Every day for three weeks I headed out for an early morning bike ride with either my sister, my dad, or both. Each day started the same way, with a sleepy case of the I-don't-want-to's that dissipated instantly when bike tires met pavement. It's hard to stay grumpy watching the sunrise while you generate your own morning breeze.
There is something peaceful and almost secretive in being out to watch the world wake up. Neighborhoods are mostly still and quiet, but there are exceptions at every turn: the early morning walkers, the first few drivers heading to work, and surely, the dogs. Always the dogs. Giving excited barks, friendly wags of the tail, some of the calmer breeds even giving a seeming nod of the head in greeting as they go about their own beginning-of-day duties. Still, there were a few times even the most diligent and energetic watch dogs only peeped through one sleepy eye as we passed by.
Soon a later-each-day sunrise met with an earlier start to the day because of school schedules, and early morning rides were no longer feasible.
Temperatures were still a soaring 100+ in the evenings, so bicycles sat untouched for a week or more.
Finally we had a break in the weather, and highs only reached into the chilly low 90's. The first opportunity we had, my sister and I hopped on our bikes for an evening ride.
After a morning habit, cycling through town observing the end of the day was a flip-flop.
The air didn't have that early crisp-cool to it. Instead it was an odd mix, still carrying the heavy heat of the day, but with a cooler breeze around the edges. Even if that cool breeze was only generated by the speed of our ride.
Although we definitely saw more cars than on an early ride, there still weren't an awfully lot of people out. I imagined them all back home for the day, work-day finished, errands done, time to wind down before starting over again tomorrow.
The smells were different too. Dinner-time smells. Laundry smells. Smells of home and families.
Even though there was still at least an hour of daylight left, many of our dog friends seemed to have given up and packed it in for the day. The ride was relatively bark-free.
Was it hard to get out of bed all those mornings and force my body to get busy pedaling, balancing, keeping up? Definitely. But I was always glad I did, and I was surprised to find I missed those rides.