Sunrise cows

Melting Time Under the Moonlight

A self-confessed person of routine, I don’t stay out late and I don’t rise before the sun most days. I eat three meals a day, work Monday through Friday, and try to sleep seven to eight hours a night. I’m a huge fan of sleep.

Randonneuring appeals to my affinity for routine. I select the events I want to ride, put them on the calendar, and map out a loose training plan for the year. Fitness becomes an additional routine and life continues.

This weekend Felkerino and I rode a 1000K (625 miles) checkout ride for the D.C. Randonneurs and, for a brief moment in time, my daylight-driven routine life was thrown out the window.

The ride consumed us– three 200-plus mile rides in three days. Completing the overall distance within the time permitted, rather than starting after sunrise or stopping when darkness fell, became primary.

We had gone into the event with a plan– make the most of the daylight and focus on constant forward progress– but could not avoid riding many miles through the night.

Each evening, the sun set, and I would curse my inability to ride stronger and faster. The challenging terrain, increasing humidity, unexpected heat of the final day, a flat tire, and a rain squall conspired to make our overall pace slower than I wished. I had also set slightly unrealistic expectations for myself.

As if to help me through the night hours, the waxing crescent moon rose into the sky, painted in peach. The temperatures dropped from toasty to perfect.

Car traffic vanished. Everyone but us went home. We saw lights glimmering in farmhouses, but human life was practically invisible on the roads during the wee hours.

The overnight finish was still miles away, but with the sliver of moon by my side and Felkerino steering steadily in front of me and blocking the bugs, everything felt alright.

Night is a different world. Deer came out with their babies to feed and run about. Other small critters were as surprised to see us as we were them.

Little frogs, excited by the rainstorms on the final night, could be seen hopping across the roads. Our headlight lit up their curious, leaping bodies.

Time as I knew it melted away. There was no bedtime and there was no proper time to be indoors. We sliced our sleep hours in half, if not more. Our minds and bodies focused only on the next milestone of the ride.

I thought of the rare pleasure it is to enjoy a night ride on quiet roads with my real-life and randonneur spouse. Him and me, the moon and stars, wildlife, and the peaceful hum of evening.

Regular routine life seemed so far away and unimportant. It feels good to melt time every once in a while.

10 thoughts on “Melting Time Under the Moonlight”

  1. Great Post! I usually dread night riding on long brevets. However, once you are in the moment, those miles can become almost magical, often the most memorable of a brevet. Plus you get really funny looks when you brag about the great stargazing on your last bike ride.

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  2. Congratulations on completing a very challenging ride and thanks for sharing the feelings you had. I wish I could believe that time would melt away for me. Someday, I MIGHT try it.

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  3. I have yet to ride a nighttime brevet, but I frequently ride at night or well before sunrise. I LOVE riding at night. The air is more calm. It’s more quiet and peaceful. It’s just a cozy feeling. I don’t get that nearly as much during daylight riding. It may be slower, but for me the reward is greater.

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  4. There is something quite mystical and yet completely honest and lovely in this reflection on your amazing feat. I have such respect and admiration for your cycling abilities and your capacity to set aside a routine of sleep and the everyday is truly amazing to me. I hope you both had a wonderful experience!

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    1. Thank you. I struggle to articulate what it is to do these rides– it means so much when it resonates w/ someone. Our ride was sort of like the terrain profile, lots of ups and downs, but overall it was a beautiful challenge, and well worth the effort.

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