It was a typically wet October night. The moon hidden behind the clouds. Your breath visible but just so. A quick easy pedal up to the start of Outback at Tokul West. Tim and I having our usual fall banter about the soon to be had snow days and stretching the dirt days for as far into winter as possible. Dropping into Outback and slapping turns that come a little faster than expected when riding at night. We came across our first little creature. It ran into the trail in front of me catching my light. I skid to a stop so as to preserve it's little life rather than run over it. The animal stopped on the trail and just stayed there for what felt like an eternity because we had more trail to shred. We couldn't identify it. It wasn't any creature I'd ever seen before. But out in the woods at night it didn't surprise me to not know. I would come across a photo of a mountain beaver a year or so later. It looked pretty similar but no way for me to ever go back to confirm.
As it finally cleared off the trail we made our way down through Outback extension catching some sweet airtime along the way. As we made our way up to Poopy D (will someone share the story behind the name in this contest?) I was in for my next encounter. The clouds were high and you can just see the city lights off in the distance while riding along. That was when something in the bushes to my right stirred and started running. Tim and I always joked that you don't have to out run an animal, you just have to out run your friends. I never thought that a full sprint was going to be my reaction. I didn't even look to see what the animal was. I think I yelled something to Tim, but the adrenaline just clicked on and I was off to the races. The animal kept pace and I pushed those pedals as hard as I could. After a few moments that felt like the race of my life, the animal broke off and I heard it cut behind me and down the hill to my left. But I didn't let off the gas. I wanted to put as much space between us as possible.
I knew the turns ahead usually had a lot of loose rocks. Until that night I had always slowed down to find a clean and safe line. That night with the adrenaline flowing and some sort of animal lurking nearby in the shadows there was no time to think, only react. I scrubbed off some speed into the first corner and just kept the wheels turning. A drift here, a foot out there, pedal hard out of the last turn. Not sensing the animal nearby I finally exited out onto the road. Tim showed up a minute later and he didn't even hear the animal. He just saw me turn on the jets and take off.
In hindsight, I'm pretty sure it was just a deer that had bedded down next to the trail. To this day and knowing I could do it at night, I still carry a lot of speed through those turns. Most of the time it works out. I still do the occasional ride at night there, I just bring my bell and do a lot more looking around with my lights.
The picture is on the climb up to would be quite the memorable evening for me.