Few things are more fun than meetings that start at 5pm on Friday afternoon. Especially on days when I've ridden my bike to work, now that the days are getting so short that I need to worry about getting home before it's dark out.
It's not wasted, though. While I was initially nervous about leaving work so late, I was reminded of what a great experience it can be to see a familiar landscape under unfamiliar circumstances. I've ridden this route over a hundred times by now, but this was the first time I've done it in twilight. All sorts of things I've never noticed before were cast into sharp relief. For example, the Campbell water tower. I've never noticed it before, but it's lit up at night, and looks so large on the horizon that I'm surprised I never saw it before. Also, the mysterious building that juts right up against the path just south of Hamilton is no longer so mysterious: I finally noticed its sign, Alliance Title.
This is far from the first time I've had this experience. No matter how familiar a scene becomes to me or how much time I've spent staring at it, it seems like there's always something just waiting a particular mood or circumstance to jump to my attention. I think I've mentioned before that the whole reason I started riding to work was because I happened to look to one side while driving to work, and was amazed to see bikers riding down a trail which I had no idea existed under the highway.
Things wax and wane in my mind. I remember when I first moved here and was constantly amazed at the mountains on the horizon. As is natural, I gradually became accustomed to them... I still saw them, but didn't really watch them any more. Then, about a month ago, the Diablo range happened to catch my eye once again as I was riding home. It happened for no particular reason that I can identify; I was just suddenly and completely struck by its beauty and strength under the strong afternoon sun. Having made that rediscovery, every day since then I gaze at it anew, still feeling that surge of emotion.
It'll be interesting to see how things change next week when daylight saving time ends. On the bright side (ha!), I'll probably be able to start leaving for work around 6AM again. Lately it's been so dark in the morning that I've had to wait until around 6:45 before I feel comfortable hitting the streets. On the other side, I'll need to be even more disciplined about leaving work before 5. It may just be paranoia, but after three accidents I don't feel like taking any more chances than necessary.
In other cycling news: last weekend I made my second attempt at tackling the Hicks Road ride. I started relatively early and treated myself to a Southern Kitchen breakfast. Usually I feel guilty about their huge portions, but on this day I happily ate every bite - my entire reason for being there was to absorb a large number of calories in preparation for the ride. On the whole it went much better than my first attempt, and I didn't need to take a gasping-for-breath break halfway up Kennedy. However, I still wiped out at almost exactly the same spot as last time, when there's a killer steep, twisty incline a ways past Lexington Reservoir. So that was a little frustrating; I'd hoped to actually cross the 2000 foot park for this ride and cross it off my list, as it were. I guess this just tells me that I need to do more practice on forgiving slopes before taking this particular one.