It's that time of year again: longer nights, shorter days, a protective layer of insulation growing around my midsection... That's right, winter's here. Being from NYC originally, it's an insult to Jack Frost to even call this time of year "winter" here in La La Land. But there is one aspect of the season that doesn't change from coast to coast: the low-hanging sun. You know what I mean: If you're riding toward it you've got your left hand up shielding your eyes, and away it's covering the mirror.
What I've found most effective (not to mention cheap) when wearing a full-face helmet is attaching strips of self-adhesive sunshade to my faceshield. You can find the stuff at any auto parts store. It comes in sheets that you just cut to fit, apply with soapy water and let dry. Costs pennies. Other options include tinted faceshields, flip-down internal visors and sunglasses, all of which help to varying degrees. When I've been caught out without any of the above, I tilt my head down to let the brow of my helmet block the sun.
What's concerned me more lately, however, is the sun's effect on other motorists. My daily commute takes me west in the morning and east in the evening, meaning the sun's not in my eyes, but is blinding everyone coming toward me. If bikes are hard to see under the best of conditions, what are my chances of being flattened by someone who's too busy text-messaging to flip down their sun visor? I see it constantly: They've got their hands up trying to shield their eyes, they're squinting, they start to pull out in front of me and then see me at the last second-hopefully.
I do all I can to continue to draw breath: I keep my high beam on during the day; I wear brightly colored apparel; I sometimes even wave an arm-anything to assure I'm visible. I don't want someone to be standing over me at the crash scene repeating, "I never saw him..."
Those of us who live in states where winter riding is possible are lucky. I certainly remember those long New York winters where all I could do was read Motorcyclist and tick off the days till spring. But let's all be aware that when we're having a hard time seeing, so is everyone else.