The Allure of the Night Ride

The Allure of the Night Ride

When I mention night-riding to people who haven't done it (cyclists and non-cyclists alike), almost invariably the response is "Why?!" accompanied by a facial expression of either bewilderment or distaste.

I suppose it is a good question. Why do I do this?

At first, doing a night ride was just a weird kind of challenge I set myself. I'd try it once and tick it off my list. I had little in the way of expectations. Beforehand, I was a little nervous, as one always is when trying something different for the first time. My key 'worry' had to do with the distance (120 miles) when I'd not really ridden more than 45 miles in one go before. But the relative flatness of the route and the forecast for balmy weather counter-balanced that 'fear'. I was also a little nervous about seeing my path in the dark. My commuter lights didn't cast much light! I wondered whether I'd have to go a lot more slowly than I could in the daytime.

All of those pre-ride fears and worries turned out to be real but entirely manageable. I (and my bike) made it smoothly -- if slowly -- through the night and into the morning and onto the beach before the pre-booked transport left for the return to London. And I slept 15 hours straight afterwards.

What I did not expect was the sheer elation I felt afterwards. I was euphoric for days! A great deal of that was of course relief and a sense of accomplishment. I did it! 120 miles overnight from London to the Suffolk coast! Way to go, me!

But there was something else there too... memories...

...pedalling through villages and tiny hamlets whose streets are full of cyclists getting that last pint in before the pubs close (!)...

...leaving the last street lights behind...

...all those stars...

...the sense of being in a calm little bubble, pedalling through the night...

...incredible peace and tranquillity...

...the rustle of small creatures in the hedgerows...

...watching a ribbon of blinking red lights snaking for miles ahead of me through the darkness…

..birdsong before dawn...

...the sight of the very first faint pink streaks on the undersides of the clouds as the night lifted...

...unexpected sights and sounds... windmills and castles... owls and frogs...

...the whisper and hush before the world "wakes up"

...surreal half conversations and laughter with strangers whose faces you never see…

...feeling a bit woozy and getting the unspoken moral boost of hooking onto the back of a group who are going just that little bit faster than you... whose riders seem to know where they're going (thank you Team Slow!)

...this strange juxtaposition of deep contemplation and blessed aloneness, with spontaneous and uninhibited socialising with everyone you meet on the road


This doesn't begin to cover it. The night, the sense the world is peacefully asleep, indeed the sense that you are one with that world and perhaps, just a little, watching over it as it slumbers...

It's magical.

And addictive.

So much so, a cycling club has grown up in London that does little else.

After a break through the winter months, the anticipation and excitement mounts as I approach my next night ride, a little pre-season reccie circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, another magical, mystical journey by moonlight.

(Read more of my cycling adventures on my vélovoice blog or follow me on Twitter @velovoice.)

Posted

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Posted

been thinking of this for a bit as you say for the 'experience', but made me think why not. Thanks

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