Your first ride
First timers: How to really, really enjoy The Friday Night Ride
Every one of many dozens of riders on The Friday Night Ride will have a different experience. Here are some simple tips on how to make sure you have a good time. We take pride in ensuring you enjoy it and come back for more. It’s what we do.
Before you ask..... we don't provide a GPX of the route for a number of reasons, but mostly because it can change on the night due to road/weather conditions and overall progress. Just trust our splendid ride leaders and way marking system and you won't get lost.
To begin at the beginning:
Get to the start point in good time so you’re relaxed when the ride begins. (You’ll have already checked your tyres and read The Basics.) For London starts we normally meet at the British Film Institute on the South Bank
Pack an extra layer of clothing - we always say this and there’s always someone who doesn’t. It’s cooler than you expect at 5am.
Listen to the briefing. The ride leader is not doing it for the good of their health. You need to know this stuff. Get close. Pay attention.
During the ride:
You may be asked to be a Waymarker - that is, the person who stands at a junction and points the way for riders following. If it’s your first ride you’re unlikely to be a Waymarker, but it might happen. This is an easy job and nothing to worry about. Many Fridays enjoy waymarking: you get a rest from being in the saddle, get to see the whole ride and then have a chance to sprint, if you want to, to the front of the ride. Or just catch up with some mates and ride alongside, chatting. The leader will explain where you need to be so riders can see you in good time for the turn. It’s best if you are wearing some reflectives on your kit: some like to sport the All Black (i.e. invisible) look for night riding: but there’s a reason why the Indian Pacific Wheel Race has a long series of rules about lights and retroreflective tape on bikes and clothing. When waymarking, riders need to be able to see you in an unlit corner.
While waymarking you’ll often be greeted by friends or waved at. But you should stay in position until the 'All Upper' comes past and utters the magic words: ALL UP! Do not mistake friendly greetings or waves or half-heard mutterings as the sign you’re released. The All Upper will be introduced to everyone as part of the safety briefing. This is so you can remember and recognise them. If you desert your post before the All Upper arrives it is an absolute certainty the rest of the ride will go off route, in an area with poor or zero mobile reception. This is a pain. Not least you because you’ll then have to wait - with everyone else - while we try to track them down and re-group. Wait for the All Upper. Wait for the clear and unambiguous shout: ALL UP!
Fettling: try to fix things at regroups. Take jackets off, put jackets on at regroups. Replace failing batteries in your lights at regroups. Drink from your waterbottles. That’s what regroups are for.
Bask in the glow of your achievement. Many think we do these rides for the cycling. In truth, it’s the adventure.