Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Solstice Ride

I don't know if any words can capture the full magic of our Winter Solstice Ride but Patrick (Dancer) said it well:
bade farewell to autumn and welcomed the first day of winter with a small handful of hardy randos on the inaugural Winter Solstice 200k, the all-night ride complete with bikes festooned with string lights, tinsel, reindeer antlers and Santa hats, the dark night punctuated with Christmas carols, bad jokes and oohs and aahs at the festively decorated houses along the route. Good friends, good times: a wonderful way as any to spend the longest night of the year.
It all started with an invitation to the New Jersey Randonneurs inspired by a video of a Soltice Ride from Seattle

For us on the east coast, the invitation went out in the midst of a harsh cold spell when we were layered with snow and icy roads. Many were interested, but when the night arrived, five were willing. Luckily, the weather broke just in time to give us a safe window of time to ride through the longest night under a waxing gibbous winter moon.

After working all day, the 8 pm start of the 200k New Jersey route would mean pulling an all nighter. The course was completely unsupported. In true Rando style, we were on our own.

We took on reindeer names - Dancer, Comet, Prancer Donder and Blitzen -  decorated our bikes with lights, and wore our best reflective gear until we became a kinetic light sculpture worthy of the most festive of wild rumpuses.

There must have been some magic in the old silk hats they wore, because when they placed them on their heads, we began to ride around. Over the river and through the woods, beautiful sights, they happened that night, riding in the winter wonderland. In our lane, the damp road glistened. We passed houses where lights were twinkling.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave the luster of mid-day to objects below; when, what to our wondering eyes should appear, but an inflated Santa and eight actual deer.

More rapid than eagles over the course we came. But the bridge was out! We were blocked by two fences - stopped in our tracks by these unforeseen eventses. Undaunted, we whistled, and shouted, and called out by name:
"Now! Dancer, now! Prancer "On! Comet, On! Donder and Blitzen; "To the top of the fence! To the top of the wall! "Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

It was lovely weather for a bike ride together with the crew. 

At fifty miles before dawn, we checked for the official time of sunrise and decided to make that our goal for the finish. 

This sunrise came cloaked in a blue fog, sneaking into spaces and slips, like a forgotten last thought, a jacket unzipped to the cool night air.

Welcome winter.


  1. I hope this can become a tradition out there, looks great!

  2. Great post and congratulations on a great inaugural ride. It's always fun to be in at the start of something big. Here's hoping the tradition continues and Merry Christmas!