The alarm went off at 5:30. Entirely too early for a Sunday. Rolled out of bed just long enough to hit the snooze and attempt to capture 10 more minutes of sleep. Putting the alarm clock across the room seemed like a good idea at the time. When was the last time I was able to sleep in, anyhow? Unable to remember, I count the days until my vacation. Bleep, bleep, bleep. Roll out of bed and commit to getting up. Sigh...
I consume some oats, blueberries and protein powder while catching a few minutes of TV. Nothing but infomercials at this hour. Probably a good thing as I need to start packing up in 30 minutes. Toss on biking gear, brush teeth, pack tennis clothes for my match later in the day and gather up sport bottles & fig newtons for my ride. Load up my bike and I am on the road to meet my friend for our Sunday AM ride.
The sunrise seemed especially lovely this AM or maybe I just haven't take the time to notice lately. I pull into our meeting spot and write the route in sharpie on my arm continuing on to my leg as there are many turns and I run out of space. The route is so familiar, it seems silly to still rely on written directions. At this point, it is much like using your GPS to get home from work. I keep writing, just in case. Fresh air in tires, Garmin turned on, sport bottles on the bike and we head out into the fresh country air.
We pedal past the horses with the coats so velveteen in appearance, I resist the temptation to pull over and pet them. We offer a friendly 'hello' to the man sitting on his porch enjoying the morning. A deer darts through the pasture on the left. A rabbit hops into the brush on the right. We continue on our route through the rolling hills. At times, they seem never ending. A constant up and down with the occasional hill steep enough to make your legs weep for a moment. Twenty one miles later we are back where we began committed to riding the loop one more time. We stop just long enough to top off our water bottles in anticipation of the thermometer continuing to climb.
Back past the velveteen horses, the rabbits, the turtle who knows he is safe crossing the road as there is no traffic to speak of on this day or any other for that matter. Another deer darts across the road 10 feet in front of me. We inhale the country air as we ride, chatting about upcoming races. My friend and I constantly swap the lead position as she flies past me on the downhills and I catch her on the climbs. We are thankful that we topped off the water bottles as now they are dangerously close to empty.
Forty three miles after we began, we are back at the car. Is this the same girl who only a few short months ago was celebrating not falling over while still clipped in and wondered if she would ever figure out how to properly change gears? The one who was worried about arriving back to transition dehydrated going into the run because she couldn't drink or eat on the bike? I feel nothing but pride as I load my bike back on the rack for the ride home. I can't believe I have ridden my bike 43 miles. A new distance record!