Tag Archives: night ride

Catherine Wheel

Water from the soaked tarmac collects with each rotation and the droplets, illuminated by my bike’s front light, spray like sparks from a dancing Catherine Wheel as they flicker upward from my tyres.

The last of the car headlights pass and a sudden, all-encompassing darkness descends. A fleeting moment of utter disorientation as eyes adjust and focus is found. There is nothing but what exists within my bubble of light. Complete concentration turns my whole body tense: I have to tell my muscles to relax: don’t make things harder for yourself.

Streetlights line the next stretch of road, and for a while another rider joins me. She is a shadow, cast upon the hedgerow, following every pedal stroke. Town lights stretch out ahead, and the faint outline of a Welcome sign is a welcome sight: food, friends and dry socks are not far away.

From nowhere to nowhere, and everything in between.

Past the rows of parked lorries, taking their rest for the night – curtains drawn across windscreens to conceal sleeping drivers. One has its door a fraction ajar and a sharp line of light spills onto the tarmac…speed up a little.

The chip van that will provide polystyrene wrapped breakfasts when the sleeping drivers awake sits dormant, waiting to be useful again.

Spinning legs create a mesmerising hum: the only noise except for the wind, which is against me now but will be my friend on the way home. The straight road stays straight and thoughts wander to a ride last year when the ground here was coated in sea foam. Memories of Winter riding, and how all of that will soon be here again. Inhale the not-that-cold night and wonder how many days until breath is visible in icy air.

Violently jolted back to reality by a speed bump.

The straight road reaches its end, with a curve into the harbour. Clumsily negotiate barriers and gates to cross the water. The clank of pedal on metal.

One day I’ll have this down to an art.

The industrial road that offers nothing of interest. DIY stores loom tall and grey, the sinister light of Golden Arches illuminates a patch of pavement, and the stale smell of deep-fried food lingers in the air.

Oh, some life. Skaters and kids riding BMX in the dark.

Relief at reaching the river, and the bridge that always makes me smile.  Pause in the middle, and watch reflections dance on the water.

There is some odd comfort in the sound of traffic.

Arrive at the other side, and head for the fields where aeroplanes are sleeping.

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Past the multitude of warning signs, over some more speed bumps, past a parked car which I glance at, and then quickly away again. Lovers have found their spot for the night.

Speedily onwards then, and to a bend in the road. There are some steps over there, which ascend into nothing but a patch of darkness. It’s asking to be explored: bike over shoulder, upwards..

Sudden intake of breath. The other side of the river stretches out under a huge railway bridge, and to my left I can see where I’ve come from. Beauty when you’re not expecting is perhaps the most beautiful. For several minutes I stand on the same spot, and feel utterly content.

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The deafening sound of a Brighton-bound train shakes me from my dream-like state.

I’d forgotten that other people existed – that there was anything but this.

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Homeward via a path that definitely isn’t suitable for a road bike. Bite lip in concentration, zig zag paving slabs threaten to bugger tyres, but somehow avoid a puncture.

All I am to anyone else is a stuttering light.

A near intimate moment with a wall that jumps out of nowhere, and back onto a sensible bit of road.

Riding back into town like an excited child who’s in on a secret. Little people in windows watching televisions who’ll never know where you’ve been.

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You and the bike, in your little glowing cocoon, going from nowhere to nowhere.

Night time

It is night time.

The dark outline of a woman appears in the hedgerows and I brake, violently. I blink and the figure has gone: I realise it was my own shadow, thrown across the greenery by the light on my bicycle.

The light I have seems only to illuminate the fog, not the road, and for a long while all I can see is mist.

Occasionally I hit a pothole with no warning, this is the only thing that reminds me I am on the Sussex roads, and not floating through some strange dream.

The climbs are fine, at a slow pace my eyes adjust slightly and I can make out the edge of the road – a vague, soft line which I follow on my ascent to the peak of the dark hill. A lone house sheds some light on the corner, another bend, and I return to the darkness.

Next the descent, and for a while I feel totally lost in the darkness and mist – blinking in the hope that when my eyes open I will be able to see more of the road. A branch catches my cheek and the sharp pain wakes me from my utter disorientation: I am riding. I know these roads. I will be there soon.

Winter Solstice 100 RR

Winter Solstice 100 RR, December 21st – 22nd

This looks to be another exciting ride from those folks at Vélo Morphē.

It costs nothing to come along to this ride, and in that line of thought you are expected to be self sufficient (bring your own food & drink/spare light batteries/tubes etc). You are responsible for your own safety. It’s basically a ride with friends, but you’ll get to meet some new faces too. Saying that, there’s going to be vehicle support so you’ll be able to chuck some of your stuff in the van.

Taken from the VM blog:

“In the spirit of White Chalk Hills UCX and the Dunwich Dynamo we propose an A to B road ride heading east from Winchester to meet the rising sun on the sunshine coast and breakfast in Eastbourne.”

I’m in, are you?

Full details here.

“I am a visitor here”

Last night I rode home from a friends house on the other side of Brighton. It was a far flung corner of the city that I had never been to before, so I rode some new paths. I like discovering new places that are hiding within somewhere that I think I know so well.

The ride home was at first through sleepy suburbia: passing big houses and empty schools, then through the busier centre of town that I more frequently pass through. Dodging the odd drunken stranger who staggers into the bike lane, faces in greasy cafe windows, kamikaze seagulls looking for their dinner in the road…

I love Brighton but when I ride through it at night, in the cold, all I want is to be home. It’s strange how a place takes on a whole new character in the dark. Riding through the city at night I am ”in it but not of it”; an observer. Wrapped up in layers to protect from the chilling wind, I feel separated from the streets, like a visitor here.

This morning on my way to buy coffee I walked down those same streets, and now lit, they are familiar again. 

 

Day 24 – Riding the night

I went on a short (8 miles) but very cold, wet and windy ride along the seafront late last night. The road was lit until a certain point on the coastal path, where upon I was plunged into darkness (apart from the light from my bike lights, of course). I could hear the sea crashing, but barely see it.  The wet, white chalk of the cliffs splattered my clothes and my bike.

Despite the cold and the rain, it was great fun. In fact, as long as you’re dressed for the weather, riding in the elements can be exhilarating. I’ll be out soon for another, longer, night ride. Winter is fast approaching…time to stock up on light batteries and cocoa for making hot chocolate at the end of a ride.