Yesterday there was an alert for strong solar activity and last night I saw the northern lights from my balcony in the city so I decided I would grab my bike and have a ride up to the top of the hill outside the city so that there was no light and no people and just for a bit of an adventure!
My bike light was completely out of battery so I charged it for about 30mins before I went out but the connection to charge it is a bit dodgy so I had no idea if it was charging or not and couldnt wait any longer so just went out, it had some charge at least. I went to the viewpoint up above my house where you can see the whole city but there was like 10 people there and the bright streetlights meant you could hardly see much anyway. I decided I would try and go up to Geitfjellet which has an open rocky flat top and you can see for miles in ever direction. Off I went with no lights on and just trying to get my eyes used to the darkness so I could ride without a light and I would try and save my light for the way back down it kind of worked but it was really difficult and as soon as I went into any trees I had to put some light on as it was too dark.
I cycled up out of the city and along the fire road for a bit where I didn’t need the light then headed up a path which I knew would take me up to the top of the hill the quickest, again I tried not to use my light and it was actually better when there was snow because the while reflected more light and you could see the ground. I tried to take a shortcut on my way up, but that was a bit of a bad idea since it was dark and I didn’t really know the way, that was quite strange, just trudging through the trees on no path at all, through the snow, in the complete darkness not really knowing where I was just in roughly which direction the path I needed to be was in. In the end I got a bit disorientated and ended up back on the path I was trying to cut out with my shortcut (I was might pleased with myself for recognising this tiny bit of path I had done only once a few weeks ago in the pitch black and that I knew where I was again).
In the end I got my phone out and used the light on that as the light for going up hill, it was much quicker going being able to ride up the hill but it meant that I had to kind of hold the phone against the bars in my left (so I couldn’t use the brake with that hand) and only have the right hand (front brake) in use. Yeh, riding on ice with only the front brake isn’t the greatest idea.
I got to the top and even though the lights were not that strong it was in every direction, I must have spent half an hour there just watching everything, the view down over the whole city with the green lights above was pretty amazing and in the other direction it was dancing around behind the trees on the horizon. I got a pretty cool photo of the green illuminating the sign at the top of that hill. That was a pretty surreal experience just lying on my belly on some rocks at the top of a hill, in the pitch black, on my own, watching the whole city and the northern lights.
I only left because I started to get quite cold, I only had my thermal and my windproof jacket on (lots of hats, gloves and scarves too though) so I rode down to another point called Vattakammen, which is where you can see the city all along the coast and out over the Fjord. Riding there was crazy fun, I was riding along under the northern lights, it was so hard not to look up every 5 seconds but if I did I lost control straight away! I did the same again, used my phone in one hand and only the front brake, this time it was flat/downhill so I was going a little faster and again only with a front brake on ice is very interesting!
I got to the other viewpoint and the lights were much stronger now, there was a huge curtain following the whole coastline it felt like, it was much more sheltered here so I felt ok just sitting there on the rocks watching everything. I had to just laugh to myself at how amazing this was, what I was seeing! See the photos to see how strong it was, I am not really sure if I can write what it looks like to see it properly. I spent maybe another hour here watching it.
When I left I tried to turn my phone light on to ride down, however with the battery at only 5% it wouldn’t let me use it! So it was time for my headlight, I started riding and it was much weaker than my phone light so I had to go pretty slow, I got maybe 100-200m down the track and it ran out! NO light, nothing, bollocks. At first I thought it was ok as I could see the trail, since it was snowy, and I could even ride but as soon as there were parts without any snow I couldn’t see the ground and worse, when I went into the woods. It was so dense I could see absolutely nothing, not even 2m in front of me, there was no moonlight as it was crescent moon and the trees were blocking any light from the city, I had to literally walk along, bent over to try and see the ground, at some point I couldn’t even see where the trail went ahead, I was just walking into the darkness, the only way I knew which direction to go was from remembering the trail from previous times I had done it. After quite a while I arrived at a much more open fire road which I knew if I followed would take me to a street with street lights. I followed this and arrived at the street, not without a few scary moments on the way, this track was still completely covered in ice so I almost went down a few times!
I cycled down the road towards home and after about 1km I realised the whole sky was green, in every direction and again the lights were strong, it was quite incredible to see them shining above peoples houses and above the cityscape and then right above me. When you are able to stand directly under it it is quite a feeling, it is like there are a thousand giant sharp needles falling towards you constantly that move across the sky and flicker back and forward at a such a speed, far to fast for an object that big, when you are used to clouds moving so slowly. It stood there with my mouth wide open staring at it in the middle of the street for 10 minutes or more and eventually just put my bike down and lay on my back on the pavement, what the heck there was nobody around at midnight.
I cycled on as I thought it was getting weaker but every time you moved a few hundred metres it seemed like it was completely different again, I stopped and sat on the pavement for another 10mins further down. I finally decided it was time to go home otherwise I could be there all night and it was almost 12:30 by now.
Now! the most INCREDIBLE part! cycling down the road to get to that viewpoint above my house I was just cycling along slowly kind of looking in all directions to see what was going on when suddenly I saw a meteor flash through the sky, A FUCKING METEOR!!!! I saw a meteor fall and burn up through the atmosphere!!! I mean what the hell, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I was unsure if that is what it was for a while since I was so shocked. It was just a huge white streak through the sky for maybe a second or something, falling almost vertically towards the earth, I don’t know how far away it was but it was away to the East of the city. A meteor! I saw a meteor fall from the sky!!!
I got to the viewpoint and there was a woman there taking photos, I stopped and said how long have you been here? She said all night as she was a photographer and had been taking photos of the lights over the city! I asked here did you see the meteor or was it just my eyes being funny and we both got really excited and she said yes! It was crazy, I got a photo of it! How lucky is that?! She got a photo of it! She said she would send me it and I gave her my email, so if she sends it i’ll send it on to you.
What an incredible night, the lights, the being on top of the mountain in the darkness on my own, the city view, the biking in the ice with my phone light, the complete pitch black and the meteor!
Oh and if I was scared of the dark before then I certainly am not now!
Update: I was sent the photo of the meteor finally!