|sent from: London, UK. destination: Culver City, California, USA|
“I’m sure I do a lot of strange things, but I’ll be honest, I don’t get the appeal of what you just did,” said Katharine as she made tea for us after this year’s St Crispin’s Day 100 mile night ride (see #3.63).
I was caught off guard by her statement. Not that I didn’t understand why it would seem odd to get on a bike at midnight in London at the end of October and try to ride 100 miles in inclement weather, but I hadn’t thought much about why I did want to do it. Ultimately I think it lies in the fact that it challenges my notions of what is feasible, reasonable, normal to do on a bike.
Whether it’s almost freezing like last year, or we’re being lashed with heavy, relentless rain like this year, it’s completely unpredictable, and all you can hope is to be sufficiently well prepared. Nighttime riding has its own logic – the streets may be empty, easier to negotiate. But to go without sleep is tough and once you’re out in the countryside you need strong lights to pierce the dark. It wears on you, something you realise only when the morning sky brightens and it feels as though you’ve been given some magical gift of light.
The main thing, of course, is the distance. 100 miles on a bike isn’t quite the same physically as running a marathon, but it takes longer and the mental challenge cannot be understimated. Keeping the pace steady and tackling each mile as it comes is the only way. That I can now conceive of riding in these conditions, that’s the appeal of it for me.