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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:26 pm 
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I went for a ride with the VCC on Saturday - a night time lap of Richmond Park, with no electric lights allowed.

My lighting consisted of some glow sticks hanging off the bars, three more in different colours hanging off of the rack (on the trike) and a candle in a jam jar hanging between the ergos. With a reflector made the little tinfoil trays that cakes come in.

We were going to use custard tarts but the shop didn't have any so we had to eat some inferior cakes to source materials.

I did of course have regular, legal lights front and rear to get to the park. But the glow sticks seemed to make the car drivers seem to think that I was even loopier when I normally ride the trike, so I got extra space.

I had assumed that I would be able to fit the trike through the pedestrian gates at the park (actually, I hadn't even thought about it), and it was a very tight fit (I think the hubs might have taken a bit of paint off both sides at once) but I made it.

There were about 20 or 30 others there, mostly on vintage machines, four on ordinaries. The riders of modern machinary didn't seem to be bothering with lights, the riders of vintage machines were mostly (I think) using carbide lights (with oil at the back?)

Wow, aren't carbide lamps smelly? They smelt like old socks.

Off we set for a clockwise lap. Although it was a lovely moonlit evening (with moonshadows and moonbeams) as we dropped down the gentle slope towards Roehampton Gate we descended into mist. It was a fabulous sight to behold an ordinary being ridden with the top half of the rider poking through the mist.

Now apart from the mist the undead were roaming in the park. We could hear them howling. Either that or there were some very horny stags (no doubt with big antlers). Either way, zombies or horny deer would obviously fuck us up one way or another so I had briefed Jonathan that if we came across any undead or horny cervidae then we should pedal like buggery.

There were almost no other cyclists in the park, so pedalling along amongst a bunch or carbide lit cyclists I was able to get a real experience of what it must have been like to cycle at night a century ago (apart that is from being on a nice smooth road, and not having to worry about syphilis and other such diseases rotting my nads off).

What little light was given off by the carbide lamps wasn't always useful in the case of the ordinaries, three of them had their lamps hanging from the hub within the wheel. So they had a dark stripe in the middle and the lamp was swinging back and forth causing the illuminated bit of road to vary enormously.

Climbing bastard hill I was very glad to be on the trike when an unlit woman cyclist and her young child (also unlit) stopped just in front of me, I could sit there while they sorted themselves out and then go round them (having a bottom gear that spins out at walking pace is good!)

Along the top everyone had pretty much spread out, Jonathan and I got chatting to one of the ordinary riders who it seemed wasn't too familiar with the park and didn't realise that the descent to Kingston Gate is steep and windy (I don't enjoy it on the trike in daylight) and dark as it's overhung with trees. Once we told him about it, he decided to walk down. Jonathan went down a bit faster than me and there was a group ahead who whose rear lights we could usefully see - I knew there was a sharp right coming up and when they turned ahead of us we knew how far we had to run (or more importantly how long to start slowing down).

It was fabulous riding along in the moonlight. I was describing the road ahead to Jonathan, I didn't want him to come acropper on the little dip and turn by the exit to Ham Gate (I've seen someone else lose it there at night and need an ambulance). On the slope up to Pembroke Lodge Jonathan was convinced that it was a level road until I pointed out the view off to the left and he could see that the dark silouhette was climbing. Just before Pembroke Lodge my candle went out, and as it didn't really make much difference we kept going without it (although I'm glad that we both had glow sticks to mark our position to others).

Round the corner and towards the next descent, a lovely view across London, and down we went. Faster and faster, once we got onto the straight section the only limit on our speed was how fast Jonathan wanted to spin. As we dropped into the mist again the temperature dropped a lot!

At the junction for Shene Gate we turned right and climbed up Spankers Hill and then took the path down to Pen Ponds where the organisers had kindly laid on tea, cake & biscuits.

A nice time was had chatting to folks, lots of interest in the trike and glow sticks.

Finally the mist was getting heavy and the temperature was dropping even more so we headed back.

I decided that electric lights were allowed on the way back, especially the mist was really heavy now, it was reaching right up Spankers Hill now, and as we dropped down the other side the tower blocks at Roehampton were only visible for a short time before the mist swallowed everything up again. Those zombies were still howling as we dropped towards Roehampton Gate, but we just had to hope that the mist was slowing them up as much as us!

When we came out of the park and left the mist (and howling) behind the temperature difference was incredible, it felt as if we had suddenly met a summer evening.

We'll definately do it again next year (it's planned for the 3rd October), with a lot more glow sticks and jam jars.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:03 pm 
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Huzzah! Sounds like a wonderfully atmospheric ride, and I was excited by the thought of it when I spotted the flyer at Brooklands. Glad you had a great time. Maybe I'll be there next time* :)





* though i don't think I'd go for carbide...

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:37 pm 
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Next year...

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:52 am 
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Sounds like an amazing ride. Next time take a spade for whacking the zombies.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:58 am 
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I'd take a bow for the venison. :whistle: :feast:

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:57 pm 
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The idea of "no electric light" does rather bring out the CHUNKer in me. A hay-bale soaked in diesel and toed on a Bob Yak isn't electric, is it? :twisted:

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:39 am 
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I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't qualify.

Mind you, you'd have a big shadow ahead of you, and the flames might lick around the trailer tyre - better not pump it up to hard before lighting up.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:21 pm 
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Pie-dish! It makes good heat sheilds and reflectors (srsly, better than the one in my carbide lamp). And there's an excuse for more pie.

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