The dark makes everything worse; something primal awakens in us when the sun has gone and we are wrapped in the black cloak of night. Laying in bed, my worst thoughts and fears come knocking like some used-car salesperson who won’t leave me alone. There is no shutting down of this process, our imaginations are given free reign to do their worst.
Darkness makes the cold feel colder, and the rain more wet; it wraps us and removes all the visual cues that might otherwise distract us from their lightless work. This is a difficult time of year, when the days are at their shortest; we leave for work in the dark and return home in it too. It never leaves us.
Leaving for a ride at night takes the same sort of resolve that riding in bad weather does; you need not think about whether you want to do it; you simply set about kitting up, and then placing one foot before the other until you’re standing outside with your bicycle at your side. Then you pedal.
Riding at night puts me in an cocoon of isolation, there is life inside the cone that spills from my headlight; beyond its borders I do not know what creatures and thoughts dwell – I don’t need to know. There is only the small triangular section of road within the cone. Like a carrot spurring on a donkey, perhaps if I push a little harder on the pedals, I can overtake the far edge of the light and explore what lies beyond.
Winter Solstice is behind us now, and for the next half year, our days will get longer. Though the days will remain dark for some time yet; each coming day will be a little bit longer until finally, the headlights will be put away. Until then, I will ride inside my cone when I need to, and cherish daylight rides when I can.