Last night I went to lend a hand for the inaugural Brisbane Ride the Night event. It was a collaboration between Bicycle Network and Youth Services to create a 70km night ride around the city to raise money for homelessness and disadvantaged youth and for bicycle advocacy. This event has been successfully running for a number of years in Melbourne, but this year was the first time that Brisbane and Hobart also, held the event with Melbourne simultaneously – making last night the largest Australian night ride event to date. The organisers on the night did a great job, and I was especially impressed that the mechanics tent provided had an all female mechanics team- which was very refreshing.
The weather was threatening to rain (which apparently it did in Melbourne), but the Brisbane evening remained balmy and clear – a perfect night for riding!! Overall about 3,000 people attended the three events, with 900 being from Brisbane. Many bikes were decorated with night riding carrying neon lights, glow sticks and an array of colourful torches. Lots of people came with friends; some had music playing from their bikes.While there were a few tutus and team colours, I actually thought there would be more dressing up and costuming – but it was only the first time – so I considered it a warm-up!!
The Ride Highlights
It was great to see lots of cyclists out in force with the crowd gathering from 10pm onwards. A relaxed crowd milled around, chatting, catching up, drinking coffee and sharing stories. The surrounding cafes stayed open to accommodate the happy throng. I had time to chat and take a few photos (see below). There was a ride Briefing and then participants were ushered into the start zone. The official start was at midnight when six groups were released in waves -with two minutes apart to give some space and visibility for the participants as well as other road users. The riders then took off into the night to ride a set Route laughing, dinging bells, singing and chatting – settling in for a friendly excursion around their city. There were a number of Stops along the route: cocktails served for riders at the Kangaroo Point station; musicians playing and a giant Chess game at the State Hockey Centre; there were some Jenga and other activities. The finish line saw riders regrouping and swapping nighttime adventures over an Event coffee and breakfast. The word was that the pulled pork and mayo roll was the best choice.
The ride was publicised as being 70 km- but Strava stats clocked 48kms – which was no biggie, except that my mates group finished earlier than they expected -the first pack of riders rolled into the finish at about 3.30am. The only problem was that they had caught public transport and were a little stranded as trains started about 2 hours later – at about 5.30am. But this was easily rectified – a leisurely, quiet and fun ride 20kms home! This meant our riders got home earlier than expected; did the full length (then plus some with a total of 78km) and did not have to wait for the trains! Perfect! It was a crystal clear night – perfect for cruising around the deserted city streets with mates and having a laugh.
Events like these are a great idea because of the novelty of Night Rides and the exhilaration of riding when others are not. It adds a distinctive adventure quality to the experience. A massive amount of coordination was required to pull this event off. I tip my hat to the organisers for having such an enterprising and creative idea and the confidence and resources to make it happen for the rest of us.
Congratulations to all who helped make this a fun and purposeful event
….and to those who Rode the Night!!!