By Martin Sigrist
Takeaway: Riding through the night is an experience like no other on a bike and a bike is the perfect form of transport on which to experience it.
Those of us in the northern hemisphere were just recently at the darkest point of the year. The winter equinox occurs on 21st December and from then on, even though the worst of the weather may yet be still to come, at least the days will get a little longer and the nights a little less dark.
This is also the time when we look forward, especially given the last couple of years, again hoping the worst will be behind us.
In this theme I’m going to suggest one resolution that if not this coming year, at least in some year to come every cyclist should experience at once in their life.
It requires no training, it can be done by anyone, no matter their age or circumstance. It can be done on any sort of bike. It can be done with friends, it can be done with strangers or it can be done alone.
That is ride through the night. Be pedalling at dusk and be aware of the sun descending and night taking its place. Keep pedalling until you aware of the sky slowly lightening. Keep pedalling through dawn and watch the sun breach the horizon.
Carry on, find a place to rest and enjoy the moment. You will have experienced something few others have felt.
It is, in my opinion, the single best thing that can be done on a bike. The bike is the perfect form of transport for this endeavour. The silence in the middle of the night accentuates the sense of being alone in the universe and its closeness to nature allows us to fully experience the awakening of the dawn chorus as if we were part of it.
If you have never done this or thought of doing this, think again. It can be done as a solo experience, just as a ride in familiar territory which will seem completely new. Or it can be done as part of a randonnée, one of the best even if most unheralded forms of cycling challenge. It can be at one and the same time both terrifying and inspiring to make the first pedal stroke in an event that will cover 400 miles or more. Whatever happens you are guaranteed an adventure, something that will linger long in the memory and be worth whatever it takes to get to the end.
Now among the world’s fittest sexagenarians Martin Sigrist started riding on doctor’s orders in 2005 and had to push his bike up his first hill. Next year he soloed the Tour de France. He has since experienced every form of road cycling from criterium to ultra endurance. His ongoing mission is to use the latest in science and technology to fight a, so far successful, battle against Father Time.