All to my lonesome...
Believe it or not...I'm not one to mind being by myself. Although I do enjoy the company of all different manner of folks. That's not to say I enjoy the company of *everyone* mind you, but still...I'm no hermit, yet. I'm told I'm working my way into being a hermit...more on that another day perhaps. I ride with a small crew of buds most often and as small as that group is, I rarely ride totally alone...and even more rarely alone at night. I don't enjoy riding at night, I really don't. I have bad depth perception these days (and it's getting worse) in the best light conditions and it's downright ridiculous at night. Darkness makes high-tech descents I clean in daylight seem like something out of the Redbull Rampage...not necessarily always fun even though I do love a good pucker factor.
Because of that most of my night riding is done on pavement. It's a relatively safe alternative to pinballing off trees at 25mph in the dark and blowing through turns you thought were 6' further out...relatively safer. The Ol' Lady appreciates it when I ride with buds and so I make the effort...for her you know, not because I *like* my buds or anything...the sacrifices we make to stay with the ones we love. I had a couple good friends I enjoy being around lined up for a ride up/around Dorena last night. Nothing big, 30 or so miles of mellow pavement riding under an almost full moon on a crisp fall evening followed by pancakes and camaraderie? Sounds damn fine to me!
Wouldn't you know it...one gets called to work and the other has a fatal bike issue on the way home from work...I'm riding alone tonight. At least I know the company will be good...err, wait.
It was as foggy as a Jack the ripper novel at Rancho del Brocko when I took off. Kind of awesome and kind of spooky...I like it. My HID light didn't help though...like driving in fog with your brights on...but it's the Row River trail, no surprises...right? My seizure light in the back was awesome looking in the dense fog. No speed records were set, but I felt pretty good (for a fat guy) and just found a pace and maintained it, kind of shut my brain off and stared at my front wheel...until that depth perception issue showed up. Fog+my vision+leaf cover=Brockelman ran off the side of the pavement at about 19mph. I held it together in the mud and didn't lay it down...pucker factor.
Once I regained my pace and composure I fell back into the front wheel trance, contemplating my deficiencies as a parent, friend, guardian, superhero...the usual. Interesting note, a deer can maintain about 19mph on pavement pretty well. Also of note, when you're totally "alone" and absorbed in your own self, hypnotized by chain/tire whirr and cloaked in your own fluffy white tunnel...a deer jumping up next to you and pacing you in your fluffy tunnel at 19mph can create a chamois staining moment, just so you know.
I started paying a bit more attention at that point, kind of. There were some interesting moments with the cracks and bumps in the pavement and then those freaking radioactively reflective poles at every junction are always fun for me at night...but I stayed on the path and bike. As I payed attention...I wasn't alone. No, not talking about the voices in my head. The wildlife was out in full force. I think they were enjoying my comedy of errors...silly human, in your tights. Above the reservoir the fog lifted and it really was a gorgeous night. Chilly as hell but a beauty. I missed rapping with those cats I had planned to ride with but the solitude of that fluffy white tunnel and the whir of the chain ended up being good juju for me. I did a good reset of the grey matter and the thighs got tired. That's gotta be a good thing, right?
Alone...it's not so bad, if you do it right.
I have that night riding depth perception issue too -- so happy the days are getting longer
"...fatal bike issue..."
For his bike, I hope, not for him or someone other than him. Either way's bad, but one's much worse.
All these years I've called myself a cyclist and yet I've never ridden that rail-to-trail. I'd like to sometime. Even if I have to ride it all by myself.
P.S. Brock, my friend, you may lack depth perception, but you certainly don't lack depth. In fact often when I think of you, lyrics from the song "Misunderstood" by Pete Townshend comes to mind:
Just wanna be misunderstood
Wanna be feared in my neighborhood
Just wanna be a moody man
Say things that nobody can understand
I wanna be obscure and oblique
Inscrutable and vague
So hard to pin down
I wanna leave open mouths when I speak
Want people to cry when I put them down
(Please take this as the compliment that it's intended to be.)