Windy evening for a night ride but the actual winds were somewhat less than the forecast winds and too, the actual temperature was somewhat warmer than the forecast temperature, especially as the evening wore on into first the 7-o'clock hour, then the 8-o'clock hour and yes, even the 9-oclock hour. Flyin Tuna opined, when asked if she was going to participate in the night ride, "Are you guys nuts!?" With 20/20 hindsight I can't escape the fact, it was a really dumb thing to do. Even my wife uttered this not infrequently spoken opinion when I returned home, "That was a really dumb thing to do."
Jeff S had a tricked out bike with 3 front lights and a powerful strobe light in the rear. It appeared the bike had been reinforced with steel plates to withstand rear impacts from cars too so that was good. I was told there would be extra lights if my light failed to charge as expected and so, Jeff nicely stripped one of his lights and loaned it to me.
At the start were Steve O, Jeff, Amanda, Adam and Rick G. Rick G is an interesting story. He's been participating in the Sunday Canal ride and wears very baggy shorts and a very baggy jersey and when too chilly, wears an enormously very baggy jacket. Poor fashion sense or perhaps just modest about wearing tight fitting clothes? No, at 64, he claims to have ridden two century rides each week since March and in so doing, has lost 50 pounds this year to go with the 20 he lost last year. Down to 190, he wants to get to 165. That very baggy jacket was a very tight fit last year, as were the jerseys and shorts.
There are a couple of things different with riding at night. There is no map because you can't see it to follow it anyway. Shortcutting opportunities are out of the question, especially when there exists the possibility the loaned light didn't have fresh batteries. The field of vision is very narrow, confined to the width of the headlight so any animal crossings can only be seen at the last instant, just before you pinwheel over the handlebar, etc... Anyway, we shoved off getting onto Waterloo, then Slough, turning right on Sitterly, where I took this image with the sun on the horizon. By 6:45, the sun was below the horizon but giving off enough indirect light that only by 7:00 did we really need the headlights. We arrived at Amanda Northern via Ridge and followed that to Amanda where I took the Night Time Stop Sign Sprint. Todd would have been proud of me..
Here, Adam waves goodby to the sun. Note he is riding close to the centerline. Adam is a good guy who for some reason, enjoys riding left of the centerline at night, playing chicken with oncoming trucks.
We rolled into Amanda and stopped. So far, the ride had been fun, probably because we could still see the road and surroundings, including a herd of deer that had crossed in front of us on Ridge Road. We had 20 miles with a 17mph average. Steve had told me last week's average was 15 so I assumed we would head back to Canal, in the dark, averaging around 13mph. Seemed the prudent thing to do. We headed out Sand Hill Road at a fairly high speed. This being my first time riding at night I had some trouble orienting to the unusual environment but tried to focus on the stadium powerful light attached to Rick's bike. We got onto Rock Mill (yes, the return route was kind of hilly) and it seemed the pace was kind of high but I could not see the screen of the Garmin to confirm. Probably the speed seemed higher because of the environment but as Steve and I crested the hill at Royalton, I asked, "Aren't we riding kind of fast?" No answer.
We stayed on Rock Mill and got onto Lamb. Traffic was picking up as we neared Canal and I noticed that frequently, oncoming cars tended to drift toward the centerline, probably because the drivers were fixated on us, trying to figure out what we were. I also began to wonder, given the time of the day, how many of these drivers had a couple of "pops" before getting in their cars or trucks.
We came around the sharp curve on Carroll Southern and approached the left turn up the steep ramp on Coonpath. A truck approached from behind. Steve and Jeff put their arms out signaling our intent to turn but that assumed the driver could see us. I stayed on the right berm while Rick and maybe Adam began to turn left. The truck went into the other lane to pass and some of us yelled "Car passing!" I thought those guys were going to get hit when the truck suddenly stopped. An idea began slowly forming in my mind....this is really dumb. Riding at night on roads shared by high speed cars/trucks is an added risk I don't need. We got onto Lithopolis Road, turning left on Benson and staying on that road to Amanda Northern, then Salem Church and into Canal via Waterloo. We ended with a 16.6 average, 1900' of climbing and 41 miles.