By, Raquel Miller

Morning of Quabbin Reservoir Road Race 

Text conversation between myself and Jenn Solomon – 
Me: You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when IT’S FREAKING COLD OUT!!
Jenn: What the f*** is wrong with us.  It’s 4:30am.  Not even.
Me: From the words of GaGa, “we were born this way!  By the way, your last comment was something out of a Paranormal video.  Haha!  Extranormal, or whatever the f*** it’s called.  Too early to be correct.

Jenn: The Ironman video.  Yep.  Now that you mention it.  Haha!

The beauty of being a part of any sport is that your fellow athlete friends are, for the most part, always on the same schedule as you.  You’re up preparing for your 5:30am ride, chances are there are hundreds of other cyclists doing the same, at least in New York City!  As the self-proclaimed, overly joyed, early morning person, I always felt bad if I texted anyone early in the morning asking them stupid questions like “Full tights or knee warmers? Winter gloves or “Fallish” gloves”?  Winter jacket or long sleeved jersey?”  I drafted so many texts in my running and triathlon days and never sent them, but for some reason I have no hesitation when it comes to cycling.  And the people who I speak to frequently in the mornings, I don’t even bother sending them the “Are you up?” text because I know they are.  Anyone who knows me knows that if they have a question early in the morning, my response is in Cyber Space before they even have a chance to put their phone down!

It’s kind of sick, I guess, that I actually take pleasure out of early morning conversations, via text or email.  It’s like I think I’m cool or something that I have friends who are just as crazy as I am to wake up at 4am in order to make it to a race that’s three and a half hours away.  I don’t think most people in this world would feel the same, but in my demented mind, it’s really freaking cool!

So, what’s so cool about being up when the majority of people in NYC are still asleep?  Here are a few things:

– I get to take my bike down the “normal” people’s elevator rather than the service elevator
– I get to exit out the “normal” people’s’ exit rather than the service exit
– I get VIP attention from the doorman therefore they are all of a sudden interested in what I’m up to
– I can walk down the sidewalk with a “wide load” and not worry about knocking out people with my wheel bag and pump
– I can make U-turns
– I can put my car in reverse down a one-way street
– I can drive up or down any avenue without getting stopped at a red light

Who wouldn’t be excited about all of the aforementioned?!  And that is just a small portion of what’s so great about being an early bird.  I can’t really say it’s better than being a night owl because I have never been that person, but to each is own.

Saturday morning I picked up my passengers and we headed to Ware, MA where the Quabbin Reservoir RR was taking place.  The entire way up we talked about cycling-related topics and I can’t help, but think of “Shit Cyclists Say”.  Sure, I laughed my butt off when I saw that video for the first time and I even tried to act as if I never say things like that, as if I’m one of the very few, non-dorky cyclists, but I’m afraid I can’t not put myself into that category.  I don’t care who you are, if you are a competitive cyclist and you race frequently and you care about your performance, you would most definitely fall into the “Shit Cyclists Say” category.  Yep, that’s right, you have to learn to accept it!

Often times I hear cyclists say “Why do we do this to ourselves?”.  After hurting so badly in a race we turn around six days later and do it all over again.  How about the person who talks about how much they suck and how they really don’t want to train or race yet they have repeat appearances season after season.  Oh, but the best is the person who tries to come across as someone who doesn’t really care how they perform because “they just do it for fun.”  While it’s a respectable effort to take all of the pressure off of yourself, and I can appreciate this, but most cyclists don’t race just to have fun because getting dropped and soloing off the back into the finish is not fun whatsoever!

I know why I wake up at 4am to leave for a race that’s three and half hours away.  I know why I think I’m cool when I can text or email back and forth with multiple people before the rest of the City wakes up.  I know why I always participate in the “Shit Cyclists Say” conversations.  I know why I continue to race week after week no matter how much it hurts.  WHY? Because no matter what has happened in my life the past year and a half, my bike has always been there for me.  It never turned its back and it never gave up on me.  And just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my bike picked me up and took me for an unforgettable ride.

At the end of the day, we do what makes us happiest even if it’s somewhat of an unconscious decision.  So when you’re asking yourself, as a cyclist, why you do all of the things I just discussed, remember what brought you the happiest memories in the past year and you’ll have your answer!

HAPPY RIDING FOLKS!

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