You're riding along in a big field, more than 100 riders. It's going to be a long race, so you're in the front quarter of the pack, sitting in. A minor rider, you have no team to help you or order you around. You're just a privateer, continuing what passes for a racing career one race at a time. See how it goes.
Subtly the pace jumps. It's faster than gradual, but not an exciting explosion of sprints. Click down a couple of gears. Push them harder. You've run out of cogs back there. It's hard to stay on top of the gear. The field in front of you is splintering. Gaps are opening. Chase, chase. Focus on controlled breathing. You have to put out everything, but you can't blow up. The result will be exhaustion, you just have to squeeze the fire in legs and lungs into a jet driving you forward, not a fireball consuming you as you cartwheel down in flaming chunks.
Welcome to summer in the workshop. From the time trial to work among angry vacationers in absurd vehicles to the constant demands of repairs and questions, to the long, quiet route home avoiding the busy highway, it's a stage race.
Today's starting gun is about to go off.