Too dark to ride… oh wait!


Bullshit didn’t ride excuse #1: The sun sets too early.

I totally figured I wouldn’t be able to ride today due to an all-day seminar, but I got out at 4 pm, felt the mild temps (mid-40s), looked at the sun still hovering tantalizingly high in the sky, and decided if I raced back to the office and changed I could be on the bike with enough daylight left. Of course, things always take longer than you think they will, and by the time I was rolling it was a little before 5 pm with sunset looming at 5:18 pm. Okay, so this was my chance to seriously test out the sleek, stylish Lezyne headlight that I got for Christmas, which to this point I’d not had the courage to try beyond flashing mode during early dusk. Heading out at dusk felt a bit weird—like I was doing something naughty—but the crisp air was invigorating and my legs quickly showed themselves to be on good form. I got to the Spoede/Clayton turnaround right at sunset, and as I trialed back along Clayton I watched the western sky morph from light yellow to burnt orange to fire red! Things started getting seriously dark as I approached Hwy 141, and I switched the headlight from flash to continuous mode. At that point 400 lumens seemed quite bright enough, and with my crazily flashing tail light all cars coming from behind seemed to have no problem seeing me and moving over well before passing me. Just as the darkness started spooking me I turned down Baxter and away from all the traffic on Clayton. The dark solitude of the empty road was a completely different experience, and I almost automatically I got in the drops and started pushing hard on the smooth, brightly lit pavement in front of me. By now darkness had completely taken hold, and I switched the headlight to overdrive (800 lumens), which was more than enough to see the road in front of me and not feel like I was flying blind. One last effort up the Highcroft climb produced not only a nice PR but nabbed 3rd overall before the final stretch back to the office. I think now that I’ve experienced night riding, I’ll try doing some of the lightly traveled country roads out where I live and see what real night riding is like.

© Ted C. MacRae 2015

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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