9:05 p.m.: Ask and the gate shall be opened. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
11:01 p.m.: A rather chilly mid-ride break. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
11:45 p.m.: Late night posing at Marincello. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
11:47 p.m. On our way home with just a tiny bit of San Francisco looming over the hill. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
12:25 a.m.: Midnight regroup/goodbye at the Conzelman roundabout. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
12:31 a.m.: A few of us continue to climb to the top of Hawk Hill. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
12:34 a.m.: The view from above. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
12:14 a.m. Can only go as far as you can see in the dark. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
It essentially started along the lines of “It’s supermoon this weekend… let’s do a night ride.”
I was itching to ride, but after photographing three days of post-election protests with a bit of teargas thrown in, my body was telling me to just sleep. But wait, I have a mandatory baby shower for Saturday. Life of being a grown up.
But it worked out. Got home just in time to make dinner for the family and suit up in time for the 8:30PM meet up at Golden Gate Park.
Other than the occasional bike commute at night, I must admit that I’ve never done a full-blown night ride. So yes, the unknown excitement was just brewing and I wanted to ride and make a photo. Or two.
As we slowly rolled through the Richmond district, we picked up a few more friends to form a group of nine. It was more than just a night ride now. It was a freaking party. Amongst us were 29ers, cross bikes, gravel bikes, full-suspensions, hardtail, 26ers, and even a (vintage?) 1994 rigid Merlin with fenders original WTB cantilever brakes. Despite different wheel sizes, fitness levels and ages, we rode as a group and got along just fine. It was definitely a welcoming sight to behold after all the divisive politics in the air.
Here comes the view of the Golden Gate Bridge that we just crossed, then there’s Downtown San Francisco and the Bay Bridge just a bit out at a distance. Damn, that view never gets old.
After a quick dirt refresher down Coastal and what must have been a 15 degree temperature difference, we were all too eager to connect to Miwok. A friend suggested that we all turn off our headlights somewhere around there. Miwok is more or less a wide fire road so it’s not even remotely technical but I thought the dude was crazy.
We did it anyway.
One by one, we turned off our headlights and soon enough we were literally riding with just the moonlight. It was so dark that 8000 ISO and a 35mm F/1.4 lens meant nothing. But over time, the supermoon brought out this surreal luminous landscape, with our shadows and the occasional view of the City just looming just far enough for us to gawk at. We rode in complete silence for a few minutes, taking it all in with only the sound of our tires gripping the trail beneath us. It was glorious.
Eventually we worked our way into Tennessee Valley, rode Marincello and went back to the headlands via Bobcat. In keeping with the fun, we kept our lights off for the climbs and went full power on the descents.
It was already past midnight when we slowly cruised up for the final break/photo op up at Hawk Hill before we bombed down Conzelman with lights blazing again to trek across the deserted Golden Gate Bridge. Bridge control must have seen us coming because the gate opened up before we even managed to push the button. Thanks guys!
It was a little after 1am when I pulled into my garage. My headlight ran out of juice two blocks from home and my Garmin just so happened to lose the ride but the ride really brought back all my childhood memories of just going out and exploring on my bike for hours. It’s been a long while since I’ve felt so strongly after a simple ride.
Plus, being able to talk smack while suffering with friends is a major plus too.