Cycling to a night out.. what do you do?

fat-tyre In my group of friends, arriving at the pub on a bike is still seen as a novelty thing. Usually, when I sit down, I pull out my rear light from my back pocket and place it on the table. Much in the fashion I imagine a cowboy would draw his gun out of his holster and put it on the table so he can sit comfortably. This instantly draws awe’s of surprise. “You cycled here?” “Are you mad?” “Isn’t it dangerous?”

“Yes”, “no, I’m not clinically insane” and “no, it isn’t dangerous”.

What my casual responses don’t reveal, is my ongoing battle with perfecting the art of cycling to a night out.

The three main problems I have come across are: 1. Clubs are not big fans of letting people in dressed head to toe in cycling gear. 2. Where do you keep your bike lock? 3. What do you do if everyone else is getting public transport to the club?

The first one isn’t a big issue for me as I rarely wear any cycling gear. The second one I’ve struggled more with. This is because I have two bike locks. Usually I carry these in a bag but taking a bag to a night out is not ideal. I usually end up attaching the locks to the frame. Again this is not ideal because they keep hitting my frame or my legs as I cycle.

To be a good friend or not?

If you get over these first two hurdles, then you get hit by the third one. The third one is a biggie.

Say you meet up with a friend of yours at their house. If you are like me then you avoid public transport like you avoid charity boxes. Therefore, you cycle over to your friends house. After a few drinks, you then decide to head off to a pub. Your friend needs to take public transport but you would like to hop on your bike.

What do you do?

What you have here is a real test of friendship. Usually I feel bad about being anti-social and leaving a friend on the bus on their own. So I hop on with them. Unfortunately, this means that later on you need to return via their house to pickup your bike. This is less of a problem with a bigger group of friends but you still have the same pressure to just jump on the bus.

I would be very interested to hear what everyone else does with this dilemma…

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38 Responses to Cycling to a night out.. what do you do?

  1. BDB 20/04/2010 at 1:03 pm #

    You never heard of a backie, chum?

    • mark 19/05/2010 at 10:53 am #

      a backie ah yes i remember those! you would need to be good friends with the person for that though 😉

  2. Aggy 20/04/2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Or a croggie as we call it here in Yorkshire. Either way, it’s the ideal solution!

  3. Craig 20/04/2010 at 1:12 pm #

    If i am having a night out at friends or a quiet area of town I will ride, the weather is usually good enough that rain isnt a huge problem. Most of my friends tend to ride bikes so its not such a huge shock to them when I turn up on my bike.

    Locking your bike up can be nerve racking but I also find if you ask most restaurants etc will let you place it out back and then its not such a worry, love the blog keep it up

  4. JuanDD 20/04/2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Just carry two of these installed in your seatpost and at least the issue with the locks get solved.

    • Andreas 20/04/2010 at 4:00 pm #

      Very cool, not seen that product before! Tend to attach it around the mud guard anyway

  5. dutch_shortcake 20/04/2010 at 1:12 pm #

    achteropje – in Dutch.

  6. Will 20/04/2010 at 1:28 pm #

    I try and bike to pub / bars it means you don’t get stung by a harsh taxi fare if you miss the last tube. I always take a bag though, there’s always a few things I need, and I hate riding with stuff in my pockets. Most clubs have coat rooms, so you can just chuck it in there, and if you’re in a pub, just put it with the ladies handbags!

    The main problem I have with riding to the pub, is on the odd occassion I have too many drinks to ride, having to leave my bike overnight, always a worry in some parts of town.

    @juanDD I haven’t seen those before, they look like a great idea. anyone know if there are stockists in the UK?

  7. Griff 20/04/2010 at 1:35 pm #

    Makes a solid case for bike racks on the front of buses as they have in the US in some quarters. Otherwise, arrange to meet at the pub with a bunch of likeminded chums.

  8. Jonny Stutters 20/04/2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Frankly, I don’t think anyone should be riding around over the legal alcohol limit for driving. If we as cyclists want to be treated as equal users on the roads to cars then we need to grow the hell up and accept the responsibilities as well as the rights. To answer the question, I’d get off my high-horse and take public transport rather than leave a mate in the lurch.

  9. Greg Collins 20/04/2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Get a tandem 😉

  10. Craig 20/04/2010 at 1:50 pm #

    @johnny Stutters

    I am totally with you on that front, I feel that riding to a night out is a great way to get to places and keep the costs down, avoid traffic and just feel good about a night out.

    It all starts to go wrong when you add alcohol to any activity, be it driving, riding or anything were you can have an impact on other people’s lives.

