Monday, June 20, 2011

Night ride to Morrison

On the Platte River Trail near the turnoff for the Bear Creek Trail.
As an early Father's Day treat, I went on a recreational long distance (for me) ride on Saturday night, leaving my house at about 7:30pm. My friend Nick masterminded a ride to Morrison featuring some of the best bike trails in the metro area. He started in a group of five from the main Denver Public Library. Since I was coming from the South, I rode North on the Platte River Trail, and met Nick et al. near Alameda.

My solo part of the ride in the evening was perfect, with the exception of frequent clouds of face level gnats along the way, of which I likely ingested several. However, the riparian zone along the trail was picturesque and full of wildlife. I saw several types of birds, a small Garter snake and signs of recent beaver activity on some trees near the water line.
The Titan decked out for the ride on one of several bridge crossings over the Platte.

The sun setting behind some industrial buildings.
You might never guess that there's a bustling city 100 meters in any direction from this spot.
After darkness fell and I joined up with the group, the ride changed a bit. The journey was just as pleasant, but sightseeing gave way to conversation, food and drinks. About the time that we reached the Bear Creek Trail, we switched on our lights and zig-zagged our way along the winding trail, over bridges, under trees, dodging sprinklers and making hair-pin turns for the next several miles. We did this as twilight faded into a deepening darkness, which made the meandering of the trail even more fun. I've done this ride a number of times before, but riding in the dark, with a light illuminating only the next thirty or so feet ahead made for an entirely new experience.

Josh added another layer of entertainment to the ride with his bike mounted DJ system, featuring an iPod and a couple of thrift store boom box speakers lashed to his front rack. Through this apparatus, Johnny Cash coaxed us on the climb up Morrison Road, one of the few places where we encountered vehicle traffic on the route. After reaching the apex of the climb, Morrison was only a couple of undulating road miles away.
Emily gives my bike a try.
I don't really get helmet hair anymore, but I often exhibit helmet head.
The objective in Morrison was the Mill Street Deli, a beacon of light, live music and cold beer. We stayed for an hour or so, sharing a couple of pitchers of beer poured into frosty mugs and some tasty snacks. When it was time to leave, it felt a little chillier outside than we we had arrived, but it's likely that the actual temperature difference, if any, was minor. Regardless, much of the return trip is downhill and doesn't require a lot of energy input, so we put on layers and ventured off into the night.
A view from the outside...
...and the inside of the Mill Street Deli.
Quite possibly the Morrison town mascot.
Josh breaking out the flannel for the downhill ride back to Denver.
The ride back down along the Bear Creek Trail was not unlike being on a roller coaster at night; unanticipated twists and turns amplified through a sense of speed exaggerated by the darkness. We also inadvertently frightened at least one dumpster diving raccoon along the way. In short, it was perhaps the best part of one of the best rides I can remember. This route is a bicycling jewel of the metro area and is fun at any time of the day, but I look forward to making the run at night again sometime soon. Thanks to my riding companions Nick, Emily, Josh, Kelly and Stephan.
Solo again on the route home. I was in the door at 2:00am on the dot after 43 miles.

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