Sunday, March 13, 2011

Essentials for night riding success

(A) Fresh air, fresh cigarettes (B) jam box, mp3 player (C) Platinum Grape-A-Licious (D) you're the tool (E) spare tire (F) hot sauce, good on most everything (G) everybody's got a cup but they ain't pitched in (H) tire levers (I) tire pump (J) it's a bike lock, were you wondering what that object is? (K) a lighter, maybe? (L) zip ties, useful in emergency and erotic situations

I retired from the paramilitary at the rank of tenderfoot, the lowest rank possible. Sort of like a private in the real army. It took me a long time to rise to this rank, and I remember little of what I learned about knot tying and flag ceremonies.

I do remember the motto: Be prepared.
If you are considering a plunge into night riding, exploring the dreamland of your neck of the woods, but are nervous about what might happen out there in the dark, have no fear. There are ways you can ensure you return home not only unscathed, but eager for more.
Below is a list of basic necessities for night riding. This list is in no particular order. You'll know what to do.
A note on luggage: You need a backpack, or a shoulder bag. Preferably something that costs more than $200. Obscure patches will make you go faster.

1 Tire repair kit/tools
Breaking down, getting a flat, is no fun. But it's a real pain in the ass at 1 a.m., 29 miles from home, nowhere near civilization. Follow the 30 minute rule. Any farther than a 30 minute walk from home, bring your bag.

A-1 spare tube per person
Pro tip: To save weight, split up the following items with your partners, as you only need one:
B-tire levers
C-tube patches, if you are into that kind of thing.
D-multi tool: get one without a chain tool, like me, save money and weight, and then bust a link in the West Seattle junction at 3 a.m. and finally give up walking in Sodo and pay for a cab ride back to the University District. The screw driver can be used to shot gun beers.
E - A portable tire pump. Depending on your tire inflation, you may need to spend more. Decent ones that actually work cost about $30.
F-zip ties, various sizes.
G- electrical or duct tape
H-pocket knife

2 Jams
If scientists ever get around to researching important questions, it may one day be explained why the hip hop and r&b of the last 20 years adds such a perfect touch to night riding. Especially good is Eric B and Rakim, Kanye, DOOM, Tribe, Bobby Brown and Dre. Outkast and Ludacris, not so great. Also good is Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

A-jam box. Cost is about $15 and do the trick. It could be louder, though.

3 Victuals
To save weight most of these can be purchased along the way.

A-alcopops, Capt. Morgan, Jim Beam Red Stag, cherry-flavored bourbon.
B-grape Swishers, or blueberry blunt papers
C-peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
D-candy - peanut m&ms, runts, snickers, butterfinger
G-lighters (multiple)
H-throw some water in there too
I-spare bananas

4 First aid
Be prepared, sucka

B-see "Victuals"

5 Security
Unless you run into another hard core band of night riders and decide to get in a gang fight or something, people aren't going to mess with you. Not because you are obviously a bad ass, but because they don't notice you are there. Nobody pays attention to people on bikes. Some streets you feel OK riding might feel different when you are pushing your bike. Your best self-defense is a handy, reliable repair kit. Plus a steel U-lock, good for wiping the smile off some punk's face.

A-bike lock. I need to try harder on this one. Don't be like me, "Hey bro, mind if I get in on your lock action?"
B-Walkie Talkies. Man, it would be so cool to have walkie talkies. This is on my to-get list, definitely.

6 Lighting
Perhaps the most critical, which is why I put it last.

A-Head light. For trails, for unlit streets, or for country two-laners, you need something that allows you to see the raccoon you are about to hit. The higher end head lights cost more than my bike. Within reason, get the best you can afford. Mr. Q rolls with a $50 light, seems to work OK on fresh batteries. Dan rides with three headlamps. Jeremiah and I use a homemade system he built, bright as hell. Parts cost about $60. Helmet lights are also nifty.
B-Tail light. More the merrier, but these don't have to cost a lot, they all do pretty much the same thing. I use a $10 deal, works fine.
C-Reflectors, reflective clothing, all good ideas. Those hunter orange t-shirts with reflective strips that construction workers wear are good.
D-a flashlight, easily accessible.
E- spare batteries, for lights and jam box.
F- Also, homie, because it should be mentioned, wear bright, reflective clothes appropriate for the weather.

Have fun!


  1. cell phone, especially if youre out alone

  2. As the self-appointed Medical Adviser of the Night Riders Union, I propose a review and revision of the document, "Essentials for Night Riding Success". The following essential provisions for emergency preparedness and prevention are recommended for consideration:

    1. full-face helmets, lending increased protection as well as an air of mystique;

    2. mouth guards, protecting those flashy grills;

    3. a mini first aid kit, stocked and maintained by said Medical Adviser.

  3. yes, full helmets, mouth guards and first aid kit, all excellent ideas.


    mouth guard:

    first aid kit: