MY FIRST NIGHT RIDE INCLUDED ME FLYING UPSIDE DOWN TRAVELING AT 20MPH, my bike crumpled and scarred far behind. It's one of those things that you wonder if you're friends were inviting you to an adventure or an initiation.
It was both.
The lighting tech back then was appalling, and good ol' Scud gave me the worst of his best. Think of a coal minor's light kinda thingy. With a filament(!!!!) that looked about as sturdy as a two-legged chair.
Greatbiggiantwisdomnugget --> shadows give you depth perception.
No light, no shadows, no sense of depth.
One light mounted just above your eyeballs, practically no shadows, grim reaper is waiting for ya.
It's all good on the first part of the ride.
We're poaching a trail in what is now Shady Canyon and what was then GetOffaMyIrvineCoLand. The bikes weighed north of 30lbs, platform pedals, and brakes that only hinted at decelerating.
We were going slowly uphill. Not using our lights, because the batteries - the D-cells - wouldn't last very long, wasn't going to be a problem I was promised.
More like a new moon Scud.
The later it got, the colder it got, the less my cutoffs seemed like a good idea.
But, we're dudes doing dude stuff so who cares?
We get to the top.
A super band erupts from Irvine Meadows.
We're getting amped up.
Scud yells Turn on yer light!
A shade of amber whimpers forth.
Scud's 50watt searchlight is drenching the landscape.
Time to rock!
The old hands, on their well-known trail take off. The newb, me, shivers through their dusty mist.
I'm doing my best. Mind you, I've got skills in daylight. And lot's of pride too. A lovely combination... WHEN THERE"S LIGHT!
You'd think... you'd think...
Well you would. But, I wasn't. I was racing for my life.
Their dust is getting lower, and their lights further into the distance.
My cranks are spinning, clipping rocks. My wheels spinning too... me n the rig are all in.
Why am I am clipping rocks? Everything looks so flat.
Right then I see an enormous round and flat rock. If I was a giant I could skip it to Hawaii. But, I'm not. And it's not flat!
Remember that link of wisdom about needing shadows to have depth perception? Well, what happens is that big flat rock a giant could skip is actually a big round rock. 'Bout 2 foot tall, 3 foot around.
I hit it square.
Wind up in the air.
Bike down there.
A bloody, dusty version of myself springs up. We don't recognize each other. I had no pride. But bloody, dusty me did.
The guys found me. Broken light. Flat tire. Bent rim.
Gee man, you okay?
Totally, just need a few minutes then I'll be ready.
PRO TIP: Get a big, wide, powerful light for the bars (2000+ watts - 40x Scud's light). Put a narrow, less powerful beam on your helmet. The wide beam will give you lots of shadows and the narrow beam is great for looking around to set up corners or check other action... like lions, tigers and bears.
With the right set up, night riding brings a whole new dimension to riding. Everything looks, sounds and smells different.
Winter time doesn't have to mean trainer time.
Don't ride alone. It's not pro... but, I'm not always pro... just don't tell Surfergirl.
2 12hrs at Vail Lake
Countless night rides
Every pre-dawn Tuesday morning ride for decades.
I'm dawgawn grateful for lights,
specially the modern kind!