Monday, November 23, 2009

Twilight Run

It started with a simple phone call last week from friend and fellow rider Mark. Asked whether he'd been riding lately, he remarked that he'd done a solo blast out to Ocotillo Wells recently, leaving S.D. at 3pm. Since Ocotillo is a helluva long ways out, and it's dark at 5pm these days, that was an interesting ride I thought and filed it away. Fast forward into our busy weekend lives and the only time either of us could break away was late afternoon. Thus, the "Twilight Run" was born!

Not to be outgunned by Ocotillo (although that sounds fun and we will do that!), the consensus was to head out to the foothills of the Laguna mountains, and trek along from Hwy 8 to Julian via Hwy 79. By the time we got to the Descanso turn-off to Hwy 79, it was 4:30 and the sun was fading quickly. We accelerated and took off, not wanting to waste even a precious glimmer of light. Fortunately, there was almost NO traffic and the 25 mi to Julian went by very quickly.

But oh so beautiful: The long shadows; deer in the meadows; crisp air; hum of the bikes and curves aplenty; headlights glancing off pavement, barely illuminating the curves ahead. While I wasn't worried about ice (yet), the bike thermo registered 40 degrees in some of the valleys. Yahoo - that's bracing!

By the time we hit Julian, it was dark with residents and visitors alike clutching their jackets about them and scurrying for the indoors. The town was adorned with white Christmas lights already, making a pretty sight. A line of people waiting for pies at the Julian Pie Company stared as we drove by, perhaps shuddering as they imagined the wind chill factor on the bikes. I was pretty committed to getting some soup and a cup of coffee, so we cruised through the 4-way stop in the center of town on to Bailey's BBQ.

Bailey's smelled great walking through the door, an concerto of spareribs, beans, coffee, and wonderful hot coffee. A few couples and families looked up as we walked inside with our riding suits, but turned back to their own meals quickly. Mark and I talked of light subjects and future travels on the bikes - Tombstone or Utah anyone?

Then it was time to jet. Bodies warmed nicely, we stepped out into the ever-chilling night air for the dark ride home. Heading down the hill, rounding corners, trees lining the road, stars and new moon blazing. Very little traffic, and though "inky black," our pace was brisk. By the time we scooted through Ramona leaning into the curves of the tarmac past Archie Moore road it was still getting colder, but home was close.

Mark gave a quick wave as we parted. I rolled in to Buckwheat Manor, immensely satisfied with my first Twilight Run. As I entered the house, the kids ran into my arms making the night rave even better!