Bicycles in the Midnight Hour

15 06 2011

To truly appreciate the short nights and short season that is a northern summer, you need to experience the long dark winter, as it’s the same instincts that encourage us to hibernate in the winter that drive us to insomnia in the summer. That’s the only explanation I can offer as to why a group of relatively sane all-weather cyclists would head out on a midnight joyride, straight into a drenching prairie thunderstorm. It was our first group midnight ride of the year, and we had waited so long that we wouldn’t wait out the storm.

Rushing through the rain soaked midnight streets.

For the occasion, Chris constructed a bicycle mounted sound system for his already ridiculous (I mean that in the best way) light bike.

Chris, not letting the rain ruin this parade.

The sound system turned into a life saver. The sky really opened up with torrents of water after we left our meeting place, and it washed something (conditioner? moisturizer?)  into my eyes and blinded me. I couldn’t see the road, the curb, cars, or the eight other people I was riding with, and after much yelling, a dramatic stop and a wipe of my eyes to restore minimal vision, I oriented myself by following the music and lights of Chris’s bike.

There's some good tunes coming from that general direction.

Soaked to the bone, we made stops at both the Pride and postie dance parties, but didn’t stay as we wanted to ride and no one wanted to dance with someone who’d drip on them. So we hit the streets for adventure, mischief and a few unexpected lessons.

Strange things astride in the witching hour.

For example, this would be the night we learned that if someone ties a lit road flare to their rack, you should not ride directly behind them. This would also be the night that we dried out, drinking wine, in the warmest, craziest, underground spot you’ve never heard of.

Much like these photos, the night went by in a blur. There’s something magical about the so-called witching hour, how the dark of night can somehow lift the confines of what’s realistically possible. I don’t know how best to explain it, and can only recommend that you poke around for yourself behind the curtains of night, and not be afraid of what you might find.

Out of the storm and into the night.

The night ended early the next morning, working on projects at the local bike co-op, where the crazy weekend of all-nighters was only beginning.

Sparklers have become a midnight ride tradition, though the big puddles prevented the ones in our spokes from burning for long on this night.

Every year during bike month, EBC hosts the 24 Hour Repair-A-Thon, where it’s open 28 hours straight and the mechanics wrench until they’re crazy or drop. I did the sometimes slow but never a bore overnight shift, and while the shop was still full at 2AM, by 4AM it had mostly cleared out and we could finally work on our own projects in the early dawn light.

Keith working on his Moulden, in his PJ's, in the middle of the night.

I’m still sore from last weekend, and I’m sure Keith is in much much worse shape than I am, and it makes me wonder, why flout hypothermia by going out in the cold rain or why risk chronic pain for a marathon repair session? These aren’t choices that most people make, though I guess if I really cared about making the same choices as other people I wouldn’t ride a bike. I do find joy and meaning in challenging myself and pushing my physical limits, and in a world where you no longer have to necessarily exert your body to survive, it’s not every day you find an uncontrolled opportunity to meet your mettle.

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5 responses

15 06 2011
16 06 2011
Micah

Hey Coreen, nice pics! Thanks for putting some of the blurry ones up; they’re fab!

17 06 2011
keith

Still hurtin’ here but have hurt for much less… but it was all worth it.

19 06 2011
Deborah

That midnight ride looks completely, utterly, totally, fantastically rad! More evidence that our city’s bike culture stacks up favorably with anyone’s. I LOVE the passion on display here.

So great to see you last night at the SNAP/Bikeology ‘Riding Pretty’ party!

5 07 2011
Randy Talbot

Looks like great fun – I’ve got to try that one of these years.

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