February 18, 2009

The Mental Barrier of Riding at Night

I don't mind riding at night in the neighborhoods of the south hill, or even downtown so much, but my commute home in the dark has always given me pause.  Getting to Hangman Valley Road requires me to ride down the 195 or Hatch hill.  I still do it, but have taken steps to feel more secure.  First, my life insurance is up to date with the monthly payment paid electronically and automatically every month.  Second, got a Tri newt LED light that looks to be about as bright as a headlight.  Third, and most recently, I bought a new jacket:


Normally all those squiggly white lines look black.  They only look bright when a bright light or flash shines on them.  Illumi-nite is the brand and, lucky for me, they make an xxl size that is actually long, not just wide.  Beyond the reflectors, which may make some people cringe, it's a pretty solid jacket.  There's a nice zippered back pocket and armpit vents--which is good for me because I tend to sweat even if it's only 25 degrees out.  It is thick enough that with a thin synthetic shirt underneath, I'm comfortable.

As you know if you live in Spokane, the days are pretty short come November and don't really start to lengthen much until March.  I usually ride on the 195 on the way downtown to work since I only have to turn right off of Hatch and don't cross any major intersections on 195.  Then I turn on Inland Empire Way and feel just fine.  And in the morning, the sun is usually on its way up anyway while I'm making my way to work.

I remember a couple years back, when I still lived up on the hill, driving up Hatch hill at night.  I saw a guy riding down with a bright LED light on his handlebars and a second light on his helmet.  I distinctly remember thinking "that guy's crazy.  Cool."  So when we moved down to our new place I knew riding my route home was reasonable.

On the way home  I usually ride up over the hill through the neighborhoods and down Hatch.  I don't like the 195 at night mainly because of the Spokane-Cheney Road intersection and the left hand turn onto Hatch.  These areas don't bother me when it's light, but in the dark I worry I won't be seen soon enough by cars speeding by at 65 mph.  Plus bombing down Hatch in the dark is shorter and it is always more enjoyable to pedal the nice quiet neighborhoods than the loud busy highway.  It is also nice that the Big Dummy has such a long wheelbase which feels really solid going down the hill.  Riding Hatch at night still has its moments--especially when drivers don't want to wait for a wider section of road to pass, but overall it is my choice for the ride home.

So, what I'm wondering is, would anyone out there prefer riding 195 to Hatch hill at night?  If so. . . really?


  1. Maybe you can wear led t-shirt or led caps to ride in night
    we have many led products
    anybody need them,please contact me
    Price is good and quality is better

  2. That's a great looking jacket and I like the fact that besides being highly visible it's warm enough for you with just a t-shirt. I generally ride at night during the winter with my yellow rain shell and a couple layers underneath, but eventually I'd like to get something more along the lines of your Illumi-nite.

  3. Maybe you just be tall and imposing and nobody run you over. Price=free.