On Thursday night the sky was clear, the moon was full and the mosquitoes were swarming. A perfect night for a midnight bike ride. Well, almost perfect. I took my 46 year old CCM bike, my 20 year old thrift store tripod and my 5 year old 6MP digital camera. Of those three items the camera is the most obsolete. I also brought mosquito repellant. Did I mention the mosquitoes?
I struck out along the vacant residential streets towards a local park that is my favourite for taking photos. It sits atop a high bluff overlooking the river valley and the skyline of downtown Edmonton. Riding the CCM at night is a lot of fun, silent and smooth, with the faint ticking of the SA hub when coasting. The bike has a hub generator and lights but as I’ve never taken the time to get them working I was limited to my helmet lights. I played the beam from my headlamp over the rows of quiet upscale houses fronting on the river valley as I glided past.
The street reaches a dead-end at the park entrance. I hoisted my bike over the shin-level rusty chain, catching a pedal as I did so, and cringing a little at the noise it made. There are a couple of orange street lights near the entrance casting dingy pools of light. I headed past them to the deeper, darker end of the park.
I stopped near a bench alongside the the edge of the bluff. The moonlight shone brightly over the river casting stark shadows into the field behind me. Looking over the edge I could see the path of moonlight illuminating the flowing river far below and I stood for moment in silent appreciation. Then the mosquitoes engulfed me. Gahhh!
I rapidly applied some mosquito repellant and got to work. I have no knowledge of photography and my point-and-shoot camera reflects that. It has a couple of night-time preset modes that I thought might be useful. After a few quick test shots I settled on using the Fireworks mode. It has a longish exposure but didn’t make the resulting pictures look like daylight. A few other technical problems immediately presented themselves. The screen on my camera didn’t show any detail in the dark and I couldn’t tell if I was framing the shots correctly. Holding my helmet in my hand I used it to illuminate the bike enough that I could see an image on the camera screen. Each time I did this I also illuminated the teeming hordes of mosquitoes around me. That was a little scary. Pressing on with the photoshoot, I took some photos just by moonlight and some by the light of my headlamp. Occasionally I ran about ten feet way from the camera to provide a more diffuse light.
When I was finally done and was packing away the tripod, two cyclists with their lights ablaze with rolled past on the riverside trail hundreds of feet below me. Yes, it was a nice night for riding and time to be on my way.
Over the next couple of days I played with my rather limited software (appropriate to my rather limited camera) resulting in a handful of what I think are decent photos. Some of them look more like dusk than midnight but I like them anyway. It almost makes me want to get a decent camera and learn to use it.
Great pics!!! Fireworks mode, eh? That’s definitely worth a try!
When I was a kid growing up in Calgary my bike was a CCM Continental. That was a great bike, but it was heavy. It was, as you noted, best suited for leisurely rides. One winter it was stolen. It was found when the snow melted in the spring. I miss that bike. Spending the winter in the snow was s sad way for it to be treated, I wonder where it is now.
I moved to California in the 80s, when I was transferred to San Diego by The Brick.
I thought of my CCM Continental this evening when the NBC national news had a feature story on 60s Schwann bikes with banana seats.