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Riding in the dark(4 posts)

Riding in the darkSteve Davis
Nov 17, 2001 8:30 PM
Last night I went out for a road ride at 9 pm. The weather in Mass was beautiful all day and I couldn't get out of work in time to get a daylight ride in so I tried out a new light I bought for $50 (on closeout) for the first time.

Big mistake!

After the kids went to bed, I casually told my wife I was going for a ride. "You're kidding, right?" was her response. After I told her about my new light, I added, "don't worry, I'll stay in the neighborhood". Needless to say, I didn't. Instead, I headed out on a 16 mile loop on smooth, low-traffic back roads. I figured that I'd be gone about 45 minutes and the battery is supposed to last about an hour and 20 minutes.

Ten miles into the ride, my white light is starting to cast a yellow beam on the road and soon it's almost impossible for me to see anything. This really sucked. When starting out I opted to take the back roads so there were no street lights to illuminate the way. At times I was pretty scared and was truly regretting finding such a "good deal" on my Vistalite Super Nova. It's going back to the store first thing next week.

I had a blinkie on the back and tights with a reflective band on the calves so I wasn't too worried about being seen. It's just that I couldn't see anything. For those of you who ride at night, do you carry a back up light?
re: contrast...Akirasho
Nov 18, 2001 6:36 AM
... a few years ago I descended into the Grand Canyon Caverns (actually 'bout 120 miles from the canyon itself... yet physically linked). As a demonstration, they turned the lights off for a few minutes... now that was dark...

During the early and late season, as daylight hours shorten, I often find myself trying to squeeze out a bit more ride time on the edge of darkness using a homemade light system. My routes generally go from relatively well lit urban to rural landscapes. I put a strobing Xenon Vistalite on the front AND rear to improve my visibility to others.

If I'm anywhere's near a strong yet distant light source (be it street or vehicle), the contrast forces me to run my light... If I'm anywhere's away from a strong ambient light source (be it street, house or vehicle), the lack of contrast forces me to run my light. When all is said and done, unless I'm in town, or it's a full moon night, that sucker's gotta run (especially since sooooo many other folks will be out and about without ANY light... and don't expect a cyclist to whizz by them at 20 mph). Its a matter of how much contrast can an individual deal with.

The only spare light I carry is a small penlight for roadside repair work. I guess I put a lot of stock in my light system. On occasion, I've pushed the runtime to it's limits and rode home on a yellow beam... but I've never lost it all... yet. I'm an extremely redundant (with respect to material things) person by nature... so it's kinda odd that I don't have some form of backup... but since my lights are homemade, I can't blame anyone else if they fail... and it begs the question... do you need a back up for your back up... ?

We abide.

Remain In Light.
re: Riding in the darkRich Clark
Nov 18, 2001 1:26 PM

Sometimes it takes a couple of charging cycles for a new SLA battery to "wake up" fully, and it's important that the first charge be very deep, like 14 hours.

I always run a new battery through a couple of in-house cycles (charge it, then run the light until it starts to dim, then charge it again) before using it on the road.

No, I don't carry a backup light. I do carry a replacement lamp when I use the single-lamp Niterider Pro 6, but not when I use my Performance Dual. I do have a small flashlight on my keyring at all times, so I can make repairs in the dark if my light's not working.

re: Riding in the darkColuber
Nov 19, 2001 12:22 AM
I use really cheap low end lights, which is particularly stupid because I ride in the dark a lot; this time of year, about half the riding I do is in the dark, maybe more than half. I generally stay on roads, usually high traffic ones with street lights, and avoid multi-user trails completely when it is dark because they are very dark and it is difficult to see oncoming bikers, joggers, dogs, etc, and difficult to tell how far away they are. I have on occasion gotten into a bit of trouble because of my cheap lights though; one time I took off on a ride at about 10 PM from Boston, rode around randomly, and found myself in Concord. On the way back I found myself on a pitch black road with no traffic and no light except for moonlight, and my headlight batteries began to fail. I wasnt worried about being seen because I had plenty of reflectors and a blinky taillight, but it was next to impossible to see anything. In my intelligence, I had neglected to bring spare batteries and there was nowhere anywhere nearby that I could buy some at that hour, like the other time's I've found myself far from home with failing batteries. The cheap headlight is barely bright enough to illuminate the road any useful amount, especially at high speed. So I was cruising merrily along, having a great time... when I got a flat. I'm still not sure what caused it, as it was pitch dark. I didnt want to run down my batteries when I wasnt actually riding, so I had to change my inner tube basically by feel. Not an experience I particularly want to repeat... but decent lights are expensive. My bf wants to buy me a headlight for my birthday though :)