It's amazing to me how quickly you can get bad at something you used to be really good at. Night riding in particular. In the non-summer months a ton of our riding is done at night due to the shortage of daylight. You get so used to it that it becomes second nature. Pookie is racing in an 18 hour event as part of a four-person team in a couple weeks, so doing a thorough test of our lighting systems was the order of business Tuesday evening. Practicing our night maneuvers was also a priority. We were also attempting to elude the hot temperatures since the daylight hours have been punishing us with upper 90s.
Our jaunt began in twilight with a quick spin through city streets onto some fun little singletrack trails. Just as we popped into the woods the darkness enveloped us. My eyes had a really hard time adjusting and I spun out on a short grunt that I have ridden a million times without any trouble. I just picked a horrible line because I couldn't see the good one. My mind began immediately playing tricks on me. Usually all of our night riding is done in the fall and winter when the trees are naked. The shadows my light cast through the lush greenery at speed fooled my brain into thinking that bats and giant birds were swooping from the trees to attack my headlamp. This wasn't the case, but it took a few minutes to convince myself that the flying creatures were all in my head. Then a bat flew directly in front of me...
"I hope they don't eat me".
I was riding like crap. I was all over the place. Obstacles came up much faster than normal. The sides of the trail were reaching out an grabbing me. I scratched my left arm up on some briers - enough that a stream of blood ran down my forearm - and the sweat made it sting quite a bit.
Our attempt to evade the heat was failing. The humidity was relentless. Because it hasn't rained in forever, the trails were a dust bowl. Sweating profusely caused the dust to cake on our arms, legs and faces. Breathing it in wasn't much fun either.
We eventually adjusted to the darkness and backed off the throttle a tad to minimize the heat's impact. Riding at night - despite the nagging, stagnant air, dust, attack briers and winged beasts - is still a lot of fun.