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.