I do the majority of my riding at night. Much of this centres around the needs of the family but it also opens a whole new world of riding. It's a great way of testing bikes and equipment; the cloak of darkness eliminates the opportunity for preconceptions to cloud judgements over real performance. Does that rear mech really give sloppier shifts than the next model up or is this prejudice talking? Long night rides reveal all.
Silent lanes offer a deeply serene quality at night. Chasing through their deserted charms on the fixer or cutting through creepy forest singletrack on my crosser, I feel a heightened sense of excitement, the hairs standing proud on my neck and a deeper connection with my surroundings.
OK, so I admit it, I like a good scare and always have done. Maybe it was growing up in one of the UK's most haunted regions, or too many horror flicks as a teenager. Whatever the reason, I've always been drawn to the eerie and the mysterious. There's nothing quite like riding past creepy old watchtowers, deserted rifle ranges or hearing cloven hooves in the undergrowth to launch the imagination into top gear. I've had deer leap across my path, been chased by a goat and there's been the odd sighting or two that I couldn't begin to explain by rational means.
Unexpected failure of lead acid lighting systems or awakening to find a goat chomping away at your tent is the wrong type of excitement but these rare occasions aside, I ride noticeably faster in the dark, typically slicing eight minutes off the same route ridden in daylight hours. Probably something to do with the overhanging trees and high power lighting casting long, sinister shadows and my mind concocting all manner of scenarios befitting a Dennis Wheatley novel.
I seem to make better decisions after a good few moonlit miles and I've usually a tale or two by the time I've put my bike to bed and myself in the shower.
Touring through the nights, especially in summer has to be one of the most special times, but whatever your discipline, I thoroughly recommend getting a decent lighting system and taking to the darkness and a less travelled route for a whole new riding experience.