Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beware of Old Guys Riding in the Dark

I was still half asleep this morning at about 5:15 AM when I pulled my bike off the rack and rolled out of my driveway. It was dark, muggy and very still. I rode through the empty streets headed for the Trinity Trails. I was taking it easy riding slowly listening for any squeaks or rattles coming from my fenders. It was completely quiet without a car in sight. Out of nowhere just over my left shoulder in a loud voice I hear “Good Morning!” I was startled and jerked to the right almost hitting the curb. The stealthy rider, an old man, probably in his seventies, blew by me. This guy had no headlight and a small blinky light on back. Again, it was very dark and I had no idea he was back there, his bike was totally silent. I looked over my left shoulder just in time to catch his even older riding partner coming up behind me. The partner, riding a red Cannondale road bike had a tiny pen sized single LED light attached to the right fork blade and a small blinky light on the back of his Cannondale road bike. These two were moving much faster than you would imagine guys this age could ride. I continued on towards the trail.

A couple minutes later I made a left turn from the street onto the paved bike trail. There were lots of trees covering this portion of the trail making it even darker. Less than a quarter mile further I saw a blinky light flashing on the ground, I had a bad feeling. As I rode closer I heard several distressed voices, both male and female, and I saw one of the old guys, the one riding the Cannondale, laying face down on the cement trail. In my experience, finding old people sprawled out on the ground is always a bad thing. Three young women joggers were standing next to the downed rider. They were scared and afraid to move him. One of the women looked like she had injured her right arm but seemed more concerned about the old guy. From what I gathered the old guy on the ground (I learned his name was Joe) had collided with the jogger. I don’t know if he didn’t see the jogger and hit her or if she didn’t see him and stepped into his path. I took the headlight off my handlebar and used it as a flashlight to light up the scene. Joe was groaning and trying to get up. After several attempts, he managed to pick himself off of the ground and immediately tried to jump back on his bike. I looked him over checking for cuts and broken bones but Joe was embarrassed and just wanted to get out of there. He climbed on his bike and was preparing to ride off when I noticed his chain had come off the chainring. Joe fixed his chain and took off in a hurry followed by his friend. The joggers took off in the opposite direction leaving me standing there trying to re-attach my light.

The rest of my ride was pretty anti-climactic after that little incident except now I’m looking over my shoulder every few seconds. I hate surprises.


  1. Something similar to that happened to me and my Dad years ago. Difference was we were driving down the highway when a sport bike flew past us going around 90 or so. Less than five miles later we found him laying on the side of the road surrounded by motorcycle parts.

  2. Yikes, I'm glad everyone is apparently OK. Those guys need some real lights!

  3. This happens to me alot during the day and is even scarier at night. Thank you for posting. This is proof positive that you need a headlight and a blinking light. Most cities require both when riding at night, dusk, and dawn. This inspires me to chase down ppl who don't have them and point out that pedestrians need to be able to see them coming and going!