Yes, cycling in a group is nice. Going to masters practice, great. VO2 max intervals on grass fields with people who can really run? Lovely. But training really is a solitary affair. These are solitary sports, the running, swimming, and riding. Sure, I ride on a cycling team, but it's a low end, category 2 deal, and we'd all be lying if we said we were really in it for our teammates. Today I started out riding w/a friend, intending to take it really easy. I was riding his beautiful Cherry Bicycles steelie w/bar ends and tubulars, the kind of bike that makes you think you're pedaling a BarcaLounger. We spun past cows and farms, along marvelous upstate NY roads, for forty-five minutes. Coming to a T intersection that was marked, somewhat ominously, as Scotch Hill, he asked if I felt like climbing up to the next ridge. I demurred, wanting to stick to my easy guns. My buddy was slightly disappointed, I think, but as I turned back, onto a flat main route, I fell into the meditative state that only riding, running, or swimming alone provides. Soon I was dreaming about my race this coming weekend, not nervously fielding questions about it, or talking about bike parts. I realized that this solitude is part of why I train, the same way I used to go to the soccer field alone to work on footwork on a rainy day: alone, you're the fastest man in the group, or the slowest, or the most efficient, and you can dream big, seeing yourself crossing the finish line at the head of the race, or your age group, or simply crossing. I love to share this sport with others, but it's mostly a dish better eaten alone.