Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Four A.M. is caught in the middle. Not really night but certainly not yet morning, it straddles the line between a very late time to go to bed and a very early wakeup call. Today, I'm awake.

I roll out of bed at three thirty, having lain in a strange state of half-sleep for the past two and a half hours. It's clear that this is all the sleep I'm getting tonight. I'm certain that my chest couldn't be a comfortable pillow for anyone else, because it's not even comfortable for me to lean my head on my own shoulder: it's all bones, muscles, and tendons. A weekend's break from riding and massive eating added two pounds back to my six-foot frame: the scale now says 139.

Considering this makes me hungrier, but it's a myth, an illusion created by a stomach that isn't sure how to take the rapid-fire dietary changes I've been subjecting it to. Today, I ate a large breakfast at 9:00, got on the bike at 11:00, and arrived home at about 3:30, when I ate some kind of compiled lunch-dinner that lasted about 90 minutes and contained some 2500 calories of cereal, pasta, toast, orange juice, and bananas. The concept of what is "dinner food" and what is "breakfast food" is completely lost upon me. My favourite meal of the day has always been breakfast, especially those at 5:00 am when you haven't been to sleep. I have a newfound love of scones. This morning, I'm planning on eating two of La Provence boulangerie's sizable scones -- a maple-walnut one and a raspberry one -- but the cafe that serves them won't open for three hours.

I make myself two slices of toast, some tea, and, with nothing else to do, start getting ready for the next day. I'm washing and filling water bottles, inflating tyres, lubricating chains, laying out various layers of stretchy black clothing.

Today's ride up Dixie mountain made me feel pretty happy to be alive: it's an 8-mile long, 4-percent gravel slope; a fairly gradual climb in my book, but steady. Sunny weather in the 40's was warm enough to unzip my jersey all the way on the trip up, but not to get all hypothermic on the way down. The ponds in the farmlands surrounding the mountain are still frozen over; it dips well below freezing at night, rare for this time of year, and the sun doesn't warm the air enough to let it really melt. Small creeks and brooks still flow, but any standing water is frozen. Climbing hills like this isn't exactly FUN, but it makes me feel alive, and I try not to take the little things for granted. The mere fact that my legs and my lungs can DO this is something to be thankful for.


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