I like the hour of the wolf. It sounds sexier and more poetic than “very early in the morning.” The expression comes from Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf which is quoted in The Case for Riding Ultra Early in the Morning.
“The hour of the wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is the deepest, when nightmares feel most real. It is the hour when the demons are most powerful. The hour of the wolf is also the hour when most children are born.“
But romantic imagery aside, there are very practical reasons for riding your bike early.
“The roads are empty and you’re free from impatient drivers. The sun is not anywhere near its maximum melanoma-inducing strength. On weekdays you get that ride in before work; on weekends you get the workout compulsion out of your system which means you can spend the rest of the day doing normal things with friends, family and loved ones who may have priorities other than cycling. Or, if you’ve managed to effectively ride all those people out of your life due to your obsession with bikes, you can always take a nap and then go out for another bike ride.”
I grew up as the child of bakers and so for me the associations aren’t with the outdoors and wolves but rather with early rising to bake bread for the day. My parents often were up at 4 and at work by 5 am. Sometimes I would want the family car and so I’d drive them to work and go nap in the school/university library. That was my preferred thing then in my pre-gym/fitness days.
But to confess, in the winter, I tend not to want to leave the house until the sun is up and has taken the edge of the cold day. I’m even grumpy about about being up and around awake working in the very early dark mornings of winter.
I started to rethink it though after seeing these images on CBC. A Guelph cyclist on one of the trails shared his story about wildlife you can see early in the morning, Guelph cyclist advocates early morning rides after ‘awesome’ owl encounter. It’s video footage of an owl on the trail. One of the things I love about the fat bikes s how they quiet they are going over the snow. Birds and animals don’t seem to scatter away as I thought they might.
Lately I’ve been riding up some of the very steep hills on Zwift (10-14% grade) and there’s nothing like those hills to make 4% feel like nothing. I jumped into the snow, en route to the hot tub, and made a snow angel with my bare skin. After that the merely cool air felt okay. I’m wondering if I might be able to do the same acclimatizing myself to the dark. I still want to visit Norway in the winter, north of the Artic Circle.
How about you? How do you feel about the dark very early morning? Different in winter than summer? Like winter swimming, it’s a thing I’d have to work to get my head around.