The hardest part about Dawn Patrol is waking up. The alarm is sharp and jarring at 5 a.m. For a successful Dawn Patrol, you need to be prepared with everything ready to go the night before. Priority one: coffee is set up and ready to brew. After that, tires are pumped, lights are charged, kit is laid out, and all the extra essentials are ready to grab and go. You are awake before the spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, kids, dog, cat, most sane people, and of course, the sun. Pound the coffee while you tip toe around the house and then slip out under the cover of darkness. Most of the world is still asleep. You feel like you're in a post-apocalyptic movie, where you just stepped out and nobody is around. The streets are empty, you can ride your bike down the middle of bridge, you don't have to dodge traffic, no weaving around bike commuters and joggers on the bike path. Riding in the woods feels like you are the last person on Earth, enjoying your own private park.
Before work, school, family, life, it's just you and the bike. On the good days in the summer you pause mid-ride to watch the sun rise over the hills, slowly burning off the morning fog. On the bad days in the middle of the winter, you curse your frozen hands and toes, hammer at your lights with your hand trying to resuscitate the dying batteries in the throes of hypothermia, and wish the sun had pierced the horizon before you got back to the car.
When you roll into in the office in the morning after DP, you feel relaxed and alive, great. You just rode for a few hours, already had your morning coffee, and you have relieved the stress of the day. Instead of standing in the middle of the office kitchen alone, dumbfounded and enraged, rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, fantasizing about all the ways you could have murdered a coworker as they poured the last drop of coffee java out of the coffee pot and put it back in the machine without making more. A famous poet once said, "We're killing each other by sleeping in."