In praise of night riding

Once again the clocks go back this weekend and a collective groan will rumble out across the land.

Together we will jokingly whinge about Scottish farmers and do our best to make light of the oncoming gloom by jovially expressing gratitude for Sunday morning’s ‘extra hour in bed’.

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Thankfully, I also find another plus side to the end of British Summer Time: getting reacquainted with my bike lights.

As I am always reminded at this time of year, I just love rolling through the still silence of the dark on my bike.

Of course, the dream is pedalling through a balmy summer’s night in shorts and jersey, non-visual senses heightened by the darkness. The roads are quiet. Dogs bark in the distance. You roll through pockets of warm and cold air.

But too much other stuff happens in the summer: barbeques; glasses of wine in the garden; weddings; festivals; the Tour de France.

On the bike, you’re already preoccupied with epic daylong adventures or leisurely spins in the glorious warmth of a day-lit August evening. By the time darkness falls, it’s practically bed time. To night ride from May to September requires planning and inconvenience: staying up; a late start the next morning.

But when the clocks go back, you have practically no option. You are forced into recharging the battery packs that have spent the whole summer forgotten about.

Those first few pedal strokes into the night can be tinged with trepidation. But if you light yourself up like a Christmas tree, you are soon reminded that you’re more visible on the road than in daylight. Out in the lanes, headlight beams bounce off verges to forewarn of oncoming traffic around a corner.

Everywhere you ride, you’re kept company by the giant shadow of a brake lever. And if you head off road down a bridleway or some singletrack, the thrill of the trail is multiplied in the dark.

Sure, the wet, the cold, the Christmas retail bombardment that come with this annual descent towards winter are more difficult to embrace. But the necessity of night riding, I cherish.