Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Night Rider

Friday, October 6th, 2006

I rode at Brown County with Dave tonight. We did the Aynes loop first. It went really well — I am getting much better at the big climb there. It’s still hard, but I need to stop less (didn’t really need to stop to rest at all this time), and I even made it over a couple of things over which I’ve had to walk in the past.

In particular, there’s a part while you’re climbing where the trail gets pretty narrow and you’re riding along a ridge, and you have to get over some rocks. I usually get over some of the rocks, but not this bigger one that’s toward the end. I made it over that this time. It actually wasn’t as hard as I thought, you just have to commit and build up a little speed before you try to do it, then pull your front wheel up as you get to it.

Anyway, as we finished the Aynes loop, it was getting kind of dark, but Dave had brought some flashlights and duct tape. We taped the flashlights to our helmets and decided to ride back the long/”backwards” way around the North Tower Loop. It wasn’t dark just yet, so we rode for a few minutes before turning on the flashlights. I saw a few deer before it got completely dark. Well, all I could really see were their tails.

Riding in the dark is a totally different experience. You really have to trust your instincts, and it was crucial that we were riding on a trail we know very well. For the most part, I had a pretty good idea what was coming, and knowing things like “I need to go wide on this switchback” or “crossing this is easiest on the left” helped a lot.

Another factor that made things more difficult is that with just a flashlight, it’s pretty difficult to see where the trail is when the ground is covered with mostly-brown leaves. The ground pretty much just looks brown, so it was hard to tell which way to go at times. Fortunately, Dave was in the lead, so I pretty much just had to follow him. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in his position.

There was almost a full moon tonight — at times, I think we would’ve been OK without the flashlights. In fact, at one point, we were riding toward the moon, and it was so bright that it made it difficult to see where we were going.

Riding at night let me look at mountain biking from a different perspective. I definitely wouldn’t want to do it all the time, and I’d like to have some better lights next time. We each just had one flashlight from a 3-pack Dave got at Kmart for like $10. I certainly wouldn’t spend $200+ per light like some of these crazy mountain bikers do, but it’d be worthwhile for each of us to have two lights (one on the handlebars, one on the helmet) and to have brighter lights.

Last night, I rode on the road. It had been quite a while since I did that. I was trying to find a good way to get to Mom’s on my bike, which I failed to do, but I did make it there. However, I didn’t stop because it was getting a bit dark, and I didn’t have a light. I took Smith Road home, which is a pretty fun road to ride on, sort of a country-looking road with some decent hills and a few curves. I rode over 11 miles in about 50 minutes or so. I forgot how much ground you can cover when you’re riding on the road. I’ll definitely need to get a road bike at some point, maybe some time next year. I’d like to get some slicks for my old mountain bike to give me a better option for road riding.

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