It's perhaps something only truly understood at 3am somewhere North of Beauvais as your bike lights cut through the mist and darkness of the French countryside; the roads devoid of traffic and eerily quiet; 200 miles down, 100 to Paris;
You're pedalling alone and it's been some time since you last saw anyone; your tired eyes are working hard searching for the tell-tale glo-stick of the organiser's signage to confirm the route; suddenly there's a noise from behind, you glance over your shoulder and cruising up at a steady pace is a peloton of 20, maybe 30 cyclists; headtorches dazzling, reflective ankle cuffs spinning in rhythm; it's seconds before they are alongside and you are swept up into their slipstream; without a word another rider passes you an energy gel, gives you a nod, and tucks in ahead of you; you smile to yourself as you feel the pedals turning more easily, your pace steady, the effort reduced as the peloton carries you effortlessly through the night on towards Paris.
Cycling at night is of course very different to cycling by daylight – however that is not to say it is inherently more dangerous or risky. It should be remembered:
- overall visibility reduces due to darkness, depth perception and judgement of distances is impaired
- detecting obstacles in the road, potential hazards, and route finding requires more concentration
- at night and in the early hours traffic volume is significantly reduced, and ambient noise less
- vehicle lights makes sighting or hearing approaching vehicles potentially clearer at night
- high visibility clothing, ankle cuffs (supplied), flashing lights identify cyclist at considerable distance
Notwithstanding riders need to take extra care, implement additional measures, and exercise great caution when cycling at night on public roads – this protocol is non-negotiable. A night cycling protocol is in force for the duration of the Event and is posted in the Participant Area.