Downshifting to bring the Triumph into its powerband, I count down the last three streetlights and lunge into the darkness beyond the last row of McMansions. I hit a bump in the dark, and the road changes from smooth and new to rough and old. The tiny lights of another city shine in the distance for a few minutes, before the view is obscured by mountains.
This is the border of the middle of nowhere, at night.
I turn on the brights and keep my eyes on the sides of the road, watching for the vicious, spiny, venomous creatures that live in the desert and dart across the road at night for thrills. The headlights only illuminate the road to the top of the next hill, after that is darkness and possibly death.
A new pair of headlights appear in the distance ahead of me. I dim my own headlights, and keep my eyes on the white line to my right as the pick-'em-up truck rolls by on my left. I switch to my brights again and wait for my night vision to return.
I reach a stop sign at the center of nowhere. Another pick-'em-up, this one with only one functional headlight, stops on my right. There are three men in the truck.
I roll through the intersection and the truck turns and follows me. Soon, I realize I can see my own shadow in front of me.
Shit. The truck is so close to me that it's one headlight is projecting my silhouette in sharp relief on the road ahead. This is not good loops through in my head as I try to ignore the headlight reflecting in my mirrors, blinding me, and navigate the curves in front of me.
There's nowhere to pull over in the middle of nowhere (This is not good.), so I ride on until an opportunity appears to get this truckload of fucktards off my ass. (This is not good.) The air temperature drops. (This is not good.) After a few miles (This is not good.), I reach a bridge with a paved breakdown lane (This is not good.), get to the right, and brake hard (Ha ha, fuckers!).
The truck passes me, and fear turns to rage. Who are they to risk my safety like that so far away from civilization? I can only assume malicious intent. The motor screams 600 cubic centimeters of hate as I accelerate and get back onto the road, hoping the force of my anger will blast the truck off the road.
Fortunately for them and my conscience, their crummy truck does not explode or careen into the nearest convenient volcano. My rage subsides, and I ride on. The spooky mood I worked to cultivate prior to the stop sign in the center of nowhere was gone.
Eventually, I hit the end of the road, and have to venture towards the place where the streetlights begin once more.
As I ride, I notice a new set of headlights in the distance behind me. Feeling mellow, I change to the right lane and wait to be passed, still rolling at a calm and reasonable 80 MPH.
Soon enough, I'm passed. By the Highway Patrol.
They speed past me, apparently indifferent to the forward velocity of my transport. I ride on, without slowing down.
After a mile or so, the Highway Patrol car suddenly pulls over to the left and brakes.
I roll off the gas and get my speed down to a legal 62 MPH. I don't want to look guilty, so I speed up again to a solid 65 MPH and pass the patrol car.
I maintain my rate of travel and keep an eye on the headlights that be receding.
Why aren't they receding?
Why are they getting closer to me?
Soon enough, the patrol passes me again, this time very slowly. They're checking me out, no doubt about it.
I try to decide if I should give the officers a cheery wave, and decide against it. Instead, I look at them briefly, then back at the road ahead of me. Nothing wrong here officers, carry on.
Soon enough, the patrol car is out of sight and I take a minute to wonder what the hell that was about. I come to the conclusion that it was my lucky night, or the cops are gearheads, and leave it at that.
Before long, I pass the landfill. The wind is blowing the wrong way, and I try hard not to breathe through my nose. At least, I try until I realize the air has a taste too, and I'm disturbed by that fact more than the smell.
A light appears in the distance, and I quickly arrive at the first streetlight. I'm relieved and disappointed to reach civilization again. Soon enough I reach the streetlight that means I'm home so I stop the bike, head inside and go to bed. There'll be more riding tomorrow.