I have a recurring dream in which I wake up in the morning and look down to discover that I have Thor Hushovd's legs. They are so massive and muscular that my hip flexors and other assistant muscles (which I have unexplainably retained) cannot operate them. I'm stuck. Reasoning that he must, in turn, have gotten mine in some kind of cosmic mix-up (and that he is probably very understandably disappointed), I spend the morning trying to get in touch with him. In the dream I never reach him, forever lost in a series of conversations with perplexed PR representatives.
I used to give a lot of thought to the quality of my legs. They're sore. They're dead. They're flat. They're heavy. They're sluggish. Bad legs, I have bad legs today. The sensations, they're not so good.
I've only had good legs a few times, ever – and I can't tell you why I had better legs on one day than on another when all things were relatively equal. There's a bit of mystery to it which is probably why we get a little reverent when we mention the phenomenon. Good legs are holy and right: imbued with magical powers. When you've had them once, you never forget the feeling.
But like writers fretting over the elusive muse, cyclists must not get hung up on the goodness or badness of the legs. The writer must wake up and write because there's work to be done. The cyclist wakes up and pedals because there is road to cover.
It was during the Tour de France ride that I realized that it doesn't matter what legs you wake up with. Whatever you're supposed to do that day, you're going to go out and do it. If you have a race, you race. If you have a workout, you go do it. If you're going on a casual wander with friends, you keep your plans.
Your legs will come around. Or they won't. Either way, you'll make it. And you'll probably have fun, even if you end up suffering (the two are kind of inseparable, right?)
I woke up with bad legs on Stage 6 last July. It was the shittiest I'd ever felt before climbing on a bike. And then I rode 151 miles (we got lost). It never got better. It never felt good. I just gritted my teeth and played in the magical accordion machine at the back of the peloton.
Good legs. Bad legs. Still got legs either way. I don't worry about them nearly so much anymore.