Can The Road Disappear While Riding Your Motorcycle At Night
Have you ever been out on the road at night on your motorcycle and had the road just disappear? I have. It was the spookiest thing in the world, not to mention scary.
I was up in the mountains inColorado, having gone out for that year’s International Women & Motorcycling Conference, put on by the AMA, and was headed back toDenverlate at night. The conference was in Keystone and I had the option of going west on U.S. 6 to Dillon and then heading east on I-70 or heading east on 6 overLovelandPassand then catching I-70 on east. Let’s see: Mountain pass versus interstate, on my Suzuki Boulevard M90. Easy choice, I took the pass.
I knew I wasn’t going to be going very fast on this ride. There are too many deer out there to do anything but take it easy. And for the most part I had the road all to myself. When the occasional car came up behind me I would just flash my brakes once briefly to make sure they saw me and stayed close to the shoulder-although on a mountain road like this there really isn’t much in the way of a shoulder. Let’s say I kept close to the side of the road.
Up in the hills like that there’s no such thing as a street light. And on this particular night there also wasn’t any moonlight. It was cloudy and there was no variation at all between the blackness of the sky and the blackness of the mountainside. The only thing I had to guide me was the white or yellow line down the middle of the road and the occasional reflector mounted by the side of the road. There were guardrails in a few spots, but not many.
All of this was no big deal to me. I’ve ridden at night before plenty of times and it has never been an issue. So there I was winding my way up this pass. My headlights were set on bright and did a fine job of illuminating what was immediately in front of me, but with the road curving as much as it did, I was usually headed in a direction that was outside of where my headlight shone.
And then the strangest thing started to happen. The blackness of the asphalt melted into the blackness of the sky and the mountainside and I could no longer tell them apart, other than the section of road about 5 feet in front of me. The only thing I could see clearly was the lines on the road, which seemed to dance in mid-air. I had no visual clue even as to what was up and what was down, as there was no distinguishing between the trees and the sky, and the incline of road varied constantly, so I started feeling completely unsure if I was leaning or sitting upright. I’ve never in my life been so disoriented.
There was only one thing to do, and that was to keep going. But I slowed way, way down, to about 5 miles per hour. Normally when you ride you want to look as far ahead down the road as you can, and looking at the road immediately in front of you is something to avoid. But in this case I had no choice.
Slowly, slowly, slowly I crept up over the pass. Heading down finally it was a little better, probably because the downward angle allowed my lights to hit the trees more as well as to project further down the road. I’ve never been as happy to see interstate when riding a motorcycle as I was that night. At least there was plenty of traffic so I had all those cars as reference points.
When I told people about this later everyone thought it was very weird and no one had had a similar experience. No one, that is, until I mentioned it to my friend John. And he told me he had had the very same thing happen to him one night, in a similar situation. So I’m not crazy! Man, was that weird!