Today marked the first day since last winter where I road home in utter blackness. Generally, this would happen much later in the year but I hung around Corvallis a bit later than usual and started for home a little after 8 pm. While it’s dark at 8 pm, it gets really dark after 8:30 pm.
For the most part, I don’t mind riding in the dark. It’s something you get use to over the course of the winter. The first couple of times though, it reminds me of how lonely it can be out there all by yourself on the bike. Tonight, all I was able to hear was the sound of the crickets and the wind in my ears — and unlike the winter, when there’s a fair amount of traffic, tonight was completely silent.
In general, it’s the loneliness on the road that gets to me the first couple of times. I enjoy the sights and sounds of riding a bike. In the dark, my world is a space of ~20 feet in front of me. I can’t see anything behind, below or perifierally around me — only the 20 ft illuminated by my bike lamp. Truth be told, I actually like riding at night when there is a lot of traffic, simply because the lights from the cars give me a much wider view of the area around me. I think, to a small degree, it must be what it’s like to be in a sensory deprivation tank. I can’t hear anything (but wind) and I can only see that small lighted area. It’s definitely something that needs to be eased into.
Fortunately, this year I’ll have Kyle Banerjee to ride with 3 days out of the week this winter. Having an extra rider will be nice since we’ll be more visible to the cars around us and I’ll have someone to chat with. But for tonight, I put down a pretty quick pace getting home in a little over an hour and made it home without any problems. I only had a few folks honk at me on the ride home (it takes drivers some getting use to as well — seeing a rider at night) I think a few more times and I’ll be ready for those long winter rides again.