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Night Time Cycling in the Peak District

Blog Posted on 21 Feb 2011

After 26 years of fairly routine road cycling, at the age of 60, my cycling has now broadened out in all directions. Last year I added mountain biking, additionally I went most weeks to the Manchester Velodrome (using therefore a brake-less fixed wheel bike), and also acquired a recumbent three wheel bike, all most enjoyable, (the latter being lethal to boot) so when at the turn off the year I was invited to join a small group of just four people on night time cycle rides, I jumped at it, as yet another form of cycling.


I had spent some 11 years previously commuting to work on a 30 mile round trip, therefore riding in the dark for about five months of the year, and when I look back, I am amazed I survived those trips, relying on those terrible Ever-Ready lights – although suprisingly the three or four times I was knocked off the bike was in the day-light. However as it happened I had acquired last year the more modern form of front bike lighting, at considerable cost, only giving  light for about 2 or 3 hours befreo needing a re-charge, but as bright as a car headlight, so I was well equipped to join the rides.


Not having ridden in the dark since I stopped commuting some 7 years ago, the first mile I found suprisingly hairy, going downhill at fairly modest speed and simply trying to keep a straight line. Anyhow I quickly acquired the appropriate confidence, but after about 6 mid-week rides, I still have to get the  idea behind it. It is of course always near freezing, and the views are limited. Last night it was hoped that there would be sightings of the famous ‘Northern Lights’ apparently, but that was not on, with it being a cloudy night. Most of the time we are just following our narrow beams in front of us, or the flashing LED lights of the bike in front. I think part of the idea is that it is safer at night, and certainly you stand out, cars coming in the opposite direction on faced with four random lights as bright as a car, are unable identify what type of vehicle(s) they are approaching and slow right down, some dramatically so. On the other hand it did not stop an HGV driver blasting repeatedly his air horn as he came up behind us. There were in fact two cars between us and him who were declining to overtake us even though it appeared to us to be safe to do so (i.e. being almost overly considerate), so we thought the truck driver must have been hooting at them, but after they finally overtook and had vanished, the truck driver whilst overtaking gave us some really hard and unnerving blasts for no apparent reason. He certainly has a pathological hatred of cyclist so if anyone knows of a truck driver working out of Ballidon quarry night times beginning with the reg beginning TW02 please let him have our collective thoughts. Usually the ride consists of part of the High Peak Trail, short stretches of bridleway and quietish lanes. Last week we did a small part of the Carsington Reservoir when we were confronted by some strange bright lights coming in the opposite direction. It transpired they were also night time leisure cyclists. They gave us quite a shock. So there are a few out there, for whatever reason. My motivation now is that our little group now of five of us, spend as much time in the pub afterwards as actually on the ride. Hope my wife does not read this, she thinks I’m on the bike most of the time, with just a quick half in the pub afterwards.



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