Redondo Beach. California. Hotel room, woke up at 4:30am. Make coffee in toilet, change there also so as not to wake wife and daughter sleeping. Still dark outside. Much darker inside. I try not to bump over things!

Head outside, wait for an eternal Garmin moment finding satellite. Seals barking in the water 100 meters away taunting time.

Roll south loving the empty glass streets, through the bright parkade, across the wooden boardwalk planks and out onto the beautifully smooth flat if ever so slightly sandy bike path.

My headlamp illuminates almost nothing of the deep smooth beach or the hint of surf beyond the sand. After 10 minutes warming up I reach the end of the path at Burnout Beach. Off the beach front I continue up into residential hill roads, bottom bracket groaning ominously, creaking rhythmically. Kicking myself for skipping the pre-trip tune up.

Sharp right, wrong gear onto Palos Verdes Blvd through Malaga Cove it’s almost like being in another world. Wide shoulder, tree lined and carefully, thoughtfully landscaped bluffs, gated communities and the occasional break to the ocean view below.

I’m pushing hard. Not intentionally, consciously, just pulling. Putting in big efforts – 800, 900, 1200 watts on short punchy climbs. Hard sweeping across the bottom of the pedal stroke. I hear perfectly my coach’s voice in my ear, I hear thoughts from people I respect and I let go – I have no fear of the road, my heart, my bike or any other aspect of consequence.

I am free.

The feeling lasts and lasts and lasts, until I hit my turn around point, having gone much harder than the day before I now have time on my side and opportunity to consider. Tomorrow will be a longer ride yet, but today I concentrate on form, recovery and having the energy to enjoy the day at the beach as well.