Tag Archives: night riding

Dark City

“We’ll book you into a hotel if you like.”

Well, that would be nice, wouldn’t it? It’s always fun to lounge in a bed you haven’t had to make yourself, drop towels that you won’t have to pick up onto the bathroom floor, and watch trash TV with the volume down before getting up at 6am to meet the car from the BBC.

But it’s not nearly as much fun as scorching through the city at night – well, the part of the night that doesn’t really count as morning because the sky’s still black and the birds aren’t singing yet, but is the far side of midnight. It’s worth setting the alarm for 3.45 and getting dressed in the dark for the voyeuristic thrill of riding the quiet streets, shared only with men in hi-viz and the occasional night bus.

On a normal day it takes 5 minutes to get through the lights at the corner of Grays Inn Road and Caledonian Road. Yesterday, checking the time on the Kings Cross Station clock as 5.50am, I thought there was no way I was going to be in Hammersmith in time to park up and meet the car and the man who would actually be doing the talking. Ruby & I got there in 10 minutes, and that’s without breaking the speed limit and including being caught in a diversion.

Fatigue is a strange thing. Driving tired kills more people than driving drunk, and though I’d had a reasonable amount of sleep and didn’t feel particularly impaired it was clear that I was several shades short of full competence. My balance was all wrong. I was following too close, and my reactions were half what they should have been – especially for the white stripes in the road. Yes, it’s two for two at the speed camera on the Great Cambridge Road, I got away with it last time but like the muppet I am, I’ve offered the good gentleman of the London Safety Camera Partnership a second attempt to re-educate me. It was 5 in the morning, m’Lud, if that’s any excuse…

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Night Riding

“The moving Moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And mocked my awful ride.”

With apologies to Samuel T.C.

I have three weaknesses (actually, I have a lot more than three but these are the ones that count on the bike): Small twisty rural A-roads covered in sand and gravel; riding in the dark; and riding with people faster than me (which at this point in the year is pretty much everybody!)

So imagine my joy when my first assessment ride on Tuesday night managed to encompass all of them in just 90 minutes.

“You were very…consistent” said my kindly observer.

I hold my hand up and confess I have no natural aptitude for riding a motorcycle. But as Damon Hill once said, “if it was easy, lawyers would do it.”

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