dawn patrol with black cat and added hill climb
I managed to get out the door at 6:03, which isn't easy for a sleep-loving guy like yrs.trly. I had to pause to remind myself to vigorously swipe the left pedal with my toes to get into the clip, but after that all mechanical things just sort of melted away into calm and peace and smooth-running flow. The traffic lights were all my friends, people on the sidewalk waved or nodded to my "good morning" salutations, and things were all as they should be.
The sky was clearer this morning, so I didn't get the dramatic sunrise of Tuesday, but it was still pretty enough. I snaked my way around past the courthouse - which I really should shoot some morning, because today it had a nice coppery glow - and went down past the craggy grand old house at the corner of of Edgefield and Mineral and zipped on down past the project and the fortress-like whitewashed complex behind the razor wire where they do who knows what and whipped around onto the rail trail. I paused long enough to change over to my sunglasses (which stay on my face better) and snap a quick photo.
So full of promise, the Greenwood Rail Trail - such an essential little route for meditative cycling. It is its own little Appian Way, a gateway to routes that carry one out to all the good old roads like Rock House or Briarwood, itself an access to a zillion good rides.
Alas, my time today was limited, so I set out to make the best of it. I picked up the pace, something easy to do on this flat, smooth, uninterrupted trail, and burned on along. I encountered the same small black cat in the same general vicinity as I had seen him last time, and as always he fled. I understand that he is probably feral, I am a strange-looking creature approaching at speed on whooshing wheels, so of course he flees. All of that is absolutely logical, but still there is a part of me that wants to befriend every feline I meet, and black cats will always remind me of Hannibal the Magnificent, who among other things loved to hang out in a wheelbarrow in the garage while I worked on bikes. Requiescat in pace, Hannibalissimo.
I met an oncoming jogger and we nodded to each other and went on our ways. Later, I overtook a lady out walking, carrying the inevitable golf club - there is a sociological study waiting to be done on people who carry golf clubs while out walking - and I was nice and gently rang the bell, twice, before calling out "good morning." I got a nice smile in response, because the bell really DOES convey ideas like bicycle and no harm and a nicer vibe than, say, "on yer left" would.
I hooked it left and came back in the usual way via Florida Avenue, for once catching a break at the light on Highway 34 and getting to cross behind a car that had been waiting, patiently, for me to follow in its slipstream. No dogs, no cars following or passing too closely, just the clean burn down the hill and then standing to dance up the other side. I noted in passing that I was slower today than Tuesday going up and concluded that wasn't something to be concerned about and promptly wasn't. There were cars waiting on the other side of Marshall Road, so I slowed, then managed a really impressive track stand - though I suspect I was the only one impressed. The light went green, I rolled on and came back through town the way I always do through Uptown Greenwood.
I took the Bailey Circle/Jennings Avenue route, choosing this time to go a little further down to make my way up to Reynolds, then going down to Gatlin, right in front of funky old Whaley Tires in the place they've been since probably before I was born, and working my way around to Woodland, which dumped me out near the bottom of the hill on E. Sproles. I decided it was good, and I needed to stand on the bike, so I did. I felt that hill, deeply, and swept around toward home before looking at the time - 6:52. Hmmm, I thought, and I went down E. Henrietta to Cokesbury and circled around to take the hill on Sproles again, punching the Gitane harder and faster up the hill, making myself work for it - it's not a long hill, but it is steep enough, and I needed it, so there. I took the loop around Melrose Terrace again and back home, putting a foot down at 6:59. I had 12 miles for the morning, time enough to get ready for work, and great thankfulness to my Creator for such a good start to the day.