That damn alarm.
4 AM and I get up. It takes me a bit to realize why I’ve set my electronic companion to awake me at this ungodly hour. It hits me when I see my bag packed and shoes/helmet stacked neatly in the corner of the room. What once was my parents room now houses my bike, a mattress and the few possessions I still own. It’s Saturday and I get to ride into work, my favorite day of the week.
The only thing is, work is seventy-five miles away.
The cold, soggy cereal moves around in my mouth. My stomach isn’t quite with the program yet, but I know it will complain soon enough. I force it down with some juice and some cold press. Get dressed, put shoes on, wheel the bike out and try not to wake anyone. The door closes with a subtle *click* behind and I throw one leg over the bike. I think it’s more awake than I am at this point.
A town is different in the early morning. It’s August, but the air is cool and my clothes provide just enough protection. I pedal softly through downtown and see my light reflect in the store windows. A skinny boy on a bike is odd enough, but if anyone were to see me at this hour I might make the paper. This really is Hometown, America.
I head South before heading East. Better pavement/less traffic. Once I take the left by Glenco the legs are warmed up and ready. Quick shift up to the big ring startles some pheasants resting in the ditch. I get in the drops and start working away. Silent, rolling farmland passes by – dark shadows interspersed with windows of light. The farmer is just getting up. I’ve won that race.
Left by the creek and then a quick right by the graveyards. I’m south of Lester Prairie now and on the Memorial Classic’s road course. the pavement gets a little better here. The horizon now has a light to it, it won’t be long now.
Norwood Young America, possibly the weirdest name for a town I’ve come across, is up next. Left onto 5. This is the worst traffic of all. The suns rays are now reflected in the clouds, but she hasn’t peeked her head out quite yet. I’ve still got time.
St Bonifacious, the half-way point. This is where I wanted to be before daylight and it’s here I finally get to see the sun in all her glory. The temperature steadily rises at this point and I take the knee warmers off at the Kwik Trip. A doughnut, some yogurt, a bag of almonds and a Dr. Pepper. Sometimes I think that’s what I want my obituary to say.
Thirty sweet minutes of stretching, eating and watching the sunrise until I’m back on the bike. The cherry on top of the best commute ever. It’s not sustainable, by any measure, but I dream about that ride. Any chance I get I take it.
It’s my love letter to MN Cycling.