Once rogerzilla posted that he could no longer lead the group due to illness, it was always going to be more than the adventure you anticipated. Arriving by train in Oxford at 23:30, two cyclists were already waiting. They were Grub and Chocolatebike. Then Adam, Kevin and teethgrinder arrived. Kevin was on the last train from London, so we didn't expect many more to turn up. Rather, we wondered how many people would have talked themselves out of doing this. Its Friday evening, you might have had a hard week, you've finished your evening meal of cyclist's pasta, couldn't resist the glass of wine ... put the telly on for half an hour, getting cozy, check YACF ... oh ... rogerzilla will not be there, darn, won't be the same without him. Half an hour later, ... I don't have to do this ... who wants to cycle in the dark on a Friday night anyway. But I was like Grub, I can't imagine the weekend without having done this. It would be my first FNRttS and it would be the last FNRttS of the year.
We set off soon after midnight, and one of the big differences compared with FNRttC is that you are out of town soooo quickly. All of a sudden it was dark and quiet and we were living it, the FNRttS. I also soon realised that this was going to be a good workout for me. Fortunately, I was able to keep up on the flat, helped with a bit of drafting. The steep hills were quite short, so the wait was never too long (I hope!).
We had a wonderful moment when we stopped, looking at the clear sky full of stars. Heard a dog barking, but that was drowned out by tawny/little owls? Maybe both? We often hear this on rides, but this was so clear and close by.
Another moment I loved was the way we would bend around the roundabouts, in formation, well lit up, fast. At least it was a great experience from the back of the line!
Roadrunner was the Tourist Tony equivalent. Quite amazing really, how there are people who are willing to cater for cyclists in the middle of the night, make tea/crumpets/tea. Teethgrinder had a quick kip while we were sitting around the table. And then there was a knock on the door. MattC wasn't phased by not finding us at the planned meeting point, and somehow managed to find roadrunner's house. (I'm getting closer to buying a GPS now!).
Because of the small group, we didn't have the re-grouping time we have on the FNRttC when I usually take some pictures. Here, I would just about have the camera ready and ... lets go. Got one very blurred one of Grub though, you can tell its Grub, no?
I peeled off at Greenford. Its so close to home. But next time I'll continue with the group. Having breakfast with the group is part of it. And cycling back from Paddington/Acton is no hardship. Compare that with Grub's return cycling journey to somewhere further west from Oxford (was it Pewsey - Wiltshire?). Respect!
So thanks again to everybody for making it a great night. Thanks for the navigation, the company, and the 'midnight' snacks.