The sun flares orange and pink, drops behind the mountains, and leaves us. Felkerino and I pause to don night gear, assess our 600K progress, and estimate the hours of night riding ahead.
Around sunset I usually find myself taking the occasional long look toward farmhouses. Are they eating dinner? Watching a movie? After riding over 200 miles, that sounds like a relaxing way to end the day.
Our evening will not include any couch-sitting, however. We push on. Felkerino lights the way forward, but as my view is largely blocked by his body I look side to side. And up.
I love to tilt my eyes to the night sky during brevets. It’s one of the perks of stoking a tandem. Stars I never see in the city easily pierce the midnight ceiling of the country.
As we ride upward, tree leaves and branches block the sky-scape, turning the road an even darker shade of night. We descend and stars reappear.
A lightning bug dips by my periphery and I gaze off into the trees to search for more of them. The organic light show of the lightning bugs’ pulsing illumination hypnotizes. I wonder if this is how they talk to each other.
My ears absorb the steady babble of a creek to our left. We round a bend and its gentle rushing transitions to our right. In night’s quiet, sound is sweetly amplified.
We weave in and out of patches of honeysuckle. Oh this delicious smell! Will I ever become tired of it? I drink in its fresh flowery scent.
Near the water I hear little spring peepers. “Ribbit. Ribbit.” What is your chorus, little frogs? They all talk at once, yet seemingly in tune with each other.
We wind and rise to the overnight. After a brief shower and nap, we resume course, dropping away from town into another valley.
The waning moon is around two-thirds full, and casts a wide soft light all around. We don’t chance it, but I believe the stars and moonlight could guide our path this night.
There are no cars, no streetlights. Cows lie in pastures, sleeping. We are the only people on this twisting road, although other riders must be near by.
We spot the dusty pastels of first light and I am glad for it. The night is cool, and I anticipate the energizing warmth daytime will bring.
At the same time, I will miss the sleepy solitude of night that has made me so alive. The moon and stars gradually recede from view and we ride into the dawn.