I weighed the pros and cons. Because it's Sunday night, there wouldn't be many cars on the roads. On the other hand, the Monsoon rains have made the roads treacherous for two-wheeled vehicles by strewing them with rocky sand bars. Skylar starts third grade tomorrow, so it would be good for me to be rested. But I've been sleeping more poorly than I did when I was riding before bed. Finally, though, the promise of a reprise of last night's Perseid meteor shower tipped the balance in favor of making the effort to get back on the bike.
I inflated the tires, made sure the front and back lights were in working order, put on my most reflective shirt -- one that pissang and our "living dead" beetle Blackthorn know well -- and headed out for what I figured would be a short practice run. The night was so beautiful, though, that I ended up doing my full wintertime ride and then some. Who needs front brakes when the world is so welcoming? I saw plenty of shooting stars, but the moonless, cloud-studded sky was reward enough. Pedaling through the night turned out to be an excellent idea.
And so did the adjustment I made to my front light as I got rolling. Although I'd never ridden at night in the summer, aside from mini-laps on the safe confines of Faith Dawn Court in our subdivision, I remember my first days in Tucson over at Hummingbird House well enough to be mindful of nocturnal creatures of the potentially troublesome sort. So I pointed the beam down a bit, so I could get a clear view of the road surface ahead of me.
Almost on cue, as I was riding the darkest, most rural portion of my route, I spotted a snake crossing the road. I had plenty of time to avoid it, but couldn't tell what kind it was, since my L.E.D. light makes everything look oddly pale. Not wanting to miss the chance for a critter report of my own, I doubled back to see the tell-tale black and white stripes on the snake's tail. Yes, this was the first live Diamondback rattlesnake I'd seen in the wild since the two we saw through the safety of the JCC's floor-to-ceiling windows a few years back. Needless to say, I'm glad that I didn't run over it while looking up at the night sky. More than that, though, I'm just happy to have seen our desert's most iconic predator again.