Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer Nights: Riding After Dark to Beat the Heat

Shade falls

I love riding at night in the summer when everywhere is shade. I set out on a TCT (tri-city tour, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe) at sunset when the temperature was 107F and falling. It was still 102F when I got back two hours later, but in darkness and in the open air on a bicycle, the city night feels fantastic.

Tempe Town Lake Dam Bridge Update: all spans in place!

At Tempe Town Lake dam, it looks like the final span of the bridge has been dropped into place. I took this through the chain-link fence, you can't (legally) ride across it yet. But judging from the photo, it's not far off now.

Trying to push the "high ASA" button while also holding the camera one-handed sometimes causes this

My Trinewt headlight on "low" is still very bright. Cars entering from my right uniformly saw me and waited for me to pass, which is satisfying. Washington Street in Phoenix at night, coming from Tempe, is eerie, almost a ghost town of empty steel and glass buildings. I waved at the light rail train when it passed, just happy to see other living beings, and he went "boop-boop" back at me. The Saturday evening street traffic in other areas was heavier, though, but I rode exactly where I needed to, had bright lights front and back, and always signaled, and it all ran like clockwork out there. I always look back when I signal to change into a lane where there's traffic behind me to make sure there's room, but I find that I rely on the engine sound of the car that I see coming to decide to go or not, and I'm not sure that's the best idea, but it does seem to work well: engine slowing or not speeding up, I usually change, speeding up, I wait. I guess the only hiccup was sitting behind a car with four college girls in it waiting for the signal to turn left. The light changed green, and the driver was digging around on the floor for her cell phone and her three other passengers weren't paying attention either. There was another car waiting behind me, too, so I kind of yelled at her through her back window. She heard me and kind of jerked through the turn, while the guy behind me followed me through the left, and then after we turned, looked at me, smiled and shared one of those mutual "some people just don't pay attention" head shrugs that we road users sometimes share with each other as he went past in his lane on my left.

The semi-secret about riding at night is that going fast along the canal, or on the path next to Tempe Town Lake, with no one else around and enveloped in darkness, is a little bit like flying. I switched the single speed to the White Eno freewheel / noisemaker, which helps alert people of my approach just by coasting. The fixed gear is really quiet, and the last thing I want to do is startle someone out there running or walking alone. The buzz of that thing when I got up to speed and coasted along the water enhanced the sensation of flight.



  1. I've not done a lot of night riding....I must make the effort to get out there and do more...!


  2. I don't go out at night much, Zombies and vampires you know.

  3. That top picture makes me think oasis.

  4. Trevor, do it man! Equipped with fine bright lights.

    Oldfool, at night I carry an modified entrenching tool for zombies which has a sharpened wooden handle for vampires.

    limom this one had music, and dancing, and meat roasting over a fire...


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