I grabbed Lily and hit the trail just as the last of the sunset lit the sky. By the time I was a mile from home, I needed my headlight to see instead of just to be seen. I passed many cyclists without lights who I saw only because of the reflectors on their pedals and several joggers in dark clothes who were merely shadows at the periphery of my light, but I was alone in my lane neither overtaking nor being overtaken by other people.
I startled too many rabbits to count who were cropping the grass close to the trail. I, apparently, sneaked up on a ginger cat who didn't turn to see me until I passed it. I heard peepers singing the entire length of my ride.
At the base of the Town Center overpass in Reston, I turned around because I didn't feel like battling that long, shallow climb. Shortly afterwards, my light warned me that its power was low. Turning around was the right idea.
My imagination took over on the return trip. I still had enough light to barely illuminate the canopy of trees between Herndon and Sterling and I felt as though I were deep in the woods on some mission or quest. I kept my eyes wide for deer, but even the rabbits had moved elsewhere. I was completely alone, flying in the dark.
When I'd completed my nine miler, I was sweaty and clear-headed. My dark journey was exactly what I'd needed and I realized how much I had missed the experience. With the closing of the year, I look forward to more dark rides.