To celebrate the launch of one of our favourite garments in Vulpine’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collection, the reflective Nightfall Jacket, we gathered a group of fellow cyclists & friends to explore the city by night.
Our motley group, all keen to test out our counter-offering to cheap plasticky neon, was made up of James from CycleLove, talented photographer Alexander Rhind (responsible for the fantastic images of our latest launches), teacher/Vulpine model Rich, newlyweds James and Katie, plus expert frame-builder Caren Hartley and her rather dapper friend Shibb (who successfully managed to pull off pairing the Mandarin Nightfall Jacket with his tweed waistcoat). Plus of course, Vulpine’s founder Nick, and myself, Vulpine’s designer Eloise.
We met at Look Mum No Hands as dusk fell, and handed out jackets for all, to paint the town navy, orange & flashes of reflective silver. We hopped on the bikes, and began to wiggle our way through the city to the river. Our Nightfall army flowed along cycle superhighway west along the embankment, before wiggling up towards Trafalgar Square and up into Covent Garden. I’ve always enjoyed cycling through London in the night, much more than during the day. Somehow, with the light, the chaotic traffic fades a little too, and I feel calmer, riding through the darkened streets. Plus, the bridges and lights along the river just look picture perfect at night.
We stopped in Soho for a pub pit-stop, before filling our backpacks & musettes with burgers and then heading for a darkened St. James Park to enjoy them with a view of the Queen’s own abode. With no lights other than our bike torches and the reflections from the water, the park was somehow serenely quiet, despite the surrounding city. It really is incredible how the noise of the traffic and the people and the sirens fade away in this calm pocket, to leave only the sound of the trees rustling and the water lapping. Plus, the whirring of wheels and banter of nine hungry cyclists when we showed up!
Ending our ride, we wiggled through the peaceful streets of Pimlico and into Chelsea. I’m a firm believer that the best way to explore a new place is by riding, but all too often in the cities we live in, we get trapped into following the same routes – commuting the same way twice a day, month after month, year after year. Even just taking a parallel road to the one you normally go down can lead to a new discovery – a quiet bench, a tasty cafe or just seeing that same old view from a slightly different perspective, and actually noticing it for a change. We worked our way through the small back streets and did just this – exploring a familiar place by taking the paths less travelled, that the rush of the commute would normally have us avoid. With virtually no other traffic around, we happily chatted and pedaled our way, admiring the picturesque houses, over the twinkling Albert Bridge, to our finishing point: The Prince Albert Pub on the corner of Battersea Park.
Like exploring the quiet streets and meandering with no set route, riding at night brings a new perspective to the city we live in. Coming to London from a place with a lot more green and a lot more space, I do often get fed up with the crowds and the fumes and the goddamn insane rush that everyone seems to be in. But riding at night has a sense of calm: with less traffic and less hustle, you can slide through the streets and drink in the twinkling lights and the inky watercolour versions of the roads and monuments, the bridges and the river. Bliss. Stillness in a place that can be so frantic. And if you do it with a bunch of like-minded friends, and all wear the same jacket (yes, we know we looked a little ridiculous rocking up to the pub in our matching outfits), then it’s also a lot of fun.