Sunday, April 8, 2007
Bump In The Night
I needed to do a long mtn bike ride and thought that some night time riding would be even better. It has been awhile since I did a night ride that was going to require more than one battery for my nitetrider system. Unfortunately, my niterider woes continue and both of my extra batteries have fallen victim to the same problem as the one that I had to pay to get fixed last year. So instead of leaving at midnight and riding until dawn I left at 3 am and spent some time in the dark and some time in the daylight.
I like riding trails at night, I always have. I have not spent much time in the last year riding alone at night in the woods. I was surprised by my feeling of unease. I had a creepy feeling almost as soon as I got to Riverside State Park. I kept hearing pine cones sounds. Were they dropping from trees or getting stepped on by deer? My wariness was made worse when I came across a shovel and two garbage bags in the middle of a trail. I made a quick scan into the trees as a rode by and I saw the distinctive bright strip of a reflector like the kind on the back of a cyclists jacket. I wrote off the whole thing as a couple of local kids having a little overnight adventure in the park...with a shovel and some garbage bags.
About 45 minutes later I was in the same area just one bluff higher. I could see a fire and hear men talking. It seemed a really strange location for someone to camp, but it explained the shovel. I kept riding, but decided to head out to Deep Creek which is a little more isolated and a lot steeper. After working the knees hard for an hour, I headed back to the creepy area just as the sun was coming up. Before I crossed the mysterious shovel area I saw two people laying behind some bushes. They were partially obscured but clearly two people were hiding in the bushes. This latest oddity was beyond explanation so I just kept riding.
Once daylight had fully illuminated the forest I quickly figured out what was going on. See Riverside State Park is also a Military Reservation, meaning that the National Guard trains there occasionally. I have come across a Humvee or two in the past but never have I been in the park after dark when they were on maneuvers. As I did a second lap through the area I saw dozens of camo clad, m-16 toting soldiers wandering through the trees. I found a couple of sandbag forts where they must have been hiding as I passed by in the night.
I don't know if I made their training more exciting or if I was just an annoyance but I know that the weird uneasiness I felt in the night sure made me laugh when I figured out what was going on.
While thinking about the bumps in the night I managed to get 63 miles of trails in before heading home where breakfast was waiting. I felt good after the ride and spent the rest of my day working in the garden.
at 6:54 PM