I've done a lot of late night riding on my bicycle lately. It's really a magical experience (if it's not too cold) since there are very few people out and quite often I have interesting experiences, such as this night's adventure:
I was over playing games at a friend's, and when I left his place on my bike at 10:13pm I had 20 minutes and 5.5 miles downhill to catch the last bus in downtown Issaquah. Unfortunately, it was sprinkling a bit so I couldn't go that fast, so I made it in 24 minutes instead. At first I was a bit bummed I missed the bus (12 miles to get to Bellevue plus some elevation gain) but that soon faded. The road (Newport Way) climbed gently, the shoulder was plenty wide and it was not hard to see with the lights of occasional streetlights and my headlamp. The road was wet, but not wet enough to splash me much, even without my fenders.
The coolest part of the ride was all the wildlife I saw in the last mile and a half on the 520 trail from 140th Ave. As I was pulling onto the trail I noticed a couple of sandpiper birds walking on the pavement in the pale light from the street lamp. One was making weird motions with her tail so I stopped to watch. She spread her tail feathers like a turkey and another bird who was less than half her side came up to her and tucked his head under her wing. She was obviously his mama! Then as I rode up the trail I saw some bird that had a pretty big wingspan (3 feet, perhaps?) and I thought to myself that maybe it was a seagull or pigeon since I saw some flashes of white. It landed on a fence post about 30 feet away and I could clearly see it in the light from the freeway -- it was an owl with a white face! He stared at me for a few seconds and then flew away. Just before I reached the end of the trail I surprised a small rabbit who started running down the trail away from me. Since there was a fence in the way there was nowhere to hide, so he would run for awhile then stop and rest. I approached (slowly) and he'd race away again, his cotton tail bobbing in the moonlight. We must have done this for half a mile or so before he finally found a hole in the fence and escaped my presence.
One evening I rode over to a friend's place in Renton to watch TV. Afterwards I decided I needed to up my mileage in training for the STP so I started riding south towards the Cedar River Trail. It was really dark.... but I had a decent headlight on my bike so I was doing OK until I hit the trail. At the start of the trail there is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Cedar River, and in the streetlight from a block away I saw a small group of people hanging around which made me nervous. I decided to play it safe and waited about 10 minutes until they left before continuing on. But this situation left me hyper-aware of my surroundings, even more than usual. As I rode on past the bridge the lights disappeared and it became pitch-black. For a couple miles my headlight and the stars were the only lights I saw, but I started to relax and enjoy the ride. I went through a few lighted areas, and through a tunnel under a side road. In the past I had ridden this trail and the pavement ended in 6 miles. I had heard that there had been an extension, so I told myself I'd head out on the trail until it turned to gravel and then turn back. But the pavement continued on and on, so I did too. I had just passed a major intersection when I saw a dark shape in the bushes, and my heart leapt into my throat as I thought I was about to get jumped. But then a white bouncy thing seemingly floating 3 feet above the trail and I heard a clippety-clop sound on the pavement of the trail -- it was a deer! I slowed down but the deer continued running ahead of me so I followed behind at a respectful distance until he decided to leave the trail. It wasn't much longer before I hit Maple Valley. I hadn't reached the pavement end but I had gotten to the 10-mile mark on my detour, so I decided to return. On the way back I scared a rabbit, but though I kept a sharp eye out I didn't see the deer again.
I saw something tonight that I haven't before - a body on the I-90 trail! I was cruising down the hill from 12th Ave at 2:30am and noticed a guy lying on the edge of the trail a couple blocks before the bridge over Rainier Ave South. He could have been sleeping, but I didn't stop to find out since it was dark and I didn't want to get jumped. I called it in to the police and they went to check it out... I still haven't found out if he was OK. What concerns me is that the police dispatcher seemed totally unfamiliar with the trail -- even though it's been there for several years! The rest of my trip home was less eventful, with only a few late night sprinklers to contend with. My routine cruise down 112th Avenue was particularly fun since there was no traffic on my side of the road at all.
Night Rider is too busy riding during the day right now. More nocturnal adventures to come...
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