Quiet. No cars. No engine noise and no lights; only the remnants of the setting sun and a silhouette of the peaks surrounding the basin. COVID-19 has closed Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas. Tonight was the perfect night for a ride.
I started the 13 mile loop as the sun set. This ride was blackout. No mounted lights. No moon. Different things get noticed when the ride is stripped down. Senses come alive. The rustling of lizards, mice, and rabbits. Snakes? Crickets. Their chirping at a distance, silence upon nearness, the restart when passed. Bats. An unreasonable belief, and associated stress and ducking, they will attack. The uptick in my heart rate and effort. Learning I am Bruce Wayne; Batman before he was Batman. There is more.
The peek-a-boo of my front tire’s lone dirt patch. When my right pedal is almost down, the spot emerges. Then it’s gone. Over and over until the last light of the sun is gone and makes tires indistinguishable from the road. The zing of a misaligned caliper on a slightly warped rotor. It sounds sharp. Is sharp a sound? The rubbing of my bibs on the nose of the saddle. Swoosh. Swoosh. The consistent and reliable creak of the saddle deflecting under my weight. . .only when the left pedal is at 12 o’clock. The fear of shoulder debris that made its way into the middle of the road and the maturity to slow down. Not slowing down.
Hairpin turns. Trusting the bike and skill 20+ years of riding have afforded. Leaning into them hard and at speed. 35mph. Sinking into the bike. G’s. Exiting and feeling the pull to the outside. G’s. The reality that I’m stronger turning left than right. Wondering why after 20+ years of riding this is still a problem. I am unskilled.
Back to the car.
Red Rock Canyon in the dark. Welcome to Las Vegas!