By Lew Natick
Years ago, someone who was particularly sensitive or difficult to understand was deemed under the subtle influence of the moon, giving them the once-technical designation lunatic. The effect the full moon has on one's personality is still not understood, only that it exists. Ask anyone who works in the emergency room how bad things get on a full moon, and they'll groan about the high incidence of . . . "incidents."
This spring has seen a resurgence in lunatic activity, with record numbers of afflicted individuals on bicycles meandering up the silvery slopes of the local hills. Where once you would feel lucky to encounter another soul on your after-dark excursion, it is now common to come across entire clumps of fat-tire funsters who've decided to enter the realm of sightless cycling.
Even the beginner rider can have fun, provided the route involves open, grassy slopes rather than the murky depths of the forest. Riding by moonlight is like finding yourself in an Ansel Adams retrospective: everything is in black and white, but the quality cannot be matched. There is a special magical feel to a night ride, that evokes a childhood memory of marathon hide-and-seek games, and never wanting to go home.
But be forewarned: you might just fall in love on a moonlight ride! It has happened many a time before, and remember, you are still (even if imperceptibly) "under the influence".
If you insist on remaining on your bike through the shadowy sections, don't be surprised if you correct and over-correct in a weaving manner befitting a bicycling circus bear . However, no one will know, unless you let fly an exclamation. Here is the trick to smooth night riding: keep your lips sealed, and it will seem like you're sailing over the ruts and roots! Another secret is: mount a small flashlight to your bars with a pair of interlocked hose-clamps, and get real popular real fast. If you decide you'd like to do a full moon ride, do it only with friends. You know their riding habits and trust their judgment. Wear a helmet and gloves, and always pack a dry T shirt and a windbreaker along. Extra points to the person who lugs a thermos full of hot cocoa or a bag of fig bars.
Allow that you won't be doing 10 mph. A five-mile ride is plenty, it will take at least an hour to cover at night. And allow time to enjoy the view. After all, this kind of a ride comes only once in a blue moon.