Saturday, 11 October 2014

Night Rides

The evenings are definitely drawing in now that we are past the autumn equinox which leads to a quandary: hit the turbo or sort out the lights and head outside.

Actually it's not so much a quandary as when to actually start night rides, there's still some light at around 1830 - 1900 so unless you wait for an hour or so you end up with half the ride in daylight and half in the dark. Riding in the dusk is either quite risky if you are on the roads (drivers are even less aware of what's going on) or hard work off road since you don't get the benefits from your bike lights and the natural light isn't quite enough.

Last week I nipped out for a quick blast round the local bridleways to check that the lights worked after a summer's holiday. This Thursday Cath was going to go for a road ride but the weather looked a bit iffy with a strong breeze and showers blasting through so I persuaded her to go mountain biking instead.

The loop over to Earby that I'd discovered a few weeks ago was going to be ideal and hopefully the recent rains hadn't turned things to gloop. The initial road section was done in the twilight so by the time we turned on to the bridleway it was just about dark. The first field had cows in but they weren't interested in these strange creatures moving among them. The bridleway was firm and straightforward and soon we were on the lane leading down to Earby.

The climb was steady, one thing about biking in the dark is that you only see a small part of what's ahead because of the limit of the lights but this means that you just take everything as it comes, there's no looking up and seeing another 400 metres of climbing to dishearten you. Once off the lane and on to the moor it was going to be a case of seeing how boggy things were: generally not too bad but keeping off bare earth was the key to keeping forward momentum.

A bit more road leading back to the top road. "Road back home?" asked Cath, "Straight on, it should be firm". Again the lack of a view ahead meant that you just got on with the climb. At the summit I made Cath look round and take in the view, it was one I'd see a lot a few years ago as this was my turning point when I did night runs after we got the Hope headlights.

We took the descent steadily, dismounting for the sleepers crossing ditches - no point in taking a flyer. Rather bizarrely we passed a couple of tents pitched for the night, presumably they were bemused by a pair of bikes trundling past. Down at the road we decided to skip the last off-road section as it does get very boggy and headed home on the road.

One point we realised is that just having a light on the handlebars isn't quite enough - it lights where the bike is pointing but often you need to look in a different direction so having a light on your helmet adds an extra dimension. A bit of internet searching and a light was ordered (all of £20 including mount and posting) and arrived this morning so we'll see how it works on the next ride.