#509 Riding your bike really late at night when the streets are completely empty

Now’s your time.

As the sun dips down and the twilight fades to darkness there’s nothing sweeter than wheeling your bike out of the garage for a late summer night cruise. Those freewheeling adventures are great for a few reasons:

• The sound of silence. Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to ride with you again. Yes, blaring horns, squealing brakes, and revving engines are all turned down and you’re left alone in the shadows with the wind whispering in your ears.

• Danger, Will Robinson. There’s a sense of reckless cool cruising down those lonely black roads. You can swerve your bike in all directions, hop off the curbs, and be a two-wheeled free spirit.

• Street King. Houselights flick off and raccoons paw trash cans as you rule your Neighborhood Empire as the newly crowned Street King. Puff your chest and scream ‘This is my land!’ at any passing motorists. Just keep the crown under your helmet for safety.

Yes, riding your bike late at night lets you be alone with your thoughts and your dreams and your fears all rolling around your brain as you roll around the block. Chatty parents, buzzing phones, and little brothers are all left behind as you stare forward into the black and ride on and on and on…


Join the awesome movement tomorrow in Toronto.

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86 thoughts on “#509 Riding your bike really late at night when the streets are completely empty

  1. Late-night bike rides are something I haven’t participated in since my freshman year of college. Riding on campus during the day is stressful and dangerous, as pedestrians walk everywhere with total disregard to the designated bike path. We would bust out our bikes at night when no one was out and totally own campus. Samesies for rollerblades. :D

    The Sound of Silence is one of my favorite songs.

  2. I think walks can be just as enjoyable, although a little more dangerous. Feeling like the world around you is there for you and you alone in the mystery of the dark is exciting.

  3. Yes! Definitely one of the best feelings in the world. (And biking late at night with friends is pretty awesome too.)

  4. I live for this.

    Well, lived, unfortunately. Owning a car, forgetting my bike, and disliking my neighborhood kind of led me away from riding my bike too much anymore…but boy, those nights. Those nights were something else. That cool cool breeze on my face as I heard nothing but the soft rotation of the chains and the hum of electric boxes in front of suburbian houses.

    I used one of these nights to meet up with a random girl with whom I went to grade school. Rode to her house at midnight, talked for a few hours about nothing and everything, rode back at about four.

    I hadn’t talked to her prior to that night, and I haven’t talked to her since. It was an interesting experience, as we both felt that this is how things would end up. Nothing more than that brief, but interesting, talk.


  5. tandem biking with a buddy at night! so fun! it’s just so peaceful and you feel so silly with your friend, it’s like your a kid again. but biking in general is an awesome thing, for some reason i find when i bike i am truly alive. as corney as that sounds its true ;p

  6. Awesome, and surreal.
    May I also point out that the cool air and the cleaner smells are key? They are key.

  7. I miss doing that. I remember as a kid riding and not worrying about cars or anything and the dark just makes it more fun. I remember one time, I went a little further than I was allowed and a bat flew into my hair. Scared me!
    Now I can’t find a time when there aren’t any cars around on our road. Its hard to take my daughter out riding on our road.

    1. Ha ha Bekah, re: the bat in your hair! And you probably couldn’t tell your folks about it because you were disobeying! Bet you didn’t go past your “allowed” boundary for a while after that!

    2. Unrelated, but I felt like I should tell you, Bekah: my best friend actually called me ON MY BIRTHDAY yesterday … She must have gotten the “best friend birthday fail” message. ;) hahaha

      1. I was going to ask you Friday if your Bday was coming up soon, I knew it was in May.

        Your friend just scored some major points! I have a little over a month to see if my bff remembers. :-)

  8. I absolutely love doing this.
    Biking at night is kinda scary, but then again, we all need to be a little bit scared once in a while.

  9. That’s gonna be the first thing I’ll do when the spring/summer finally decides to stay! I really do miss that “queen of the road”- feeling while riding my beloved bike in wiggly lines at 2 a.m. in the morning…

    Seriously: why does it took me so long to discover this AWESOME blog? I didn’t know I was searching for something like that until I found it (via taking a look at the winners of this year’s Webby Awards early in the morning).

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for appreciating special moment and sharing them with all of us. Now discussions with my friends about things like “the smell of the air after a warm summer rain” will never end.

    Keep up the awesome work &
    Greetings from Erfurt, Germany

  10. I love this! Also in the morning, when the sun rises and the city slowly awakens. Makes going to uni at early hours a lot more pleasurable, especially with some “good mood tunes”.

  11. When I was a teenager, I’d often ride my bike to my babysitting gigs. Sometimes the ride home would be pretty late at night. The biggest hazaard on the road might be a skunk crossing the street (remember kids: skunks ALWAYS have the right-of-way).

    One of the best parts is silently slicing through the warm summer night air. Travel time is way down, because stop signs are for the daytime.

    1. I literally laughed aloud at the skunk remark. You are so right. (About the stop signs, too!)

      I often rode my bike to babysit as well, even after I got my license and could have driven. I loved riding home at night.

