Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dark in the Park

Several years ago when our Thursday riding group first got started, we referred to the weekly ride as Dark in the Park. It was early Fall and we quickly learned that if we were going to ride, we were going to have to learn to ride in the dark.....and so our group became the nitedawgs.

Obviously Spring changed things and we were no longer riding in the dark, but by then the name was set and the die was cast....we were the nitedawgs and the Thursday ride became known as Dark in the Park among the original group.

Riding at night for most of us with day jobs is our only alternative for part of the year. And to be honest, it's actually a lot of fun. In addition to adding a whole new twist to our regular fire road loop, it completely changes the dynamic of the ride.  Your focus is narrowed to that small pool of light that's either right in front of your bike for those with bar mounted lights or wherever you happen to be looking if your light is on your helmet.

As the years have gone on we've tested, reviewed, updated and refined our lights through a group beta test type system. One or two people will get a new light, everyone else will watch to see how well it works out and then eventually, we'll end up making a group buy and relegating last seasons choice to our backup or loaner lights.

Last year, I thought I had finally reached light nirvana. I had a 750 lumen light on my bar and another, much smaller, 750 light head on my helmet. It was perfect....there was nothing better and I enjoyed riding as fast as I wanted never once outrunning the pool of light cast by this setup. I could see down the trail, I had battery life plenty for even our longest loop and with the helmet mount, I could not only see the trail, but could look around at the wildlife I imagined to be stalking me as I rode.

Last week, we had decided to do the big loop and I was feeling good on the SS. As a matter of fact, I felt so good that there were several times when I'd look behind me and instead of seeing this....

I'd not see any lights from the others in my group at all.  This of course left me with a dilemma....do I stop and wait or do I ride ahead...alone...by myself....

As everyone who rides at night knows, in the dark, out on the trail, live all the monsters and goblins that used to reside under our beds when we were kids. Only now, as grownups, we're supposed to pretend they don't exist. But we ALL know that's a lie....they do exist...and they exist just outside the ring of light cast by our headlamps. (or in the case of camping, just outside the ring of light from the campfire)

Of course, being the manly man that I am (in tights and lycra of course) I would stop and wait....just daring the boogey man and the monsters to try to get me...and they, knowing full well the level of my machsimo...wisely decided to stay away. As a matter of fact, when I stopped, it was so peaceful and quiet and such a beautiful night, that had I not known better....I would almost believe there weren't any monsters out there after all....