Thursday evening finds me screaming down the Hill of Life at speeds unsafe in the day time, and terminally unwise as the sun begins to set on the opposite side of the canyon. By the time we hit the bottom, it’s completely dark, the temperature has dropped another ten degrees with the incoming cold-front and the wind is whipping a steady stream of dust though the beams of our headlamps. You can hear the gusts tearing down the canyon, before they actually hit you and the constantly fluctuating roar has drowned out the normally normally omni-present (albeit distant) highway noise. You could be on any darkened wood trail in the world, but you’re actually in the middle of Austin, Texas.
Yes, tis the season for night riding, the absolutely horrifying practice that we engage in during this time of year when the keeping-food-on-the-table part of the day overlaps with the daylight/ridealbe-hours part of the day. It’s absurd really – depending on your lights and the angle of approach, a 2 inch drop can look like 4 feet, or, even more alarmingly, vice versa. Batteries die mid-ride, leaving you stranded in the dark and of course in the lower Greenbelt, there’s the bums who like to jump out and scare people, which although mostly harmless, can lead to a soiled chamois. Other fun party tricks include coming around the corner, shining your light off into the woods and seeing 10 or 20 pairs of eyes staring back at you (usually deer, but you never know, could be zombies). There’s also parts of the trail that just look damn spooky at night – like the tree with the rope swing that Germ has dubiously christened the’hangin’ tree.’
All that aside, next to my desk tangle of cords, cables and batteries are aglow with LED indicators, greedily sucking down juice for next week’s post-work shenanigans. Always an adventure.