Early some weekday mornings I ride along the ocean and into my own dark shadow cast by the bright lights of the riders behind me. I spend a lot of time riding in my shadow, as the lights of others almost always overpower my cheap lamp.
Sometimes my shadow stands upright in front of me; with an added dimension on account of the thick fog we ride through. When this happens, a much bigger version of myself appears to be riding toward me.
With each passing minute, the intense moonlight or thick blanket of darkness on cloudy days slowly fades. As we make our way past the Oak Bay Marina, I witness the benison that is the brilliantly pink, orange and red sky nudging the ocean out of its gentle slumber.
The sky continues to brighten and my gaze eventually abandons my shadow. I look left and watch the Olympic Mountains turn blue in contrast to the colourful sky behind them.
On these rides, I exist in a comfortable and dark envelope where the sun has not yet risen. My limited vision creates a smaller world. The darkness is like a blanket and I feel strangely content in the cool crisp air. If it’s foggy or rainy, the blanket is heavier and I feel even more grounded. I’ve only been up for 35 minutes before the cool air kisses my cheeks and I already feel alive.
It has never been easier for me to wake up at five on a winter morning to go ride. There are many factors playing into this new found pleasure in early morning riding, but the one I value most is my new love for biking in the dark.
I used to train only in daylight. If it was dark, I’d ride inside or go to the gym. This really limited my riding opportunities, especially if I had work or school (or both). It wasn’t until one night in September, when I had been feeling down for a couple of days, that I somehow convinced myself to go for a ride at 11 p.m.
I remember descending toward the ocean through a thick fog. I listened to my music and questioned why I was out. A minute later, I was riding on Dallas Rd. and the first thing I noticed was the cones of warm light in the fog under each street lamp. It was a beautiful and oddly warm feeling – I suddenly knew why I was outside. I rode to places that I’d only ever seen in daylight. Everything was calmer, gentler and somehow warmer.
I ride in the dark to exist in a smaller world. It’s calm, warm, gentle and focussed. I ride in the dark to experience light in different ways. New perspectives, new sensations and intense satisfaction are the side effects.
I highly recommend you give it a shot. Take a light that’s better than mine though.
Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg who will be racing with Trek Red Truck Racing in 2019 currently living, riding, studying and working in Victoria.