Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Early Ride

Last night I went to bed early, and my brain said, “Maybe if I wake up early, I’ll go for a little ride before I go to work. My body laughed quietly to itself, snuggled under the covers and said, “Sure.”

Unfortunately…I mean, fortunately, I did wake up early. Quite a bit early than I would have liked, in fact. I eventually got out of bed and checked the weather. The temperature was on the midforties, not bad after two weeks of snow and ice and subfreezing temps. The wind was supposedly light. “That doesn’t sound bad at all,” my brain said. “No, not at all,” my body agreed. “Let’s go back to bed. I bet we can fall asleep again if we try.”

But I got kitted out – adding tights, booties and my lovely walzcap with the earflaps and headed out.

The first thing I noticed was the cold and the hill outside the front door… the two things I noticed were the cold, the hill outside my front door and the child screaming in the distance…the three things I noticed were the cold, the hill, the child screaming and the geese…the…amongst the things…amongst the things I noticed were diverse items as the cold, the hill outside my front door, the child screaming and the geese.

As I went up the hill, my legs, apparently still under the impression that I had been going to go back to bed, began to protest. “We didn’t know you were serious about this!” I was, though, and the pain in my thighs helped me to know it. I heard a child give a loud and piercing scream followed by a second loud scream. I suspected this might be due to the unexpected sight of me in lycra. The scream was followed by laughter and then more laughter, at which point I was certain it was due to the unexpected sight of me in lycra, but I may have been wrong.

The sun had barely cleared the horizon and some kids were already out and waiting for the bus.

As I was starting to catch my breath after the hill, I saw a small flight of geese take off honking. It wasn’t melodious, but it still looked pretty.

I made the turn onto the road and took off. My body was still telling me that it had thought I was kidding, but it seemed apparent that I wasn’t going to turn back now, so we just went with it. I was passed by a couple of school buses and various cars and trucks, and I began to wonder how many of those people passing me thought I was crazy. I was fully expecting to get the freakshow look, but I wasn’t actually looking at any of the driver or passengers, so I don’t know if I did or not.

Suddenly, off to my left, an animal burst out of a screen of bushes and took off after me. It was what Basil Fawlty once referred to as “el perro microscopic” and, despite the fusillade of furious barks that it hurled after me, it didn’t have either the legs of the wind for that particular chase and began to fall behind immediately.

Well, at least I have better legs and lungs than an extremely small dog. Good for me. That’s clearly a step in the right direction.

Ahead I saw a woman carrying a plastic tub in one arm with a cat walking beside her for all the world like a dog at heel. They were only three feet away from the edge of the road, but they ignored a school bus, some cars, an SUV and a motorcycle. Then they saw me. Both the woman and the cat froze, eyes wide, staring at me. As I passed them, the woman gave a little uncertain laugh, the kind you give to prove that you aren’t terrified out of your mind. The cat wasn’t even pretending. It was clearly terrified of the guy on the bicycle. I got the freakshow look and then some.

I passed a house with two very large dogs who danced about their yard and made little feints in my direction, but neither of them came after me. A few minutes later I turned onto what must be the worst maintained road in the county. Everything on the bike was rattling, including my teeth. Then I reached my turnaround point and headed back.

The two large dogs were now three, and the third dog clearly had something important to say to me which it persisted in saying in a very loud voice even after I had gone by, but none of them set paw in the road, though one of them ran along the full length of its yard as I rode past.

The woman and her cat had apparently run off in terror for fear that the horrible apparition might come back, as indeed it had, and I eventually made it back home safe and sound.
Recipe for how not to ride well: be ill the night before, get up extra early on a winter morning, don’t eat any breakfast, don’t drink anything, head out on the road. It’s only common sense that you won’t be on top of your game.

Recipe for how to have a fun ride: be ill the night before, get up extra early on a winter morning, don’t eat any breakfast, don’t drink anything, head out on the road. That must be true, since my ride was a lot of fun. The enforced layoff has taken its toll and my sit bones have to get used to saddle again, but that’s okay. It’s still fun. A lot of fun, in fact.
See you on the road.

If you’re up early enough.

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