20 July 2010
Today I rode to, and tonight I rode from, work--in a sundress. When I got to work, I slipped on a cardigan (which is half of a twinset) in a shade of blue like the one in the bands on the dress.
One of the things I'm enjoying about teaching an evening class is the commute home. I'm only doing it twice a week, but it's enough to remind me of an aspect of cycling I've always loved.
Riding at night, even if only for a commute, has its own rhythms and therefore requires its own mindset. What I've always loved, of course, is the calmness that fills the air, and me, from the time the sun sets. I especially like it after teaching a class, which requires an energy entirely the opposite of what I feel on a ride under moonlight. Plus, as it happens, the route I took tonight (I have four different routes to and from work.) takes me through some residential areas that are possibly the most resolutely middle-class in Queens or New York City: They are quieter than, say, the stretch of Broadway around the corner from my apartment.
Ironically, for all that I'm praising night riding, I almost never end up riding at night by design. It's usually been the result of working later in the day, as I am now, or of getting lost or otherwise seeing plans go awry. One of the few times I deliberately went on a late-night ride was when I met up with a Critical Mass rally in Columbus Circle about a dozen or so years ago. I didn't do another CM ride for a number of reasons. For one, I'm not crazy about riding in such large groups. And, for another, I really would prefer not to be arrested or go to jail, even if only for a few minutes. Finally, I'm not quite certain about what organizers are trying to accomplish.
On the other hand, being out at night by choice can be enchanting, if you're in the right areas. That happened to me during my tours in France and other places. In particular, I think of the time I rode in circles (squares?) around Orleans and found myself pedaling ,or seeming to pedal, with the rhythms of moonlight reflected on a Loire that seemed to be just barely rippled by the breeze and in the almost silvery shadows of leaves on the vines and pear trees.
Now, I didn't see vineyards or pear trees, much less chateaux, on my ride home. But I still had the air that was beginning to cool down after another day of 90-plus degree weather.