Dark nights, dark beer, lasting memories…

OK, so we do bang on about it a bit, here at Singletrack: the fact that you need to keep riding through the winter, whatever the weather. And we do try to practice what we preach…

Our Thursday night rides happen, not surprisingly, every Thursday of the year. There are other rides going on too – a more technical ride on a Tuesday, perhaps a road ride on a summer Wednesday, but the one constant is the Thursday night ride. We probably have a core of around a dozen riders that come out, or could come out on our regular rides, plus occasional visitors from out of the valley and friends up to visit. Interestingly, the numbers tend to wane a little in the summer, due to riders being away on holiday, or just due to the greater access to riding that most people have in the summer thanks to the light evenings.

A post-ride pub and pint of beer and everything about your night ride becomes worthwhile.

A post-ride pub and pint of beer and everything about your night ride becomes worthwhile. (Pic by Sim)

Come the winter time, though, and especially once lights become mandatory for any ride after about 7pm, and the numbers start swelling again. Throw in some minging weather – constant rain, high winds or snow and the numbers boost once more. I reckon our busiest rides of the year are the first really wet, dark rides of the late autumn.

Why is this? I reckon it’s because people know that if they don’t get out on a night like that, then they may not find the enthusiasm to ride again until springtime. The thought of your mates turning up in this weather, while you’re too scaredy to, can be enough draw to get people out. But inevitably, it’s rarely as bad out there on the hills once you get going and the constant slide and slither makes for a fun, and funny, couple of hours and keeps you bouyed up until the daylight riding of the weekend. Nobody wants to be the rider who missed out on the best, most fun, night ride of the year.

And so, with sideways rain lashing down, the crowd gathers in the pub car park and a route is chosen. Usually one with some sheltered climbing and some fun, but hopefully still rideable, descents – and then everyone knows that they’ll have earned a Thursday night beer or two and packet of Mr Porky scratchings. It may not make you any fitter, but it’s one more day on your bike – and it’s a day of your life you’ll never get back, so you’d better get out there and enjoy it.