Once upon a twilight cloudy,
I went riding, rough and rowdy...
With an empty water bottle,
I raced off at three-fourths throttle –
Missed the faucet for refilling.
Being led but oddly willing,
I suppressed a strong compunction;
We rode hard to one small junction.
Big brown signs said 'No Vehicles'.
We rode past despite the prickles
In my head, as mist got thicker.
Then I saw Paul's headlight flicker.
Wow, it was a good bit darker,
Kinda hard to see that marker.
I tried mine, but it was clearly
Not yet dark enough, not nearly.
Paul had shelled outs lots of money
For bright lights that make trails sunny,
Super strength and quite expensive –
Once the price had seemed offensive.
My small light was cheap and plastic;
I wished now for some fantastic
Megawattish brilliant scorcher.
But to save my dry cells torture
I clicked off my light and waited;
Darker times I knew were fated.
Things went well as we were climbing
Though I questioned our timing.
Early on the moon was shining,
But then wisps of mists entwining
Kept on moving up to hound us
In the darkness all around us.
Small stream crossings deep and rutted;
Steep soft banks where big roots jutted;
Heavy chapparal in places;
Tree limbs smacked into our faces.
"Paul," I croaked, "My throat is burning;
I think we should be returning."
Paul just nodded, calm, complying,
As he sat down by me, sighing,
On a steep slope, out of action,
Where I'd stalled for lack of traction.
Wind-blown mist swirled up to show us
Someone on the trail below us.
"If we go that way we'll meet 'em;
I'm not sure if we should greet 'em,"
Paul said dryly of the danger;
Could it be a State Park Ranger?
If we tried it, took our chances,
Fines might fracture our finances.
So we kept right on ascending,
Grunting up the climbs and wending.
Where Paul's light led, I would follow,
Throat so dry I couldn't swallow.
We dodged rocks and thorny bushes,
Sometimes falling on our tushes.
Swinging headlights, dusty billows,
Patchy mist like big soft pillows,
Swaying bushes, tail lights flashing,
Falling down and water splashing.
What if we should get a puncture?
Things got weirder at some juncture.
Climbing up a wooded gully,
I saw lovely Agent Scully
Dodging lasers fired by creatures
Green of skin with big-eyed features –
I was beat and dehydrated;
Maybe I hallucinated?
Aching, thirsty, I kept going,
Onward, upward, dreading, knowing
I could not afford to weaken,
Chasing Paul's annoying beacon,
Flashing red, disturbing, blinking,
Like a cop car, I was thinking.
Then at last – one final scree slope.
If we made it, there might be hope
We'd survive this eerie journey
Without facing some attorney
In the courts, where he'd malign us,
Plus a judge who'd surely fine us.
Finally, the trail went level;
Maybe we'd outraced the devil.
Lights did not seem any nearer,
And up here the air was clearer.
We both hoped pursuit was thwarted,
Till our downhill leg got started.
We'd humped hard to reach the summit,
Now we'd need to quickly plummet
Down a swooping set of sweepers
While the fog obscured our peepers.
Riding where we weren't permitted,
Paul and I were now committed.
One last chance – a fire road, snaking
Down the north side – had me shaking.
I had heard at least one story,
Almost gothic, dark and hoary,
Of this road and cyclists daring,
While the sun was brightly glaring.
Sycamore by Starlight - Part 3
Last updated Oct 20 2006