Knackered

Last Saturday’s ride was standard enough: a roll down the W&OD to Shrlington, followed by a return via the Trail plus a little loop through a couple of miles of North Arlington’s suburban, hilly streets.
By the time I’d hit my turnaround point I could tell I was not on a good day.  My legs felt weak (“jelly,” as Andy Murray yelled at one point in his US Open finals match), the humidity was sapping my strength, the sweat was rolling down my face, and it seemed like a long way home.  I was knackered.
This quaint expression comes from the English, source of so much linguistic curiosity.  A “knacker” is somebody who buys broken-down animals such as cows and horses to process them for the value of their cadavers.  To be knackered is to be so exhausted as to be fit for nothing more than such processing.  Quite possibly the ultimate source is the medieval “nak,” which means “worthless bit.”
Worthless or not I pressed on as planned, abjuring the shortcut that would have made the day more comfortable.  I was glad I did, because the feeling of being back in the house, out of your wet clothes, clean and dry again, is all the sweeter when you’ve really pushed yourself.
Days like that make me feel the full weight of my 73 years.  But then I remember that there are reasons for episodes like that, beyond the fact that we’re all entitled to a bad day now and then.  I seemed to suffering from minor “flue-like symptoms,” so maybe I was a little sick.  Or maybe I was a bit out of shape.  I was doing the second day of back-to-back ridding for the first time since my Northwest trip.  In fact, I missed two eight-day stretches of riding in August.  Or maybe this was just one too many oppressively humid summer days this season in Virginia.
Anyway, two days later I was out there again, on our first cool dry day since early June, rolling along at full speed.

[Written and posted from my Kindle Fire]                                    ©Arnold J. Bradford, 2012.

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