Matt asked as we rolled out in the failing light, “Isn’t it great to have crazy friends”?
Yes it is.
About 20 of us showed up for the last club ride of the year. We rolled out just before six o’clock in the last vestiges of daylight, lights ablaze. I chose my 1990 Cannondale SR400 as my weapon, old-school cool with a Red, White and Blue theme, down tube shifters and the weight of an older aluminum bike (much of that weight is in the steel wheels). The other side of that decision was that this was the first time I’d ever ridden one of my bikes at night – ever (I’ve only seen dusk from the saddle a couple of times) and I didn’t know what to expect. Matt compounded this fear by saying that it’ll be a good ride “if we all survive”… Now I know he was joking but 20 people zipping down the road at 18-20 mph in the dark had me a little spooked when it came to my brand new steed. It turned out my fears were unfounded, but better safe than sorry. The Cannondale needed a good ride anyway.
The weather, usually quite cold and crappy this time of year, gave us a break with balmy temps right around 50 degrees. Unlike every other club ride this year, this one was calm, relaxed and maybe even a little too easy. Mike led us out for the first mile and a half at just 15 mph, there was a lot of talk about the past season and some plans for next year, the weather, how dark it was all of a sudden and how far lighting technology has come in the last twenty years… And at 10:30 into the ride I rolled over my goal mileage for the year, almost two months early – 5,000 miles (and counting) in the bag.
The ride wasn’t quite no-drop but it was very close – we made sure nobody rode alone and we waited at all of the normal stops for everyone to regroup. With waiting and the slow pace the 30 mile ride that usually takes us about 1h:20m took almost two hours but nobody was complaining.
We picked the pace up as the ride went on, even getting up to a respectable 20 mph at times. I stayed on until the last mile when I dropped back and slowed down until the group got around a corner and I could ride the last mile in solitude, just to see what it was like. Fantastic! While night riding probably won’t be a regular for me, it’s definitely a lot more fun than I’d guessed and I won’t ever shy away from it in the future.
So to the people of Lennon, Michigan: You won’t have to deal with us again until March. Thank you so much for putting up with us and being such great sports year after year. It is greatly appreciated.
PS: Yes, that car isn’t a car, it’s a bike…and it probably did cost more than your car…and yes it is fast (28-30 mph without breaking a sweat, 35+ when he wants to get on it).