    If we want to be respected on the road as cyclists we must behave appropriately.


  11. Treadly and Me 20/04/2010 at 1:51 pm #

    In Australia it’s “dink” (rather unfortunately, given some of the alternative uses of the term) or “double” (also a bit unfortunate, now that I come to think of it).

    • Andreas 20/04/2010 at 4:04 pm #

      Love the confusing Aussie terms, dogging means something completely different too if I remember right?

  12. Roaders 20/04/2010 at 1:57 pm #

    What about the fact that you don’t want to cycle home pissed?

  13. Andreas 20/04/2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Haha, I knew everyone would assume I was getting drunk! I just said going out for a few drinks.. could be just a couple of coca colas?!

  14. BJ 20/04/2010 at 4:01 pm #

    After a couple of pints you find you get there, ahem, quicker.

  15. Cafewanda 20/04/2010 at 10:48 pm #

    Meeting friends for a few drinks is grounds for owning a Brompton surely? You can take it into the pub or club and leave it in the cloakroom.

  16. Filippo Negroni 21/04/2010 at 1:15 pm #

    I must agree, unless the town you live in is cycle friendly and/or there are a number of cyclists about at all hours day/night, or even better has a cycle-hire scheme in place, then folding bikes are the answer to most (but not all) problems.

    As for locks, I usually carry D locks on the handlebar, resting over the brake cables.
    Otherwise, when I have a rack without bags, I just lock them across the rack.
    I carry one D-lock with two cable extensions: D-lock locks frame to post, extensions lock front and rear wheel to lock, and sometimes have an extra minimalistic cable lock to lock saddle as well, since even on my cheapest bike I still fit a rather expensive saddle.

  17. Filippo Negroni 21/04/2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Forgot to mention some people still try to make me feel bad by suggesting I might not find my bike where I parked it… or suggest I will get run over by a drunk driver on the way home… some even dare to mention helmets!

  18. Tim 21/04/2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Thought this was going to be about riding a bike and drinking alcohol. Being of an older generation I know of a number of my peers who would happily cycle home from a pub at night worse for wear, though they would never drive a car in the same condition. I guess in London it is different as the consequential effect of you drunkenly lurching across the road could be devastating to other road users. My favourite combination transport on holiday, is narrow boat with the bike on top for rides and mooring next to a canal side pub for the night!!!

  19. Heather 22/04/2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Am I the first female cyclist to respond? Maybe. well, I cycle everywhere – that includes 99% of all night time social events. I’ve even cycled in heels and sadly, in the rain. My friends cycle, too, mostly and those who don’t, know me well enough to just assume that I’ll meet them there. Luckily for us, carrying bicycle paraphernalia is not a problem – I have a bag and a basket.

    Much to my shame, I have on a couple of occasions cycled home when, really, I should have hopped in a cab or taken the night bus. On one particular occasion, it was only when I crashed into my front door did I realise just how heady those 3 glasses of red wine were. Deeply embarrassing event and one I’ve not since repeated.

    The great thing with cycling as that if the night has been a big one, we can always choose to walk.

    • Andreas 22/04/2010 at 9:36 pm #

      I think my friends are coming round to the idea that if I meet them somewhere I will be cycling. Also on your points about “drunk cycling” which is what Tim thought this post was going to be about. Completely agreed. If it turns into a big night then there’s no major harm in walking back bike in hand. Worse case scenario you leave the bike there and pick it up the next day (or as soon as you feel well enough!)

      • Heather 22/04/2010 at 11:18 pm #

        it may even be romantic – under the right circumstances/and or stars…

    • Jen 08/08/2010 at 12:57 pm #

      I too try and cycle to nights out but I always have the issue of helmet hair to contend with. I look a bit shabby next to salon fresh friends when I have helmet hair!

  20. Cafewanda 22/04/2010 at 8:43 pm #

    @ Heather

    Cycling in the rain is not too bad if it’s during Spring/Summer. I quite enjoy it as long as I’ve got a hot shower at the end of it.

    • Heather 22/04/2010 at 11:24 pm #

      Cafewanda – ha, you must be male… You see, I’m deeply vain and so rain always seems like a curse to me, but I do admire your spirit. (Boys are cool.)

  21. Chris 23/04/2010 at 12:11 pm #

    An interesting problem that I’ve had to come up with solutions to myself twice in the past week.

    I’ve cycled to work as normal, then cycled onwards from there (Hammersmith) the 8 miles to Angel in cycling gear with a bag containing locks. On arrival swapped Locks for normal clothes and got on with the night.

