0350 comes early – very early. The alarm on my iPhone — even at a very low volume, in an effort to not disturb my wife — roosters me awake. At that time in the morning, I think it’s a SmartAss phone!
I don’t believe it’s really 0350. I tap the snooze button for a short victory. 0355 arrives commanding alarm # 2 to perform its duties. The snooze button avoids my tap as I try to press on it – I’m able to run it down with my finger tip. Another reprieve.
0359 arrives – the snooze on alarm #1 expires and I’m reminded it’s a work day – snooze again.
0400 arrives – dang, alarm # 3 performs its intended function — tertiary backup just in case — it is needed this morning.
By now, I’m groggy awake realizing that any more snooze buttons will probably result in an inconsiderate waking of my wife. I force my body to roll right. I plead my feet over the bed’s edge and onto the floor. Grabbing the ‘smart’ phone, I click the clock icon and slide the 0350, 0355, 0400 and 0410 alarms to their off position — yes some days I need the 0410 alarm to get up. Did I say that this is really early? Doffing the PJs and slipping out of the bedroom, I close the door – almost all the way – behind me to minimize the intrusion of any getting-ready-for-work noise I may produce.
Next stop – the bathroom. With showering and shaving done the night before, the morning ritual calls for taking the blood pressure pill, brushing the entire inside of the mouth to excommunicate the night odors, a toilet break, washing the sleep out of my eyes and toilet break off my hands. Next I don my clothes – a layered approach is required for early morning motorcycle riding. Even at 60+ degrees, I need layers to provide some level of warmth while traveling at highway speeds for 40+ miles.
Don my clothes: Socks – on; thermal long johns – on; jeans – on; boots – on (laced up tight, loops tucked inside boot sides); long-sleeve T-shirt – on; warm, puffy Eddie Bauer jacket – on; protective jacket – on; headphones – plugged into iPhone; iTunes – queued, press play and the pause button on the headphone chord; ears – plugged with headphones.
Equipment check: motorcycle key – check; Entry badge for work – check; helmet – check; gloves – check.
Ready to go.
I quietly open the laundry room door, tip toe into the laundry room gently closing the door behind me. I enter the garage and press the garage door opener button softly – as though pressing it softly will result in less noise when the garage door rumbles open. The night floods the garage. By now, like a kid readying himself for the ride to Disneyland, I’m anticipating the ride to work – 46+ miles on a motorcycle, in the dark. Grabbing the ignition key from it usual place – the right, front pocket, I slide it into its home and turn up. The displays obey indicating readiness. I squeeze the clutch lever and thumb the starter button. A pause, another pause and the engine agrees it’s time to go to work.
Backing the bike out of the garage and to the left, I get ready for a quick safety check. But first, close the garage door — once again using a soft touch on the button. Safety check – turn signals OK, brake light activates, tire pressure OK, no apparent loose stuff – the bonnie’s ready! I remove my glasses and pull the white bandanna over my head and headphones then pull on my matte black helmet with a cafe racer soul. Replace the glasses and fasten the chin strap – snugly. I press the pause button on the iPhone headphone chord and Linkin Park joins the ride with “In the End” serenading my ears. I don my gloves, straddle the bonnie, flip up the kick stand, snap down the face shield and push down on my left foot engaging first gear. A throttle twist and slow clutch release begins the Dali-like journey to work.
The darkness at 0425, with Linkin Park in my brain, provides a surrealism only Salvador Dali could comprehend and portray on canvas. After departing my neighborhood and traveling 10 minutes on city streets, I take the left that allows me to merge onto my 40-or-so miles of highway riding to work. Describing the feeling of riding in the dark on the highway is akin to attempting to paint the wind.
Street lights arrive and blur past me while the dashed lines on the road become passing dots in my lower peripheral vision. Leaning into turns, blurring lights zipping past, the separator wall just feet to my left and tires gripping like epoxy, induces nostalgic brain juices that probably ingrained themselves when I was 10 years old have a blast while sledding down a steep winter hill in deep snow. Forty minutes later, unfortunately, after merging onto the AZ loop 101 North and I-17 South, I reach my exit and the demise of my surrealistic journey.
Pulling into the corporate headquarters parking lot for Goodwill of Central Arizona, I perform my morning emergency braking training – twice, then roll into my parking spot – it’s my parking spot only because no one else is at work that early. As I de-saddle the bonnie and walk toward the building, I peek back at the bonnie and appreciate the solitude under the street lights in the parking lot.
I can’t think of a better way to start my day – Salvador Dali’s surrealism in real life.