You bundle up; it's cold outside. The scarf keeps the drafts out of that ill-fitting collar; the gloves come ever-so-close to covering your wrist, but when you stretch out to reach the bars an annoying half-inch gap forms and exposes bare skin to the cold, but you're used to it.

You throw a leg over the bike, and with your left glove on, you use your right hand to fire up the taillight. Flasher mode works best.


Rolling away from the parking lot lights, you join the bike path; the moon is almost full, and it casts a base glow on the path before you, but even the leafless trees block enough of it to warrant the headlamp now. You switch on the light and the path ahead reveals itself to you. It's as if your bike has a jousting sword, poking ahead as you ride. Your world funnels down to the patch of bike path currently bathed in the warm glow of your light.

Joining the Boulder Creek Path, you pick up a tailwind; the wind noise disappears, and all you hear is the thrum of your knobby tires on the pavement. Picking up speed, you're all alone in the dark. You turn on the other headlamp, peering deeper into the darkness.

Another bike approaches from the other direction, flicking its light at you. Moments later, he is gone, a silent passing in the night. You wonder who it was, what he was riding.

The path curves and undulates; at times you almost follow some light-colored grass right off the path. This is fun.

You enter a stretch of path that is illuminated by nearby streetlights. Your world opens up, your peripheral vision has something to do once again, and then just as quickly, you leave this zone of light; darkness slowly flows back around you leaving only the little puddle of light from your headlamps.

Over the bridge at Scott Carpenter Park, your wheels rattle the wood boards that make up the roadway, making noise in the night.

At the Confluence, you peel off to the right onto Skunk Creek Path, ducking to clear the low branches of that tree at the apex that you know are there but can't see. You hear them go by. Now you're on familiar ground, and go even faster. You look at the mountains, bathed in moonlight, and smile.

Rolling through your neighborhood, you switch off your headlamps and pedal through the blackness, savoring every pedal revolution of those last few hundred yards.