Riding with the Cycle of the Sun


Riding a motorcycle into the rising sun is like getting poked in the eye with a sharp red stick. You can wear a pair of Ray Bans but you’re still riding blind. Now I know why a lot of dual sport riders wear moto-style helmets with visors. I’d gladly swap my flip face lid for an AFX FX-37.

I know a couple of riders who tape their face shields with an inch gaffer’s tape along the top. (For those who haven’t used it, gaffer’s tape is stronger than duct tape and leaves no sticky residue.) This strategy helps somewhat in the canyons where you may be in the shadows one moment, and in the furious sunlight the next.

None of this will do you any good, not visors nor gaffer’s tape, when the sun is coming from below you. I found myself in that situation last week riding on the Camino Cielo ridgeline. When this happens all you can see is the sun. Target fixation being what it is, it’s near impossible to find the roadway, so you slow to a crawl, try to ride one-handed with the other hand blotting out the heli-arc that blinds you.

You can’t beat back the sun but you can control your ride. This means riding in harmony with the rolling spheres…and knowing when the sun comes up in the morning. The kind folks at the US Navy give accurate sun and moon data, tipping you on daybreak, actual sunrise, sunset and twilight data. A nitpick here, on their newly designed site you have to enter date on one screen and your location on the next screen. I found a sun and moon data widget that works just as well, provided you only want today’s data. Seeing that the difference in sunrise between one day and the next is only about a minute it works for me. For trip planning I’d use the Navy site.

It comes as no surprise, yet it still amazes me, that riding a motorcycle every day has made me much more aware of the world around me.