Dawn... Not quite. Darkness fills the air. The sound of birds echoes through the trees covering up the sound of my breathing. My light creates a beam through the night illuminating potholes and frost heaves on the dark country road. I plummet down from the hill towns to the city below. Houses appear more regularly, still quite and dark. A light appears at the bottom of the long decent. Red. Stop. I look, no cars. The air is still. Normally a bustling street with autos and strip malls sort of a border between suburbia and the city, it still sleeps. Another mile and I decend more. Now I am in the city. I spot a car or two lurking. Crossing and intersection here and there. Much different than the day before at 4pm with traffic backed up and iron predators ready to pounce in road rage at an unassuming cyclist.
I pass ethnic markets. A few mexican restaurants go by and I enter the ghetto. I few bizarre people walk the streets. Soon, downtown is able to be seen and I cross the point st. bridge which is a border of sorts into the boheimian world of the eclectic Wickenden St. Shops and restaurants, normally busy still lie dormant as the sun begins to brighten the sky.
As I cross the bridge to the east bay, I enter a new world. I zip onto the bike path and roll south. A slight headwind. I won't break 2 hours today. I will break the slow time of 2:20 I set last week on the cross bike. I'm cruising at 19-20, in a good rhythm now. I'm along the water. I see a few people out now. Walking, running a few cyclists.
I approach a woman in her 20's. Tall,slender, with long strides jogging. A shared glance and smile. A stolen moment. Is it more than just two kindred souls burning a sweat? Memory of her quickly fades and she is part of the past. The smell of nicotine fills the air as a pass an overweight 40 something, smoking a cigarette and babbling incessently on the cell phone. It's only 5:20 for crissakes? what can be so important? Who the hell is up now anyhow? I want to thank him for ruining my moment, but anger overwhelms me and I stomp the pedals. I am moving along now at 20mph. I'd like to average 18mph for the first hour and have eight minutes to go. I do some math. I won't make it. Sure enough, I fall short by a quarter of a mile.
My legs are achy from the commute home last night which i set a personal best for the ride home. Part of the reason is because i drove in versus rode in. The car is at work. I'll drive home tonight.
I pass a bunch of runners now. Each one in there own little iPod zone. I can't ride with those on, prefering to listen to the wind, birds and my own pained breathing.
I'm surprised of the warmth as I continue south. i remove my glove liners and unzip my jacket a little to allow the air to pass through. Up ahead, I approach Barrington. I see a rider enter the path. He's all decked out in one of those expensive Italian kits you see in the high zoot catalogs. I figure I'll run him down like a lion chasing the lone gazelle. Just as I'm about to make the catch, he rolls onto the grass and into the parking lot and heads towards the coffee shop.
My ego shrinks back as I pass a bunch of grandmothers walking the path.
...fishermen on the bridges cast their lures into the bay as I pass. One looks at me like I'm a leper. He chomps on a doughnut. Mmmmmm doughnut. I miss those.
Soon, I'm off the bike path and headed to the Mt Hope Bridge. I haven't seen a car in 10 minutes, yet immediately upon getting on the narrow bridge, four autos zip by. At the one joint I stop and lift the bike over, I am buzzed by two more just as two are coming in the opposite direction.
10 miles to go. Mostly flat on the western edge of the island. Still a slight headwind keeping me at an honest 21 mph. My legs are crampy from no breakfast and the hard ride yesterday. I spin it into the office for a quick shower and begin a day at the office.
Not a bad way to start the day. 38 miles. just over two hours. and it is only 6:30am