birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Short Night Long Ride

I once went out on a bike ride on the longest day of the year with a big social group of cyclists I was riding with regularly. The plan was to ride south and pretty dang far was the plan. I was looking forward to this very much.

The ride was led by others so I don’t really remember where we went. But we left at 7pm and hauled out in a pack, taking up a lane or two on the big avenues of the city. We put in some serious distance on this evening and there were a few rest stops at bars that glorious June night.

As the night progressed, some people headed back in groups. Some of us just kept carrying on. We rode and rode and then we were at a little beach on a tiny lake, surely where we shouldn’t have been and probably 20 or more miles away from home. The sand was cold to sit on, but we drank beer and/or whiskey from a flask. It had gotten late and dark except for the moon, bringing just enough light that the mood was pretty magical for the crew that had held on this far.

And would you guess that the topic of skinny-dipping came up, as we sat there by the lake? It was the perfect time, so I was brave and gave it a try. There was almost too much light, but at least we could see far enough to make sure no troublemakers hid our clothes. We were laughing and spinning around and splashing.

Finally, feeling the pull north, we rolled out of that park, except one guy hit something on his bike and ended up falling on his face and bleeding, probably with a broken tooth. It was scary and such a bummer after our major fun. We called him a taxi van and waited, the time getting even later.

And then the long, long ride home. We were on top of the world except for just witnessing our bleeding friend. But then we were literally on the bottom of world, so far south.

A long time later, there were three of us who stopped for breakfast at the all-night diner downtown. We needed fuel and a rest until the remaining miles home. After the hash browns, etc., my last little leg had me crossing the big bridge and seeing the glow morning twilight and hearing the chirping of those early birds. I don’t think I even slept that night. I was a rigid ball of energy, horizontal for about 30 minutes until I had to shower and go to work.


Peace in the Valley