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Night Ride Home

Last night’s bike ride was a tad eventful.  I took off late, after a long day. The moonlight was bright, and it was an unusually warm Monterey night. I just couldn’t skip my ride!
This ride is a steep thousand-foot climb uphill, which takes me a hot, sweaty hour or so. Then it’s a five-minute ice-cold flash coming down. I love it.
My night ride home was great, except for the fall I took while flying downhill. I had just checked out from a cell phone visit, letting my “companion” know that I’d have to ignore them briefly due to the rushing wind on the speedy downhill trip. I take along my phone and stay in touch when solo riding at night. And this time I was enjoying the company of a very talented Northern Plains writer who was regaling me with stories as I biked, interspersed with laughter. As usual, I had kept one ear unplugged from my headset and instead open to the sounds of nature all around me—including the possible presence of mountain lions on my path. But that’s all an aside, as my hearing wasn’t the problem anyway, it was my vision.
Until a couple months ago, I’d been an exclusively “I love biking in the pitch black night” rider. (Well, no, not one of those annoying bikers who does this in traffic areas—just on trails and in other no-car zones.) Then, in June, I mentioned to my brother Emil John (Hawkeye’s master, pictured in “Caring for Chickens“) that I’d just tumbled on well-known terrain—well known except for a pothole not noteworthy during daylight hours. Later that week,  EJ surprised me with the gift of a workable headlamp, a type he uses when feeding his horses in the dark.
But a couple nights ago, biking a nearby road, that new headlamp fell onto the pavement and broke. (Drat! The elastic band fitted over my helmet just popped right off. I’d ignored a forewarning to adjust that band a few nights earlier, when my headlamp bonked me on the nose.) So last night I was using a flashlight as a sub for the broken headlamp. It provided only poor visibility though, since I didn’t have the flashlight  mounted, just casually dangling from my handlebar.
I was ignoring the warning of my intuition too, as I headed off to bike in an area where I knew thick tree cover would block the moonlight. And yup, I wish I’d listened.
Got home late but in one piece. Rx: a shower to wash off any poison oak from the fall, a relaxing soak outdoors in the moonlight to prevent muscle soreness, and a call to order a new headlamp.

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Want tips on biking locally at night?  Click here.

 Musician Sarah Factor also has a night riding story to tell. Click here.

Update to the Sept 1, 2009 story above: The headlamp from my brother fixed itself. (Well, actually, I set it on the counter at Joselyn’s Bicycles, and Nick Kintz put his juju on it and got it working for me—to tide me over—bless him!) I procrastinated about buying a better headlamp, until the Nov 1, 2009 change from Daylight Savings Time shortened my hours for biking. Better lighting quickly moved up my spending priority list. And at my request, Frank at Joselyn’s helped me select the perfect new headlamp from Light & Motion for my night rides. Whenever artificial light is needed, I am a now a much safer night rider.

April 17, 2011 updateCyclelogical‘s spoke reflectors are my new favorite night ride helper for roads-with-cars riding. Found them at the Sea Otter Expo this year.

Shoreline Night Music

img_1142Who’s that night rider in this photo? Click here.

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