Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Going native

Two nights ago I swapped my bar-mounted lights to another bike for that evening's ride and waited till it was time to leave.  Heading out into the dark streets to the ride area, I hit the switch and.....nothing happened other than a *click*.

Hmmm...fiddle,, clicky click.  Nada.

So, I grabbed a FLEA for the bars and figured I would climb with that and use my helmet light for the fast stuff.  That, and poaching light from others would have to do.

The next day I repaired the broken wire and set out last night by myself with all lights in place.

Then, on the first fast DH, I could tell I was missing some light output.  Apparently I was low on batts for the bar light and it was defaulting to low beam only...till it just goes black.  Ohhh drat.  30 minutes into a 60 minute ride.  Hate to turn around.  SO I had the headlight but I used it a lot the other day and I am not sure how much poop it had left.  It will just shut off, no warning.  Conservation was the order of the evening till I could creep back home safely.  That was the prudent thing to do, of course, being all alone and 5 miles from home.

So, I did the only obvious thing.  I turned my lights all off and kept riding uphill, figuring I could run the lights for the fast stuff and hope for the best.  No full moon moon at all actually.

Darkness enveloped me and I tensed up a bit and peered down the trail, looking for the lighter colored areas that meant a hard packed surface and no mud.  Little by little as my eyes adjusted, I could see more clearly as the lights of town were reflecting off the cloud cover.  It was 40 degrees and the wind was up just enough to move leaves and blow branches around.  I could hear things skitter away into the grass, but I could not see them.  They could see me.  I played with the thought that recently a Mountain Lion was spotted in this area.  I hoped that Lions knew mule deer do not have red blinky lights on their tails.

After a while, I relaxed and looked around.  Nighthawks took off from the road in front of me only to land just out of my path.  An owl lifted from a tree branch and noiselessly glided away.  Without a light beam to track with your eyes, I was free to see the sky.  As I topped out on the final climb, I looked to the horizon and saw stars everywhere.  Wow.  Night blindness kills that when you have lights on.  It was awesome.  I hated to turn my lights on at all and when I did, they seemed so intrusive.  Glaring, even.

I made it home alternating with no lights/with lights.  I will say that I need to do more of that, spend time outside in the dark.  Back in time, before a flick of a switch changed all that, it was dark out there and we lived in it.  Aside from campfires or oil lamps, it was a world of unseen noises and skies full of stars.  We gained a lot with the modern light and the technology to make it work.  We also lost a lot too.

It took a dead battery and a decision to press on to remind me of that.


Guitar Ted said...

Yes! I love it. You know, when David and I were doing our night recons on gravel roads, we had planned times where we would find a suitable spot far from any farm, and shut down the lights for a while. We did this on every night ride.

Maybe not as visceral as actually riding without lights on, but as you say, the lights blind us, and hide the world from us when we are out at night. How paradoxical is that!?

billy said...

It was also a time of elves, goblins, banshees and the like.
Light did away with all those horrors. :0)