It was January, and recently we had been experiencing snow, so the opportunities to put mountain biking rubber down on grippy forest floor were slim and spotty depending on the weather forecast.
We went out for our weekly (sometimes twice weekly) late evening ride. Our standard, “meet at the Gate at 9”, with the night as our oyster.
The night did not disappoint. We hammered through protected and forested lush single track; with sections of pillaged clear cut and slushy, snowy lines in between. I, as usual, chasing the rear wheel of my super fit riding buddy; hoping he was going to choose a good line through the narrowly lit path I was blindly flying through just behind him.
At the end, we both rode as fast as we could down our last trail, to finish off yet another fun, and exhilarating ride.
After, we took some time at “the Gate” to catch up over the last few days. It’s like our debrief on all the stresses of the last week, and how we are handling this thing called “life”. Probably successfully considered to outsiders as male bonding time. Peter is like a brother, and our conversations together end up meaning as much as the time we spend snaking around on our favourite trails together.
While talking about law, politics, juicy new bike parts and frames, our relationships, we saw a shadowed figure approaching. He didn’t look meek. In fact, as he came closer; it was quite clear this guy was big…
And, he had a bat.
Yup, I’m sitting here in my ‘counselling session’ and now; well, I’m about to die. Fuck.
I say hi. He replies with equal friendly gratuity.
He says, “oh, i see we have some enthusiasts!” ; while shining his flashlight back and forth between our cars and illuminating our freshly muddied bikes attached to the back of each.
We start chatting. He’s the neighbourhood ‘watchdog’. We chat about some idiot that parked his truck in the same spot as us, and proceeded to steal tools from a neighbour back in the new development on the other side of our forested trailhead. That there have been a few teen aged partyers around in the forest from time to time, and that his next door neighbour had a bunch of things stolen from his garage.
I sensed his frustration. I understood the large bat accommodating Big Bob. But at the same time, I felt at ease with Bob. He was a nice guy. One of those people we all wished we had as neighbours. We all introduced each other, understanding that we were all innocent folk, and chatted a bit more.
Bob told us about how long he’d been in the neighbourhood, a few other things in making idle chat, and then mentioned those pesky problems his area had been facing.
He mentioned one night a few months ago, coming out in the dark with his bat and flashlight, and saw a mini-van, “with kids car seats in the back”, and a bike rack sticking out the back. He was worried. So, he called the cops. This person, possibly a mom, was out in the forest. At night. In the fucking dark. With his/her bike.
This couldn’t turn out well. What the hell would someone do that for? They may never return.
So, Bob called the cops.
Right away, I saw the connection! I drove that minivan!!!
A few months back, I had my regular bike rack break off the back of my car. As I was just in between some expenses, I used the van instead of my car to get out for my regular night ride. I had gone out for a gorgeous fall ride; and just like normal; I finished the ride with a grin on my face, and texted my sometimes-concerned with what the hell I’m about wife, I was alive and coming home.
The place where we park is a dead-end road slash cul-de-sac. I was doing a U-turn as I was leaving, and saw a local RCMP car parked doing some paperwork.
At 11 o’clock at night…??
I thought that was odd, but went on my merry way. Home to my family, and happy that I get the both of best worlds. Time to see my kids grow, time to hang out with my super supportive wife, and that special time I have hammering through the forest with only the part of trail my light can keep up with, in front of me.
I am one lucky man. Bob didn’t kill me with his bat. I have friends, family, kids, and a wife that supports my passion. And I am fortunate to experience the magic that is night riding!