This past week, we snuck out for two incredibly fun night rides, reminding us how fun the dark can be.
With the time change in full effect, there's no avoiding riding in the dark for a long while now. Whether you're rolling out at dusk or dawn, the creep of ever-shortening days is forcing our collective hand to keep a light or two well charged and our sprit of adventure ready for anything. After the past month of training for Iceman primarily in the dark, riding in perpetual shadow has already begun to color my attitude. It can be tough mentally to head out without any sunlight, day after day, and still feel excited at the prospect of being met by neither warmth or light.
But this week, I stayed up past by bedtime twice ( one, two, count 'em) to join some pals in the woods, and it was the exact change of pace and change of attitude I needed. Our friend Brad White from Velo City Cycles stuck around town and met us at the shop, with a half dozen of us venturing from the shop and into that familiar stage of dreams, the Vasa. The trail itself is still scoured and marked by the predictable groove of 5,000 racers at Iceman, but the lesser travelled sections are ankle-deep in freshly fallen leaves.
There is something about the dark that makes even the most familiar trails feel new again; even the Speed of Light course offered some subtle changes and mysterious nuances, so much so that one of our party went down hard on the Power Section. Even well lit, the leaf cover made the trail that special sort of unpredictable and different.
The pace tends to lend itself to conversation, to catching up rather than forging ahead. We got to hear all about Brad's awe inspiring Pro race at Iceman, when Mike Walters and Jon Throop put in their efforts on the course, and how things went for Breakaway Cafe during their first Iceman Weekend. A few efforts peppered in and we returned in better spirits than we'd left.
Friday's 'practice' Friday Night Lights was a big one for Erin Reicha, marking her first time leading a group ride. Group rides are really tough to do in such a way that everyone is happy. Going 'easy' can be vastly different to two comparable riders, and the more folks brought to the trail, the wider the spectrum becomes. We split into two groups, but with a game in mind. Erin would try to lead her group to The Rock anyway she wanted, and we would have to try to find them before they got there. We actually ran into each other on the Headwaters look about two minutes in, but we hit the reset button.
It's pretty cool to be riding along and, through the trees and the leaves and the underbrush, see a twinkling line of lights weaving and bouncing along on some trail distant. We spotted them once along the Power Section, but they took some bandit singletrack and curved further north and out of sight. Out group hit The Rock and stuck to the Pathway, a bit of cold and the rising moon pushing us toward home.
The pace picked up as we neared Anita's, and over the top we may have even tickled some tempo en route to the parking lot. After the obligatory full-tuck descent of Bunker Hill, it was casual again back to the shop, and I was pretty contented as I grabbed my backpack and rode home.
There are plenty of chances to join in for some Friday Night Lights this winter, and we'll be adding impromptu night rides every week, so make sure you watch our Facebook for events, and our Calendar.