Thinking about going outside, in the dark, alone, is intimidating. Flashing lights, blinking red reflectors, unseeable terrain ahead I take a deep breath and strap on my helmet.
I’ve rode bikes on wooded trail with a headlamp strapped to the top of my head, racing against the clock and pushing my teammates up the next switch back or following them down the final hill to the end of a race, or the end of that stage in the race. These moments were hard mentally and physically but I never once hesitated. I just did it.
Now, here in Chicago, I tend to linger at the bar after work a little bit longer. I have to psych myself up to re-attach my front wheel, unlock my U-lock that keeps the frame safe from crooks and I have to take a deep breath when I put the blinking lights on my handlebars and as I climb into the saddle I’m truly a bit afraid. It’s dark, kinda cold, the air is now damp and there’s a slight breeze that never seems to cease from Lake Michigan–I both love and hate that cool push of air.
But once I’m in the seat, once I begin peddling I forget that fear. There are fewer cars, the adrenaline doesn’t need to flow as hard as it does during the day; freedom is ahead and I’m rolling towards it self propelled and on two wheels. A ride home at 2am is a ride through a city that not everyone gets to see. It’s a quiet and calm city that during the day is rushed and stressed but at 2am she’s serene and relaxed. At 2am she bears her soul to those that will listen.
Freedom awaits at a 2am ride, however every time I have to saddle up and go I’m scared. It takes me a while to convince myself to go, but I always do and I never regret the silent moments we have.