Right, I've threatened enough, now it's time to organise an actual midnight ride. All that remains is to decide the route and to pick a date.
I'm thinking of two possible routes:
The first starts at the Coypool Park & Ride, then follows the Plym Valley cycle path all the way to Plym Bridge. From Plym Bridge it follows the road to Plympton (yes, going up and over the hill!) before returning via Plymouth Road.
The benefits of this route are that we'll get to cycle up a serious hill, and that almost half of it is on well-lit roads. Of course, this is only of benefit to those who don't have decent(ish) lights.
The disadvantages of this route include the hill, as well as the fact that almost half of it is on well-lit roads.
The second route starts at the same place, but stays on the Plym Valley cycle path all the way to the old station platform, before returning the same way.
The benefits of this route include cycling on a car-free route, cycling in complete darkness, and only having a gentle incline to contend with.
The disadvantages include no hill and no street lighting.
I'm very much leaning towards Option 2, if for no other reason than the fact that the route is unlit. Cycling in the dark is something that you simply must experience, and is one of my favourites. Option 2 also allows for cyclists to turn around at any point.
As the title of this post hinted, I'll be calling rides such as this Dark Side Rides.
Please understand me right when I say I cycle in pretty much any weather. It doesn't mean that I'm hard, or tough, or special. Instead it simply means I may have a different focus to you and that I may enjoy doing different things to you.
I don't expect you to enjoy cycling in the rain just because I do.
With that in mind, once I've picked a date for the Dark Side Ride, it will only go ahead if we're set for a night without rain. Rain on the night will simply postpone it by one week. And no, despite the name we won't be setting off at midnight, but rather at a more civilised 23h00.
Now remember, a Dark Side Ride is NOT a race! While we can all thunder along the cycle path at 20 mph, that defeats the object. Instead we'll be going at a more sedate pace, pretty much dictated by the slowest riders, so we can ride as a group. If you really want to you may of course speed off into the distance, but I'm rather hoping you won't.
You will need lights for your bike, and not the blinky LED sort either as they simply don't produce anywhere near enough light. If you don't have decent bike lights, I suggest strapping a torch to your bike. Just make sure the torch will last for about 1,5 hours.
If you can, wear something light, or reflective as this will help others avoid cycling into the back of your bike. On the ride we will turn off our tail lights to avoid dazzling each other.
The ride is free and anybody is welcome, so bring your kids if you think they're up to riding the distance. Young children will find it too much of a challenge, though.
Finally, seeing as we'll stop for a bit at the old station platform, you may wish to bring a thermos flask with a hot beverage of your choice.
Any updates will be as additional posts to this blog, so be sure to check back.