Me, my best friend, Rob, and his professional road racing girlfriend, Katie, were out on an easy spin one weekend day on the backroads of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The riding in that area is among the best I've ever done. Rolling hills and open country. We were on our road bikes now, just opening up our legs for a mountain bike ride that night.
I'd never ridden single track in the dark so I had no idea what to expect. It seemed Rob and Katie shared inside scoop when I asked them about it - they told me to just show up.
Rendezvous was an open field on the north side of town at nine o'clock. Per Katie's instructions, my mountain bike was rigged with a headlamp on my helmet and another one on my handlebars. We unloaded our bikes and layered on the clothing under a high full moon. We checked each other's head lamps and rode off.
Crisp and bright October night.
We rode along the high point across the field toward a dark patch of forest. As we disappeared into the woods, blackness closed in around us; the moonlight above did not penetrate the canopy of trees above and I quickly lost my sense of direction. "Stay on Rob's wheel" - that was the plan I whispered to myself. Rob and I could normally hang with Katie - on our road bikes. On single track? Katie had a finesse that Rob and I lacked. She could dance through the forest at a pace we couldn't. She knew exactly how much speed she could take into each turn. A few minutes into the ride and all we could see of Katie was a spot of light somewhere up ahead dancing through the woods.
Now Rob started opening up distance on me. I couldn't keep up because I was in sensory overload trying to cope with the darkness. The narrow line of sight and winding trail dwindled my reaction time. It was almost impossible to anticipate the turns, so I had to slow down. Katie was now out of sight.
I tried to stay fluid. "Keep your eyes on the trail. See the trail move to the left or right or...down. Dip with it. Keep your body under the bike. Ignore the bright glassy eyes of the animals around you."
Ignore those eyes. I was a little freaked out here. On one hand you know that you're okay - it's not like I'm in Africa and those are the eyes of a lion. On the other hand, when was the last time you were riding through the woods at night - in their home? What happens then? When was the last time one of these animals had this strange earth crunching bike thing running down on them? How would they react? The more I thought about this, the more scared I got.
I suppose Rob and Katie would wait for me at the trail's end. Otherwise I think I would have been out there until sunrise. When the trail finally did break they were there. I cleared the fog from my clear lenses to see them grinning at me. "Oh my god, that was incredible" was all I could say. We knew each other well. They knew I would feel that way, so it was a simple nod of approval.
Katie led onto the next trail set.
- ► 2008 (10)
- ▼ 2007 (26)
- NY, New York, United States
- I'm 34 years old, the proud father of 2 beautiful children and husband to Jennifer, a beautiful, smart, and very caring woman. I'm an athlete - someone that was blessed with the ability to move fast and fluidly past, around, up and over my opponents. But, my body now reminds me that those days are numbered. I'm the Founder of Agile Fitness, a company dedicated to helping others achieve their fitness goals. Resume: - Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist ('96). - Bachelor of Arts & Science, University of Delaware, ('95) - Masters in Business Administration, Baruch College Zicklin School of Business ('01)