A couple of weekends ago, a couple of friends and I rode in The Starlight Spectacular, a midnight ride through the Garden of the Gods and Old Colorado City. It was amazing. With literally thousands of other people riding that night, it was a nice reprieve from all the fires that we were experiencing in our city. The night air was cool and the din of all the riders just filled the evening with excitement and anticipation.
For some reason I was nervous. I don’t know why; it wasn’t a race, I had nothing to prove, and I was among some of my closest friends. But still the butterflies were tingling in my stomach.
I think I was just so excited about what as about to take place. We were going to ride 22 miles in the darkness with only our little headlights to light the way, and the blinking red lights in front of us.
Within in the first 1/4 mile, there was a nice climb, I never really noticed the hill in a car, but on the bike, it was making it presence known. Once we got over that initial ascent, it was a sweet downhill where speeds were reaching close to 30 mph! With the darkness enveloping us, it was an exhilarating ride! I could only really see the white line in the road just a few feet in front of me, and it forced me to make quick decisions.
As the ride continued, we found ourselves on more lit roads, and main thoroughfares. After another fast descent down Garden of the Gods Road, we turned and were on our way to downtown Colorado Springs, and Old Colorado City.
I failed to mention that the ride didn’t start until 10:30pm so by now it was late, and yet there were people sitting in their front yards cheering us on!
After a quick stop to gobble up all the goodies that the vendors were offering, we were off again. I was finding a nice rhythm and my cadence was right on track for me. I was riding with two other friends that kept the conversation light and humorous.
There is something about riding…
Our last turn lie ahead and it led us up the Garden of the Gods once again. After another ascent we passed the Balancing Rock that took on an eerie form in the moonlight. We thought that the ascents were done, and it was all down hill to the midnight breakfast awaiting us at the finish line. We were wrong…
The end of the course was the toughest of all. The climbs never ceased to end, and I was convinced that at the next turn it would level out and the downhill must be close. But hey! This is Colorado! There are always going to be hills to climb!
Living in Indiana for most of my life, this was new for me. It wasn’t like we didn’t have hills in The Hoosier State, it was they just didn’t last this long!
I was alone now, the darkness was so deep and rich, with my $40 headlamp to penetrate the inky night, it was just me and the bike and the hills. I didn’t want to miss any moment of what my senses were telling me. My legs were on fire, my mind kept telling them to suck it up, and don’t quit. I thought it comical that in just a few minutes I went from going almost 30 mph to struggling to go 8 mph! “You cannot quit, you cannot quit” was running through my mind…”When is the next descent? For cryin’ out loud!!”
Finally, one more hill and I saw the “Kissing Camels” illuminated in the night, and I knew the end was near. In the distance I could hear the music and the sounds of laughing and conversations of all that had gone before me. I was close. Just stay focused. Now the descent was upon me, the air was crisp and cool, and suddenly all the climbs were well worth it. I was going as fast as could, and it was kinda freaking me out, but I couldn’t help it. “Enjoy this” I said. “Drink in every moment. Embrace your fear. Conquer it. Climb. Don’t quit.”
For me, there is something about riding. My senses are alive, and my soul feels released. It’s my catharsis. My release. It’s just me and The Lord and my bike.
I reached the destination. We had a story to share, we shared it together and yet we all had different perspectives and take aways. The pancakes, yogurt and fruit left much to be desired, but the conversations were the main course.
There is something about riding…