Nights of the Round Table

For the last week, we’ve been enjoying what may well turn out to be our summer this year. I’ve learned to take advantage of fine weather when it arrives, so when I was invited to speak at a local(ish) Rotary Club on Wednesday, there was no way I was going to travel the 14 miles there in a car when I could enjoy the fine evening on the bike on the way out – and a night ride on the way back.

road in evening light

The more I ride at night, the more I relish it, and particularly how different it is to riding by day, even on the most familiar of roads. It’s not just that climbing is easier in the dark (although it is). It’s the way time and distance stretch and compress; with familiar landmarks gone, nothing seems to be quite where it ought to be. It’s the way on still nights, you can feel the air temperature change as you pass through mysterious pockets of milder air, or plunge suddenly into the cold. The roads here, never busy, are even emptier at night and I love knowing it’s just me out there under the stars, with everyone else tucked away indoors. There is space to think, to breathe, to just be, pedalling onwards, with the contours of the roads reduced to the effort of the invisible climb, or the sudden willingness of the bike as it finds the descent.

I’m still finding my way with this new bike, still building up my fitness (and still nursing a slow puncture that’s threatening to turn into a fast one, which doesn’t help). I’ve got two big rides coming up – we’re riding to Edinburgh for POP this year, and then I want to do Ride to the Sun at midsummer, which will really put my love of night riding to the test. But more than anything else, time on the bike is time spent away from the phone, the endless doomscrolling, the ever worsening global situation. I’m no longer certain that anything I’m doing will make any difference as we gallop towards the apocalypse. But at least on a night ride you can put all that to one side for an hour or two, and focus on the immediate issues around you, which around here are the potholes. And in 2022, having problems that you can avoid by simply swerving round them counts as a win.

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5 Responses to Nights of the Round Table

  1. zungg says:

    I feel exactly the same about night-riding; I love it, and the later at night, the better. It feels faster and more effortless, a wonderful illusion for a cyclist.

  2. anniebikes says:

    I also enjoy riding at night. I embraced it early in the pandemic when riding our overused MUP in daylight was frightening. I too noticed the pockets of warm and cool air, night creatures, and lack of path traffic. Sssh, don’t tell everyone how wonderful it is!

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