With the clocks going back this weekend our cycle campaign celebrated with an after-dark Halloween ride – a blast around the reservoir and up and over a hill to return in time for a drink in the pub. It can be a depressing time of the year – the moment for many when they put the bike away for the winter – so we decided instead to embrace the dark, get out the bike lights and celebrate riding anyway.
To be honest, we haven’t had great turnout for our winter rides in recent years, so we were pretty pleased to have seven of us gather at the start (actually two starts – we have joined forces with the local CTC member group and, knowing that nobody ever reads any instructions, ever, it was easier for each group to stick with its traditional start point and then join up than to try to convey to everyone that we were starting in a slightly different part of Bigtown from normal especially as it was already at a different time and on a different day from usual). With a slightly more experienced crowd than usual – you know it’s going to be a slightly faster ride than our regular pootles when you hear a chorus of feet clipping in as you set off – the main problem for me was keeping up while also maintaining my ability to chat, which to me is key to an enjoyable group ride.
After a pause for a spot of bat detection – it was a wonderfully mild evening for the end of October and they were still out in force, which was good because so were all the insects – and another pause for halloween cookies and a chance to admire the ‘view’ at the top, we then faced the descent. I’ve ridden in the dark before, and now that I’ve got decent lights, I find it a pleasure rather than something to avoid. I’ve even ridden in a small group at night, but I’ve never hurtled down a winding descent on a narrow road with nothing to see but the blinking back lights of my companions and the five metres of tarmac ahead of me, guessing the the twists and the turns, no idea where I was or where I was going other than around the next corner, and the next, and the next.
It was incredible. Lord knows what we would have done had we met a car, but we had the hillside to ourselves and the quiet and the dark were just amazing. It felt like we were out at midnight (it was only about half six) just because it felt as if everyone but us was sleeping and only we were up, whizzing silently through the night.
The plan was to return to Bigtown for a celebratory drink, but as this would have meant an extra 7 miles for me to get back, I peeled off early to tackle the climb up to the house. It’s starting to loom a little large in my mind, that hill, especially after two quickish hilly rides in two days. My legs, especially, have been telling me all about it ever since I got in. I’ve obviously got into a bit of a comfortable groove with my cycling, back and forth to Bigtown without really stretching myself at all. It might just be time to start doing a little bit of exploring of the slightly more challenging roads that surround us.