I do count myself as an accomplished biker. May be getting older, and slowing a bit But I do get there in the end. Problem is- biking takes fitness and for me to retain my fitness takes effort. Extra trips down the gym in the winter, and in the summer those evening rides. Nothing is better for me than riding so the winter does drag a bit.
This year has been different and My co-rider on the Tandem and I have been out night riding, as I am sure you all know as I have been spouting on about it on this forum for the last few months. So far it has been hard though. The trail is extra slippery at this time of year and riding with lights does not give the confidence to the pilot, as although the lights are good, they are nowhere as good as daylight.
Last night was different. I know I had changed the tyres to a different make to what I normally use, and this may have had something to do with it. Couple of road miles to get to the forest trail and we were off. Not literraly, but we flew through the 3 miles down to the hills. Then the uphill offroad, and we did not seem to be sliding quite as much. We were feeling good so went at the hill and found it easier. Then across the top on the flat and we were in big ring on the front and still going strong. My pilot decided that it was such a bright moon he would turn the lights off. Glad I didn't know about that but we did deviate from the normal trail as he followed the dark line of the path, but unfortunately the wrong path. Then the unusual happened- Coming the other way were 5 lights. At the speed they were going they were not walkers so we were about to encounter our first offroaders at night. We still had the lights off so 50 yards away from them we put ours on. I think it worried them a bit as no-one else rides at night and suddenly they were confronted with a blaze of light with two spot lamps shining in their faces from our helmet lamps.
I don't know who was more surprised- them for finding other nutters out at night and even bigger nutters as they were on a Tandem, or us at the way they were bedecked. Christmas tinsel all over the bikes and I am certain one of them had a christmas tree on his back pack. Surprising thing was- one of them had an $800 lamp unit on his bike and the others had $100 units. We could not tell approaching them any difference in their lamps. Difference with us was the $100 lamp, as they had, augmented with two powerfull LED's and the helmet lamps. Good long chat as they were doing the same ride as us in reverse and off we went to the first downhill. Stuart has his confidence back and I felt the front wheel losing grip on several occasions at around 40mph (Offroad and on Scree) No problem then the basket uphill. Very little grip, lots of broken brick and flints to fill in some of the ruts, but the big ruts were still there. We normally fall off on this hill, but not tonight. Across the golf course track and down into Eastbourne via the ZigZags at Beachy Head. This is on road and 100yards between hairpin bends and a 600 ft drop for the 3/4 mile of road.Nearly lost it on one of the hairpins when the rear brake locked up-Twice- and put us sideways on the 3rd hairpin, but still no fall. Then to cap it all off, The Coffee and Chicken Tika Sub was superb at Eastbourne station.
Last night we got in probably one of our most enjoyable rides on the Tandem this year. 30 miles in 3 hours and that included the break for coffee and chatting to the other riders. Confidence back with Stuart, Speed up on the ride overall, Fitness there for a couple of interval training sprints, and enjoyment fantastic.
When we started night riding it was hard, and I do mean hard physically. 3 months in and that ride last night proved that practice does improve, although it is still not perfect- we are starting to perform again.
P.S. We are serious about this night riding, and we have both just cancelled the subscription to the Gym.