Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Good Morning.

Today I didn't ride to work. I took a carpool, having the positive problem of getting two bikes with just one rider. Yes, my Sojourn is in. We rolled into the office just moments before the shift started, grabbed coffee, and climbed into my desk.

Ugh.

The calls started coming in, and my mind sputters to life. The coffee isn't working quickly enough, and my eyes feel like they're made of glass. I blink, I type, I make keying errors.

Seriously, is this how most people feel at the start of every morning?

I try to dimly recall what work was like in my pre-riding days. I remember falling out of bed, rushing to work, and feeling ... well, just about like this. I remember working in the perishables department, the chill of the freezer and the pace of the stocking at last getting me started. I remember how desperate I was for the coke that I drank on my first break, since I was no coffee fan in those days.

How did I do it?

All right, I'll admit it, yesterday I was tired in the morning. For a few minutes, I didn't want to get on the bike! I woke up at six, got my gear together, and get on the bike. It's mostly quiet out on a dry morning, and a light haze of fog rolls off of the wetlands in the valley. A couple of cars are pulling out of my complex at the same time as me, which means I don't have to hike around the bushes to get past the gate, which won't open for bicycles.

For just a moment, I feel the cloudiness in my head, the slowly warming blood in my veins, and I think that it'd be nice, comfortable, to get into a car today. A cup of coffee in my hand would be nice, too, since I don't like to drink any just before I cycle -- I'd just listen to the radio and cruise on in.

The thought doesn't last long.

First thing out of my door is a hill, for which I'm grateful. Yeah, fine, so I like hills, but it's free heat on a chilly morning, and four hundred feet is no mountain. By the time I cross the highway, I'm comfortably warm, just enough to unzip the collar of my long-sleeved jersey. The dawn's brightening the horizon, but no sun yet over the tree-lined hill. Down the other side of the hill, into the valley, alongside the cars for a couple of miles, everything comes into focus.

I hope they protect the trees on the west side of the hill, the firs whose outer branches just drape over the side of the old valley highway, its pitted and lined pavement telling the lack of attention it gets from the dozen little cities it connects. Since the freeway came through, a hair before yours truly's cycling days, the old roads get scant attention, but still a solid flow of traffic.

I ride past a bizarre mix of neo-industrialists looking for cheap land, and the last vestiges of farms trying to hold out. Here's a container-storage facility, there's a childrens' play-structure shop. A little farm offering fresh-cut flowers is next, and then an old farmhouse that's been turned into a salon. A few rows of something green comes before the next highway interchange, and then a protected lowlying wetland, where it seems all of the dawn's fog has collected, a cinematic little blob of a cloud.

Then it's a turn to the east, the sun cresting the hill on the far side of the valley causing my eyes to blink and water as I cross back over that same new valley freeway. WA167 is crowded, recently expanded with new toll lanes, and I smile as I think of the traffic that I'm NOT in. It's easy to say that, of course, on a clear, sunny September morning. Then it's back north onto MY highway, the Interurban Trail that parallels the railroad in the center of the valley. Here, traffic is light, a few handfuls of commuters cruising along to keep my attention. By winter, it'll be an empty strip of pavement, shared only with the rabbits (thousands) and coyotes (less, after the rabbits.).

The whole trek is seventeen miles, takes just about an hour, and gets me to the warm shower and hot coffee that awaits your fortunate narrator at work. A shower, change, and I'm up to the desk, ready to go.

This is the right way to start a day, as I'm sure I've told you countless times before. On days like this, though, I am reminded again how much the little day to day decisions affect my overall life experience.

Since posts need illustration, here's the dock at the waterfront in Old Town Tacoma last weekend. What else do you need?

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