I love night riding, and I don't do it nearly enough. It's one of those things, sort of like running in the rain - it's a lot of fun, really, it's just that it takes a lot more mental prodding to get out the door in the first place.
First, there's the equipment barrier. You need lights. To state the obvious, good lights are better than bad lights. Bad lights are probably worse than no lights at all - you end up putting yourself out there in harm's way.
I've GOT good equipment. I've got three NiteRider MiNewts. And two good batteries (of course I used to have three, but one wormed away somehow). They're no longer state of the art, but they're pretty good. I've ground all of the rubber O-rings that attach the lighthead to the bike to a pulp. I've resorted to Goody ponytail holders. They come 18 to a package, and in colors. I'm starting with pink.
I just picked up a Petzl headlamp - the most firepower I can reasonably get that will run all night. The kid at REI was dubious when I told him I wanted to use it for cycling. "Miss, I don't think it will work - the battery pack on the back of the helmet???". After I gave him a very long, very blank " did you really just call me MISS????" look, I asked them if they SOLD helmets. Of course, in the bike department...so off I marched with the demo light in tow. Works great! It's almost as bright as a MiNewt, so I've got a backup plan.
Now...let's try the headlamp at 26 degrees. Many adjustments later, I'm (mainly) not illuminating my handlebar. The trick seems to be mounting the lamp a little higher. I really like that I can light up corners and dark spots quickly.
Then, once the equipment problems are solved, there's the extra mental work to get out the door. You know. You get home, feed the dog, feed yourself, and...you're in your den. Hibernation time. You get this sinking feeling that you can't really make yourself do it. So you don't. That's a mental barrier that RAAM athletes have to cross. You have to get on the bike, even when life looks a lot more jolly in the van.
I had a really nice night ride on Sunday, but it was partly unintentional. I had lunch with Mark Newsome and his wife Paula. Ironically he's also loaning me a spare MiNewt battery for the Sebring 24-hour race. I was able to put it to use. Long story short (or short story long?), we got to talking, and it was nearly dark before I left. It worked out great - I got to have a lovely ride into sunset. The thunderstorm (real lightning in the Coast foothills) and windstorm were a nice bonus. But the best part was that just when I turned onto "my" bike path in Eugene, an owl flew across my path. Not only do owls fly silently, they LOOK like they fly silently. Hard to describe, but this was a very large and silent-looking bird indeed. (No, not my photo...sadly)
Conveniently, I have to work this Saturday, and also conveniently the weather is supposed to be improving through Saturday into Sunday. So instead of wasting this opportunity, I'm going to go on a night ride Saturday night. I should have fairly dry weather - possibly even some cloud breaks - and a half moon to guide me. I'm planning to ride the Coburg TT course several times over. If you'd like to join me for an hour or so of night riding fun (each lap is 15 miles), toss me a note.
Upcoming: I'm going to watch and review Bicycle Dreams. I've been meaning to watch this movie for a very long time. I'm frankly a little nervous about watching this movie alone, so I'll probably recruit some friends.
Tailwinds - and taillights,