    I’ve found that, especially if you’re further from home than you’d normally cycle (ie rather than 6 miles, a 14 mile journey) and you want to go home together with your girlfriend, an off peak tube fare to cover that journey is a price worth paying! You’ve already saved loads of money on peak fares during the day – and for the sake of a £ or two you’ve earned the rest – and the safety of not riding whilst inebriated!

    The main thing you’ve got to watch out for is getting on the Tube with your bike…My closest tube station is Osterley which allows bikes, but I’ve sometimes got an initial cycle to get from pub to a Tube station that will allow me on with my bike – alas Angel is not one of them… – “Taking Bikes on the Tube Map”

    I feel as though I get the best of all worlds – save my money, get enough cycling done during the day and return home safely with my bike ready to use the following morning. Having a bag is annoying for sure, but the cloakroom in a club is as good as anywhere, and if you’re not in a club, just deal with it!

    • Andreas 23/04/2010 at 12:41 pm #

      If you live further out of London then it certainly bumps up the challenge a fair bit of getting to and from a night out on a bike. I guess the ultimate would be to have a Brompton and then fold it up and get the night bus back.

  22. Matt 23/04/2010 at 1:00 pm #

    re: locks – I like the abus side mount USH Bracket, I’ve attached it to the seat post facing into the frame triangle, but can just as well face to the rear

  23. Headhunter 26/04/2010 at 4:24 pm #

    The main problem I find with biking to nights out is that you arrive a bit sweaty… Other than that I have no probs telling someone I’ll meet them there, carrying a bag and I tend not to dress in cycling gear if I’m heading out

  24. Kerry 29/04/2010 at 11:10 pm #

    I assume you have a rear rack on your bike. If not, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Get yourself panniers and you will never want to ride with a sweaty backpack that throws off your balance again.

    But locks, wrap a bunji cord (presumably you have a few of those too, since bunji cords + rack = nothing can’t be carried on a bike) or two around the side of the rack and you can make a sort of holster to slide the lock into. You might have to fiddle a bit to get them just right but you will never have to worry about carrying your lock again after you get it sorted.

  25. Gw 04/05/2010 at 1:17 pm #

    If I’m going out I won’t cycle. If you want to cycle home a little pissed you need to take responsibility for what could happen if you have an accident. Your going to hurt yourself at some point or worse hurt someone else. If the police get involved your screwed. If you get killed you’ll just be know the drunk cyclist that got run over by a truck, never mind the hell your going to put the driver through for life. A friend of mine rode home drunk a lot and he eventually got hit by a bus when he was on 6 pints (he’s ok). Its your choice.

  26. Stephen 24/05/2010 at 11:25 pm #

    I have a Brompton and have cycled to pubs after work, pubs to meet friends, pubs to see gigs. Never had a problem taking it in or keeping it safe. This has been a result of going on a weekday or when I think the pub wont be rammed. Each time i have drunk alcohol and cycled hope safely. In all weathers. I would not recommend this to anyone. It can be dangerous. I have never cycled to a night club and tried to put it in the cloak room. Thats taking the piss.If I go out and dont feel up to riding home I take public transport either whole or part of the way. I would never take on Marble Arch/Hyde Park/Park Lane unless stone cold sober…or Vauxhall Bridge…that place just scares me.

  27. Mina 13/07/2010 at 5:47 pm #

    Here’s a question; how do people deal with arriving somewhere hot and sweaty?! Though I find I feel energised, it’s not the best thing to be that sweaty around more ‘well groomed’ members of society!


  28. Tim 13/07/2010 at 6:38 pm #

    Mina, ride slowly and carry a pack of wet wipes!

  29. Emo 13/07/2010 at 7:17 pm #

    You know, when going for a night out, one shouldn’t be trying to break any land speed records. This could help with the sweatiness issue as well.

    Accidents do happen but the severity can be reduced by GOING SLOW. Obviously you’re gonna be doing better than walking even at 5-10mph. To add to the safety thing, my recommendation is front and rear lights, friends if possible, HELMETS for the worst, and take the townie or the MTB, which should have a rack for the lock(s).

    I see so often people on their fixie/track bikes at night and think it’s such a bad idea for dark riding. I mean, fat tires roll over unseen obstacles better than skinnies.

    Obviously it depends on the context of the night out. If it’s just the pub or a semicasual bar, who cares if you’ve got a backpack or messenger bag? No one who’s worth knowing.

    Overall I definitely prefer to ride than drive even if going for just a couple drinks. The risk of hurting others is nothing on a bike when compared to driving a car. And of course one could walk the bike in risky spots! Getting home safe and slowly is better than not getting home at all.

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