In the back of my head, I should have expected it to happen. I know I'm fatigued -- It took me a few extra minutes to get body going this morning and I almost gave in to my internal voice that was coaxing me to go back to my warm bed. But instead, in the black void of pre-dawn morning, I pulled on my kit, had a shot of espresso, and swung my leg over my bike as the rain immediately started pelting me.
As I turned over the pedals, I was immediately lulled into a semi-conscious state by the sound of rain bouncing off my rain jacket. It didn't help that my bike light was creating the same hypnotizing effect as when the USS Enterprise hurtled through space at warp speed. Just as I was telling myself to snap out of it, a tree branch appeared in the foreground. I instinctively hit the brakes and prepared for the worst as I realized very quickly the "branch" was actually a series of branches from a fallen tree limb and its tentacles stretched not only across the road surface but at take-your-head-off height as well. With no way to avoid what was coming, I accepted my fate and cursed myself for not being more aware of my surroundings.
And yet, the crash never happened. Somehow I came to a stop and managed to ride over a smaller branch and only tap the thicker tree limb with my front tire. All of a sudden the whole thing felt like something scripted from of a movie - the spinning out of control car skids to a stop centimeters away from going over the edge of a cliff. The driver (and the audience) hold their collective breath for a second before letting out of a sigh of relief.
I pulled myself together and managed to use my rusty cyclocross skills to get over and around the fallen tree limb. As I remounted, I smiled at nobody and nothing and silently thanked my disc brakes for their stopping power.
Welcome (back) to fall riding in Seattle.