Dawn Patrol

Noise. A blaring klaxon just as the sun is starting to brighten the gray dawn. I’m rudely ripped from a pleasant, characteristically odd dream, bumbling for the off switch on my alarm.

The dog is unfazed.

I struggle out of bed, pull on my cycling shorts and a t-shirt, grab my preloaded pack and then lose a full three minutes trying to find my shoes, still sleep stupid. So much for a quick getaway.

The dog, awake and expectant, stares at me, so I buckle on her collar and I’d swear she smiles. I load my mountain bike and she loads herself into the truck, clearly familiar with the routine.

It’s a quick twenty minute drive to the deserted parking lot, unfashionable this time of year because of the heat, sand, cows and rattlers that plague these trails in the summer. But in the cool morning air heat is not a problem and I don a thin wind layer for the initial climb, smirking at my summertime cold intolerance. It’s probably 60 degrees in the shade.

Straight out of the truck we toil uphill, grinding cobwebs and generating heat.

Ripping down hills, shirtsleeves now, little gaps and drops a joy to me. Cows fear me. Cowshit finds me, courtesy of my spinning tires.

At the first junction, a choice, and I pick the shorter loop, which lets me make it down in time for work today. Besides,the dog needs the water at the falls.

Falls!

A bona fide waterfall in the desert. A continuous miracle of plenty every day, witnesses or no. The dog’s heels kicking with joy. Water aplenty. Full, stumpy tail wagging immersion.

After the joyous drop to the falls comes the climb. Sandy, loose, doesn’t matter. Fat tires float across sandy stretches like a chubby footed elf, powering up onto the last ridge and the final downhill reward.

I take it comfortably fast. Red rocks, cedars, little stone kickers and turns. This is what I came for.

I see the dog every time I expect to. She knows my line as well as I do and cuts back to find me regularly. We ride this way, we hike this way and we hunt this way. Our pace is all that changes.

Back at the truck. Water for the dog, gloves off, bike loaded, driving home.

Dog fed, then I’m showered and dressed. Breakfast courtesy of my excellent wife (sauteed greens and a poached egg; salt, pepper and vinegar).

Off to work.

Not every day has to be a hardcore adventure. Sometimes you just need to move.

And you should.

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