Sunday, 18 June 2017

Night Riding: batman

It'd been a long, hot night in lodge.  Putting on a tuxedo isn't exactly comfortable at the best of times, stewing in one for three hours was worse.  I'd finally sprung free from cleanup and was looking forward to a cool, dark ride home.

Even now it was still well above 20°C, but the warm night air over mesh pants and jacket was dramatically cooler than a room full of guys in suits.  The Tiger fired up at first touch, eager to make some wind.

Riding at night doesn't happen very often, and when it does it tends to be the end of a long day where the goal is to get home, but the magic of night riding quickly reaches out and grabs me.  The smells are different and strong.  Reflective eyes follow me from every hedgerow and the stars are wheeling overhead.  Ground fog flashes past in low lying areas and my headlights tilt dramatically as I round corners on dark country lanes.

Suddenly, without warning something hits me in the visor - more precisely, I knock it out of the air with my face.  Whatever it was hits me hard enough to get off the throttle and coast while I assess the damage.  Insects attain Jurassic Park sizes in Canada in the summer, but this wasn't that.  Whatever it was bounced off the visor and hit my right shoulder, where it scratched desperately at my mesh jacket before the wind blast threw it over my shoulder into the dark.

Tiredness and heat exhaustion had been washed away with a surge of adrenaline.  I had big eyes behind that scarred visor.  Was it a cicada?  A June bug?  Those things grow baseball sized up here.  That desperate scratching feeling over my shoulder was still freaking me out.

I got my head together and pushed on into the night.  With no moon the Milky Way arched overhead.  Closing in on the one horse town of Oustic I tried a night time 360° photo which came out blurry but cleaned up nicely in Photoshop (on the right).

I rolled into my driveway well past 11pm.  As I pushed the Tiger into the garage and took my jacket off I discovered that it was splattered with blood.  My best bet is that I knocked a bat out of the air with my face.  He was probably doing his thing picking those Jurassic Park sized bugs out of the sky when my head came flying through space and took him out.  If I'd have seen him coming I would have ducked, but black bats at night are hard to pick out.

Better a bat than the rodent of unusual size I saw on the road half an hour later.  I don't know what that was either, but it gave me a long look with reflective yellow eyes before it ambled off into the undergrowth.

Riding at night is magical, but not without its dangers.