Things That Go Bump in the Elemental Vastness

The days shorten and summer comes to a close.  Seems like just yesterday the wailing of the 5AM alarm was a hell of a lot easier to tolerate with bright skies streaming though the windows accompanied by the melody of the chirping finches that chose to nest beneath the steps of our front door.  You might laugh at this San Diegan, but summer – even here in the land of the Endless Summer – has flown the nest.  Pretty soon night riding will no longer be a welcome treat from the summer heat but a necessity brought on by the darkness.  And the darkness always wins.

For me, night rides are an opportunity to expand my senses and fill my lungs with the cool moist ocean air that backfills the rising heat of our coastal hillsides.  They give an opportunity to embrace our primal fear of the night and what hides within, a chance to let the more primitive parts of our brains attempt to explain things in dark contrasts of white and black instead of the shades of grey that tend to dominate human consciousness.

So what fills your thoughts on a solo night ride?  Is it the snap of the underbrush and the thought of mountain lions prowling for a meal on the same trails that you ride for pleasure?  Or is it laughing as you recall a pair of fox eyes bouncing along the trail ahead of you, filling you with a moment of stark terror as they playfully ran toward your headlight in a canine game of chicken?  Or is it an overwhelming sense of insignificance as you turn from the bright city lights below and face the challenge of the dusky hills that hold dominion over everything but night?

For me it’s all of that and more.  I welcome the night – it forces me to think as I pedal toward dawn.


“The bright calm sun, untouched by the furies of the earth, abandoning the earth to darkness, and wild forlornness, and night, as men shiver in their coats and hurry home. And then the lights of home glowing in those desolate deeps. There are the stars, though! – high and sparkling in a spiritual firmament. We will walk in the windsweeps, gloating in the envelopment of ourselves, seeking the sudden grinning intelligence of humanity below these abysmal beauties. Now the roaring midnight fury and the creaking of our hinges and windows, now the winter, now the understanding of the earth and our being on it: this drama of enigmas and double-depths and sorrows and grave joys, these human things in the elemental vastness of the windblown world.” – Jack Kerouac

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