A Typical (Atypical) Morning Commute

It was 64 degrees and sunny Thursday morning when I was preparing my bike for the morning commute to work.  Not your typical fall morning in St Petersburg, FL, but a nice day for a ride.  There was a pretty good breeze -- weather reports indicated 10 - 15 MPH -- from the north, which added a challenging obstacle to the days ride, especially since my morning commute is due north (directly into this morning breeze). 

My morning ride seems a bit easier since the recent time change.  There is something about the sun being up in the morning that makes the ride a little easier to commence.  However, sun or no sun, a stiff wind in the face will always add some excitement to the ride.  I threw my right leg over the top tube of my Trek 7.3 FX, launched Endomondo on my HTC Evo 3D phone and started the countdown to "free my endorphins," as Endomondo likes to speak at the start of a ride.  I always track my ride so this part of the commute is almost ritual.  This day would bring a welcome surprise along the route.

As the countdown hit zero, I pushed my left leg down on the crank, securing my "clipless" shoes, which ironically are not "clipless" at all, into the pedals as I drifted towards 13th Avenue.  A quick right turn and off to the races I go, moving along the road with ease with just the hum of the tires rising from the road.  Travelling east for the next mile, I notice a rare site -- another cyclist on 13th Avenue at the intersection of US 19. 

As I prepare myself to greet my fellow rider as we wait out the traffic light I notice an odd familiarity to the cyclist I am approaching.  I have definitely seen this jersey and bike before.  I pull up beside my fellow commuter and he looks over and gives me a hearty "heyyyyyy!" greeting with his Caribbean accent; it is my cycling friend Earl Henry. I haven't seen Earl on roads since late September, when he was training for the World Championships.  I usually see him about seven miles north of here at a place called "Gateway Center."  Gateway Center is a great area for a cycling workout due to the amount of pavement and limited traffic.  

Earl Henry
It's always good to see Earl.  He told me about his experience at the October race in England where he won two gold medals and set a world record at the World Championships for Track racing.  We speak briefly before the light changes and then head off in our different directions.  Seeing my 70-year-old friend out on his bike is oddly comforting.  Earl is a picture of health and a testament to the benefits of cycling.

It seems the breeze has picked up a bit but the sun remains and traffic is light.  Endomondo calls out my total time and my lap speed as I cruise through the kilometers it tracks for me on my ride.  I hit 28th Street and turn north to ride the next 8 miles directly into the breeze that is challenging me to pedal harder.

The roads are dry, the hum of my tires continues, and the wind begins to laugh at me as I push through the invisible barrier it is trying to erect.  Yet through it all I can only smile.  Endomondo calls out another lap time, slower than the last, and the wind begins to laugh as it punishes me by turning my 40 minute commute into a 55 minute duel.

I pull into work and get ready to hit the showers as the wind whips the flag flying in front of our building.  My smile widens as I laugh at the wind for the punishment it gave me this morning.  For I know what the wind doesn't; while we fought for close to an hour for my morning commute, this wind will be my friend in a few short hours.  Richard, the security guard, tells me, "that must have been a tough ride."  I nod my head and point to the flag.  See how the flag is waving?  He says yeah.  The wind is coming from the north, in just a few hours, this wind will push me home. 

Sometimes fighting through the barriers of a ride are eased by the smile of knowing this current barrier will soon be your aide, your friend.  It was a good day to be on a bike.

Be safe!
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