Daybreak is beautiful. If you catch the first glint of sunlight, it means you’re still alive and breathing, given the gift of another day. On the East coast, the ocean view at dawn will quiet a chatty mind, make you sit and ponder planet Earth, your life and what the hell you’re doing that day. In cycling, it’s Dawn Patrol. It’s the first few hours of daylight, before you get lost in the fog. There’s something profound in the first few miles, a sense of purpose gets you going. It takes extra motivation to snatch up a Dawn Patrol. More than the average Joe can muster, it requires fortitude. Some of the finest cyclists I ever knew came from a military unit. They know what daybreak is all about. There’s nothing lazy about starting at 8 or 9 for a ride. I’m not saying that. It takes a concentrated effort and a clear intent to drag yourself from bed at 4:45 AM, just to go out and suffer. For fun. However you have to get it done, it’s worth it. At sunrise, the population is mostly asleep, the air is quiet and you can slip back in time, hundreds of years, before the noise of society and industry drowned out Mother Nature.
The local Starbucks ride meets at sunrise. It’s a big group. The group within the group is where you want to be. It’s less safe, less etiquette, more trash talk and much faster. It’s not for everyone. These guys take it to the edge! The fast guys are riding a little closer, taking turns a little tighter and climbing hard, trying to reach the top first.
At sunrise, you’ll pass and get passed by people in their cars, smoking cigarettes, eating processed breakfasts. They don’t like you, in fact, they hate you. You’re in their road, they’re late to a crappy job. You’re dressed like an asshole (in their opinion), in spandex and alien body coverings, you’ll get buzzed, nice and close by the SUV, the all wheel drive wagon, and definitely the dumptruck, they all hate you. This is your moment to live, you could get smeared by a car or cross wheels and crash out. It’s a glorious morning to be alive, get on it.
Waking up at 4:45 AM sucks. Chances are your bedtime was 12:00 AM or later. You were up looking at your phone. You had trouble sleeping. The alarm rings and off you go, out into the mist and quiet reserve of rural hills, with a handful of riders. It’s peaceful. The early morning air feels full of possibility and excitement. Until the first big hill, all of that crap is out the window. There’s nothing more satisfying than cycling, or a bloody knife fight while cycling in the lush green hills of Bucks County, PA. Everywhere you look, it’s a postcard from the past, covered bridges, farms, tall, waving grasses in the meadows and the appalachian ridges far off in the distance. The air is clean, the roads are smooth and winding. So many miles of perfect roads. Consequently, these conditions produce fine cyclists..
If you want a sense of accomplishment, ride 50 miles with your friends, at your hardest effort, before you go to work, at sunrise. You’ll be dragging ass all day, bleary eyes, hungry and nearly passing out on staircases. People will think you’re absolutely addicted to drugs or up all night partying. The truth is, you crushed it for breakfast, filled that few hours of precious early daylight with memories, adventure and purpose. You accomplished what so many wouldn’t dare. Everyone else woke up, had a cigarette or stuffed a wad of tobacco in their mouth, smoked weed or ate a donut, took a handful of psychotropic pills from their shrink, watched talk show news, sitting on their couch.
Reason number 1,034,991 why cycling makes your life better, Dawn Patrol!!