Trick or Treat

A planned girls night ride and party for Halloween turned into a solo adventure for me, myself and I. It was too nice a night to sit around and hand out candy. All dressed up and ready to go, with my lights charged and mounted - so off I went, with my phone close at hand and my pepper spray in a jersey pocket. (I'm not supposed to night ride alone - just not smartest thing) I bolted past the herds of kids out searching for sugar, seeking the solitude of Stratton. And in the darkness broken only by my lights, I found a new awareness - the stillness of peace. There is no silence in Stratton - but the utter aloneness with my thoughts, my tires crackling on the gravel and the rasp of my breathing and pounding of my heart.

Stillness - at night, all alone, the air is still in the trees of Stratton. There is no wind and although the city is sprawled out below, a sense of isolation.Clouds obscured the rising moon, lending an even heavier air to the feeling of aloneness.  Except not truly alone - the glow of eyes in the underbrush reveal the secret life of my playground. I saw few animals on this ride - just the occasional glimpse of something as it ran away. And it wasn't from the number of people out and about. I heard nothing of the trick or treaters crowding the roads once up in the trees. It was an odd blend of perfect relaxation from the ride and a taut on-edge feeling from riding alone.

Gravel crunching - Riding in Stratton is never quiet. But at night, the only one on the trails, the gravel under my tires is overwhelming. It crunches loudly, overwhelming the silence of the night as I ride, echoing off the trees and roaring in my ears. With the lack of rain lately, the gravel is deep and wants to wrest control of bike away from me. A little distracted yesterday, the gravel won a few battles. It's thrilling - the awareness and control for sand surfing up and down, yet a soothing sound of familiarity. It's something I rarely experience since I don't tend to ride at night alone.

Breathing and heart beating - while the trails at Stratton aren't the most technical, there is a lot of climbing. No matter how you meander, there's a hill. On the climbs, the sound of my breathing competed with the sounds of my tires - in and out, deep and harsh. The harder the climb or the effort, the louder my breathing until it drowned out every other sound. Topping out and I become aware of the pounding - the lubdub of my heart. No matter how fit you are, climbing is still work. But then it's time for the sweet rewards. The trail flooded with light from my Diablo and Maxx D, I have the freedom a solitary night provides. Flying down the hills, the wind raw against my cheeks.

Too soon, back to reality as I wind my way home through the trick or treaters. The ride may have become a time for reflection and solitude, but there was still a party to get ready for!


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