Swish swish swish.
The sound of my legs rubbing against riding shorts as I pedal is almost deafening, contrasting as it does with the solitude of early morning in Mark Twain National Forest. The only other sound one hears is the crumble of gravel under my tires, the cawing of crows, an underlying cacophonous twittering of song birds, the rustle of dried underbrush as critters unknown shuffle unseen and nearly unnoticed along the ground. It’s Easter morning and I’m riding through the Ozark hills near Table Rock Lake. The roads are mine and mine alone. No one else is about.
Stopping to sketch in these dusky hours is a treat. The sun is only beginning to crest, shadows stretch across the road and merge with woods on the opposite side. Those trees are not yet choked with the lush and verdant foliage with which they will be festooned in the weeks to come. Young, green leaves peek out from branches that are otherwise yet bare, and I can see between the armies of thick tree trunks for hundreds of yards.
I’m moving slowly, my gearing is low. I have no place to be, no hurry to get there. I’m happy to discover that I have everything on my bike dialed in: from the overall fit, to my choice of gears to the – yes, once again! – change in saddle back to a comfortable leather Brooks.
Coming round a bend, I hear the distant murmer of breakfast sounds quietly filtering down the mountain from a house somewhere far above. People are beginning to stir. It’s time for me to return.