Taking a slight pause from the cyclocross build series…

Encounters with Nature

Sometimes when you ride, just for the sake of riding, you end up further afield than you had originally planned – and sometimes it gets dark.  Lacking superhero vision capacity I have a powerful front light for just these occasions.  But even when you are prepared, sometimes nature has a present for you – or several.

Yesterday evening, upon departing from Montague HQ I decided to ride the length of one of our local bike trails.  It is called the Minuteman Bikeway, and it stretches from Davis Square in Somerville, Massachusetts out across several towns out to Bedford, MA.  It was once a railroad bed, as so many bike paths in this part of the country are – and so it is mostly flat and goes through some beautiful country.  There are places to cross streets of regular traffic, but once out past Arlington, MA there are fewer crossings and outlets, and once it gets dark – it gets dark.  However the moon is waxing and it was quite bright.

Moon over Meadow

Waxing moon over Arlington Meadows, Lexington MA

Alas my phone camera could not capture it’s beauty… the bright moon also meant all of the insects were out and about.  In the darkness the fireflies were shining, and the forest was full of sound.  An unexpected happening occurred.

My bright front light, a Cosmic Dreadnought, sent out it’s 110 lumens of light and attracted every flying thing in the night sky that can be classified as an insect (and probably others too).  As I cruised along the practically empty path back I encountered a thud against my leg, nothing seemed to be wrong and so I didn’t think much of it.  By the time I returned to the relative city streetlamp illumination of Arlington I found out I had acquired a number of passengers – mostly beetles but one of these in particular:

Stag Beetle

Lucanus capreolus (Image credit: Eric R. Eaton)

I rather surprised myself by remaining rather calm, these  wee beasties are a couple of inches long, (although I remained calm I did not think to photograph him) but it was no easy task to remove him.  (And yes it was a him, the internet tells me the males have the large mandibles, not the females.)  A casual brush off did not dislodge him, nor did shaking. Tenacious! I looked like a wry idiot dancing around on the side of the road using several folded-over, long grass stems to dislodge him, one leg at a time.  Being a robust insect he was uninjured and we parted ways.  The other beetle passengers were discouraged from continuing on with me in a more simple fashion.

There are lifeforms out there than cannot enjoy a bike ride, as they lack all the necessary physiological features.  This stag beetle decided to join me for about 10 miles, and even then was incredibly reluctant to depart –  perhaps he really just wanted to ride a bike.

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