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King of the Road

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I dragged myself out of bed at an ungodly hour this morning to put in some much-needed time in the saddle. After topping off the tires, filling my water bottle, and stowing my phone, I turned right and headed for the coast. Mercifully, the air was cool in the dips and hollows and a ghostly mist blanketed the meadows like ethereal cotton candy.

Today is going to be another hot, hazy, humid scorcher with temperatures reaching into the 90s for the third day in a row. New Hampshire students are lucky enough to return to non-air conditioned schools in the midst of a heatwave. Maybe they can all crowd into the server closet for relief.

As I glided down the road on my recently upgraded Felt Z100, I looked back and saw... nothing. That's the way it should be. I own the roads at this time of day. Any vehicle that passes by is in direct violation of my stringent expectations of solitude and the right to ride down the median unfettered by traffic laws.

Eventually it happened. I heard it coming from a ways back as the driver ground through several gears in trying to climb a rather innocuous incline. It was one of those gargantuan flatbed trucks with a mysterious cargo bound under a black tarp. It spewed dirt, rocks, and noxious fumes as it passed by me.

I turned my head as if to cough for the doctor, attempting to find some clean air. The venomous truck passed by much too close, and the wind turbulence nearly sent me sideways into the loose gravel at the edge of the road. Idiot! I wondered if the driver, or anyone he cared for, had ever ridden a bicycle.

I reached the coast just as my legs were beginning to realize they were in it for the long haul. My quads started to tighten up around my knees and I could feel the first signs of the heavy, lactic acid build-up that comes from an aggressive pace. I eased up a bit, shifted gears and settled into a nice steady cadence trying not to dry heave from the seaweed stench at low tide.

At Bass Beach surfers chatted happily as they pulled their boards and drained their coffee mugs. These are working surfers. They put on ties and sit in cheap cubicles making cold calls after catching some gnarly waves. They're okay with me. They get it.

I turn around at Odiorne State Park and check my watch. I'm 12 miles in, with another 11 to my front door. I turn my bike into the wind and start back along Route 1-A so that I can witness the beauty of the early morning sunlight on the waves.

On the way back, I pass a few runners, several dog walkers, and a seemingly endless stream of senior citizens. The sun is up and the spell has been broken. I ride defensively, trying to anticipate the moves of the drivers, the dogs, and the people.

I give other cyclists a head nod if I'm grinding, and a friendly wave if I'm cruising. I look upon the runners with envy and hope that my plantars fasciitis heals in time for me to run Boston. Registration is only a week away.

As I pull into my driveway past the recycling bins waiting to be collected, I give thanks to the powers that be for making it home alive. I'm ready to face the day with an able body and an open mind. Although next time, I may have to get up a little earlier.

Follow Jason's adventures at SaltmarshRunning.com.