It’s getting darker in the evenings. I don’t want to become a night biker (although at some point, I will buy myself some lights). I need to get out on the bike more. I can’t leave work early. Hence, the decision to get up early and do some riding.
Wasn’t exactly all my idea, to be honest; Amanda said it first. Of course just because someone suggests something doesn’t mean you immediately do it. I think it was only when I started looking outside at 6pm and seeing the sun was down, and on weekends realising I’d have to get onto the bike pre-4pm for the chance of getting a ride in before dusk… that’s when I sighed and realised I had no choice.
So, alarm goes off at 7am this morning, I roll out of bed and peer out the window. It looks kinda grey, and feels kinda cold, so I pull out a long-sleeved t-shirt (that I really didn’t want to sweat in, to be honest) and put it on with everything else. Keep 50p in my pocket for any potential nightmare scenario phonecalls (“Hon? I got sideswiped and the bike’s totalled… I’m okay… just send a cab for me, okay?”) and nip downstairs. I’m on the road at 7:15, with Razorlight’s In the Morning making me smile, in a why-the-hell-am-I-doing-this way.
First thing to realise… Brighton streets certainly aren’t empty at 7am. They’re quiet, but there’s a steady stream of folks walking up our street to the station; London commuters, on the way to the station, I guess. I’m blinking sleep out of my eyes and avoiding dogwalkers, questioning myself all the way to the seafront, but then I hit a series of good curves and small downhill stretches and feel the way anyone does when they let gravity work for you; great.
The sea’s a little choppy this morning, grey with white caps, and the wind feels strong but I manage to keep up a good pace. At least, what I feel like is a good pace for 20 minutes out of bed. There’s a steady string of bikes passing me in the opposite direction, and I even go past a girl looking like she’s struggling more than me. But she’s smiling.
Interesting mix of bikers, though. Most of them look like commuters, judging by dress, and I wonder if they’re on their way to a really distant office (Rottingdean?) or if they’re just early starters. (One of our office biking types is always in before 8:30am.) I see a few training types; one pensioner in full-on racing gear, and one other guy who could be my identikit twin – shorts, t-shirt, bike helmet, glasses, pained expression on his labouring face. Add a ginger-ish beard and we’d be separated at birth.
In my mind I’ve told myself that ten miles is out of the question this early in the day. For one thing I know that my usual hour-long round trip will take another hour to cool down from, and that’s not time I can afford. I figure that five miles will do it, so I pause at the bandstand near the Leisure Centre, turn and look back at the seafront. Light is breaking through the clouds in a sunburst, not only warming me for the first time but again reminding me that I really do need to take a camera when riding.
I watch it become less spectacular for a few minutes, then head home. Razorlight are singing Back to the Start on my headphones as I round the last couple of corners.