One thing I don’t like about winter is how early night falls. Another thing I don’t like is the cold. It makes sense, then, that riding at night in the winter time is not really my thing. As the days shortened over the past few months, more and more weekday rides happened on the trainer instead of the roads, and for the last two weeks exclusively so.
But I’m lucky to live in a city with a 20-mile greenbelt that is mostly car-free and smoothly paved, which makes nighttime riding a safe and accessible alternative to the trainer. Tonight I did a loop with Tyler and learned that the winter nights aren’t as intimidating as they seem from the comfort of a heated house. With the right clothes and plenty of light, nighttime riding is actually…fun. Who knew? I was warm and the path was pretty much empty and after the blood-orange sunset our lights gave us plenty of visibility. It ended up feeling pretty much like a normal ride, just a little quieter and a bit more mysterious. I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed myself.
I’m not sure what exactly makes the dark so intimidating, so frightening. The lack of light? The possibility of unseen things lurking? The sense of loneliness? But once you’re out in it, prepared for it, accepting of it, it offers its own simple pleasures. The thrill exploration, the feeling of invincibility when you realize the dark and cold can’t get at you, that you are safe and even comfortable.
I think we’ll try to do this ride once a week or so. Yes, it’ll give us the chance to breathe some fresh air and get away from the mind-numbing monotony of biking in place. But, as I realized tonight, it might do more than that.