Darkmoor was an annual all-night bike ride that I used to organise. It never really took off, so I stopped it. After all, there’s no point continuing a ride that attracted exactly 2 riders the last time it ran.
Darkmoor was an all-night ride that crossed Dartmoor – the last wilderness in England. The name is descriptive: a ride through the dark, over the moor.
The ride had many advantages over all other similar rides in the UK: it’s circular, so you end up at the same point where you started. All other such routes are linear, meaning you have a logistics challenge for getting back, after finishing the ride.
Additionally, Plymouth (where the ride starts and ends) has fairly decent transport connections, making getting there, and back home again, a bit easier.
Not done yet
However, I’m not ready to let Darkmoor simply fade away. I’ve been mulling it over, and decided to bring it back, albeit in a slightly changed format.
For starters, Darkmoor won’t be an annual even anymore. Instead, it will take place every four years, probably beginning in 2024.
The route, which was exactly 100 miles (161km) will be changed, to become at least 200km long. There’s a valid reason for that: Audax events are set around certain distances, always measured in kilometres. There are 100km, 150km, 200km, 300km, and more (Paris-Brest-Paris is over 1 200km).
As you probably gathered, I will be turning Darkmoor into an official Audax ride. Audax is long-distance cycling, but they’re supposedly non-competitive events. Audax riders (audaxers) like to joke that audax events are races that try very hard to pretend not to be a race, while sportives aren’t races, but try very hard to pretend to be a race.
Audax rides have rules, and that includes a minimum and maximum speed. It’s extremely unlikely that anyone will hit the maximum average speed over the terrain of the route, but stranger things have happened.
Not everyone wants to, or is able to cycle 200km. Because of this, Darkmoor will also offer a shorter route option of 150km, which will mostly follow the route from the last time Darkmoor was organised.
Why ride through the night?
Why not? There’s something magical about crossing the high moor in your personal bubble of light. Even better, the very first time I organised Darkmoor, I cycled perhaps 5 miles with my bike’s headlight turned off, riding by the clear, bright light of the full moon overhead. It was an amazing experience.
Of course, I need to qualify that: I was cycling at 02h30 along a rural road that doesn’t get much traffic at any time of day, and none at all at that time of night. Additionally, if there were any cars, you could see their headlights from very far away, and my tail light remained switched on.
Darkmoor costs money to organise, and Audax rides often include a light meal. That means I have to buy supplies, make sandwiches and more, run a few gas stoves for hot drinks, and quite possible hire a village hall somewhere to use for a control.
As is usually the case with Audaxes, I’ll have to charge an entry fee, but nothing like the rip-off prices sportives tend to charge. After all, I’ll simply try to cover my costs, and I expect entry fees will end up being between £5 and £10.