What is it about the start of these rides? The all-day rides with dirt and climbing. The rides that begin in the early hours of the morning. We should feel groggy and tense after a night of little sleep. But everything is so still and serene that we are alert and open. The air is dewy. Faces are dewy. Everyone looks beautiful in the milky fog. It is not possible to know the weather yet. Everything hovers. The plants exhale and the scent they release is so strong it is almost unnatural. Is someone wearing perfume? No, it is flowers, grass, leaves, wet earth. We relax and exhale too.
Bags bulge with provisions and spare pieces of clothing. There is a friendly look to them; happy and full. Everyone wants to know what everyone else has brought. A show and tell of contents, a peek into each other's little bag-contained world.
Steel tubes rest against shrubbery. Surrounded by foliage, they blend into the organic colour pallets, muted in the early morning light.
Histories of bicycles are told and retold. Wonderment is expressed. Admiration is exchanged. The brand new feather-light racing bike is beautiful; we are envious. The hand-painted dump rescue with clumsy DIY braze-ons is beautiful; we are envious. Ditto for everything in between.
As inky darkness gives way to tentative lilac daylight, we slowly feel that sense of readiness swelling up within us. If the start of the ride is timed well, it will correspond with the crescendo of that sensation.