Saturday, 6:00am. The alarm wakes me from a dream, but the immediacy of the demands on me wipes it from memory. A mood lingers, but eludes the bonds of language. I slip out of bed, acutely aware that someone else doesn’t have to be up this early and could use the sleep.

Beyond the bedroom door, bedlam awaits: 3 cats, 2 yowling, 1 eeping. Mehitabel is very thirsty and has probably been waiting on the bathroom sink all night to tell me so. Buddy is disoriented, but eerily recovered from whatever left his two hind legs non-functional yesterday. archy patiently waits for food, but flees at the prospect of medication. He’s starting to look like a skeleton that swallowed a cantaloupe, but he’s outlived his death sentence by two months now. As long as he’s happy and comfortable… I lure him back in with a treat, and medicated, he eats his cat food.

I start in on my performance-enhancing drug of choice: a big cup of coffee.

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The nice thing about an event near home is the ability to rethink my outfit at the last minute (although I usually pack for contingencies). Today, though, what I laid out last night is still perfect. I slowly acquire layers and pack equipment. I’m almost out the door when I remember to eat breakfast. My Kelly Kapoor mug of Intelligentsia notwithstanding, I’m not a morning person. Breakfast consumed, the dregs of the caffeine transferred to my silver sparkly Dollywood travel mug, my road bike and I are out the door at 7am.

The really nice thing about an event I’ve done before is not having to think. I know where I’m going, I know where I’m parking, I know where I’m checking in. Even though I left the house at the moment the organizers suggested we be there to check in, I’ve checked in and have an hour to kill before we roll out.

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So… a lot of firecrackers go off, and we start to ride.

I love this course. I don’t love the pavement, (I toyed with the idea if taking out the pretty girly bike) I don’t love the cars, but it’s a sweet, manageable ride. I feel as if I understand the city better when I’ve completed it.

The first rest stop came on quicker than I thought, at the midpoint of the second climb, about 10 miles in. Hello Griffith Park! Hello Power Bar gel strawberry-banana gel shots (frosting masquerading as nutrition)! Hello skratch labs lemon-lime… I’ll be guzzling you again soon. I chow down because I know this hill. I slog past the cyclists walking their bikes. I fly down. Exhilarated to know the descent and ecstatic that I’m on two wheels, not two feet.

Before I know it, we’re back in Chinatown. Post ride carbo-load!

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And then it’s on to a day of too much traffic and not enough tutoring. (It’s usually a 1:1 ratio, which is vaguely horrifying, but the past two days have been much worse.)

Pork noodles and a couch full of purr await me at the finish line. Winning!

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