Yesterday's rides featured visual phenomena.
It was the first day of the regular firearms deer hunting season. Pickup trucks were stuffed off the sides of the road everywhere. It's not a day to wear your brown coat and white mittens and prance around flapping your hands. I wore my usual school bus yellow jacket and added a blaze orange flag to my trunk pack. Nothing on my usual ensemble suggests the color of a deer, but a bit of orange helps seal the deal.
Nothing you can do about a stray shot. But that's true in any season.
A few hundred yards down rail from where I enter the path I saw a couple of runners ahead of me, out at the limit of sight. They both seemed to be sporting please-don't-kill-me-yellow vests. A wise precaution.
In due course I caught up to them. I discovered that only one of them wore PDKMY. The other one's jacket was merely a light color in the yellowish greenish whitish family. My brain had assigned the same intensity as the other runner's much brighter clothing when I saw them from the farthest distance. The illusion persisted until I was just a few yards behind them. Then the duller jacket suddenly faded, like a wet gleaming gem turning into a plain dry pebble.
If you aren't wearing real high viz, apparently you can stay near someone who is. Or perhaps the duller jacket was from Chameleon Wear, Inc., a company about to launch its line world wide. It would be nice if the eye-insulting PDKMY would moderate to a gentle hue when you got close to it.
The evening's optical trickery was less benign. I don't think I broke any ribs, but one arm was under me when I hit, concentrating the force and creating bruising that makes every breath painful.
It was one of those crashes where you get up giggling like an idiot afterwards. Sure it hurts, but it was also too stupid to take seriously. Here I am, well up in my 50s, stuffing it in a corner in the dark.
The only real turns on the Cotton Valley Trail are in the vicinity of the Allen A Beach. The path leaves the rail line to go over to the beach parking area, parallels the parking lot and then winds its way back to the railroad corridor. I guess I don't know those turns as well as I thought I did.
The powerful lights on my night-equipped bikes throw enough illumination to provide more context than the average battery-powered groper. The lighted area goes far enough ahead and spreads to the side enough to alleviate the illusion of being stationary in the dark behind a patch of light with things suddenly appearing in it. But in the Allen A turns the trees are close. The variegated brown leaves now covering the ground break up the light, reducing its power to provide a readily interpretable image. They camouflage the outline of the trail. Suddenly, in one of the bendier bits, I was headed for the weeds.
The trail is not wide. In the instant that I recognized the problem and tried to snap back into the proper line I was only able to avoid riding off down the little dropoff into the rough and land my crash on the smooth -- but hardened -- trail surface. After the initial impact on my arm and chest I somehow ended up on my back. I felt the bruising of my chest, but I knew I wasn't going to see any bones sticking out through my flesh or anything. The laughing set in as I checked over the bike and my small cargo before resuming my journey. Ouch! Ha ha ha ha! Ow! Snort!
I don't know why it seems so funny, but I continued to stab myself in the chest with mirth for the rest of the evening whenever I thought about it. There's something peculiarly funny about certain ways of biffing.