east riding: the night ride follow upBack
On Friday we looked ahead to the weekend Chris Woodward and a group of cyclists were planning: cycling overnight from East Street Arts in Leeds, to Hornsea on the east coast, hopefully arriving in time to wash the 85 miles of night cycling away with a dip in the sea at dawn. I spoke to Chris again on Monday to find out how the Night Riders got on.
“I was quite tired at the end, I’d fallen to bits a little bit. Once I’d finished I was like right, my mind can shut down a little bit now,” said Chris. “But overall it was fantastic. There was a group of ten of us in the end, and everyone did it, everyone made it, and there was no big drama in terms of people struggling too much and we didn’t have any punctures, so that was good. We were very worried because iPhone weather was predicting thunderstorms for the evening but the weather stayed off.
“The only thing that did happen was to Danny, who travelled down from Newcastle to do it, his pedal dropped off about a mile before the end. It had been loose all night because the bolt had come undone, and he was tightening it as best he could all the way through the night. On the last section, the former railway line between Hull and Hornsea, he finally lost the bolt off the pedal, so I was cycling forwards and started thinking, ‘Why is Danny walking towards me?’ He was walking back up the track looking for the bolt, but with no luck.”
The support vehicle hadn’t packed any spare bolts, although it did supply the riders with one essential: real coffee, from a proper cafetière. Lost pedals aside, spirits stayed good, although the late fall of the summer night did affect the atmosphere.
“It was interesting because as soon as it got pitch black, everyone quietened down very quickly, and everyone was a lot more subdued, and there was a lot more of just quiet, coasting cycling, because it was very flat and it was quite calm,” said Chris. “Everyone was keeping to themselves a bit more, a bit more reflective. I don’t think anyone was scared, I think everyone was enjoying it. We started taking a few wrong turns and I could tell people were getting agitated, so when dawn came it was very welcome. We were going through a place called Swanland when the sun was coming up, slightly north-west of Hull.
“When we got to Hornsea I didn’t go in the sea, but about three people were fully swimming, costumes on and everything, a couple who got their legs in, so half got in and half stayed out. I was that low on energy, if I’d gone in the water I don’t know how I would have warmed up again.” After reaching the east coast, there was still the ride back to Kingston Art Gallery in Hull, to begin the journey home. “We had bacon butties back at the gallery, they were very welcome. The Kingston Art Group had them cooking when we got there and then we brought our food in, and it was just really nice.
“I was saying we should do more gallery takeovers in that way, not just for social nights out – there was just a very welcoming atmosphere from KAG, and it was nice to be there at the end, napping in the gallery.”
The night was shared on social media as much as is possible in the Wolds in the dark: you can see the story of the night by starting with the #NightRideLeeds hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, and checking East Street Arts and Chris’s own Twitter accounts for more photos and videos; we’ve collected some of the best ones here. “I was posting as much as I could,” said Chris. “Just trying to get as much content as possible, and then at every stop I had my phone plugged in at the support vehicle, trying to post it all before setting off again. I definitely had my head in my phone a lot of the night trying to keep up with it all. There was also talk of having a radio transmitter on one bike with all the riders tuning in with radios for some music and announcements to get us through the quiet hours.”
That would have to be for next time. And after 84 miles of riding through the dark countryside of the East Riding, the next question is naturally about doing it again.
“Next year is the obvious one, to turn it into an annual thing, and it would coincide with the Tour de France,” said Chris. “I did suggest it, but everyone was wondering why we would do the same thing again. I think there is definitely some scope for turning it into a mass event instead of a small group, but the logistics would multiply exponentially.
“But I got a text afterwards from Lotte, who was mentioning Lands End to John O’Groats next year…”
Night Ride was part of Juliana’s Bike, a cycling-oriented festival of arts and events organised by East Street Arts that began this month. Visit Julianasbike.org.uk for an up to date calendar of events.
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