20 July 2010

Night Commute

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.


  1. Night riding, it is a rare occurrence for me.

    A group that I ride with quite a bit, mainly roadies has a moonlight ride once a month. We meet and start at Pensacola Beach and ride west to Ft. Pickens. It is about 20 miles round trip.

    Last month I talked my wife into riding a tandem on this ride. We use to ride a tandem a lot 20 years ago. She agreed and we both enjoyed the ride very much.

    We got to see the sun set as we rode west. The group stops at the fishing pier at Ft. Pickens to re-group. Then we head back. As expected in a mixed group of roadies, wives and others the group spreads out some.

    On the way back we saw fiddler crabs crossing the road in our headlight. I found it interesting and amusing to see all the little blinky lights of my fellow riders ahead of me. The temps were down from the daytime. The pace was relaxing. And, we had a wonderful time. Due to cloud cover we didn't see the moon until after we returned to the parking lot.

    This weekend we will have another moonlight ride and my wife has agreed to ride the tandem again. We are looking forward to the ride. The bad news is the forecast is calling for overcast skies again.

  2. Prentiss: A moonlight ride on a tandem? It sounds lovely and romantic. Now all I need is a tandem and partner!