Thursday, October 30, 2008

Concerning Early Mornings

In my youth, I was unapologetically nocturnal, which predilection was well accommodated for some time by my job waiting tables. My usual routine was to work from 4:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., then ride my bike into Manhattan (work was in Brooklyn) and carouse until around 5:00. This allowed me the lyrical opportunity to stumble home just as dawn was extending her rose-red fingers across the Brooklyn sky, and was made all the more delightful (in my mind, anyway) by the fact that in the lot behind my building there was an actual rooster in residence, which would frequently be crowing as I got into bed. As far as I'm concerned, that was the life, and I think back on it fondly (except for the no money, the busted-down apartment, the dead-end job, and the frequent bouts of crushing, booze-soaked loneliness; but I digress).

There was also a time in my younger days when I worked the morning shift as a bike messenger, from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Now, I should say that it wasn't a bad job, hours notwithstanding. I worked for a color printing lab, so I drew an hourly salary, had a warm office with free coffee to take refuge in between runs, and was additionally blessed because the manager who frequently ran the shop when the owner was out had a side gig as a purveyor of medicinal herbs, and was a generous man by disposition (if you catch my meaning). All of that said, I recall those early morning starts as something of an ordeal, especially in winter, when I had to start my eight-mile commute in the cold, slushy dark.

The combination of my night-loving nature and my experience at the messenger job left me with the firm conviction that people who get up before they have to for the purpose of engaging in any physical activity other than coitus are fools. But the time must come, I suppose, to put aside childish things, including rigid beliefs about how best to live one's life (I used to hate animal abuse, for example, but now that I'm married with kids, I kick puppies all the time). So today, at the tender age of 31, I fully abandoned my 21-year-old self's abhorrence for needless early rising and got up extra early so I could ride my bike from New Haven to Bridgeport instead of taking the train.

And you know what? It was great. Sure, it was cold, but I was mostly pretty comfortable (except for my toes; Christ, my toes were cold, even with the thicker socks I picked out for the occasion. I need to do a separate post like yesterday's gloves post about what to do to keep feet warm when riding in winter). And certainly, it was dark, which is a little scary on the busy-ish state highways between New Haven and Bridgeport (Rte. 162 and Rte. 1, in this case). But it wasn't that busy at 6:15 a.m., and the dark was kind of cool, because day was just breaking off to my left over the Sound, so when I rode through a wooded area or a valley, it would seem like night, and then when I crested a hill or caught a view of the water, the sky would be on fire and beautiful. And when I got to work in Bridgeport, I felt energetic and healthy, which is actually sort of a nice feeling. Also, there was this view:


(You should definitely click on this picture to see the larger version.)

12 comments:

Brendan said...

do you have a panoramic cell phone camera?

El Presidente de China said...

Nope. A regular 6-megapixel digital and some free panorama-stitching software.

Mark said...

I rode in this morning, too, and my biggest beef, or shall I say coldest extremity was my toes, too. I was wearing a single wool sock and my Gore-tex MTB boots. I probably should have left them in the house overnight instead of the garage floor and probably a thinner wool sock would have been better. Once again, I have to reaffirm nothing beats fixed gear commuting!

El Presidente de China said...

Wait, a single wool sock? So one foot was bare? You are hardcore.

Rich said...

You assume that either: A) Mark has two feet or B) he was wearing the sock on a foot.

suitcaseofcourage said...

Glad brendan asked my question . . .

GREAT shot!

Esp. nice since I used to live in Milford and recognize that peculiar slant of sunrise this time of year (though I can't quite place the location).

As someone who works in Hartford (and occasionally commutes from Old Saybrook, by bike) I really enjoy your blog.

suitcaseofcourage said...

BTW, regarding toes - I've done pretty well with regular wool socks and booties, with a twist. I cut the ziplock off of a regular size ziploc bag and use that between my sock and shoe.

I've heard good things about toe warmers (small heat packs, usually used in hunting boots), but I haven't needed to try them yet.

Brendan said...

I switch to clips and straps or platforms for when it's really cold so I can wear shoes with no vents.

I've yet to buy booties. Are they worth it? Will they make me look like a doofus?

El Presidente de China said...

Wait, SOC, you commute from Old Saybrook to Hartford by bike? That's over 40 miles! You are even more hardcore than Mark!

Actually, I contemplated riding all the way from home in West Hartford to New Haven this morning (~35 miles) but abandoned the plan because I need to head back to Hartford during the workday and it would take too long. Still, you are a beast.

Brendan said...

that's why he races cat 3 and we don't.

El Presidente de China said...

Speak for yourself, Brendan. I have raced so many cats, I can't even keep track of them all.

Mark said...

I have two feet and I wore a pair of socks, one on each foot. I think the trick is to have a little room in the shoe for the toes to breath and move around.

Might have to move to flats and some gumboots for colder riding, which I have done before so it's do-able.

As long as I am riding fixed I would rather be clipped in.