Another favorite Scattante Story entry was this tale from Chris. For sheer poetic imagery, this story of a ride on the beautiful Skyline Drive was hard to beat, so we couldn’t help sharing it with the rest of you.
We’d thought something was wrong, opening the door to find a park ranger pointing at our vehicle in the nearby parking lot.
“Is that your vehicle?” Ranger Simmons asked my wife.
It turned out Simmons wasn’t so much interested in the SUV as he was my Scattante R650 bolted to the roof rack. In particular, he wanted to know if the owner of the bicycle was, in his words, “as capable as the ride.”
After talking about some of the rides I’d knocked out earlier in the week, he asked if I’d be game for an early morning run along Skyline Drive, the spine of the park and the reason for our visit.
We made a plan to set out at 5 a.m. the following morning, and he said that he’d stop back later with something I needed for a safe ride.
We slipped out of the parking area at 5:15, under a full moon and nearly two hours before sunrise. We each had a nifty bar zip-tied to the handlebars above the stem, featuring two bright LED beams and two things that he described as ‘deer whistles’.
We sprang out onto the drive, banking through turns and running up hills past overlooks and the low stone walls that define Skyline.
With our breathing often the only noise I could hear, Simmons explained during one descent that the purpose of the deer whistles was to emit a high frequency noise that White-Tailed deer in the area would hear. “You don’t want to crash into one of them driving, and you certainly don’t want to hit one without a front bumper and an airbag!” I wasn’t sure if he was joking, insane or serious until we rounded one of the furthest corners approaching a ‘bald’, or clearing that my wife mentioned as a nice picnic location on our drive in to the park.
Traveling at 25, 27 mph, I didn’t realize at first that we’d startled a grouping of four does that were working their way down the hillside to our left. They were still on the right of way and slightly in front of and to the left of me. Simmons was to my right, and looked over at me with the grin of a shark about to grab a seal. “Ready?” was all he asked.
At that invitation and challenge, I switched gears for a sprint and took a deep breath of clean mountain morning air. I’ve wondered since if the air I was inhaling didn’t contain the exhaled breath of one of the deer, or vice versa, for as the deer broke for the clearing we were on their tails, literally drafting as they approached their peak speeds. Simmons was nearly growling through clenched teeth, urging me on faster, and moments after we overtook the deer, they broke from us, danced over a low stone wall and into the clearing.
Within seconds they were gone, the moment forever burned into my memory.