Night Riding – and Traveling Only by Human Power

When you’ve been on the planet for almost fifty years, you start to learn a few of your mind’s tricks and habits. Some you notice later than others. One I noticed just in these past few weeks is this: My emotions often ebb at just around 5PM. Whether it’s hunger or just the transition from work to not-work, I always feel a bit meh at that time. Unconsciously I seem to always schedule exercise for that time which means that just as I’m feeling a bit down, I’m heading out the door to do something that lifts my mood.

Except, of course, when you don’t feel like going out after all. But here’s where knowing your thought patterns helps. You can simply say “Oh, this? I know this. Just get going. You don’t have to like it but it’s good for you.” And indeed, that’s what’s happened the past couple of nights.

The days are getting shorter and by 7:30 or so the sun is well on its way down. If I put off exercise long enough, that means that I’m out at sunset and even after dark. Who knew, though, that that would actually be a positive thing? Now, a new tradition has come up: the sunset ride. I have a nice set of bike lights that ensure that not only am I visible, I can see well on dark trails in the forest at night. Here are a few of the wonderful things I’ve seen in just the past 2-3 rides:

The sound is so peaceful on these rides – mostly that of insects and frogs so loud that you can’t even hear traffic. Last night there were a few people in the park having campfires and cooking. Some played volleyball, others badminton, while many others, like me, chose to ride their bikes.

I’ve been making videos as I go and collected some of them here so you can come along for the ride.

Out of curiosity this morning I looked up to see just how my streaks related to daily fitness and cycling are going. I’m pretty pleased with them:

Early in the pandemic I became really aware of the importance of leaving the house and exercising, even a little, daily. And so starting April 12th, I’ve been doing some form of outdoor exercise. At a minimum it might be cycling 3-4 kilometres to pick up a cartload of groceries. At the maximum it might be riding 200 kilometres in a day. But it’s always been something for the past 135 days straight. This is something I see no good reason to end. Yes, I need rest days, and after my worries about injury after the 200 km ride, I did make time for lighter days for resting and haven’t ramped up my cycling to the pre-200k level yet but I’m on my way back.

Our last “normal” day on site at work was March 16th. After that most of us began to work from home. That evening I took my last trip in a motor vehicle. I go out to pick up groceries, for exercise, for the occasional trip to the office (I think I’ve done three). All of those trips have been by human power. I haven’t been in a car, bus, subway, train or even on a motor scooter. Every place I’ve moved to has been through my effort. Anything I brought home I carried in my arms or on a bike. So far it’s been 161 days and I see no good reason to change. In 23 days I’ll have hit six months without a car. I am almost certainly going to do that. But why would I stop there? I guess we’ll see what happens when the winter weather comes. I can cycle in much of it, but while I will ride in a bus during an ice storm, cycling is a non-option even with studded tires.

I got curious as to where I’ve been going under my own power so I made a “heat map” by downloading my Google location history and then deleting everything from before March 17th. Here’s what my travels look like:

As you might imagine, I live in the red blob near the bottom. Work is in the red blob on the upper left. The red blob at the top is a location I have often passed through on long bike rides. My vegetable deliveries are in the west end of the city so you can see my trips often take me to that red/yellow blob tail on the bottom left.

But how far from the city have I strayed? Have a look at the larger map.

The 200 km bike ride took me up to Lake Simcoe as you can see, and you can see where I went a bit east from there and came down through Uxbridge then turned south toward Stouffville. I think cell reception wasn’t great in some of that area as I don’t have a clear path shown in much of that area.

How has the pandemic changed how you get around?

9 thoughts on “Night Riding – and Traveling Only by Human Power

  1. Some really nice shots, especially the one taken outside the museum. I am quite impressed the way you kept the documentaiton of all your tours. We are walking a lot these days almost everyday but sometime we do have rest days though the reason is not exactly resting. I have missed so many things but I have spend som much time in nature. Which I see as blessings.

    1. Thanks! The Aga Khan foundation seems to do a lot of great work. The park space is lovely, and the museum is beautiful and very interesting with great cultural programming as well. They also did a fantastic job restoring Humayun’s tomb in Delhi.

      I cheated a little with my documentation. Google tracks my location wherever I go with my phone. I downloaded that information, deleted everything pre-pandemic and then put it in to a service that creates those maps. Very convenient. I use that same service to try to find places in the city I’ve never been. I was just thinking today I’m about due to do that. After all, believe it or not, our libraries have opened again. It may be time to start visiting them again.

  2. The pandemic has almost entirely eliminated my use of the car. I now use it to drive to the library since it is a 20 minute car ride away. There I can pick up books for the week which I have requested and which they bring out to the car. I mostly am home. I get my exercise in my “gym” (in the basement) which has been operating for five months now!

    1. Thanks for commenting – it truly is. It extends my exploration range. It goes fast enough to zoom through the boring parts and then can slow down so as not to miss interesting things.

  3. Well DONE sir! You’re a great inspiration to all of us here. Its been 3 months since I put my wheels on the road. Re-started my routine rides 3 days back. And you know what? I’m an amateur bike rider and the maximum I’ve ever hit is 100 Km.

    1. Thanks! That’s excellent – all the best for resuming riding. As the monsoon ends I bet the cycling weather is improving a lot. It was lovely cycling there back in December!

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