No, my bicycle isn't named Kitt, and it doesn't talk to me and drive itself. I had to ride home in the dark tonight, about 12 miles. First, let me be honest. I'm not such a hard core cyclist that you might think I am. I don't really enjoy riding in the dark. I've heard that statistically most cyclists are hit by motor vehicles at night. That scares me. But at least I had a good companion during my whole ride home. Can you guess what it might have been?
But there are steps we can take to try and lessen the chances of being in an accident. I have reflective stickers on the back of my helmet. I have reflective materialNathan Tri Color Vest (Google Affiliate Ad) on my jacket, including the arms so that it will reflect if I want to show that I'm making a turn. I have a white lighT on my handle bars as well as on my helmet so I can see and be seen. I have rear red lights, multiple ones which are very bright. One will not suffice most likely, and some are not bright enough. Then I have my Road ID little blinky light, which I put on my helmet, hanging next to my left ear. I am happy to report that tonight drivers passed me giving me plenty of room. They would slow down as they approached me, and take their time as they passed. I was definitely seen.
There are otHer potential problems that I consider and try to prepare for as well. Like dogs. I hate dogs. I mean, I'll pet them if I'm at a friends house, or see one in the neighborhood. But when I'm on a bike, dogs will never be my friend. I'm always on the lookout, and listening for the charge. So I carry dog mace with me just in case there is an extra crazy one out there waiting for me. The darkness would make a dog encountEr worse. I don't want to be fumbling through a dark bag looking for the mace if I really needed it.
The fact that it is night time makes everything seem a little more trepidacious. The air feels different, more threatening. The trees look different, more scary. The land is more Mysterious. Strangers seem stranger. I guess another thing for me that adds to that trepidacious feeling is the fact that we are out in the open. Our bOdies I mean. There is no protection between us and everything around us. If we're hit, we're going down hard. Somebody could chase us in the car, try to kidnap us, shoot us, beat us up. We're more vulnerable that way. One thing I did to help alleviate some of these feelings for myself was sing one of the songs I was just singing in the Music Together class I had just finished leading. Shenendoah. What a beautiful song. I sang as loudly as I wanted. It didn't matter if anyone heard me. They would never have any idea who I am. It doesn't matter if they didn't like my voice. They would never hear it again. That sOng was comforting, to hear it, to feel it in my chest and head. It took away the darkness of the night.
I did ask friends if they could pick me up, but they couldn't. Our car is in the shop, and I can't get it until tomorrow. I HAD to go teach the Music Together class. Thankfully, the weather was good. Better than good in fact. It really was a gorgeous day and evening. The sky was bright and clear, and the evening air was comfortable, even going dowNhill. The route I chose was a good one, and that was confirmed when I saw the road paint markings put there by the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. I was on one of their routes. That's a good sign.
It turns out I'm glad I did the ride instead of being driven home in a car. It turns out my fears of the unknown were all for naught.... this time. I still don't recommend riding at night if you don't have to, and I'm not going to start going out doing it on purpose. Did you guess my companion that was with me for the whole ride? It is a full moon this Monday, so it is over half full now. It was clear and in full view the whole way home. Thank you moon for staying with me, and good night moon.