You know its late when the truck stops are quiet. Its the type of ride I'm famous for. Getting out there when everyone else has gone to bed. The roads are more peaceful and I spend more of it watching out for the nocturnal animals. Its the ride I genuinely prefer.
Its especially nice on clear nights. The stars are bright and the breeze has a little bite to it. You tend to feel more awake on these types of midnight rides. The humidity settles on things at rest. After a warm day its refreshing.
When my wife and I first met we took long rides after band rehersal (yes, I met my wife while in a band) which would sometimes last all night. We rode the Milwaukee area and one of our favorite things to do was watch the sunrise over Lake Michigan at the McKinley Marina.
Predawn and the lake is still as glass. The sky takes on mottled blue and pink hues. The air remains calm until the sun breaks through a distant wall of thick clouds which always settle on the eastern horizon, just above the quiet waters. Then, the sunrise.
When it happens its a brilliant display of hot rays of color spraying up over the cloudbank. They break through the edges of billowy vapor in streams but the water remains calm. Once our personal star comes into view in vivid reds and yellows its a matter of time until that first wave of air moves across the Lake's surface to greet us. A breeze that feels like the sun itself has released its first deep breath of the morning. I miss it. Granted I now live in the land of ten thousand little lakes but its not the same. I guess I can vist but as they say, you can never go back.
I still have the need to ride in the dark hours. Not as much as in my youth but every once in a while. I make no pretense about choosing to never completely grow up.
So it is that The Night and I still know each other. An old acquaintance. While the hustle of daylight sparks sleepyheads to clog their lives with getting places en masse, these hours are for the contemplative few. And the occasional drunk, lost and contemplating something else to himself.
The hours past bar closing and dawn are for the few of us who don't need the banter of talk on the am dial. Or music of any era or style. The sound of an engine. Wind trying to find its way under a helmet are enough... Medication.
Not so much as in my youth when my only responsibilityies were the rent and insurance, but enough not to lose myself. These midnight rides bring me back to center. My quiet time.
Its the lake house for some. A day at the ballpark for others. The hunt or a well written tome. It could be a garden or a visit to the museum, we all need to have it. A thing we engage in which somehow seems to settle our spirits.
For some its the unwinding slipstream after work. Others dissappear off into the hillside, the drone of their motorcycles leaving that fading sinking hum until even that note evaporates from our senses.
Its what we do. We don't ride to become something, we already are. We merely choose the vehicle and the hour.