Nightriding, like nightswimming deserves a quiet night. Much as I cling to weeknight bike rides after the clocks go back the weather that the new year brings means I’ll have let go of after dark outings by the time spring comes around again. So why, when it’s dark and cold and I know it won’t last do I ride at night? Is it to keep in shape? Living in a hilly neighbourhood requires a certain level of fitness to enjoy the summer’s riding but I could get an indoor trainer for that. I ride fast at night but that is because I’m getting cold, and so is my tea. Is it to keep the weight off over the dark months? It takes an effort to mitigate the body’s urge to build up reserves when the cold kicks in but I could run or swim or quit eating pies if that was the reason. Is it because I enjoy reading about UFO sightings in the paper the next morning after a farmer saw a strange array of flashing lights gliding silently over the moor above his house? Enough people think bike riders are from another planet already so that isn’t it. Is it because my pension fund has shares in the company which makes triple A batteries? I ain’t never going to retire on what I make so that doesn’t stand as a motivation either. Is it because I am a fearless and seasoned badass? The thing I most fear will bring me off the bike is a rabbit. They are fast and small and the same grey as the road surface. It’s true I’ve watched American Werewolf in London enough times to be pretty relaxed that I could handle a rabid lycanthrope wandering off the moors into the beam of my bike lights but each rewatching of Watership Down just makes me more afraid of the great floppy eared evil which stalks the verges after dusk. So no, fearless I am not. Is it then just a case of trying to cling to summer, to the innocence of riding unencumbered by lights, coats, reflective scotch tape and a mortal fear of bunnies? Perhaps, but for all the reasons why I wouldn’t want to ride my bike at night, or need to, there is nothing like returning down the valley towards home, fast, on a still dry night, the river below the road, the stars above it. When you take away every reason for being on the bike and you are still on the bike then that must be the thing, just that, the reason right there. But beautiful darkness must give way to sodium glow orange ugliness some time, the pure joy of that moment must come to a end, every streetlight a reminder…



  1. Human Cyclist

    Damn it, got that song lodged in my head now (and for another 24 days no doubt!). Love cycling at night too. I always find I pedal harder as if some madman is about to jump out on me at any moment. Scaredy-cat I am.

    • northernbike

      yes, there always feels a sense of urgency, like in that old tag heur commercial where the runner shared the track with a cheetah and the swimmer had a shark in the next lane – a combination unease and exhilaration

  2. Rachel

    I love riding at night, although I’ve only done it a couple of times. It’s peaceful and a bit scary but scary in a good way. It’s easier to imagine that there’s nothing else in the world except yourself and the bicycle.

    • northernbike

      trouble is rather then screen out what is out there I imagine all the things which might be out there but probably aren’t , but the peace is a kind you never get in the daytime for sure

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