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Solitude of Night Riding

I took the opportunity to do a solo night ride the other night at Mission Peak that was quite a bit of fun. It certainly wasn't the first time up Mission Peak and it wasn't the climbing that made it fun. It was the doing it alone at night that was fun and different.

I rode up from the Ohlone side just in time to catch the orange and purple colors of sunset as I got to the first gate on the climb up. In just a few moments, the last glimmers of sunset disappeared and I was left in complete darkness. It was quiet except for my breathing, the crunch of gravel under my tires and the soft chirping of crickets hidden in the grass. The singletrack on Peak Trail was fun before climbing up to the summit. Looking to the north, I could see the bright ribbon of headlines on I-680 in the distance.

Rather than the usual climb to the very top, I turned south along the ridge and headed for the southernmost antenna complex. This part of the trail was completely dark, without any lights to be seen in any direction and the moon apparently taking the night off. A large owl lifted off silently as I came toward it. The night air was crisp like autumn air should be, making the long climb much easier. I rounded a bend,climbed a small hill to the last antenna and was back to the twinkle of San Jose's lights far below me. After putting on some arm warmers and a light jacket, I retraced my steps back to the starting point.

Some will say it can be dangerous to ride alone at night on lightly used trails. They are right. It could have been a very long night if something had happened. But that caution would have prevented me from spending a very enjoyable evening of riding by myself in a familiar yet very different environment.

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