Monday, November 14, 2011

Full Moon Ride

I could forgive you for thinking me drunk.  I am talking a little too quickly, a little too loudly, probably a little too much.  I feel light, a little giddy. Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride" comes on the radio and I turn it up, promising to buy it and blast it next time.  I focus on keeping the truck in its lane, want to bounce in my seat.  I am self-conscious about all of this and a little embarrassed.  I cannot do anything differently though, and, in my heart, don't really want to.  I have had nothing stronger than tap water to drink--the full moon and a strong bike ride are to blame. 

Some miscommunication somewhere in the line leaves us a rider short.  With no small amount of regret, we take to the dirt at around 10:00pm in the full darkness of a northern night where the sun sets at five pm or so.  For the last couple of days, a layer of low, grey clouds have blanketed the sky.  But tonight the moon is bright enough to filter through the clouds anyway, and some gaps opened up between them earlier this evening.  There's still plenty enough light to call this a full-moon ride, and while I can't read my watch, there's more than enough ambient illumination to see the stubble in the field and strap on some shoes.  It's warmer than it should be his time of year; the clouds that almost scuppered this ride have trapped a thin layer of heat over the land.  It's maybe 39F when we roll out, which is fine; we work up a sweat fairly quickly.  

  Gravel roads are nice.  Gravel roads by LED headlights and moonglow in the thick, dark night of the countryside are nicer yet.  Enough moonlight filters through the clouds to silhouette the hedgerows along the road and the occasional tree.  Things are mainly dark, though.  Farm-field dark.  An oil well's flare burns in the middle distance like a primitive beacon.  On the horizon, the city of Edmonton sparkles with points of light in a dozen colors.  We are well clear of it and moving through quiet blackness, just the right conditions for a city to look its best.  We roll and crunch along, the air still, making our own headwind as we pour speed on for no better reason than that we can and that it feels right. 

Later, around a corner, the dogs come.  Two of them, maybe three, hard to tell in the dark.  I've mounted my light to my bars, so I can't shine it on them.  One is big, though, fur a light enough grey that I can just make him out.  Distance and speed are hard to judge, but the barking makes their intentions clear.  There is a hard sprint now, and then a  lull as we get well clear of their property.  But a look back reveals two eyes flashing with the light from our taillights, bouncing down the center of the road, unaware of borders.  There is another sprint--harder, longer.  At night the dogs easily get the jump on us, but at night they rest by their barns or lounge under their porches; farmers set their buildings far back from the road, and the long driveways give us enough of a lead to not worry overly much about a successful pursuit.  Before the ride is over we'll pass by a silent herd of cattle and another canine sentry.  There will therefore be one more good, long sprint.  We are not the only critters who enjoy a little nighttime exertion. 

 More stretches of gravel pass beneath our wheels, sometimes accompanied by conversation, many times not.  Darkness invites introspection and appreciation.  Small circles of illumination and spots of deep gravel demand concentration.  The wind has picked up a little, the gaps between clouds growing wider, the moon more prominent.  Eventually we kill our headlights and proceed by that celestial lantern.  My colleague points out Jupiter masquerading as a star.  (The disguise is a poor one, far too bright to blend in with the rest.)  We pause for photographs and micturation.  With the dispersal of the clouds, so to goes the trapped heat, and we turn ourselves back towards the field in which the truck sits.  Tires hit pavement, and we fire up our headlights again for the benefit of the cars we might meet there. A handful of kilometers more and an end arrives.

I won't fall asleep until 3:30 in the morning.  I am ready to go again tomorrow. 


  1. You said "micturation." Eh heheheheh!

  2. You nailed it, Val! It was, indeed, a Magic-Carpet Bike Ride. Though I don't remember micturating anything .... I must have been taking a leak.


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