Padda. Padda padda padda. The possums tap out their pre-dawn marsupial rhythm, moving lithely across the terracotta tiles.
It’s still dark. I know this without opening my eyes. Other senses engage and come online. Sense of breath. Sense of self. My quads twitch and feel strong. I’m riding today.
Arising quietly I move with purpose. The sequence is known, a well-worn groove. Toast, tea, toilet, teeth, knicks, baselayer, shirt, socks, cap, water bottle, backpack, helmet, gloves – finally, shoes.
I close the door quietly behind and step out. Meg is there. Waiting, patient, ready. I know she doesn’t need it but I’ve got time and the ceremony is comforting. A wipe and twenty five drops of fresh lube. 110 PSI back and front. Rear light on, flashing.
A small part of my consciousness autocalculates the relative position of the red and yellow snake and then the optimal point of interception.
Meg’s bottom bracket creaks gently as I slowly pedal along Shepherd. I guide her around in a smooth arc into Tindale. I’m up out of the saddle and over the top of the 46 x 17 gearing. Maybe I’m ready to drop to 16. Maybe not. Sleeveless, it’s cool and I shiver slightly.
I reach the top of the hill as the first of my Egg and Tomato brothers arrive. Soon we have a quorum, then a throng, now a mob. Critical mass is reached, wry smiles and witticisms exchanged. The most appropriate point of attachment to the peleton selected.
And then we’re off, under a rising sun, a crisp Spring breeze at our backs. My core temperature rises and the endorphins start to flow. Spikes of adrenalin as obstacles are avoided, intersections negotiated, polite distances maintained.
Meg shies a little as we hit an unseen ridge. I overcompensate and grip too tightly before the resultant fatigue reminds me that I should trust her. Relax into to it. Go with the bumps and curves. Let her have her head a little. I’m rewarded with increasing smoothness and an eventual oneness of being.
On this impossible machine, weightless, I’m flying.