As you pedal through the heart of the town and head out of Oberlin, you’re immediately hit with a din, something between a buzzing and chirping, a crackling that grows louder and louder. At first I thought it was buzzing electricity, transmission from the municipal power plant as I rode past that. As soon as I came upon a cluster of trees, however, I knew I was riding in the middle of a concert. It was the cicadas.
Their loud singing, their mating song which is the near culmination of their 17-year existence, filled the air and filled my head. It was like being in the center of an X Files episode. The sound isn’t only around you, it’s inside of you and out. Everywhere. And it grows louder. I half expected Scully and Mulder to step out from the trees and flash their badges.
As I rode farther out of town and more into the country, the sound grew even louder, the cicadas’ song more insistent, more intense.Then I was struck by one of the paper-thin singers, which flew at high speed into and ricocheted off my helmet. A blur. I saw a couple of them walking on the tarmac; walking looked to be close to their final phase of life.
As I rode on for a couple of kilometers, I was distracted. What training exactly was I doing today? Oh yeah, I had some kind of ride in mind: a long ride? Road race practice? Wait, no, it was intervals.
No, it was road race work for the upcoming races.
Although I was riding solo, I was a privileged part of a different peloton that day and since.
I rode with the singers.