Saturday, May 21, 2016

Night Ride

The temperature drops, a damp chill hovers from the lake ahead to the north. The grooved, grated asphalt grinds against my tires and the uneven cuts in it leave my bike slipping a bit for grip. It's cooler, chilly, the closer I rush towards the lake. Turning just to get off the pavement back onto smooth roads and warmer air where the concrete and asphalt still hums with the warmth from the sun of the day or maybe from the heat of everyone so close together. 

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We live in these tight, small communities. Riding in the country is best, but dangerous at night, particularly if a person has already had three run-ins with deer. The city and suburbs are only alive on corners, at bars, and in houses. The main streets, nigh impassable during the day, are clear and the lights change to green before you even have to down shift to second. 

I worked all day, from early in the morning, stopping briefly to let the dog out and go for a short run before heading to another job. We had to stay later than anyone planned. The closer I got to home, the more resolve grew to take the bike for a quick spin- clear my head and be alone. 

The dog, Peanut, flopped on the floor with a thud for pets and after a good rub-down I slipped into old jeans and boots, threw some food in his bowl and snuck out the door. 

I'd hesitated after pulling my jeans on and flicking my switch. What if I get hit? Or hit an animal? It was midnight on a Friday on one of the warmer nights and college students would be celebrating. People had been drinking on top of already being poor drivers.

But it's the fear of the unfamiliar that holds us back more than fear of actual danger. Of course, it's dangerous to ride a bike, but I didn't know what was out there. Was my limited, albeit rusty, experience on a bike enough to save me in case of a quick stop, lane change, or animal?

I decided it was more fear of the unfamiliar and the general knowledge that motorcycles can go from being a moment of free-bird flying to deadly instantaneously than anything else.

Hugging my bike for any precious heat she could spare, the tight muscles in my back from sparring last night relaxed. Shoulders, back, leaning into the curves, almost unconsciously shifting... worries and problems seem manageable and small and distant. We all need relief.