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Wanna race?

You, on your shiny, steel, technology-enhanced living room accessory. Me, on my slick, light, maneuverable carbon road bike.

It’ll be fun, I promise.

Before we get started, let’s check in. Make sure it’s a fair race, yanno? Sportsmanship is important.

Both our riding choices cost about the same, so that should eliminate any subtle preconceptions about status, or financial means, or ‘influencing’ right there.

Both of us are in good riding shape. Me, from hours outside on the road; you, from hours inside sweating your butt off in your Soul Cycle classes while an instructor shouts directions at you.

We’re both young, fit, and healthy.

Both of us know enough about cycling, and fitness, to be able to pace ourselves appropriately for the duration of this race; when to push it and when to hold back, how to ride at the razor edge of our physical capacity, yet still be able to finish strong.

So, game on?

We’ll take a nice smooth, back road, under a canopy of leafy trees, past horses grazing in grassy fields, over a bridge. We’ll smile at how the sun dances on the ripples of the passing pond, herons frozen in their single-legged hunting stance as they wait for a meal to wander into range. We’ll breathe clean, fresh air deep into our lungs, marveling at the subtle cacophony of nature, and remembering how sublime it is to ride in your own head, without blaring music or an instructor yelling at you.

We’ll pass cyclists riding in the other direction who give us a knowing look, a smile, and a thumbs-up as we race by. We’ll overtake a few cyclists going in our same direction—no leaderboard needed—and smirk as we realize, and appreciate, how well all of our training has paid off. Nothing compares to a good, in-real-life race. Remember?

C’mon, let’s go. I’ll meet you outside.

Oh, wait. You mean can’t lift your bike with one hand and carry it out to the road easily?

You can’t race me if you’re not consistently within range of a 120-volt electrical outlet?

You can’t concentrate or enjoy yourself without someone else driving your exercise experience, cueing up a playlist, or telling you what to do or how to do it?

Well.

Dear Neighbor-Who-Just-Got-A-Peloton,

I’m sorry.

Heather Shaff

Heather is a book designer based in Boston who, when she’s not writing or taking care of the fam, can be found racing her bike, enjoying nature, or just daydreaming.

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