Up before the sun.

My body is craving more mileage.

I like to go fast, but I’ve never been a racer; never had any desire to be one either. I enjoy distance but I could probably never be a part of the randonneuring crowd because I’m just not much into the whole group thing. With the exception of charity rides, I eschew group riding, whether as part of a pack or in pairs or just coming upon another solitary rider. For me, cycling is not about companionship – it’s about me and the bike and the road.

The heat has been especially oppressive these past few weeks and I’ve found it limiting the hours in the day that I can be on the road. There’s no end in sight for a break in the heat wave, so rather than take a chance on heat stroke I’ve begun to ride in the cooler (but still very humid) early hours just prior to sunrise.

The light system I had mounted to the P8 fits it very well, but the Shogun has been my primary mileage bike this year. So I have the light strapped low on the front fork. The wire dangles a bit – and yes, it’s all rather sloppy and not at all what a constructeur would do for a solution – and the power source is in my front rando bag where I can turn it on and off should I remember it after the sun comes up. I really need a blinking tail light too, but that’s been one of those things that I tell myself to remember when next I visit the LBS (and then promptly forget once I’m actually in the store. Perhaps I should write it down, send myself a note in an email, call the LBS and tell them to hold one for me until I walk through the doors again. Sadly, I’ll probably rely entirely on my faultily-wired memory.)

The ride is an important ritual for me. After a few minutes of pedaling, the endorphins kick in and I feel energized. On the days when I can’t ride, something seems missing: I feel the tiniest bit empty, guilty even. Riding up hills gets my heart pumping and the blood flowing. Down the hills is just fun. And when I can string together hill after hill with some nice stretches of flats, everything is right in the world – at least for those few minutes.

It’s especially so in the wee hours of the morning, when it’s not quite night but definitely not yet day. I imagine that the few cars I encounter are piloted by drivers who look my way and wonder what in the hell I’m doing out on a bicycle at that hour. Occasionally a deer or fox will cross paths with me, initially disarmed by – and then startled at – my rather quiet approach. As the brightening horizon becomes painted with all manner of pinks and yellows and violets, the din from the birds can be heard, even above the roar of wind in my ears. At such moments, it’s easy to forget about clocks and responsibilities; the passage of time is a relative thing: suddenly I’m miles down the road, no longer really thinking about climbing or descending. I’m on auto-pilot in some ways and even though I’m seeing and absorbing the wonderful metamorphosis to the world around me, still it’s a bit of a shock to realize I’ve just climbed the dreaded Lightburne Hill and I’m back in town. Forty miles have passed.

The sun is up and the day has begun.

 

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