  12. Re: the book launch tomorrow. I walked by that Indigo store the night of a Harry Potter midnight release and many of the people were in costume.

    Working on my dangerous playground equipment costume now.

        1. I was about to concede that Bekah came up with the grossest “awesome thing” costume, but I’d like to submit #903 into the competition.

          1. LOL, the geektween wanted to “wear sandles when you’re not supposed to” but I said no because it was raining, and we were taking the subway.

            1. Ha! I love it – geektween is hilarious. I also love the great motherly excuses for not wearing sandles – “we were taking the subway”! Hilarious!

              Plus, there is a bit of irony to wanting to wear sandles “when you’re not supposed to”, but being told you can’t because the weather/venue aren’t really condusive to it.

              Is geektween only allowed to wear her sanles “when she’s not supposed to” when its sunny and she’s going to the beach? But then, that’s exactly when she’s supposed to wear her… *BOOOM*

              /head explodes from overthinking.

              1. Ha! Believe me, the irony was not lost on her, and she tried that argument! But was felled with my classic, “I-said-no-what-part-of-that-don’t-you-understand” look.

                Keep in mind the “sandals” she wanted to wear were plastic orange flip-flops, and would probably have been gobbled up by the first escalator we came to.

  13. Late night bike rides were and always will be a fond memory for me and a few childhood friends. We used to “camp out” in someones back yard, wait until about 2 am and then take off on our bikes. We would leave the neighborhood and be gone for hours, riding down the busy streets that were always littered with cars during the day. But at night they were all ours. Granted this was 18 years ago, and even then few times the cops did roll up and talk to us, they would just say becareful and go about their business. Hell we didn’t even wear helmets back then. I really hope my kids don’t find out about our “night rides” as we called them.

    1. I never wore a helmet when I biked or rollerbladed or anything either. No one I knew did. We led risky lives :)

  14. I am training for a triathlon, and so all of my bike rides usually have a point–speed or endurance. Thanks for reminding me that they can also be a lot of fun and for no reason at all. I think I’ll pull my trusty pink beach cruiser out tonight for a late night spin. Awesome.

  15. Awwwww, I just bought a bike last weekend and last Thursday I rode it to my workout and then to the grocery store for dinner and then to meet some friends. Riding home that night I felt like a kid. The streets were empty. I was alone with my mischievous mind and child-like wonder for everything I passed. I felt alive! Thanks for the post. It really summed up how amazing the night ride can be.

  16. I feel just like this when I go running late at night! The best was last week when I streaked the last lap of a track workout because I was COMPLETELY alone. It was awesome!

  17. I’ve tried explaining how I feel at night when I’m coasting down my street for the final stretch home after work. It’s dark, the wind is cool and I feel like I could ride like that forever. Someone has finally done it for me. 1000 Awesome Things, I ♥ you!

  18. I used to work an overnight shift on the weekends and got off work at 6am. I loved the drive home on Sunday mornings the best. No one was up for work, no one was up for church or weekend fun yet. The whole world was mine.

  19. Biking late at night, with the wind in your face, singing at the top of your lungs. A little antisocial I guess but if you’re going fast enough you’re long gone by the time people come out to complain :)

  20. Hi.
    You’re in Toronto, so I will share with you the best night-time-bike-road route.

    Start after 11 pm, preferably on a weekday night, down at Queen and Bathurst. Speed past the clubs and restaurants just closing for the night.
    Continue until you reach University and swing north, circling Queen’s Park and past the ROM.
    Turn east on Bloor and enjoy one of Toronto’s craziest streets all to yourself, with the exception of a couple waiting taxis. (Warning: construction may plague this area. I find it adds to the danger of night biking.)
    Continue along, pass Castle Frank subway and sail across the Bloor Viaduct. This is truly my favourite part of the trip.
    Once you make it across, you have two options. Continue along the Danforth, which stays busy, or turn left and then right to tour pass the lovely, old, homes.

    It’s a great mix of downtown and beautiful homes, takes about 45 minutes to an hour. This was my route home from work and thoroughly enjoyable after working on a computer.


  21. When used to live in Boston and get stuck at the office late at night, I used to power my bike home from Copley Square to my apartment in Harvard Square in what felt like 90 seconds. No cars, no people, just totally wholesome and exhilarating tension relief. Best part of the day.

  22. omg, this is one of my favourite things to do! especially in the summer when it’s been blisteringly hot all day, then it’s nice n’ cool at night… empty streets, cool wind in your face, and no where in particular to be <3

  23. I havent done this in about ten years but it was one of my favorite things to do. I grew up in Yellowknife, NWT, and when I would go out biking after the bars would close in the summer, the sun would still be out at about 3am and the streets would be deserted and completely quiet. Loved it!

  24. Just went for a late night bike ride. With a crate full of Thanksgiving leftovers in a crate strapped to the back. Yay for me for not crashing with it, and yay for the cool breeze and empty streets.

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