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Riding Blind

I felt like I was getting complacent with my riding and I needed more of a challenge than the road and traffic threw at me. I couldnít figure out what it was that I was seeking, but I finally came up with an idea that might just allow me to experience a new high in riding. So I did a pre-ride check of my bike and, finding it to be ready to go, I rolled my beloved two wheeled steed out of its sleeping quarters.

I began to gather and look over my riding gear. Boots, check. Riding pants, check. Jacket, check. Gloves, check. Full face helmet, check. Satisfied that my gear was ready, I started to put it on. Just before sliding my helmet over my head, I placed my black nighttime sleeping mask over my eyes. Once my helmet was in place I was ready to go, but Iím guessing I probably wouldnít make it past the end of my driveway, assuming I could figure out where it ended.

What was I thinking? Can you even imagine trying to ride a motorcycle wearing a blindfold in a parking lot much less in traffic? It just doesnít make any sense when you consider the traffic and seemingly mindless drivers we encounter on the road. We not only need our eyes to see the basic information like where curves and intersections are, but also the more subtle clues that could indicate what other drivers might be doing . Why would anyone even think about doing something this ridiculous?

Yet some of us might just be increasing our risk almost as much without realizing it, particularly when itís dark. Riding at night is already challenging because our vision is often limited to what we can see in our headlight. Add a little rain and it can be even more difficult to see roadway markings and whatís happening alongside the road. As we age, these conditions get aggravated by changes in our eyes.

It takes almost four times more light to see at age forty than we required at age twenty. As I am well away from age twenty, I am realizing it gets even worse after forty. This makes it even more difficult to see the subtle signs that might alert us to possible hazards like something on the road, such as a road lizard or other animal, alive or dead. Pedestrians, bicyclists and people inside parked cars are all things we might miss in these dim light situations.

The key is to recognize these changes in ourselves and to adjust our riding accordingly. Riding a little slower at night than we do during the day and scanning even more aggressively might give us more time to spot and react to these hidden dangers that are harder for us to see. After all, we want to be ready to ride again tomorrow and challenging ourselves to ride blind probably wonít allow us that pleasure.

Bikers are not immune to SPS, but not all bikers drive like fools, any more than all Chevy/Dodge/Ford drivers drive like fools. Unfortunately drivers don’t see things the same way. When they see a biker zipping through traffic, they assume all bikers ride like that.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!