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Archive for the ‘night cycling’ Category

the heavenly bath-chair

the heavenly bath-chair

Road bikes are great when you’re in a hurry, but you can’t beat the experience of taking your time – when you have that time. Time that passes more slowly, and speed that seems much lower because your head is higher above the ground, looking about and taking in all the sights.

takin' it slow - i was walking it here

takin’ it slow – i was walking it here

On a road bike you are focussed on yourself a great deal more – your pace, your control, hazards coming up fast. I would  recommend all road bike riders to have a second “slow bike” to appreciate the inner-self via the outer world, as much as by physical exertion.

I feel that the bicycle market here is similar to the motorcycle market, in that the mainstream is either fast-looking racing style bikes or grippy dirt bikes (if you go to most mainstream motorbike shops). My take on this is to ask myself why we should all be like each other in our riding needs ?

Who says I have to have one or the other – I mean road bike or MTB ? Find your own niche I say …  be it new, or second hand classic, and do your own thing …

to salts bay

to salts bay

Today I rode the Gazelle for the first time in a while, and feel the better for it. No stress on the upper body and I saw all the sights !

 

I became a little blase the other morning on my early commute – having pre-checked my headlight to see the green “charged” light on. Didn’t worry about my spare battery …

uh-oh...

uh-oh…

About twenty minutes in the indicator suddenly went mostly red on a totally lightless track…

Thankfully, it took about half an hour for the battery to fully die, at which time it was getting faintly light…

hurry up, day !

hurry up, day !

some street lights

some street lights

I was given a valuable lesson – take that spare ( and consider a dynamo set ) !

dumaresq st

dumaresq st  

follow that bike !

follow that bike !

nearly there...

nearly there…

Lucky I wasn’t going home from an afternoon shift, it would have been a long one .

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The darker the shadow …

….  or so goes the melancholy song sung by the Australian singer Stephen Cummings.

city street

 

When one lives in a mostly hot place, as I do in summer, sometimes the only time to have a pleasant long ride is at night.

I use both dynamo and battery lights and mostly ride in suburban back streets with patchy lighting, in well lit city streets for short distances and for long distances on unlit bush cycle paths. One would think that the unlit areas need the brightest lighting, but in reality I find that less light is needed, for example, on the very dark Fernleigh Track than for areas with patchy street lighting or city streets with car traffic.

 

swansea rsl

swansea rsl from the bridge

The reason why appears to be that the eyes become adjusted to the relative darkness and can perceive the headlight’s beam faintly enough to see at a further distance than when it is washed out by patchy light/dark ambient lighting in the suburbs or by dazzling distractions in the city. Rabbits, small tree branches, the occasional dangling spider web and light-less walkers (rare) are the only likely dark obstacles to passage on the track at night, and there aren’t many sharp corners either.

 

two horizons, swansea

two horizons, swansea channel

I recently tried an experiment with a helmet mounted headlight to see if that would improve my city and suburban riding ease, and it did work well there, however in uniformly dark areas like the Fernleigh Track, I found myself wanting to turn it off. Why ?

 

dark maybe, but not as dark as it looks !

fernleigh – dark maybe, but not as dark as it looks !

The beauty of riding the Fernleigh Track at night is the sense of peace, quietness and alone-ness, with just  an adequate envelope of light around yourself and the bike, in my case adjusted for speed variation via the 3 brightness levels on the Cygolite 170 lumen that I use on my Road King bike for night commuting ). Oncoming riders with super bright LEDs in your face can be extremely disorienting and I don’t want to be another of those. For the same reason I don’t ever use the “epileptic” fast flicker modes (if I may be so unkind), as they are that annoying to me it’s like asking to be run over ( lol ).

 

with bar clamp on the cecil walker

the lezyne with bar clamp on the cecil walker

Listening to frogs and crickets  in the dark while the wind rustles by is one of the joys of this ride that can be spoiled by visual overload. With the helmet mounted Lezyne Power Drive (400 lumen – usb) light running as well, I felt as though I was ‘roo spotting or something !  Also, the particles of moisture in the air were lighting up in the beam causing an obscuring and unpleasant bright fog in front …. sigh.

 

stockton shared path - a beautiful ride, but tricky at night

stockton shared path – a beautiful ride, but tricky at night

Where the helmet mount does excel though, is on winding paths like the Stockton Hunter River side where one can then see around dark corners before taking them, avoiding the need to quickly wriggle the bars to get a peek around, as well as for pot-hole spotting on suburban streets in the darkness between street lights.

 

lezyne helmet mount with velcro strap

lezyne helmet mount with velcro strap is in the “loaded” kit

As an aside, there is a certain poetry in the dynamo lighting systems that automatically brighten up as one travels faster, and modern dynamo hubs like the one on my Gazelle have very little pedalling resistance compared with my 1950’s Millers for example. And, of course, they are virtually maintenance free. I merely take a good head torch on long dark rides on this bike in case e.g. puncture repairs are needed.

 

dyno-power!

dyno-power!

Also, while the modern single LEDs are very bright they often seem to concentrate in a narrow beam, perhaps by design and perhaps because of the tiny reflector area and the pinpoint LED source. My halogen B&M Lumotec gives much more light spread to the sides. Sadly you can’t easily swap bikes with these, but if you have only one “night bike”, it may be the way to go.

Incidentally, the main reason that I bought the Lezyne was because the retro Soma “Torpedo” that I fitted is not sufficiently bright for a potentially faster bike like my Cecil Walker, although it does look beautiful. It’s more suited to lower speeds, as one might have guessed !

 

the soma torpedo is beautiful and clever - but not at speed

the soma torpedo AA headlamp is beautiful and clever – but not at speed – the lezyne micro drive usb rear is on the seat post

 

If you buy one of the Lezyne lights, try and get it with the “loaded” kit that comes in a padded hard case with the light, q.r. bar mount, helmet mount, usb cable and an extra battery – and also lash out on a couple of extra quick release bar mounts for your other bikes. Almost essential, if you have several bikes as I do. The bar clamp allows a small amount of side to side “parallax” type adjustment that is very handy too.  This should be the last light that I buy for a long time.

 

the excellent "loaded" kit, with spare battery and protective cylinder

the excellent “loaded” kit, with the spare battery and its protective cylinder

I also have the Lezyne “micro drive” USB rechargeable tail lamp, its brightness is excellent, and I really like the slow pulsing mode that has no flicker. The mount is a simple silicone strap that so far has caused no problems, but it would be worthwhile getting spares of these too, methinks !

 

There are plenty of customer reviews for the Lezyne on the Wiggle UK site.

 

bench seat, swansea channel

bench seat, swansea channel

Happy Riding !

 

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