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Outrunning the headlight


There’s an adage about night-riding that is known among riders. I remember hearing it for the first time in a motorcycle safety class: “Don’t outrun your headlight.” Essentially, this reminds us to ride slowly at night. Don’t ride so fast that you can’t respond to an obstacle. And because you can only see as far as your headlight shines, you should be able to count the same three to four seconds in that distance that we count during the day to stay safely behind traffic. Otherwise, you’re “outrunning your headlight.”

Three hours of the return ride from Corpus this weekend happened after the sun set. Everything but the spot ahead turned black. The roads were mostly straight with a few large-radius turns between. But at one point, I barely missed hitting a large chunk of discarded tire tread that blended into the road until I was very nearly on top of it.

Was I riding too fast? Absolutely.

I rarely ride at night. Most of the things I like to see while riding are hidden by the night, and so I choose to make my bed before the sun sets. The ride to Corpus was different in that Dave and I crammed 500 miles into a single day. The day ended with 150 miles yet to ride.

So, we rode. At night. And I hummed the melody of REO Speedwagon’s Ridin’ the Storm Out to some of my own lyrics:

Outrunning the headlight
A vision ahead, blur to the sides
Praying the road to be alright
Nothing to stop our speed tonight
Outrunning the headlight


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