The sky is inky as you head outside. There’s an almost full moon, but it’s partially obscured by clouds. Street lights cast the only light about. You don your helmet, illuminate your headlamps and tail lights and start to pedal.
The darkness is entombing. It’s as if you’re riding in a tunnel of darkness. You can only see the road immediately in front of you. It’s impossible to view houses, trees, animals even, as you motor down your favorite road.
Cars are infrequent. Runners, with their reflective vests and iPods lighting their arms, pass by on the sidewalk. Dogs startle and bark as you pass.
Alone with your thoughts, you pedal on. Sweating, yet enjoying the cooler air that accompanies the pre-dawn. Unable to look at your Garmin due to the darkness, you cycle hard. You base your effort on your perception. You feel the wind. You count to guess your cadence. Time passes, and yet it’s hard to know exactly how much time has gone by. Luckily, your Garmin is set to beep every 10 minutes – initially set as a reminder to drink during races. Now, those alerts allow you to guess your time – so you know when to turn around to head home and still be on time to take the kids to school.
A few cars pass. A school bus. Even a garbage truck. They seemingly grant your more space on the road than they would during the day. Perhaps it’s because of the darkness. Perhaps people are just more courteous in the early morning.
There are few cyclists out. In fact, you only pass two during the entire ride.
As you approach home, the sky begins to lighten. The inky blackness morphs into a lighter grey. You’re able to begin to see better. Houses. Parked cars. Runners.
You arrive, sweaty and tired. Satisfied that you had a good ride. Thankful that you were safe. Ready to start your full day.
And the sun begins to rise…