it is dark, the kind of dark that swallows you whole and negates your presence. it is quiet, the silence sitting on me like a blanket, nature's pre-dawn chatter muffled by the season, my headband and my helmet.
my headlight casts its small circle of light onto the path in front of me, and I forge ahead, the cool wind making my cheeks tingle. I am at the base of emigration, and I have just passed another cyclist who offered a warm 'good morning.'
his headlight is powerful, a full 180 degree sweep of light that illuminates me as I pull in front of him. my insignificant little light pales in comparison to his, and I once again think about replacing my batteries. then I remember that I did this two weeks ago.
I push harder to justify my passing him, and soon I am outside the main arc of his light, living instead in the periphery. I can even see my own shadow now, sometimes, up in front of me now that I have pulled far enough away from him. and here I stay, pedaling up the canyon that I have been aching to visit for days.
emigration has become like home for me. as my son's football team has a home field, this has become my home route. it is familiar and comforting. even in the dark.
which I am not quite in, as my fellow cyclist's light is still brightening particles of space around me. two cyclists have already come down the hill, their lights the only part of them I see until they draw parallel with me for that brief moment and I see their form, the wheels, a flash of covered leg and jacketed arm.
and then I see a cyclist in the middle of the road, with no light at all, no flashing red in the rear or bright white up front. I think the cyclist is moving forward, uphill, but why is he in the middle of the road, so terribly dangerous a spot to be? are my eyes playing a trick on me? no, there is a definite shape, I know, and a shiver runs through my body.
then he is gone.
and less than a minute later I see another shape, this time on the far right side of the bike lane ~ a much safer place to be ~ and this one looks like a runner. again, no lights, and I first think it's another insane person before I question my own sanity as I search harder to define the body and it slips away from me.
ghosts are with me this morning, and I am a teeny bit spooked.
could it possibly be my own shadow again, a ghosted version of me in another space and time?
I shiver again as the other cyclist's light fades further and further behind me until I am alone again, possibly, with my own small circle of light.
higher up the hill I see a round, tumbly, black shape ever so slightly moving off by the right shoulder of the road. a ghost? another unknown form? darkness has lifted a bit by now, and as I pull even with it I see a lighter color on the tips of it's outline, and I laugh to myself as I pass the slowly rooting porcupine, which is thankfully alive.
it is still pre-sunrise when I reach the summit, and I can't even read the numbers on my cyclometer to compare my time to that of other rides.
which is just fine.
I pause for a few seconds to look down at little dell, which is a ghost lake, silver and rippling gently, its iridescence floating up to me.
I turn and head down from the peak, and the thursday morning riders are approaching the top as I do so. there is first a pair of headlights in the bike lane, then a solitary one a bit behind that, then another, and another, and I count the column of riders as I spin my bike down the road. there are eight, eight headlights with barely formed bodies behind them, and these are the only other cyclists I see this morning on my ghost ride.