Dawn Patrol: a ride taking place during the pre-dawn and dawn hours.
There is no question that dawn is a special time of day. Most of the world is still asleep, the outdoors are thus calm, undisturbed by cars, or others recreating. You have full rein of the roads, trails, and the world. It all becomes a playground built just for you. The peace and stillness of these magical hours cannot be overrated or inflated. They are perfect. It is in this setting, that Dawn Patrollers revel.
Now, it is not easy getting up early enough to enjoy a DP ride. However, I will admit, that not once have I regretted it, after the fact. Sure, I’ve lost countless hours of sleep from partaking in DP rides, but oh how it’s been made up for by watching gorgeous sunrises.
Recently, I hopped into a local DP ride with some friends. This one was a bit different though. See, it has been a warm winter on the east coast so far. As in, only below 35 degrees a handful of times, warm. So when the forecast showed 15 degrees before windchill, DP sounded a lot less interesting. Then the hype started.
Epic rides or conditions always get people excited. It’s some sort of weird “can we survive this!?” mentality that get’s folks fired up. So the forecast was basically bleak. Windy and cold. People were stoked.
Emails started flying and before I knew what was happening, I got sucked in, and was even kind of excited myself.
Group rides are always more fun. Mountain bike group rides are even better, and NIGHT time mountain bike rides might be the most fun type of riding you can do. So that started balancing out the bitterly cold (and early) conditions of this to-be DP ride.
Gearing is always tricky when it’s that cold. More on that HERE.
But when it’s that cold, you just wear everything. I had a thick ls base layer, thermal vest, thermal jacket balaclava, neck gaiter, hat, bibs, and bib tights on. I added Defroster boots with chemical warmers and medium weight gloves inside my Cobrafists and I was actually “comfortable.” Albeit relatively marshmellowed.
The ride ended up being a total blast. 11 of us bundled up, riding the dirt-turned-concrete from the deep freeze. Nothing quite like a good Dawn Patrol even in the horrendously cold temps. The sunrise was made even more glorious through the crystal clear winter skies. As those who do them will tell you, it’s worth it. Get some folks out, try one sometime and enjoy the magic hours. You won’t regret it.