Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Once, twice, a third…

Posted by quirksalight on November 6, 2007

…a third is pushing it.

I don’t consider myself to be a novice bike rider. I do admit to being out of shape (oh, the Ban on biking for 2 months… damn you my left knee! damn you!!), not knowing the paths in Northern Virginia, and never have ridden at night before.

Hence, third variable is pushing it.

Tonight was the weekly Tuesday night bike ride at Wakefield park hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE). It was the casual ride, and the trail was to be beginner-intermediate. I had ridden a small section of it yesterday and it was fine, about the level at Cathedral Pines, in Middle Island, NY.
I even went and bought a head lamp for the ride, thinking that my front light would be too weak. (What an understatement!)

First of all, it’s cold! I wore bike shorts, a pair of bike pants, thick socks, two long sleeved shirts, fleece, windbreaker, gloves, headband, and I think that’s it. And this was at 6:30pm. Granted, there was a lovely breeze kicking around, sunset was about an hour past, and it was about 10 degrees above freezing. (yes, this is about when you ask, “um, why are you biking at night in crappy weather?”)
Well…. I wanted to try a group ride, and riding at night sounded really neat. And it was – really neat, that is. Until you can’t see anymore, and the little that you do see is a very tilted trail with a sheer drop into black. Not too cool. I rode second to last our group of 5, as everyone else had pretty good lights, and I was trying to use them to make sure I don’t get lost or miss a crucial object, (ie, tree!). About an hour into the ride, I had slowed down severely due to the tilted trail mentioned above, fallen back, gotten stuck at several uphill climbs, broken my light, and was thinking, “crapola, crapola! Now what?”
Meeting up with everyone at the top of the hill, the ride leader correctly noted that I’d probably break my neck if I tried to continue, and brought the group back to the parking lot to make sure I got back safely. I felt really bad at making the group go back, but I got shushed after apologizing one to many times. 😛
When we got back to the parking lot, the group agreed that trying a night ride with crappy lights, not knowing the trail, and coming off of knee rehab was a bit of a risky thing to do. I, on the other hand, basically wondered where my survival instincts had gone today.

It was nice to meet other people who liked riding, though I was definitely the least experienced one there. I got some pretty good advice on lights and how to cut weight off the bike. One of the ladies mentioned that MORE also has rides just for the ladies, and that I should definitely go to those. A couple people also recommended that I get to know the trails in daylight before trying a night ride again, as that would have offset some of the problems I was having.

In all, I’m totally glad I went, though it was abbreviated for me. The people were nice too – I think I’ll try some of the other activities they sponsor, like trail maintenance.

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