Friday Night Ride to the Coast has been spreading the joy of night riding for almost 15 years

If you missed this years Dunwich Dynamo, or feel that its a little too big, chaotic or (whisper it) competitive, you might trying catching the next Friday Night Ride to the Coast.

This is a carefully organised event run by the Fridays, a club devoted to the singular cause of safely delivering you at a conversational pace from the Smoke to the sea. They do this every month from spring through autumn, requiring only third party insurance and an annual membership fee of 2.

The FNRttC, as its known to veterans, has been spreading the joy of night riding for almost 15 years, flying quietly under the radar of most cyclists dazzled by mass congregations such as the Dynamo and the Exmouth Exodus.

It was started by Simon Legg, who spent a decade escorting thousands to Brighton, Whitstable and other destinations with decent transport links. When he retired he entrusted his legacy to a group of seasoned ride leaders who take turns as mother hen.

The distance ranges from 55 to 75 miles, and popular routes can attract more than 100 participants. There are tail-end Charlies and human waymarkers, sometimes recruited on the spot, to ensure nobody is lost or left behind.

Rides begin at midnight with a chat about safety and etiquette, jokes optional. Mechanical problems along the way are met with expert assistance, though youre advised to give your bike a thorough checkup beforehand, and particularly implored to lose everything that you dont really, really need.

A ride leader gives the opening instructions

Its all a far cry from the Dynamo-style experience of hoping the blinking lights ahead of you are going the right way. Lets just say the 2 is good value.

Its a great social mixer, but there are also opportunities for solitude as you pull each other along on an invisible stretchy rope. Punctures are a communal affair. Houston, we have a problem, one of the minders will more or less transmit to the front, and so all will wait, grateful it wasnt them. This time.

Why ride at night? you may be asking. It can seem daunting, particularly after a work day, and anyway, what is there to see? I almost imagine Fitzgerald discussing it with Hemingway: The night is different to the day. Yes, its darker.

We ride at night because its there, conveniently out of the way of the usual routine. Less traffic is a bonus, but magic moments are made of more than this.

Theres the moon, for a start: those times when it paints the road silver and the mist mysterious, inviting you to dabble in poetry. When not moonstruck, the darkness itself is the draw, a coverlet silencing the days concerns, yet granting permission for thoughts to drift forever out into space while remembering to yell Car up!, the traditional cyclists warning of traffic on the lanes. Or Cow up!, as we found on a recent ride to Eastbourne.



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