The gift of free kilometres

Never look gift kilometres in the mouth.

When Princess of Pavement asked me two days running, “aren’t you going for a ride?” the nature of her enquiry and the way she asked it implied encouragement.

I hadn’t planned to ride.

On Sunday I was scheduled to work on a special project so I was resigned to missing the weekly FRF ride. Instead I went for a solo roll on Friday. When I reminded PofP after her ride query Saturday night, she suggested I could head out early, before I had to work.

Hmmmmmm, free kilometres!? Yes please!

Mario Bartel storyteller cyclist photographer
Morning roll-out by dawn’s early light.

Living in an open loft presents challenges for any early or late activities. There’s no door to close to muffle the noise. And while Little Ring has a separate room with a doorway, his senses seem to roust at first light and await any cue that the day is set to begin, especially if that cue indicates breakfast is being prepared.

“Is it morning yet?” he’ll cry out. “I’m hungry.”

So an early-morning ride requires meticulous preparation the night before. That means placing the bike by the door, hanging kit in the bathroom for changing, placing shoes, helmet, gloves and emergency kit somewhere clear of creaking floor boards, honing muscle memory to avoid those noisy floor boards, putting out breakfast utensils and dishes to minimize drawer and cupboard opening, rounding up breakfast ingredients to limit the number of times the fridge has to be opened and closed.

Mario Bartel storyteller cyclists blogger photographer
Free kilometres usually mean flat kilometres to maximize their impact on my mileage goals.

The pressure is enormous. One false step, one moment’s inattention could disturb the pre-dawn silence.

The unexpected evening ride, however, usually comes with a peace dividend. It seems Little Ring is more amenable to sticking to his bedtime script when there’s only one of us around; it’s as if he has an innate sense there’s no “good cop” around who will accede to his various nighttime stalling games just to keep the peace.

So when Princess of Pavement asked again on Monday whether I was going for a ride, I was gifted another great big mozza ball of free kilometres.

Mario Bartel storyteller photographer blogger cyclist
The sun begins to set at Iona Beach

And while they’ll help get me a little closer to my usual July goal of 1,000 kilometres for the month, I’m resigned that I likely won’t attain it this year. Working at a new job and not having my traditional two weeks holiday during the Tour de France to pile on the rides has been the Yoko Ono to my Strava goals.

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