Sometimes I like to ride my bike in the dark, away from street lights and civilisation, and deep in the country lanes.
In axe-murderer territory.
This only works if I’m alone.
A ride in the dark with friends is just a ride that would be improved by daylight. And sunshine, ideally. The mild terror of what might lurk beyond the beam of the headlight is where the fun lies, and you only get that when you’re alone.
Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not afraid of the dark.
I haven’t been for over thirty years – I’m a big boy now – but there are moments, out on the hills of Lancashire. Occasionally, as I drag myself up some steep tarmac on a still night, my own heavy breathing gives me the shivers. Wildlife appears and then disappears in the arc of my light. Trees without leaves create creepy silhouettes.
Is that the outline of a human up ahead or am I seeing things?
“Don’t get a puncture”, I think, realising immediately that by thinking it I’ve increased the chances of it happening.
The adrenaline starts to pump and suddenly I’m setting winter PB’s on the local hills. It feels a bit like doping, and I’d definitely be testing positive for mild peril. Every now and again I stop and flick my lights off, just to really feel the dark. There’s not much light pollution in these parts and the silent blackness envelopes me.
I look down on my town and imagine people sitting in front of the telly, eating crisps and drinking cheap wine, while I’m out here having an adventure. I momentarily feel like a hero, but then some big flying thing swooshes past my ears and startles me.
The next shot of adrenaline kicks in and I flick the lights on and hit the road again to make the most of it.
And then, twelve miles from home, deep in a battle with a winding farm track, the same thing always happens. A little red indicator on my headlight blips, telling me the battery is low.
“I’ll give you about half an hour”, it’s saying.
Taunting. And now laughing maniacally.
“Will that be enough…?”
And now I’m thinking of axe-murderers again.
If I get a puncture now, I’m a dead man.