I can almost make out the words of the green street sign as the rising sun wiggles its way through the early morning coastal fog. I usually don’t get up this early, but this all day ride has been on my mind for months and I had to experience it again. As I approach the old fire house and the first small decent of the day, I feel like reaching down and slowly dragging my hand over the familiar smooth roads like a surfer would feel the silky moving water of a wave.
When I was a kid, I embraced the endless stretch of time between school years. That feeling of drifting is one that I look back upon with fervor that borders on a jealousy of my former self. I can’t remember particulars, only that feeling of freedom from a life unencumbered, and drifting free. And while growing up has eliminated those epic spans of time, the drift can still be felt off the tarmac. I climb to crest the summit, and see the gravel bed lying down before me. I surge to pump speed into the backside of the summit grade. I lift my hips up and behind the seat, drop the heels, and personify a mountain lion about to pounce. As I accelerate downhill my speed indicator is simply the wind whipping along my ruffling jersey. The drive train whirs. Each tic of the freewheel is a stressball rolling off my shoulders. I dive into a massive sweeping gravel left. The bike leans over. While down below the tires claw for traction, up top I’m relaxed, I’m drifting. And as I hit the apex of the turn and begin to carve, the g-forces push the corners of my mouth upward. The wind. The drift. The smile. The endless sense of time between this corner and the next. I’m young again.
I cherish the moment knowing the road has gifted me this day. My life long kinship with the open road has been unwavering and feels like a warm blanket as I drift in and out of its familiar spaces. As I pedal along leaving a virtual trail of worries in the dust, I make subtle adjustments to my position unseen to the naked eye which will prove to be crucial over the next 6 hours. As I scan the horizon I can see my prominent and permanent friend off in the distance waiting for my arrival. My mind settles on the notion that every valley, every pebble, every inch of pavement, have defiantly conspired to deliver me to the top of the mountain.