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Sunrise Sunset

One of the many musical numbers to come from the 1964 Broadway hit “Fiddler on the Roof” was “Sunrise Sunset.” While singing this lovely song, Tevye and Goldie lament how swiftly time has gone by. As beautiful as this performance by Zero Mostel and Maria Kamilova is, it pales in comparison to the natural beauty of a real sunrise or sunset.

The carbon night sky slowly lightens up as the twinkling diamonds overhead disappear in their graying backdrop and the rich hues and vibrant colors paint the sky with a breathtaking radiance of yellows and oranges. Or the radiant strokes of reds and purples are painted across the sky before the stars begin to mark their spots as the day’s azure sky darkens.

 Sailors often look to the morning and evening skies as a predictor of the weather. “Red skies in morning; sailors take warning. Red skies at night; sailors delight.” Yet in all that beauty, there lurks real dangers for us as riders.

We’ve all faced a rising or setting sun as we were riding and we recognize how difficult it is to see when we’re blinded by the sun’s rays. Sure, we can attach things to our helmets or face shields, but it’s still hard to see looking into the brightness. We know we need to be more cautious when we’re heading directly into the sun.

How often do we consider the effect on us of that low in the sky sun when it’s not directly ahead of us? We may see flashes of the sun in our mirrors if we’re riding west in the morning, but that doesn’t bother us that much, does it? But what about that car waiting to turn left at the intersection we’re approaching? Will the rising sun make it even more difficult for the driver to see us? Do we adjust our riding style in case he doesn’t?

How does the setting sun affect that driver waiting to turn right into our lane if we’re riding in an easterly direction? Will the brilliance she sees as she looks towards us hide us from her view? We know that our smaller size already makes it harder for other drivers to see us, but do we account for the additional distraction of the sun’s glare?

It’s not just when we’re riding out of the sun either. Would the setting sun have an effect on us if it is on our left as we move down the road?  How might the driver whose vehicle is heading toward that blinding light be affected when he looks to his left before pulling out from the stop sign? Could we be hidden by the temporary dark sunspots that burn in his eyes from staring into the sun?

The morning and evening skies can be painted with splendor, but between that magnificence the rising and setting sun can pose additional risks for us. After the initial sunrise and before the sun disappears over the horizon, we need to remember how the sun will affect other drivers and their ability to see us in the traffic mix. Sunrise, sunset; a beauty of nature, but a challenge for us.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!