This wasn't the actual sky, but you get the idea
A friend of mine has been kind enough to invite me to join his weekly evening rides on a course known as “The Thrilla.” It departs from a paved and well travelled bike path on the eastside and ascends a labyrinth of power line access, bridle trails, neighborhood greenbelts, a couple streets, nature trails and what feels like secret passages. The route feels like a cross between Harrison Ford’s escape in “The Fugative,” and any scene from an Indiana Jones movie that takes place in a cave. The combination of fast and slow, steep and flowing, dirt single track, off camber pavement and loose gravel is perfect for cyclocross practice.
Because of the contrived nature of the route it is easy to get lost and it is not a situation where all roads lead to the end. The complexity of the route requires riders to serve what can best be described as an apprenticeship learning the course. For this reason solo cyclists are a rarity on the course. While there is a definite Thrilla course, there are also dozens of potential add-ons along the way. I have ridden the course five times and in spite of my inflated sense of self, I am not prepared to either ride solo or guide others on the route. I also think I have a pretty good sense of direction, yet I am absolutely oblivious to north and south on all but the first and last part of this route.
This Thursday I again joined Geoff’s Thursday Thrilla ride. In addition to Geoff there were two Thrilla veterans and another “follower” like myself. We needed, and brought, headlamps as we were still on course as the sun went down. When we emerged from the dark forest onto a power line access to begin the westward return trip we found the sun had sunk below the horizon line. As we crested a dark hill the western sky was as bright orange as one can imagine. Riders were silhouetted against the orange sky and the panorama appeared totally photoshopped.
If I had been with Hottie it could have been an “It doesn’t get any better than this,” moment. As it was it shall be a scene I won’t soon forget. Three weeks ago the sun was still out at this time and today it was dark. Summer may or may not be over, but it certainly has packed its bags. The rain and cold are coming any day and these warm days sure feels like we are riding on borrowed time. It almost made me feel guilty.
When we made it back to the cars we had a rushed and an almost awkward parting. The transition from, “Wow, that was so fun I feel like I’m twelve years old” to “Man I’m late, I gotta get home. I got shit to do,” happened so fast we didn’t know what to say.
Today at work I felt a twinge now and then from sore and tight muscles. While that isn’t what you want to feel the day before a race I smiled and remembered an orange sky.