Skull cap: check.
Merino wool layers: check.
Cycling shorts: check.
Long pants: check.
Long-fingered gloves: check.
Cycling shoes: check (note to self: replace).
Wind breaker: check.
It has been a hard winter and a cold spring. The front wheel is unsteady coasting down the driveway. It has been 159 days since tyres touched pavement.
There is bright sun, the wind has some bite. Salt has rimed cracks in the pavement. Cyclists have forgotten how to ride in traffic. Drivers have forgotten how to drive with cyclists. A few other souls are out for a spin. There are quick flashes of passing grins. Everyone is bundled.
The shoulders of the roads have not yet been swept clean. The winter's residue of sand and debris is like gravel. The dip under the railway trestle is always the worst spot for wear.
The wind is on the face, the legs are remembering that steady rhythm. Feel the hamstrings, feel the hip flexors. No indoor equipment – elliptical, treadmill, CompuTrainer, whatever – can match the pulse of the pavement.
Runners are tracing the perimeter of the canal. Some have been out all winter. Most show the slow slog of mammals emerging from hibernation. Everyone is wearing a cap.
A brief stop at the florist. Strap the package to the back rack – "tail feathers". Return along the canal. Feel the effects of exertion half way back. Note to self: training, more training. Keep up the pace. Feel the pleasure in those muscles.
The long winter is over. Titanium Man, eat your heart out.