I leave behind an almost empty house with the pup wishing he could come along. It's late but the streets are filled with sounds of graduation parties scattered on each block. Not eager to end up under the wheels of an overexcited graduate's car I make haste off the pavement.
Darkness is my friend tonight. An exploratory journey with new lighting, freshly mounted tires and a test of my body. Spinning only one gear leaves plenty of time for fiddling with my new toy. I ride otherwise free of distraction. Not even tools or a water bottle accompany me on the journey. I don't need an excuse to end up too far from home.
A lap of the dirt jumps leaves me confident all equipment is satisfactory for venturing further so I duck from one trail to another towards my true destination. Some are intended for riding and walking, others are merely created by animals tromping from one place to another, both biped and quad-"paw'd". Across another short segment of blacktop and I disappear past a gate. My lights still give me away but no one is looking. The parking lot, often overflowing during the day, is empty. It's just me and the inhabitants of a small piece of land.
Spring has been wet this year and what is a wide and monochromatic dirt trail most of the year is full of color. The trail is now narrowed by growth with seeds and vegetation finding a way into the crevices of my shoes and bike to be spread to new ground.
The sounds civilization are gone, replaced by that of fresh tires rolling, the wind passing my ears and animals occasionally scurrying out of the way. It's just me and them out here and I'm happy to be passing through. Powerful muscles make the terrain vary quickly and my new artificial sun is more than adequate for the task, urging me to pedal faster. My own little private singletrack is waiting beyond one more gate.
The lake laps the shore quietly as I pass in and out of turns. I stop for pictures. I take another lap.
The vegetation here has grown even more over the now faint trail and though I can ride it from memory, I instead I imagine I'm "out there". Out there where cars and other people are miles away instead of only a few thousand yards. Still the dirt is just slightly tacky and the sharp knobs of a fresh tire taunt me to round each bend faster and faster. I look at my watch.
It's time to start heading back but not before I take another lap. This time no camera, no destractions. Just a hot lap, pushing, turning, sliding, watching the world fly by.
Out the gate and back up a climb. My legs still tell me it's effortless riding but how could it not be? While I ascend I watch an electrical storm rage over the city but it has already been here. While it rages I watch and make the best of the calm, perfect conditions left in it's wake. I pause at the top, hopeful to capture an image of the dramatic storm on my camera but it's not to be. I must have used up all that luck just being out here tonight. I fly down the fastest descent but at the bottom I turn up for one more lap. I can't resist. The rigid bike bounces around on the babyheads but speed keeps me upright easily. Once more at a summit I take the nearly non existant singletrack down for the final time, passing a temporary watering hole, before dead ending into the creek and climbing back up to the main trail. One last gate and out the empty parking lot back to blacktop. I wait for a car to pass before crossing. Pavement, concrete, dirt and gravel all in small bits lead me home. I open the door and she greets me from bed. Before long I'm sleeping. Was it all a dream? The dirt on a new tire in the morning reveals the answer.