Side two of our double A side come courtesy of The Highwayman. He's been marauding around the streets with The Heavy Metal Cycling Club on their famed Neon Knights ride. We got to know HMCC through their associated charity The Heavy Metal Truants and this year we have been able to produce some very special and limited edition caps to support the charity. See the link at the bottom of the article. Over to The Highwayman.
I'm listening to the band Clutch right now. The crunching sonic output is making me feel frenetic, like I want to be on the move; like I want to roll out into the night. I hit the streets fast with the thumping drums from 'A Shogun Named Marcus' keeping my pedal strokes heavy.
Turning it up to 11
I don't know about you but by Tuesday I'm all ready in need of an unwind from the daily grind.
The nighttime air is like a soothing balm as you glide through the traffic. The city workers have spilled out onto the street, sinking pints just as the sun sinks behind the tall buildings.
So begins the twinkling of an emergent evening on a warm September. Not long now until I turn up at the steps of St.Paul's Cathedral. When I arrive, there are cyclists slumped on the stairs, chewing on sandwiches and looking over their gear. A mixed bag of bikes from gravel to all out-road racers are being lent against. These are the riders of the HMCC, The Heavy Metal Cycling Club.
They are meeting up for their Tuesday night social ride called Neon Knights. Cruising out for a 20km spin somewhere along the compass point. One night could be south, the next could be west. The epicentre always the grand structure of the cathedral.
The halfway mark will invariably be some point of interest; an ancient ship down at the docks, or an inviting pub tucked away up a hill. There you'll have a chance to say hello to more of the crew that you may not have talked to whilst navigating through the inner guts of the the capital. Before long you will back into the centre, where if no libations were consumed previously a few pints and a packet of crisps might be crushed. Here conversations are struck and other rides discussed.
One of those other rides will for sure be The Saturday morning club ride. These are longer than the Tuesday night social, but make no mistake this will not be a ride about packing in the miles, hitting watts or going faster. They are built for pleasure, for good company and the camaraderie that an adventure brings. With ride titles like 'Chain In Blood', 'Spinal Etape', or 'No Beer Till Margate' you can see that their tongues are firmly pressed into their cheeks. You may be riding for miles, but you will also be laughing for miles. There is a destination, along the lines of a doomed church or the mighty Stonehenge, a theme for the ride, but most importantly there is the journey.
The Tunnel Of Love
The Heavy Metal Cycling Club was spawned from the residual energy of the HM Truants which was Formed in 2013. The Truants hatched a plan to ride to the infamous temple of metal that is the Donington Monsters of Rock festival. They hit the tarmac for 175 sweat filled miles and rode to raise funds for a series of children's charities. It was a rollicking success and they have now completed eleven editions. Raising nearly £1.3 mil through the rides and other charity raising ways, 2024 will be their 12th one. The HMCC is a place where the tight bonds formed between riders on this epic charitable quest can carry on through the seasons. Keeping their legs flexed for the upcoming assault on next year's fundraising ride and connect socially.
The club is not exclusive to those who have ridden one of the charity rides but open to all, as long as you follow their number one rule, 'Don't be a Dick!'. You don't have to have clipped pedals, deep rims and be able to dork out on the noise of your hub - just be up for the hang. There may be a kinship around heavier music which runs through this narrative but it is nice to see the roguish individual nature of these riders. Not a set uniform, some perhaps garbed in a dashing HMCC jersey, or flash cap flipped up, but all rocking to the beat of their own drum.
As the night draws in the curtains I make my way home down now much quieter streets, fragments of earlier conversations replay and light me up with a smile. You know, the kind you get from a warm welcome by a tight knit crew.
Trust me this will happen to you too.
The Highwayman - www.thehighwayman.cc
Heavy Metal Cycling Club - https://heavymetalcycling.com/
Heavy Metal Truants - https://heavymetaltruants.com/