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December 01, 2010

Meeting A Bike Ninja

My current job is daylights, and during this time of year my bicycle riding often takes place during the gloaming hours. I hope that our pending health care reform includes mental-health days during nice weather so I can ride in the afternoons more often.

If I'm going to end up riding in the dark, I like to ride the Montour Trail from Enlow to McDonald. I know the trail, it doesn't have too many road crossings, and it's pretty much deserted out there.

Mind you, I would never intentionally ride the trail after sunset; it's against the rules. Sometimes, you could misunderestimate your time and speed. If a touring bike left San Diego at 2pm doing 12 mph, and sundown is at 5:15, how many minutes after sunset would it get to Chicago?, and somehow, against all precautions, you end up out there in the dark. It happens.

The other day I was out after hours, and it was really dark. As my friend J.P. says, it was darker than the inside of a cow. There was an overcast layer so there was no moonlight.

I was on the second half of the ride, on a slight downhill, staying in the center of the trail to avoid the little ruts and washouts at the edge. I was probably doing 16 mph, maybe a little more - my computer has a backlight for night riding, but my HID headlight interferes with my wireless computer, and when the light's on the computer is verklempt.

Silently, stealthily, a bike ninja was pedaling the opposite direction. No light. No front reflector. No helmet. Wearing either a black hoody or an invisibility cloak.

I rode around a bend in the trail, and fortunately my lights found the weakness in the ninja's invisibility - my lights lit up her pedal reflectors and we avoided a collision. If she had a ninja-sword, I couldn't see it. But then, you never can. Ninja are like that.

I hate bike ninjas, and I extend that to the larger category of ninjas in general. I hope the Pirates beat them.

If you have a bike ninja in your family, please break the cycle and buy them a light. Wise souls in San Francisco, Chicago, and D.C. have recently organized interventions to set bike ninja on the illuminated path of en-lightenment.

After all, it is written, "It is better to light one bike than to curse the darkness".


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