Wake Up Shake Up…
There are at least 5 things that must be done immediately on my awakening. Switch on the coffee pot. Open the back door for the dogs. Warm up the shower. Pee. Acknowledge dogs. Pee again. Feed dogs. Step into shower. Acknowledge dogs from shower.
Then, a little coffee, a little Sports Center, a check of the headlines to see who’s dead, and I pack my crap for the day. It all passes in a blur before I’m out the door for my morning commute. Just short of 15 miles, and roughly 50 minutes in duration, my bicycle ride to work each day is a joy.
Section 1: Temecula, CA is where my commute begins; the only Mediterranean climate in the US. The first 3 miles are a flat stretch along Pechanga Parkway – the perfect warm up. On fresh legs and fueled by an apple and black coffee, the rhythm of my morning synchs perfectly. I travel at roughly 24 mph for this stretch. The air is usually crisp with a moderate to heavy marine layer overhead. There is no wind, and on strong legs I glide effortlessly through the sea of red ceramic roof tops.
When I turn left and head south on Old Highway 395, I have an immediate climb of 250 feet over the next 1.2 miles – not a chore on fresh legs, and a good way to gather my senses for the impending day. With that single left turn, I transition from suburban to rural. This stretch is a series of 2-lane switchbacks that provide a few great glimpses of the Temecula valley as I climb my way out of town.
With just a slight change in elevation, I’m now pushing into the marine layer that was once above as the mist keeps me cool. Years of geological evolution have adorned these hills with large boulders in captivating postures. I imagine them as what condominiums might have looked like in the town of Bedrock. Sadly, this crosses my mind every morning.
Section 2: After I reach the top of the switchbacks most of the next few miles are fairly straight and slightly downhill. As I cross from Riverside County into San Diego County, I transcend climates as well. The scrub oaks and arid hills give way to eucalyptus trees, some palm and succulent nurseries, and the floral greenhouses along the way – because everything that can grow in San Diego’s north county will grow. The scent of eucalyptus wafting through the fog smells better than freshly brewed coffee.
This is the easy section of the ride with only 2 brief uphill sprints, but mostly my legs move to support the downhill glide. The final mile of this section is a steep downhill on which I usually coast to prepare my legs for the brief but exhilarating climb that begins on section 3.
Section 3: I turn right and cross over I-15 before I begin a short climb up East Mission Road headed into Fallbrook. This gets my heart-rate up for a few minutes, but it’s no chore. When I reach the top I usually sit up, let go the handle bars, and pull my shirt up to wipe sweat from my burning eyes.
The balance of my ride into work is an aesthetic gift. The ride is flat or slightly downhill with a few fun curves. I push this section hard since the peddling is easy, but I always take time to enjoy the great scenery that channels cars and bicycles alike into Fallbrook, including the little vineyard shown below.
The ride into Fallbrook on East Mission is roughly 4 miles, and is medicine for my soul. These views, along with the early morning fog are a large part of why I live here.
My Gears And Thoughts…
My bike has a double crank set. Unless transitioning, I’m always in 1 of 3 gears. Sadly, I actually have names for these gears. Even sadder, they are pathetic names; My Gear, My Other Gear, and My Different Other Gear. If I am not in one of these gears during the course of my ride, I have somehow failed with my sleep, fuel, or attitude.
Along the way my thoughts drift to the farthest reaches of my imagination, but never are they too far from what matters most — my ears. A good defensive cyclist rides with his ears first, knowing what’s behind matters more than what is in front. Most injured cyclists never see the vehicle that hits them. Still, my thoughts during my ride entertain me far better than any aspect of popular culture ever could.
Still Growing As An Athlete…
Explosive athletes are physically strong for short bursts. Endurance athletes are mentally strong over long periods of time. This commute is somewhere in the middle. I have always been a good explosive athlete, but never mentally strong with endurance sports. Though this commute is only 15 miles, it’s more than a sprint for me. I am attempting to break through the mentally strong barrier. Since beginning this commute several months ago, I am actually making strides in that direction. I’m pushing hills harder, scarcely coasting on flats, and I speed up for red lights rather than slow down for them.
My ride home is a different story. It comes at the end of the day, in heat, usually in wind, is mostly uphill, and always after my daily workout with the weights. There is no joy there. It is simply an obligation that I must return in order to enjoy my morning commute once again, but that is a story for another essay. Be well… rc
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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Sleepy Jackson. Enjoy!