Beautiful Godzilla: Night Riders

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Illustration: Ryan Perkins

As the weather warms up—Ok, who are we kidding, it never really got cold—my favorite kind of bicycle rides, night rides, become more comfortable and, thus, more frequent. Riding a bike at night is awesome for various reasons: There’s less traffic, the inversion clears out in the winter and it’s cooler in the summer. The number one reason? A lot of fucked up shit goes down with the sun, and your bicycle’s the best saddle in the house to see it all.

I’m usually too wrapped up in This Will Destroy You’s epic soundscapes to take in the night scenery, so aside from the normal outpouring of bums and delinquents, I haven’t witnessed anything notable. However, I’ve got a couple of friends with great stories.

My friend, “Dyl,” was an impressionable young seventh grader who loved to ride his bicycle in the wee hours of the night. He would duct tape his Walkman to the front of his handlebars and cruise around the lake near his house, rocking out to Blink-182 (don’t worry, he’s since moved up to an iPod and Third Eye Blind). One night, as he was passing a picnic area near the shore, he saw something through the trees that he had only ever seen on-screen: a couple of teenagers having sex. Not that hurried, hug-real-close-just-in-case-someone-sees-us kind of public sex––this was full-on, I’m-gonna-fuck-the-shit-out-of-you-on-this-picnic-table-for-god-and-all-to-see type sex. Dyl was so taken aback, he actually climbed off his bike and slowly walked it past them so as not to disturb the scene. Don’t worry, he’s not a perv or anything ‘cause of it, but I imagine he’s probably a little apprehensive about picnic tables now.

My sister, Carla, told me another good one. Riding up the always-classy 200 South one night, she saw a bum riding his bike up the sidewalk (a legitimate bum, not me in my winter cycling gear). He got in the way of a pedestrian bum, they exchanged some snaggle-toothed words, after which the pedestrian grabbed a brick from the ground and started chasing after the cyclist. Of course, Carla booked it out of there so as not to get bricked, so she doesn’t know how that story ends, but it’s definitely a good reason to keep your bike off the sidewalk if I ever heard one.

SLUG’s Managing Editor, Jeanette Moses, is another frequent night rider. Though I’m sure she’s seen her fair share of crazy nighttime action, she had a great story about the weird things other people out on the road might be witnessing from cyclists after sundown. See, Jeanette, like many of us urban cyclists, utilizes her pedal machine to get home from the bar after hours, so as you might guess, these riders are rather interesting to watch (and watch out for). Biking from Eva to Copper Palate Press with SLUG Junior Editor Alex Ortega, the two thought it would be a good idea to try and ride the bicycle together. This, of course, failed. Instead, they decided to “bike jog” to their destination: Jeanette rode her bicycle at walking speed while Alex jogged along next to her. Since they were neither at the homeless shelter nor in a triathlon, but rather in the middle of downtown SLC, their bike jogging antics made quite the scene. That kind of slapstick comedy only happens at night, ladies and gents.

Whether you’re in it for the meditation, avoiding DUIs or just need some good ol’ entertainment, I highly recommend nighttime bicycle rides.