Until this year, it’s been a rare day I’ll ride outdoors after dark. I do the annual club “night ride” without fail, but my headlight was the least used piece of cycling equipment I own. Most years I used it just that one time. Even with my fantastic Varia taillight/radar and a decent headlight, I still felt uncomfortable riding in the dark.
The strange thing is, with proper lighting and a little thought about reflective clothing, I’m more visible at night than I am during the day. Whatever it is, I just didn’t like it.
I’ve gone through a change this year, though. I’ve got more rides outdoors than I do on the trainer in November, and to ride outside during the week, after the time changes back on the first Sunday, it’s going to be in the dark.
With the gravel bikes and riding dirt roads so much the last few years in the postseason, my appreciation for a lack of traffic has increased immensely. Not enough to switch exclusively to gravel during the spring and summer months (I’d can’t give up the speed), but autumn cycling is vastly more enjoyable when we’re only being passed by a single vehicle every 20 miles or so.
Due to that lack of traffic, I’ve chosen to ride outdoors with my normal riding buddy, Chuck, after work. Oh, it’s a chore getting all of the clothes out and on – it’s not as simple as throwing on a tee shirt and an old pair of bibs to ride on the trainer, but my God is it fun. With some consistency I’ve managed to drop my fear of cycling at night.
Last night was a phenomenal example of a perfect ride in the dark. 24 miles (and some change), and I think we were passed by two vehicles. Chuck and I sat up for most of the ride talking about work and current events, letting our problems drift off in the wind as we rode. By the time I pulled into the driveway, about an hour and a half later, I was feeling so good I could hardly stand myself.
I did manage. And after dinner, I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face. As could be expected, I slept like a brick.
This evening; rinse and repeat.