Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Night Rider Rides Spooky Trails

You can't see it well, but I've just taken my bike off of a bike rack at City Hall in Cedar Rapids.  It's night, which explains the odd yellow light.  The dark ride home turned out to be pleasant.

Just in time for Halloween season:  The night rider.

I have a reporting class that visits a Cedar Rapids City Council meeting for a writing exercise.  So, at about 3:40, I left MMU to ride to the new City Hall.

I was worried about being late, and I barely made it, but I did.  And my whole class was there.  The meeting, which started at 4, stretched out until about 7:30 or so.

The meeting concluded, rather dramatically, with a presentation by a roller derby team seeking a home.  Me, I’d give one to them.

But, I digress.  Although, perhaps the sight of those strong-looking, tattooed women put me in a slightly edgy mood.  When it was time to leave, I wondered—go through Wellington Heights or ride along a dark trail?

The night rider chose the trail.

It was a bit spooky, zooming along at night.  It wasn’t that late, but was fully dark.  The ride made me appreciate electricity, as much of the way was accidentally illuminated via streetlights shining off of a cloud canopy.  A half moon helped, too.

I passed several joggers and bikers, all in the dark, none but me using lights.  Me, I was lit up like a Christmas tree.  It’s the only way I’ll ride in the dark.

What I anticipated to be the darkest stretches of the trail—the part north of J Avenue, for instance—were dark, but not as dark as I expected.  I slowed down a bit.  There were occasional shuffling sounds in the undergrowth, which was a bit unnerving.  And at one point, I passed a group of seven deer, fairly close, with most running off, but a big one stopping and staring at me as if issuing a dare.

A buck, maybe?  Couldn’t see points in the dark, but this was definitely the biggest deer of the group, and he, if it was a he, was more defiant than all the rest.  Testosterone during mating season?  Luckily, I passed by quickly and Mr. Buck let me be.

As I headed further north, somehow, my mood changed.  It stopped being eerie.  There was the sound of Interstate traffic, the vague city night noises—snatches of conversation too far away for the words to be discerned, the occasional distant siren, and, always, traffic.  I didn’t feel too alone, and I knew the trail well enough to be pretty comfortable with the ride.

The darkest part of my ride was Noelridge Park, which I crossed via a sidewalk that leads to the Harding Middle School area.  It was quieter here, away from 380, and darker, with no lights from nearby buildings or streets.  And, somehow, in that isolation, it was very pleasant.  I don’t know if riding alone at night in a park is a great idea, but it was a peaceful break tonight for me.

Monday--no ride today.  But the rain was gone by afternoon.  Leaves and the afternoon light on the hood of the car I drove that day.  Yes, Jon, your Mazda.
Well, the ride that had started with roller girls and a train that delayed me for a few minutes ended in quite reverie.  Despite the dampness of this day, it was a good one for bike riding.  I had ridden Sunday, but not Monday, due to the rain.

Back in the saddle—a nice place to be, even at night.  Especially when the eerie pre-Halloween ride ends up merely pleasant.
Oct. 21--in the warm afternoon, as I ride home on the Cedar River Trail, some late season bugs are out.  A number of grasshoppers, and this guy, even bigger, a praying mantis about 4 inches long that the grasshoppers best avoid.

1 comment:

  1. loved reading about your night ride - it made me wish I had been out there, too!