Night Riding: I Chased A Cat And I Liked It.
Night Riding Is Cool
I have a routine of riding my bike every Tuesday after work, in a bid to keep myself going and to add some miles to the #Nov100 sheet. If you look at my Daily Mile profile you’ll notice this. Therefore it’s unavoidable that I have to ride in the dark. Now, as I see it there are two options for riding at night:
Vision is better on the roads, that’s for sure. Surfaces are better, too. You can cover a decent distance over a decent time. There are only two disadvantages to road riding at night, one being that you might get wiped off the face of the Earth by a dim motorist and the other being that it’s boring. 😉
No motorists, no HGVs, no visual distractions. Just you and the quiet around you. A big light, the sound of your own breathing, the sight of the moisture being expelled by your own lungs in the torch-beam when you slow down, the sounds of wildlife and distant urban noise reaching your ears unspoiled by daytime white noise… Riding offroad at night is just better. Because it is. Fact.
Clarity, Cats and Cackling
This Tuesday, a strengthening headwind on my outward leg cheered me up, mainly because I knew it would be a nice tailwind on the way home. Happily, the Great British weather did not let me down and I was pushed for my last 3 miles by a lovely breeze. As the Rochdale Canal rushed past to my left and the distant street lights of Halifax Road twinkled to my right, my eBay special 900-lumen light illuminated the towpath ahead of me.
Suddenly, there was a surprised scurrying noise and two yellow orbs flicked round to look directly at me: I’d shocked a cat out on his night prowls. One moment he was ambling along, checking the canal banks for unsuspecting rodents and moths; the next there was a portly, middle-aged diabetic man on a bike bearing down on him.
Run, Cat! Run!
The cat sped off, tail aloft and fur on end, along the towpath. Following the only straight line escape route open to him, he was in my sights. I was losing him. For a few seconds.
I smiled to myself and turned the pedals a little bit harder. The fear-stricken feline was being reeled back towards me. Sensing me closing on him, the yellow eyes glanced back at me, reflecting my torch back and revealing the terror in the cat’s eyes. His little legs didn’t skip a beat, he was running at a good pace now but I was gaining slowly.
My smile turned into a laugh now, and I surprised myself a little as the laugh escaped my throat into the night air. Anyone seeing me would have certainly thought I’d gone a bit mental. I was having fun! It was like I was a child again, mindlessly chasing the cat without a single consideration of what I’d do if I caught it. There’s a certain primal glee in knowing that you’re catching something at pace. Anything.
The cat made one more flick of his head to look back at me and confirm that the noise of my tyres was indeed accompanied by my maniacal, laughing, advancing face, framed by a mountain bike helmet and carried by a steed of aluminium and rubber. Then he had a moment of clarity, made a swift turn ninety degrees to the right and scaled a four-foot wall like a scalded, well, cat.
I laughed all the way home. I wish I’d video’d it: cats are more popular than naked ladies on the internet these days.
Night riding’s cool.