Have you ever thought of doing something but thought better of it? Well, I often have ideas that randomly pop into my head and while reasoning usually wins the day, there are occasions when the oddball play slips through the net and I end up doing something that I wished I hadn’t.
Take for example my fascination with riding out into the boonies in the middle of the night to explore hidden forest trails…in the dark. Yes, I must be mad but at the same time it’s quite exhilarating too and puts a completely different complexion on a ride.
Firstly it’s the amount of detail you can see and the lack thereof in the peripheral areas too. The trails can be rather sketchy at the best of times, but riding in the dark when you’re totally reliant on your headlights to pick up all the minor and major undulations on the track is a little disconcerting at first…but it’s amazing how quickly your night vision adapts and how your riding does too.
However, this is less about the technicalities of a ride in the dark in the forest but rather about the irrational sense of foreboding you might start to feel as you’re riding through. Will a serial killer suddenly leap out from behind a tree? Will a werewolf appear out of nowhere…eyes glaring red, teeth dripping with blood…and you within it’s sights? Or will you stumble across a group of aliens plotting to take over the globe? Why they would choose to set up their HQ in a forest in the middle of rural Berkshire, UK…is beyond me but I think you get the idea.
We all have varying levels of irrationality or random thoughts that pop into our brains…whether we’re riding or sat at home tucking into a bowl full of chocolate covered raisins (my treat of choice). Perhaps it’s a lifetime of watching too many horror movies or simply hearing too many ‘Bogeyman’ stories as a child…but the dark, or simply because we can’t see very well and cannot detect danger as well as in the daylight, can be a very creepy time when you’re out in the middle of nowhere.
However, for some reason these random thoughts do not necessarily freak me out when I’m riding on the back roads or the trails in the middle of the night, but rather it is the real and likely dangers that I am particularly weary of. Would a wild stag suddenly attack? Would a tree branch fall on top of me as I’m riding past? Would any group of yobbo hobos want to attack me if I ever encountered them?
But for all of the fears and the creepiness, there is something quite special about riding out in the dark and hitting the trails. Set your fears aside or attack them head on has always been my mantra. I’m cautious about how I ride and which trails I should take, choosing to stick to hard compacted routes and the less challenging but still fantastic to ride.
So why do this? Well, it’s similar to walking through a graveyard at night. Some people would never do it and some people would. For me it’s not about being disrespectful to the area or anyone in particular but it’s merely about doing something different and facing anything that can be unnerving to me. Of course riding in the forests on byways or trails is not to everyone’s cup of char but it is an experience that you won’t forget in a hurry that’s for sure.
It’s amazing how noisy somewhere can be when it’s supposed to be quiet. Ignoring the sound of the motorcycle engine, the great outdoors comes alive at night and you’re constantly picking up sounds, cracks or bangs too. Sometimes, it’s worth just stopping for a few minutes, kill the engine and just listen to the orchestra of the trees especially if there is anything more than a slight breeze, the sound can be deafening.
So as I prepare another route for a night track…the adrenaline is already starting to course through my veins. My excitement is growing and my expectations for a great ride are rising…but I hope I don’t stumble across any weirdos making their way through the forest at night either. Perhaps they are thinking the same thing about me…Perhaps?