It's 6:22 AM. I haven't looked at a clock since sometime just after midnight but I know it's 6:22. I'm too tired to roll over and check. I rest a little longer and muster the energy to turn my head. 6:24. I briefly think I could drive a car to work but I won't. I've only driven a car to work 2 times in the last 4 months and that's only because my day's obligations would be impossible without it. It's time, I swing my heavy legs out of bed and my heavy head follows. How can a body this strong feel this tired.
I'm up! My morning routine consists of checking the weather. Temperature, precipitation and wind speed are all considerations on my cycling garb. 38 degrees, dry with light wind; perfect! Shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, jacket, bike tools, headlight, taillight, gloves, hat, helmet, iPod(optional), Garmin...I'm ready to go! Coffee! Shit, I almost forgot the coffee. Sometimes I don't even take a sip on the ride but I'd miss it if it wasn't there. Now I'm ready to go.
I clumsily clomp down the oak stairs in my hard stiff bike shoes. Which bike? By now the decision has already been made. If I'm feeling nostalgic I'll take my trusty old road bike. I nearly started my cycling passion on this bike. Is it raining? Rain bike. Is it snowing? Fat Bike. Is it icy? Studded bike. Do I want to disconnect from society, if even for just 30 minutes? Mountain bike. Today it will be the cross bike. Light and nimble yet aggressive and confident, I love this bike.
I attach all the gear to the bike like a sailor rigging a ship. Everything has it's place. Even my shoes will have a place in the pedals, locked together as one. Man and machine. I open the door from the dark basement to reveal morning's first light. At 6:22 it was still dark but now the day is waking up. The sun hasn't ascended above the horizon but it will, and soon. The sun has more energy than I at this time of day. I mount my bike (click) (click) and we are off. The smell of wet autumn leaves fills the air reminding me of the cold days to come.
The sleepiness that overtook me less than a half hour ago dissolves. The crisp air awakens me, refreshes me, revives me! My bike feels light and nimble, ready to play. Sorry my friend, I slept too late for a long ride today, maybe tomorrow. The first part of the ride is uphill. Warming the body from within, banking gravity. I'm thankful for the uphill start because the rest of the ride will be easy if I choose. 3 miles from home I'm at the highest point in my journey. In the next 2 miles I am flying. Twenty, thirty, forty miles per hour all under my own power. I soar by the same dead porcupine on the side of the road, a little worse for the wear, reminding me of the passing time.
I commute to work by bike. Most people wonder why. Why would you subject yourself to additional effort, cold, discomfort, time and the many other challenges commuting by bike brings? Most people don't even consider that biking could be a mode of transportation even on the best of days. There are a panoply of reasons and I will try to do some of them justice. Biking keeps me fit, my desk job does not. By riding to work I fit a 90 minute workout into 45 minutes, the additional time it takes to ride verses drive. Biking saves me money. Riding a few days it isn't that much but riding every day it really adds up. Biking helps the environment. It's inarguable that not burning our limited oil and creating greenhouse gasses will extend our time on this planet. Biking keeps me young. At 48 years old I've passed my physical peak but in the velo world I can ride faster, longer and harder than 99% of the 20 year olds out there. Take that aging! Biking gives me independence. Most people think their car gives them independence, sure, and when it breaks? There is something rewarding about getting to where you are going entirely under your own power. You should try it sometime. And most of all, I like cookies and beer, not necessarily at the same time. On tap for 6000 miles this year I've burned about 200,000 calories on the bike. I still have to count some calories but I get to count higher.
With the time change soon upon us all of my rides will be in the dark and the cold and the snow. And I will be right out there in it with my lights and my jacket and my fatbike. Bring it on, I am ready!