We can’t really see the trail because of the blanket of leaves that’s carpeting the entire forest. We know there are rocks and roots hidden beneath those leaves, like booby traps in an Indiana Jones movie, but we can’t see them. Even better, those rocks are slick from all the rain. Oh, and it’s dark. Like, deep inside a cave dark. Perfect mountain biking conditions.
For the most part, I’m a huge advocate of daylight savings. Everyone loves that extra couple of hours of daylight at the end of the day. It gives you the chance to pull weeds in your salsa garden after dinner, or whatever the hell it is you do with your spare time. But there are a couple of benefits to the sun setting at 5pm. 1) It’s easier to justify drinking when it’s dark out. 2) Night rides. All of a sudden, that weekly mountain bike ride on the same well-worn local trails turns into an exotic adventure full of mishaps and spooky, nocturnal animal sounds. Switchbacks sneak up on you, creek crossings surprise you, jumps buck you off the saddle…
I had my first night ride in probably two years last night. I ate shit twice and I’m pretty sure I got chased by a cougar. Or an over-active squirrel. I’m not sure because it was dark. Anyway, it was a blast. I forgot how fun my local trail system could be if you only take away the ability to see.
And yes, there were beers. After the ride, we each brandished a six pack and sat around in the slowly dimming light of our headlamps, sipping IPAs and wiping mud off of our calves with dirty socks. We talked about how our kids threw up after eating too much Halloween candy, and how frustrating it is that certain strip clubs aren’t open on Sundays. Important stuff. Night ride stuff. With any luck, we’ll do it again next week.