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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 County 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.

When solo riding this isolated area at night, I take along my phone. And this time I was enjoying the company of a talented Northern Plains writer who regaled me with stories, interspersed with laughter, on my uphill climb. I had checked out from that conversation, letting my “companion” know that I’d have to ignore him due to the rushing wind on the speedy downhill trip.

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 along this road. But that’s an aside, as my hearing wasn’t the problem, it was my night vision.

There’s nothing like the beauty of the darkness of night, away from city lights. Until a couple months ago, I’d been an “I love biking in the pitch black night” rider. Well, no, not one of those annoying bikers who does this in traffic areas, only in no-car zones. 

Then, in June, I mentioned to my brother Emil John (Hawkeye’s master, pictured in “Caring for Chickens“) that I’d tumbled that week 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 popped right off. I’d ignored a forewarning to adjust that band a few nights earlier, when the headlamp bonked me on the nose.) So last night I was using a flashlight as a substitute for the broken headlamp. It provided only poor visibility though, and I didn’t have the flashlight properly mounted, just casually fastened to my handlebar.

I was ignoring the warning of my intuition too, as I headed off to bike my favorite climb—in an area where I knew thick tree cover would block the moonlight. And yup, I wish I’d listened.

My night ride home was great, except for the fall I took while flying downhill!

Got home late but in one piece. Rx: a shower to wash off the roadside poison oak I’d tumbled into, a relaxing soak outdoors in the moonlight to prevent muscle soreness, and a call to order a new headlamp.

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Postscript 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 Pinto at Joselyn’s helped me select the perfect new headlamp from Light & Motion to purchase for my night rides. Whenever artificial light is needed, I am a now a much safer night rider.

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For tips on biking in the dark, click here.

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

Shoreline Night Music

Photo above: In April 2011, with sharing roads with cars in mind, I added Cyclelogical‘s spoke reflectors to my bike. Found them at the 2011 Sea Otter Expo.

Photo below: Another local night rider is a bike to work commuter. Click here to learn about him.img_1142

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