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Memorable Rides – Night Riding

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This year, believe it or not I was exposed to something completely new in cycling, Night Riding. In all my years of cycling I had never done any night riding, so this was a new experience. During training for RAAM, I went out a few times just to get myself oriented, but it really did not prepare me for what I was about to experience during RAAM. It didn’t take long. I pulled my first shift at about 3 pm on the first day, which took me well into the night. There were several sessions that allowed me to look deep into myself. There was something profoundly serene in night riding.  Despite a good light, the follow car lit up the road with a beam into the night. The car’s headlights created a mesmerizing shadow of my cadence, which was very helpful and comforting. As the miles clicked along and the daylight evolved into a beautiful sunset, which was then replaced by the darkness of night. The first night in the desert was very serene as I experienced a full blood orange moon rising over Imperial Dunes. There was something soothing in just being able to watch my shadow and hear the sound of my SuperSix Evo humming through the night. The temperatures in the desert were very comfortable, but by the second night I was pulling a shift at


about 4 in the Morning and the early morning temperature was significantly cooler. This was the morning that I crossed the “tiny” Colorado River, which was a surprise to me, but very beautiful in the dim light. Just after crossing into Arizona, I saw several coyotes (or wolves, but too early for RAAM hallucinations) crossing the road and the only thing that crossed my mind was what are they doing up at this hour of the day. The next evening shift found my traversing the 40 ascent out of Sedona into Flagstaff. The route was changed due to construction and again I found myself in the middle of the night riding up the shoulder of I-17. The thoughts of another serene evening ride were quickly evaporated after an 18 wheeler blew by at 70+ miles per hour blowing dust and tire debris my way. As the climb from 3500′ to 7000′ continued the temperatures dropped from a very comfortable 70 degrees to just over 40 degrees. With the temperatures continuing to drop and more layers of clothing were added to fend off the chill, I was wishing for daylight. (Actually I was wishing for signs that said, Welcome to Flagstaff, but i quickly realized that was still a ways off). My final evening stint was ascending into Durango, Colorado. This was the most epic of rides. It was 1 in the morning and the road was completely void of any traffic other than the follow car. D and Lori were once again  providing the light as we climbed. Since they were in a Prius, there was no other sound other than the whisper of the wind through the tall Pine Trees. That was truly music to my ears and helped put me into the zone watching my shadow dance up the mountain. Along the way there were two elk on the side of the rode. This time my thoughts turned to their conversation, “What is this crazy cyclist doing up at this hour and why is he riding up this mountain?”. The miles clicked by very quickly and I did not want this leg of the journey to end, but as I crested the summit, I had the descent of a lifetime. Powering down the mountain at 50+ speeds, the descent flew by as I pulled into the next time station. Looking back at those night rides made me look forward to many more and I vowed to throw in some night rides in my future training, but that hasn’t happened yet, but oh well there is always 2015.