I Never Ride at Night without Lights

A couple of weeks ago I was returning home from a ride on The Key. It was already dark and the rain diminished visibility even further.  Miami rain can be intense. We will see 3-4 inches in an hour, 8-9 inches in a day when other cities may not see 2-4 inches in a month. When I lived in New England, rain was a daylong – weeklong affair of grey skies and drizzle. A place where storm talk delivered 2- 4 inches in a day. This is Miami, when it rains, visibility is reduced to 10 or 20 yards. Even the erratic, unpredictable, and irrational Miami motorists seem to take caution when water pours from the sky.

Less than a half a mile from home I ride past a single speed hipster without lights. Well folks… sadly it is in my nature to pass judgment on people when they demonstrate a total lack of basic common sense. Not very gentleman like I know, but honestly, would you drive your car at night, in the rain without lights? I have learned to keep these thoughts and impressions unexpressed in the name of civility and self preservation.

He rolls up on me at the next traffic light and exclaims, “I better follow YOU the rest of my ride!”

I don’t respond.

I just hung my head and looked down as the water runs off my helmet, along my visor and down to the tarmac looking more like water from a faucet. I knew what he meant though, I run a Serfas Thunderbolt on my seat post and a TSL-250 on my bars. At times like these I fire up the Raider I have attached to my helmet. Pedestrians and motorists complain, jest, and rant but I can be seen. I am visible. I am alive. Anyway, I love the Raider. It is light, bright and easily attaches to my helmet.  It is my plan B for when the Thunderbolt wanes and augments it when I need it most.

I am in decision making mode. He must think me rude as I have not made any verbal recognition of his presence. “Be the change”, I think as I reach up with my left hand, detach the Raider from the helmet and hand it to him with my right. He gives me a puzzling glance but quickly snatches it from my hand and fumbles a bit while attaching it to his seat post. “How…?” he begins.  I interrupt, “Just turn it 180 degrees… It’s rechargeable with USB “.  “Thanks”, the traffic light turns green and off he went. I roll to the left turning slowly so as to observe his departure. It is a damn bright light. Within only 50 yards you could not see him any longer. The Raider is the only thing that betrayed his very existence. “THANKS”, can be heard from the distance.

I smile.

At 200 yards I can still see the Raider.

Have I mentioned that I love that light?

Last night I rolled out while the sky was still that unmistakable Miami blue. Four miles out I reached down to fire up the Thunderbolt. I left it at home on the charger. With no plan B, I picture myself riding The Key without a rear light through the road construction on Bear Cut Bridge or the darkness created by the mangroves on the way to the Tennis Center.

I turned home to pick up the Thunderbolt. I never ride at night without lights.