I had been wanting to go on the Sunset/Full Moon Ride at Ft. Pickens National Seashore for months, but always seemed to miss it, until this Sunday. Chris and I packed up our bikes and arrived at the entrance to the park at 4:30, ready to ride, excited for an adventure.
And how fun it was, riding to the fort! Those seven-plus miles of beautiful road, happy riders alongside, the sunset ahead, the promise of a full moon behind. Granted, the sun set without fanfare, but the night felt cool, the wind blew at our backs, and we rode among the dunes, sea oats, tall pines, and gnarled oaks, enjoying the scenery at a leisurely pace.
At the fort, with the sun officially down, we headed back. And it got dark. Quick. The wind, which had pushed us along, now felt like a wall.
No matter. We had nothing but time, and the promise of a full moon rise. Riding in the dark was actually magical, otherworldly.
But then ... my blood-sugar dropped. Chris and I love to ride bikes, and 15 miles isn't daunting. But we aren't the best at preparing for situations. I didn't even have water. But I did have Tic Tacs, and I ate twelve of them, along with much of Chris' water.
We still had five miles to go, and was afraid I might pass out. I put my head down and focused on my breathing and the white line painted on the side of the road. Every once in a while I looked up to check on the moon, finally deciding, in those minutes that passed by like hours, that there would be no moon for me tonight.
But then, the magic kicked in again. I looked up and saw a strange orange dome sitting on Pensacola Beach, like a lit-up party tent at a big event. But this party tent started floating. Soon, a huge orange ball sat on the horizon, and Chris and I marveled at the beauty. Three miles to go.
I put my head down again and only pedalled, and pedalled, and pedalled.
At the last mile, I just couldn't do it anymore. Chris, my hero, my knight in shining armor, reached his hand out to me and pulled me the rest of the way.
I fell into the car, gulped down my water, and scavenged for food, coming up with a Gatorade chew. I would survive.
As we drove home, we pondered the question of whether we would take part in the Sunset/Full Moon Ride again. There's a good chance we will. But there's a 100 percent chance that we will be packing snacks.
Photo Credits: Chris Zokan