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I got off the 4pm-midnight shift last night, and walked out of the gate with my jacket on, and my helmet in my hand. I walked to my Majesty, noting that it was the only bike in the bike parking area. I open my trunk, stow my gear, and get out my tire gague and check my tire pressure. Everything is go.

Now, do I put on my snowmobile suit? It's not too cold. Let's try it without it. I fire the engine, put on my helmet and gloves, drop down off the center stand, and head out of the parking lot.

I catch the light at the exit of the parking lot, naturally, and wait for it to turn green. When it does, I turn south onto US-1, and then head for I-95 north for the first third of my 78 mile trip.

Traffic on 95 is fairly light tonight, even for it being midnight. I quickly realize that I should have put on my snowmobile suit. It's colder at speed than I wanted to think it would be. No problem. I'll stop in Ashland, and put it on.

I cross the James River, passing cars and trucks, and being passed by others. I'm in no real hurry, so the speed limit is fine. About thirty minutes later, I'm rolling off at Exit 92B, and pulling into Ashland. A quick stop in the Ukrops parking lot, and I'm bundled up in my snowmobile suit, and my heavy gloves. Fire the engine, and head north on US-1 again, starting the 2nd third of my journey.

This time of night, once you clear Ashland, you don't see a lot of cars on Number 1 highway. Along the road, mailbox reflectors and driveway markers wink at me, red, blue, yellow, some white. Behind me, in my mirrors, I see nothing but dark. I'm the only thing moving as my headlights bore a hole in the blackness, the only sound I hear is the wind and my engine.

US-1, between Ashland and Thronburg is about as straight as an arrow; Uphill and downhill. "Number One" used to be the main drag north and south on the east coast until they built I-95. Now it's a highway that time forgot.

Along the route, abandoned service stations and small motels and "travelers cottages" line the road. Some of them have been converted into other business a few times and failed. Some are just dark sentinentals along the road.

But Rt-1 is coming back. Houses are clustered in groups, and porch lights gleam a greating. Occasionally I can see a TV flickering behind a curtain. I'm not the only one awake tonight.

A few cars approach me heading south, a few pass me going north, but mostly I have the road to myself. Running along throuh a few stretches where trees line the road on both sides, with no lights at all, except the lights on my bike, and the stars, I think "This would be a good place for an alien abduction." An involuntary shudder hit me. Logically I know there is no danger, still it's dark, and I'm alone. Logic doesn't conquere everything.

Through Carmel Chruch, and Ladysmith, and on to Thronburn, where I turn onto 208 and start the last third of my trip. I pass another biker going the opposite direction. I wave, knowing he can't see me in the dark, but I wave anyway.

At a wide spot in the road, called Snell, I turn right, and head toward Spotsylvania Courthouse. I pass another biker, who blinks his high beams in greating as he goes by. A Gold Wing I think. I wave back, and he's gone.

About 0130, I'm slowing down for Spotsy Courthouse. The town is closed up for the night, but the sheriff's office is in town, and when they say 25 MPH, they mean it. As I approach the station house, a deputy pulls out in front of me (at a safe distance) and trips the only light in town for me. Cool. I won't have to stop.

On the other side of town, I kick the speed back up to 45-50, and enjoy the two lane country road. The deputy is long gone, off to do whatever policemen do at night. Left, right, uphill downhill. As I go past the Spotsylvania National Battlefield Park, a whitetail doe stares at me from the side of the road. I beep my horn at her, and she jumps in surprise, and takes off across the broomstraw field. I laugh out loud.

Down the Brock Road and Piney Brach Road, never touching the brake, until I get to a stop sign. A quick glance right, left, right again, and I'm moving once more. Ahead of me a possum wanders into the road. I brake, steer left and miss him by a good margin. He looks about bewildered. "WHAT?" he seems to say.

At Rt 3, I stop for the light, which quickly turns green for me. Checking to make sure that traffic is actually stopping, I cross 3, and start on the white flag lap. I'm almost home.

Normally I see a lot of deer on this road, but tonight, there are none. A house cat jumps into the ditch and hides behind a bush. One more turn, and I can see the porch light gleaming through the trees. Oh good. She left the light on.

I turn into the driveway, and pull the bike into it's parking place. Switch off, sidestand down, parking brake set.

Sudden quiet overtakes me. I take off my gloves, then slowly unbuckle my helmet and pull it off. The cold air hits my damp hair. It feels good. I set there for a few seconds, listening to the quiet popping of the exhaust as it cools, the wind in the trees, the silence of the night. There are a million stars in the sky. I think to myself, "The heavens declare the glory of God: And the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1) I say a quick prayer, thanking Him for riding with me tonight.

Off the bike and it's up on the centerstand, sidestand up, out of the snowmobile suit; put the suit away in the trunk, gloves into my helmet, helmet into it's place, and I close the trunk, and head into the house. It's good to be home.

Tomorrow I'll do it all again.
 
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