Little Loop

I’m riding against a string of bike headlights in the short hour before dawn. Commuters are heading south along Seattle’s Burke – Gilman trail. I’m moving in the opposite direction. Riding a little loop before work. With each pass I move my left hand from the hoods and place it over my headlight enough to shield the eyes of my fellow riders. Not everyone returns the favor, but I’ve learned to look away.

It is Tuesday. The first day of my riding week. Two weeks ago I was sick, and last week the cough was still so bad that I couldn’t ride a block without taking on the cough of a twenty year smoker. The pre-dawn ride, which at this time of year really isn’t all that early, fits with my new work schedule.

I don’t have a plan for today’s ride, other than the hope of getting the remainder of the sick out of my lungs. These morning rides do have their own function though. Since switching to four – ten hour shifts I’ve had to try and peel myself from the warmth of my bed and into the cool of my office where the thermostat only gets turned up on the coldest days. With hope of arranging some words into something resembling a story.

After my writing comes my riding. The morning hours before I go to work and have to wear the mask of a gregarious bike salesman are filled with figuring where I am in world. The words and the rides aid in that search. I’ve accustomed myself to these early mornings, and I’ve managed to find roads that aren’t well traveled.

The night before I emailed with a friend about making the time to do the things we love, when so much of our day is filled with work that may or may not fulfill us. Its part of life and ignoring the need to make time necessary to keep us connected to the things that help us be who we are. Maybe that makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t. Either way the emails made waking up easier this morning.

It doesn’t take long to get past the commuters and into the quiet neighborhoods. I climb Perkins to 25th Ave NE and remove the banana that is my breakfast from my left jacket pocket. I stop and start to cough. Large blobs of mucus break loose and rise into my mouth. I spit them out, finish the round of coughs and peel the banana.

25th drops down, and hangs right before crossing 24th when it rises steeply. There is no shoulder, but this is one of my favorite climbs in Seattle, and by now most people have made it to work, or are close enough to it that they aren’t just leaving their driveways.

Soon I’m back home with enough time for a real breakfast and an espresso before dropping down to Green Lake for work. Happy to have made the time – instead of hoping for it to be found – before I have to give that time to someone else.

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