Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Rainy night ride

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

I rode at Brown County last night. It wasn’t supposed to rain, but as I was on my way there, it started to sprinkle. I debated whether to drive the rest of the way there, and decided that it didn’t look like it was going to rain too much, so I kept going.

I was running a bit behind schedule, so when I got there, I only stretched for a couple of minutes before I left. I started my ride around 6:15 pm. I had put a flashlight on my helmet the night before in anticipation of a night ride, using the Velcro Zip Tie method devised by Sarah. I will make a post explaining that soon.

Anyway, I rode a bit, and came across a guy who was going in the other direction. He pulled of the trail to let me by, since I was climbing and had the right of way. I noticed he was sort of snickering at me, and I couldn’t figure out why until I realized he was looking at the flashlight strapped to my helmet.

Once I got a little further, it started raining. Fortunately, there were enough leaves left on the trees that they still shielded me from the rain a bit. It wasn’t raining too hard, and I just kept going.

I rode the Aynes Loop first. I wanted to ride both it and the North Tower Loop, but I knew it would get dark partway through my ride, and I didn’t feel ready to ride the Aynes Loop at night. I rode the Aynes pretty quickly, with this in mind. I did turn on my light before I finished the loop, although I would have been OK without it.

By the time I finished the Aynes Loop and got back to the North Tower Loop, it was pretty dark. I hadn’t put the other light on my handlebars, so I stopped to do that. I need to find a better way of attaching it, but so far, putting it on my GPS mount and using more of the Velcro Zip Ties seems to work pretty well. The only real problem is that the GPS mount is angled back a bit so I can see the GPS screen — far enough back that the flashlight ends up pointing up instead of at the ground in front of me. I think I could angle it down more and still have it work with the GPS. I’ll try that next time.

I did pretty well on the North Tower Loop. I was riding it “backwards” and in the dark, and I kept a pretty good pace. I wasn’t going fast, but there are limits to how fast you can go when you can’t see too well.

At one point, I was riding along, and a bunny hopped onto the trail a bit in front of me. As I got closer, he saw me coming and hopped further down the trail. Then, he stopped and looked back at me, and hopped further — he repeated this a few times, sticking with me for maybe a couple hundred yards.

I kept going, and things started getting kind of creepy. After dark, there are a lot fewer people at Brown County, so it gets a lot quieter, and you can hear every little sound an animal makes. In fact, it was so quiet that I could hear the wind rushing past my ears. Sometimes, I’d hear sticks breaking or the ruffling of some leaves as some kind of animal moved around. At times, a leaf would get stuck between my bike frame and my rear tire and make some noise, alleviating some of the creepiness.

I stopped to look around a bit, and I saw this pair of glowing green eyes staring back at me. I made some noise, which started the animal. It was a deer, but all I could really see were its eyes, and when it moved, its tail. As I rode some more, I started noticing lots of pairs of eyes, glowing exactly like that — and every time I looked at them, they were staring back at me. Those deer were pretty curious about what I was doing. I love seeing deer, but it was definitely pretty eerie under the circumstances.

After I rode a bit further, I got to this point where I couldn’t make out all the details on the ground (rocks, leaves, sticks, cracks, etc), so it ended up looking like a smooth surface. It seemed like I was just gliding over it, almost like I was floating. In fact, I got in “the zone”, even though I couldn’t see much and wasn’t going that fast, and I was taking curves and dips and climbs very smoothly. I wasn’t moving myself on the bicycle anymore, I was moving the bike beneath me to fit the contour of the trail.

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