Saturday, October 8, 2011

A place in the world ...


Night rides ...

The world reduced to a 25 foot arc of light ...


Every rock, every root, every sound - magnified ...


The same trail ridden a thousand times in daylight seems somehow brand new ...

For those who still want to ride this time of year, night rides are the only way we can during the week. And we've all heard about how riding at night is a completely different experience from riding during the day. And, to an extent, I suppose that's true. But I think the real truth is that much of the hype about how different the trail is at night and all the stuff about how preternatural the experience can be started from people who just don't ride at night all that much. Of course it seems different if you've never done it before. But like anything else, the more you ride at night the less mysterious it seems.



That's not to say that it's never magical. One night, during the winter, I had a wire snap on my bike light, putting me in the dark halfway out on the trail. But there was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and a full moon. I noticed that I actually could still see the trail well enough to get me back to the parking lot. But the farther I went, the more I realized that I was fine without the lights. Ultimately, I did 15 more miles without any lights. It was one of the coolest rides I've ever done.

At any rate, with all the rides I've done in the dark over the years, it may have lost some of that novelty factor for me, but mountainbiking at night still means something very special to me. It's hard to explain exactly, but a while ago, a thought occurred to me that kind of gets to the heart of it. You know how, on occasion, someone you knew maybe a long time ago pops into your head for no obvious reason, and you think "I wonder what they're doing right now"? Well, as I was riding late one night in Valley Green, I thought about how, if some person I knew way back is ever sitting at home and for whatever reason, I suddenly pop into their head and they think, "Wonder what he's doing now"... at that very moment, what's the likelihood that any one of them might even come close?



At any point in time, you carve out your place in the world based on a any number of factors - your job brings you to Chicago, your family brings you home to New Jersey, or your personal interests bring you ... where? In those late night moments, my place is pretty unique - I'm alone on a bike in the woods, rolling along a thin ribbon of dirt at a time when most people in a three hundred mile radius are asleep.



That's my place. Where is yours?

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