The tiny red light disappears behind the hedgerow. I’m moving fast, feeling the wind slip past me as I cruise out into the rolling English countryside. The plan for today is simple. Just get round. 60 miles is no small distance, in fact it’s the farthest I will have ever ridden, but I have to test my limits. Just get round.
Stick to the plan. Conserve your energy, steady pace, use the gears and fuel well. DON’T RACE. Somewhere in the back of my mind I calculate how far I’ve come and how far I still need to go. I’m not even half way. Sucking down some electrolyte mix as my legs subconsciously pick up the pace I steady my breathing to settle into the new rhythm. I’ve never felt this comfortable riding before. The red light inches closer as the gap begins to close, the urge to chase rises.
The adrenaline takes over. My body tucked in I flick up through the gears, driving my legs to keep the cadence high. The change is definite, palpable. I have become the hunter. The air rushes past now with all the noise of a raging torrent as I confine my view to the 3ft in front of my bike, scanning frantically for potholes and debris that could spell the end for this chase. I chance a look up; 600m.
I breathe hard as I find top gear, but I’m in tune with the bike now. My legs flow in powerful arcs as I surge forward, leaning through the bends the red light no longer disappears. I feel the distance closing. 300m. I pull down lower, riding in the drops I put all my energy into going forward. With nothing covering the brakes any mistake now would be costly. I push the cadence higher, feeling the gap between us close again. 200m. Is he even trying? Does he know he is being chased? It doesn’t matter. I am committed.
Close now, the final push. My legs burn, lungs burst, but I am so close. The road stretches out ahead of us. Mile upon mile of undulating emptiness. We speed towards the grey horizon and I feel him pick up the pace. My whole body moves with the rhythm of the bike. Breathe in, breathe out, spin the pedals. I focus on the light, the tiny red light that pulls me forward faster and faster. 100m.
The gap closes as I adjust my speed. Drifting to the middle of the road I resist the urge to stand and sprint, trying to conserve my energy. One final time I build the cadence to draw the gap to nothing. I am past, 5m. Now 10m, 20m. I keep spinning, my legs feel like lead. Glancing back I see that the gap is no longer growing. The chase is reversed. There is honour to be restored.
Now I am the prey, and I am a long way from home.