Life Lessons I learned Riding a Bike: Riding in The Dark


“Be Careful While Riding in the Dark”

In October 2005, hurricane Wilma swept through South Florida with a vengeance and that was where we lived. It was the first hurricane we had ever been part of, and I hope it was the last!  It was terrifying.  The peak gusts of the second half of the storm were clocked at over 110 mph and I was so concerned that I made our family get into our “safe room” – the master bedroom closet.  When we went outside later in the day, the devastation was unimaginable.  Trees were down everywhere – big mature oak trees, small trees, all trees!  There was a roof in our side yard from someone's nearby house.  What!!!???  Debris was all over.  That was on a Monday.  There still was no power in our area until late in the week which meant living by candlelight and flashlights at night and cooking on the gas grill.  Thursday night I had this bright idea to go on a bike ride in our “without electricity” community – surely it was safe by now - the hurricane was three days ago.  I always ride with biking gloves, but this night I had the bright idea of not wearing them – it would just be a short ten-mile ride.  I attached my little headlight to the handlebar, and my flashing tail-light to my seat bag, and off I went.  I waved to my neighbors who were sitting around a campfire on their driveway – it is a Hurricane thing…  It was a beautiful night with bright shiny stars in the sky and the cool and clear weather made the ride quite enjoyable.  There was no traffic and no lighting on the streets or in the houses. I distinctly remember thinking early in the ride about how easy it was to ride faster at night than day.  At about the three-mile mark into the ride I was keeping a good clip of speed and rounded a turn when all of a sudden – crash! I wish I could give the sound effects of a quiet night with metal and body smacking the hard pavement.  I can still see and feel it in slow motion.  As I made a fast turn to the right, the bike’s tires lost traction and the bike came right out from under me.  I fell, still clipped into my pedals, on my right side sliding across the pavement.  The initial impact smacked my helmet to the ground and I remember feeling my chin grinding the rough pavement as I slid across it.  Now in Florida, they have this habit of grounding up shells and putting them in the asphalt mix.  In Missouri, where I live, they only use rocks which makes asphalt a little smoother!  The asphalt made from shells for the aggregate takes on a rough surface that tends to act like the most intense sandpaper with shell fragments imaginable. It was this wonderful surface that my helmet, chin, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle were sliding across as my mind was wondering what in the world just happened!  Remember, there was no power and no street lighting.  When the sliding stopped, I lay there in shock and intense pain in the middle of the road in the dark.  That was when I noticed the leaves– dry leaves from a fallen tree were everywhere.  The tree had been removed, but the leaves remained.  I never saw them until I was lying on the ground with little skin left on the body parts that I just mentioned.  On my pained body, there were deep abrasions and puncture wounds from the gear teeth on the bike. To prove my manhood, I jumped up so that the masses who were standing on the streets to watch the Tour de Don would know I was invincible.  Actually, no one saw me, but I picked the bike off of me, jumped up, and immediately knew that I had some injuries to the right side of my body.  Because it was dark, I couldn’t really see how badly I had taken it, so I picked up the bike parts from the street and gingerly got back on my bike to ride home and figure out what was needed.  My headlight didn’t work anymore, the gears were grinding, but I made it home whimpering in pain.  My neighbor saw me pull in and said something like, “That was a short ride…”  I responded with great emotion, “Yeah…aah, aah, aah.”  I put the bike in the garage and limped inside to see what was under the blood.  

I learned a lesson that wonderful night; it was a lesson that I believe can apply to our lives today also.  Here it is –when you ride in the dark you need to be cautious because you can’t really see what is on the road ahead.  The dark is not the time to pick up your speed. Riding in the dark requires special attention to the road and reduced speeds - being cautious.  I had my headlight on – but still, I couldn’t see what was really ahead.  I could see well enough to know the turns in the road, but I couldn’t see what was on the surface of the pavement.  


My motives were good.  I wanted some exercise and to experience a beautiful star-lit Florida night.  I had my light on, I had the proper equipment.  What did I do wrong?  The answer lies in my lack of caution.  I decided to speed up instead of slow down due to the circumstances.  


Recently I have been in the middle of a “life-changing” set of circumstances where I feel like I am in the dark again. Whichever choice is made will ultimately alter the balance of my working life.  I don’t want to miss God’s best for Anne and I and the community we serve.

It is time to slow down, be cautious, and seek God’s guidance.

It’s definitely not time to up the speed and make a blind decision that I and others will regret.  


I love the wisdom and promises that God gives us. Here is what He says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”


Jesus said this in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”


Those two promises from God’s words give me the wisdom needed to posture my pace and decision-making in light of the choices before us.  What about you?  Have you ever been in a hurry and not taken the necessary precautions for safety?  We do it all the time.  We lose perspective of how fragile we are and how dangerous this life really can be.  We make rash decisions to gain a few seconds on life and sometimes – Crash!  We need light in our dark times.  Instead of going faster in darkness, let’s slow down and wait for God’s clarity.  That is what He promises, and what God promises, He always delivers!


Ride safely!

Don Erehart

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