Five Thirty comes early on a Saturday morning. I take 20 minutes to sip the morning brew in the darkness while I stare at the wall covered in ink drawings, photographs and lithographs. I remain in a dream like state as I reminisce about how or where I found each piece. Surprised at how much I can remember…the day, the smells, the light, who I was with, and what I was feeling, I am thankful that they are there hanging on the wall in front of me. I look to the blank space on the wall and wonder what is next. This is how I start each morning suspended in the past, absent from the present and anxious for the future.
So starts the pre-ride routine that prepares me for a 3 hour tour of the Miami flatlands. Another 30 minutes has me filling bottles, laying out my clothes, nutrition, and gear. I procrastinate a few moments, as I always do, just prior to slathering on the chamois cream and sunscreen.
Then it’s, Kit UP, Pump Up and GO!
I haven’t made a Saturday morning group ride in over 10 months. Carless roads, cool summer breeze and a beautiful Miami sunrise greet me as I make my way through the city towards the meet point at Miami City Hall. I miss these quiet moments on the bike. The city has its own morning rituals. The young stumble out of the clubs, the long shore men line up for selection and the homeless begin to wake from their temporary beds. It is still too early for shops and bakeries to open but some coffee can be found if you know where to look.
This is a new group for me, an aspiring group of 20 riders in the 18-22 speed range. A collection of men and women of different sizes and shapes leave as scheduled. We rode out to Black Point with a sprint that topped out at about 25mph. The ride leader launched from the group with no chase. I looked around….anybody…anybody? Nobody chases. So I jump, bridging the gap and maintaining at 25 for a few hundred yards until we settle down at about 23mph for the remaining distance. This is a far cry from last year’s 34MPH top end and 23-26MPH cruising speed. Its ok, it is not all gone, I can work with it.
Todd Gogulski commenting on the Vuelta quotes Jonathan Vaughters.”The mind of the professional cyclist is a fragile thing”. He adds his own philosophies on the importance of a positive mental attitude and how it relates to Chris Horner’s chances of reclaiming the red jersey.
On the return trip, I begin to lose patience with the gaps in the double pace line and the accordion affect it creates. I pull out and up to the front alongside the group leader and stay there for the remainder of the ride. The group leader, a Hungarian supply chain professional, is a chatty guy so we hold a conversation while keeping a 20-21 mph tempo. We quickly find common ground and enjoy a work related discussion that makes light the effort on the bike. I’m reminded on how cycling is really a community of strangers and how cyclists in general are an amicable group.
I return home to a hot bath and some much deserved rest.
I sleep dream the rest of the day away.