Riding a bike at night is an experience. Especially if you explore like I did tonight.
When I was younger and living in Utah, I used to ride a lot at night. Starting at the freeway, I would wind up the hills, careening around every side street and parking lot I could find. There was something peaceful and relieving about the starkness of it all; there was not a person to be found and all was quiet. I would end most of the rides in the canyon above the city, stopping to rest on a park bench before beginning the speedy decent down the mountain.
Fast forward 15 years and it all feels brand new again.
I've lived in my town now for nearly five years, and never got to know the streets like I have in the past week since getting my bike. In a way, it makes me a little embarrassed. Yet, there really isn't any other way to explore a city and it's plentiful alleys without stepping outside of your car and slowing down a bit. With no one around, it's possible to stick your nose where otherwise impossible during the day.
Normal settings become locations of interest and value; gas stations, furniture stores, restaurants, cathedrals, and bus stops all shed their natural responsibilities and simply exist. It's possible to see the city for what it is, almost what it wants to be. During the day, a thousand people can cross another thousand people's path without notice or care. At night, the opportunity is expanded yet minimized in the same stroke, as inhibitions kick in and you become wary and cognizant of everything around.
In related news, I posted a picture from my travels this evening. It's over at the Photo Project site, so make sure to wander on over.