t understand the need to change things. We go through three drawers before my wife has to leave to get to work. As I sit in amongst various items of clothing and small plastic bags, I wonder how much tidying has been achieved though it is true that some of the kids sized clothes have been removed and the number of plastic bags with small amounts of change has been reduced.

I get a text message saying that the morning ride will start thirty minutes later than unusual and so with this extra time I decide to walk the dog. It is a rather chilly wind outside and I decide it is probably best to put my Roubaix tights on for the ride. On my return to the house I dither about whether I should attempt to loosen up my front derailleur dressed as I am or change into my cycling gear. The latter is designed to be comfortable once I am warmed up with exercise and not good for standing around but time is running out so I go inside, feed the dog and get changed. I put a thermal top on between my cycle jersey and jacket which turns out to be a mistake because it gets removed at the top of the first hill.

As I set off for my ride, I suspect I am as usual late though without stopping to look at my mobile, I cannot confirm this and since there is nothing I can do to change the time, I press on to the rendez-vous with my friends (interesting how many French words there are in cycling). There are more people than I expected waiting for me when I arrive, but another is yet to come. We set off slowly up the hill. One of my friends wishes me a “happy new year” and engages me in conversation but it soon peters out after I don’t come up with any new-year resolutions. I notice I am taciturn and unable to find anything much to talk about, it has been three weeks or so since I last saw my friend, there should be plenty to say, but somehow I have lost the art or perhaps it is the will of conversation. We cycle on in silence up the hill and wait until our other friend arrives.

There are five of us now and the usual pairings form, I am on my own within the group. We stop again and say goodbye to C who has a lot on today and hasn’t got time to do the longer ride. Setting off we are now in a single line, one behind the other, and I am at the back. This is where we are rewarded for the long climb by a fast descent. I start by applying my brakes gently to keep behind the person in front but this seems a bit silly to me, so I let go of the levers and coast on down the hill. This is where my weight shows, one by one I overtake my friends until now I am in the front. The road levels out before climbing again and so I choose the right gear and start applying pressure to the pedals. I have the momentum of the descent behind me, so initially I am able to power up the hill but eventually the steepness becomes too much for my legs, I should change down to an easier gear but instead push harder on the pedals and accelerate away a bit. I am not fit enough to sustain this though and soon willpower over lactic acid fails and I change down three gears. I am not feeling great today I muse as I climb, in fact, I would say I am depressed. I am depressed enough to think about taking Prozac again, depressed enough to wonder yet again what is the point of life, depressed enough to not know the point of my life. I am out cycling with friends, this shouldn’t be happening I think, but I recognise that I have been depressed since last night at least when I nearly had a meltdown over the “confusing unreasonable demands” I was getting. I ride on in hope and in knowledge that at least I am trying to do something positive to help my mood even if the exercise isn’t doing anything.

At some point my friend whom I had the new-year conversation with reconnects with me. This time we do find things to talk about not least because I have remembered that I had set a task of going travelling by myself once a month for the next year; she and her husband have had a similar thought. We chat about friends and family, only stopping just before our “Kaffee und Kuchen” break at a farm shop on the route.

The four of us sit around the table and chat away whilst drinking our various cups of tea and coffee and eat fruit scones. I am asked about how my Christmas went and I give a more appropriate balanced account about enjoying the company but not liking the lack of space. More importantly we laugh. We laugh at eat other, we laugh with each other, we laugh at ourselves. We laugh and as I get ready to leave, sorting out my layers, helmet and gloves, I notice that I am no longer depressed. I think the laughter helped but it is also about being connected. I know about my friends’ family whether it is a driving test, having no fleeces in -30 degrees Celsius, being on probation for a job, or being medicated to keep them from hitting others. We have also penciled in a cycle weekend for August. I feel part of the group.

I still don’t know what the point is to my life, but this is okay. It is what it is.

 

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