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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 06-23-12, 07:38 AM   #1
IndianaRecRider 
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Bike ninjas, and my first brush with an idiot driver

A few weeks ago when I created my "no motivation to ride" thread, it was suggested that I try night riding. Gave it some thought and decided that I would give it a try. The past two evenings I've gone out well after sundown for a couple of leisurely rides. Put a pretty good headlight up front, have a bright blinking red light in the rear, reflective strips on my helmet and even wore a white shirt for added visibility. Here are my observations concerning night time riding.

1) I'm not sure if this pertains to everyone or just me, but I have found that I have to pay a lot closer attention to my surroundings at night than I do during the day. Yeah, my headlight throws out quite a bit of light, but still I have found that road hazards have a way of sneaking up on me a lot quicker than in daylight, thus my reaction time has to be a lot faster than normal.

2) Sure are a lot of bike ninjas out there. I probably counted at least half a dozen while out last night. No lights, no reflectors of any kind, dark clothing and obviously no brains. Hell, if I'm out at night, I want to be seen from as far away as possible, not until the car, cyclist, walker or whatever is already right on top of me or me right on top of them (depending on the circumstance). I came close to running over three adults on bikes just because I couldn't see them as I was coming around a gentle curve in the street I was riding on. And then toss in the daredevil kids who don't think twice about zipping out of their driveway into the street with no thought of what might may be coming down the street and night riding takes on a whole new challenge.

3) Idiot drivers will be idiot drivers no matter what time of day it is. Just seems a lot scarier at night. Where I live here in the Chicago 'burbs, some streets are well lit and some are not. Some streets are wide and some are not. Last night I was on one of those streets that are neither wide or well lit. In my mind, I thought the street was wide enough so that a car could easily pass a bike that was all the way to the right. And upon retrospect this morning, I still believe that. Obviously the nit-wit driver last night didn't think the same way. I could tell there was a car coming up behind me by the way his headlights were illuminating the few road signs ahead of me. I got over to the right as far as I could, thinking I was giving the driver plenty of room. All of a sudden, this idiot starts honking his horn and yelling "get out of the street as***le." I slowed down and motioned for him to pass but he just kept laying in on the horn. It wasn't until I came to an almost complete stop that he finally zoomed past, coming within probably less than a foot of me. Needless to say, I was quite shaken up for the remainder of my ride, which thankfully wasn't long since I wasn't too far from home. I've never had an incident like this before, so having it happen at night made it more unnerving for me.

Will I let any of these incidents stop me from night riding? No, because I have found that I rather enjoy riding after dark. It's kind of like a whole new world out there, just one that I need to be a little more careful in.

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Old 06-23-12, 07:56 AM   #2
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Consider adding a helmet light too. I have bar lights which are nice but the helmet light allows me to see WHEREVER I want whenever I want. It has been very valuable for dark commutes.

Also, give a shot at riding early in the morning. More peaceful then day and night commutes in my opinion.
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Old 06-23-12, 08:00 AM   #3
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I find motivation in a number of places, none of which push me hard to ride at night. I have decent lights, which are used only during the winter when my commute starts before the sun comes up.

I have encountered ninjas while driving, and they are scary indeed.
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Old 06-23-12, 12:41 PM   #4
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I heard a great quote the other day:

"Motivation is within, inspiration is all around you"
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Old 06-23-12, 01:06 PM   #5
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I always carry at least my camera. Never happened but if I had the same experience with a driver, you can bet I'd take his pic using the flash to let him know I have his image. I do this on mountain rides (also holding up the recorder) when I hear a car or motorcycle skidding around a turn approaching from behind. It tends to settle them down.

I'd bet that driver would think twice about trying to take my camera away from me.
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Old 06-23-12, 04:36 PM   #6
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I have been night riding from my house to the gym to work upper body at night a couple of times a week. It's only 2 miles, on residential streets similar to what you described. I haven't had any issues with motorists yet. I have my bike totally geeked out with retroreflective tape, two taillights (one on blinky, one solid bright) and two handlebar headlights (one on blinky, one on solid bright). Lots of retroreflective tape on my bike helmet too. Motorists give me an even wider clearance at night than during the day, from what I have experienced.

I see lots of bike ninjas, mostly kids and teenagers. Last time, I saw another bicyclist like me, lit up like a Xmas tree and doing hand signals at stop signs with no cars around at night. Good to see.

If you haven't added retroreflective tape yet, consider that. I put white and blue retroreflective tape on the tubes of my bike, so at night cars see a white and blue triangle. It gets their attention and helps visibility for sure. Also, white retroreflective strip on my back fender. I need to get a nighttime photo and post it up here to share.

If you are looking for tape, get "prismatic" or "micro-prismatic". It is the newer technology that highway agencies are using for the high-intensity retroreflective sign sheeting. Really bright, loud stuff. The older technology, like scotchlite clothing stripes, is also effective, but uses tiny glass beads and is not as bright as the manufactured micro-prisms.

I hadn't thought of using a camera at night, but if I encountered ignorant, aggressive motorists on any kind of recurring basis, I might consider that. We are lucky here in Springfield, IL to have fairly courteous motorists for the most part.
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Old 06-23-12, 04:40 PM   #7
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Also, the white shirt for night riding is an excellent idea. When the car's headlights do illuminate you, it makes a big difference to wear white over black/navy/blue, etc.

I normally pedal about 10-12 mph average (I know, I am slow...), and I find that my handlebar headlights illuminate well enough to see most of the cracks, potholes, and glass at that speed. I have to pay closer attention, though, I don't have the luxury of scanning near and far and noting hazards approaching from far away as during the day. A couple of bumps will get past your vision and surprise you, so be prepared for that, too.
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Old 06-23-12, 05:59 PM   #8
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The ninjas come to like if you can wear a helmet light. Like I said, you see when and where you want to with a helmet light. Very nice addition to the lights on the bars.
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Old 06-23-12, 07:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
The ninjas come to like if you can wear a helmet light. Like I said, you see when and where you want to with a helmet light. Very nice addition to the lights on the bars.
Good idea, sounds like I could use a helmet light. I'm guessing that it would help with scanning the road ahead with varying distances as well.
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Old 06-23-12, 08:31 PM   #10
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I've thought about night riding, but DH would never allow it. I've gone during the early evening a couple of times and it's far more peaceful and cooler. With temps in NE around 95 all next week it would be great to find a good time to ride. I'm not even close to a morning person. Helmet light would be great for early evenings and mornings along with lighting up like a Christmas tree. I'll have to look into one.

And the night ninjas..usually kids with parents that don't have a clue about safety, give me heart attacks while driving.
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Old 06-24-12, 02:43 AM   #11
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Good idea, sounds like I could use a helmet light. I'm guessing that it would help with scanning the road ahead with varying distances as well.
Get one with at least 1000 lumens and you will thank me!
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