I’m a hamster on a wheel. Sweating. Panting. Watching kung fu movies on my tiny phone, you know, the way that hamsters do. It’s not an ideal situation, but I have deadlines and orthodontist visits and casseroles to bake and homework to help with…and every time I do get a break from work and the kids, it’s f*cking raining. So, you tell me, do I have any other choice?

So here I am, on a bike trainer in my garage at 11pm on a Thursday, my little legs churning, desperately trying to maintain some level of fitness. Like a damn hamster on a wheel.

It wasn’t always like this. Nobody gets into biking because they want to ride a trainer sandwiched between a washing machine and a weed eater. That’s not the dream scenario. We start riding bikes as adults because it’s fun. Because you can go places, meet new people and experience exotic things like “slickrock” and “waterbar drops.” Biking exciting! It makes you feel like a kid again. But at some point, the bike starts to control you. The conversation shifts from, “I think I’ll go for a ride today,” to “I have to get a ride in today.”  Honestly, it plays out like an afterschool special about drug addiction. One minute, you’re just pedaling around for fun, the next, you’re addicted and doing questionable things like taking spin classes just to get your fix.

It’s not that biking is a job—you still love it. You probably love it more now than back when it was just a casual habit. But now, you feel empty without the ride. Without that fix. So you go through extraordinary lengths to make the ride happen. You squeeze in hour-long grinds at lunch, going back to the office sweating but satisfied. You tell your wife you’re going to get milk from the store, and decide to ride your bike there. It’s better for the environment, after all. And since you’re pedaling, you might as well take the long way to the store. Up that mountain on the other side of town. Or you turn a cartoon on for your kids, then go out front and do hill repeats up and down the street that passes by your front yard, trying to peek in through your own living room window to see if your kids have accidentally turned the stove on or put the cat in the bathtub.

When you get really desperate, you sneak down to the garage after your wife has gone to bed, hook your road bike to a trainer and pedal. Like a hamster on a wheel. Anything to get that fix.