My Saturday morning riding buddies inspire me, each in their own way. Jon B. in particular inspired me to re-think when I can get in miles. He has long commuted to his job, from Batavia to Glen Ellyn, through much of the year. This is no easy feat through the traffic-sodden west suburbs of Chicago. Now Jon is preparing for the 24-hour challenge, so he is building more miles. And how does he do this, with a busy FT job and a young family? Well, he has added his riding time before his commuting time, on occasion leaving his house at 4am and arriving at work after completing 100+ miles!
Well, says I, I have lights for my bike. I should try riding early. And so, 2 days ago, I set out to do.
I checked the hour-by-hour report on weather.com, and then mapped a route on Google maps based on the fairly stiff wind that we were getting through the night and would continue during the ride hours. I laid out my clothes, and go things ready for an early start. Set the alarm, then of course slept terribly for excitement, and hearing the wind howling.
But I rolled out of the driveway as planned at 5:30am. (Hey, I'm no Jon B!) One mile down the road I realized that I had left without my helmet. I have ridden with a helmet for 26 years ... one never takes off without one - especially in the dark?! So I went back and started over. Three miles down the road I reached for a drink ... no water bottles. After a helmet, hydration is my highest riding priority. On my planned 50-mile ride I would not come across a place to buy sport drink or bottled water, for at least an hour; which is too long for me.
At this point, I realize that this was not going to be the morning for my first early ride. So I decided to just do one of my casual loops and call it a bad start to a good idea. When I pinged a rock, I naturally thought "what if I flat?" And then realized that I had won the trifecta of forgetfulness ... because I had forgot my pump, too; the third item that is a "must" for a long, solo ride. Well, I didn't need it (or the water, or probably the helmet neither). And I determined to not let it ruin my day. I finished my 12 miles and, since I had already planned to go into work late, treated myself to a leisurely hour or so of reading in our sunroom.
The next day, which was supposed to bring rain, showers, and possibly thunderstorms, turned out to be gorgeous. Warm, slightly overcast sun, and almost no wind. Naturally there was no way I could take time away to ride. (It is a fallen world, after all.) But this morning, ah this morning I gave the early ride another shot. And having learned from the incomplete ride 2 days ago, I got off at 5:30 with everything I needed. And I got in 53 miles, at 16.7mph average, in 3 hours 10 minutes. Now, that's worth getting up early for!