Bontrager Glo and Ember LED lights
Bontrager Glo and Ember
As the nights have become dark we all need to make sure we can see and be seen.
Bontrager’s Glo and Ember lights might not be quite the thing if you want to see but they will certainly allow you to be seen.
For the last couple of years I have been using the cheap £2 frog eye lights that are available by the shed load on eBay. While they do a job there is certainly a question over the level of lumens they produce and to be honest there ability to withstand the elements is suspect. I thought it was time to try out something a little more up market, even though this might go against my cheapskate grain!
As soon as I picked up the Bontrager lights I could tell they where going to perform significantly better then the cheap frog eyes.
The marketing blurb on Bontrager’s website describes the lights as follows:-
Test lights supplied by Bikechain Ricci
Instantly add front or rear safety lighting with the Glo headlight and and Ember tail light. Used as a stand alone system in twilight conditions, as additional lighting or as an emergency back-up, these compact, bright and stylish lights can be run in either steady or flashing modes and provide over 40 hours of run time. Each includes two CR2032 batteries and an elastic strap for attachment to a variety of surfaces including helmets.
The blurb on the packaging is slightly more generous with the run times, 50/100+ hours (Glo front light) and 100+ hours (Ember). The Glo offers 5 lumens and the Ember 3 Lumens.
Ember provides a bright rear light even in daylight.
Fitting the lights is dead simple and the multi hole bands allow for very secure fitting to either seat-post or handle bars, as well as potential use as a helmet light.
These little bad boys are way brighter then any lights of this type I have used before, certainly making them worth the money. They really are great lights to allow you to be seen by but not so good for you to see the road ahead. I frequently use them as my road lights riding city streets to and from the dark lanes or off road ride areas, where I switch to my high power Cree LED lights.
If you are looking for something that will help make you visible on your town or city commute in these dark winter months then get yourself along to your local bike shop and pick up a pair of Bontrager Glo and Ember lights.
A definte one to ask Santa to leave in your stocking.
A CyclingShorts.cc Star buy at 90%
Retails for around £25 – £30 per set (can be bought individually).
A big thank you to @bikechainricci for supplying these lights for test.
It’s always good to get out on a bright Autumn day.
I love this time of year as the Summer turns to Autumn, the leaves begin to turn some of the most amazing colours and winter gradually gets its claws into the land as the frosty mornings start cold and bright. However if I’m really honest I hate the cold dark dank days that also come in late autumn and winter. However on the bright side it is a great time to get out and play in the mud!
As many a great explorer has said “there is no such thing as bad weather just poor preparation” actually I’m not really sure who said that maybe not Scott! But seriously you can ride in any weather if you are wearing the correct clothing or have some of the top tips below to keep feet and hands warm.
So do not be afraid of the weather hug it tight and be a conquering hero of Autumn and Winter riding.
I noticed just this last week that the number of CX Sportives is on the increase and a quick trawl through the events list suggests that they are very popular in the South, come on you guys in the North make sure your events are publicised.
I rode my very first CX Sportive this year, the amazing Adventure X event based around Keswick. What an experience it was, don’t forget to read my review of the event elsewhere on this website.
So if you fancy trying a little bit of cyclocross but don’t have a CX bike, well don’t worry most events are open to wide range of bikes, pretty much anything will do, except perhaps your pride and joy the full carbon road bike!
From my experience riders will turn up on any bike from a full carbon CX bike, hardtail MTB, Full suspension MTB to a flat bar hybrid. The only thing I would recommend is that you check the ride profile and make sure you have a suitable range of gears for the event unless you are riding single speed! I got caught out on the Mini Monster Adventure X in Keswick.
CX Sportive (www.cxsportive.com) has several good rides available this season:
CX Sportives are the fantastic new mixed surface events that are combining the thrills of on and off-road riding into one awesome experience!
•Sportive style events on fast, mixed surface courses
•Courses from 40-80km
•Full sportive support and infrastructure
•Great for all kinds of bikes: CX, MTB, Hybrid, 29er, Singlespeed & even Road!*
Riding a mix of road and off road is so exhilarating.
Big challenge rides tend to come in two flavours; massive road sportives and hardcore MTB enduros. But why not mix it up, take on the best of both and spice up your riding?
CX Sportive is an exciting new ride format. It’s ideal for your cross bike, but equally suitable for your XC MTB or even road winter training bike, tweaked for a little rough stuff!* The course mixes back roads, interwoven with byways and a few short tougher off road links that will certainly bring on the heat!
Your choice of steed will define your ride. Will the versatility of a MTB offer the best performance over mixed terrain? Will the pure speed of your road bike make up for time lost on the short, occasional off road dismounts? Or will the CX bike give you the best return where it counts?
To prove a point (or just let you fly the flag for your tribe), they even include your bike choice in your results listing; so if you insist on tackling the route on your mum’s folding shopper, they’ll credit your lunacy!**
You’ll have a range of time targets to aim for, with age and gender adjustments; including full route marking, RFID timing, top notch catering and first class, friendly organisation and support.
*Not recommended for your beloved, super-light carbon road thoroughbred!
**Disclaimer: Don’t tackle the route on your mum’s folding shopper!
Ride X the Evan CX rides
The bike supermarket that is Evans have also added CX Sportives to their list of Ride It events this year. They might well be worth checking out if you live in the South (Evans Ride it CX Sportives).
For the Autumn/Winter season they’ve added 4 exciting mixed terrain routes to their existing Sportive offering. As with all of their road sportives, all routes will be fully way-marked with GPX files published pre-event. High5 sponsored feed stations will help you tackle a variety of riding surfaces (tarmac, mud, grass & more!) whilst clocking up some worthy mileage in this new format. The routes are best suited to cyclocross and adventure-road bikes that are up to some off-road exploring.
All rides include: Fully way-marked routes • Well stocked High5 feed stations • Mechanical support • GPS files published pre-event • Free High5 pack worth £10 when you sign up 8 weeks in advance • Free Garmin hire • Times published post-event
Cycling Weekly Adventure X Series
Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for next years Adventure X series promoted and run by Cycling Weekly with the support of changing sponsors. The event I rode in October was amazing, one of the best challenges I have have ever taken part in (more details can be found in my report on Adventure X Lakeland Monster Miles)
With so much going on on the cyclocross sportive scene surely it must be time for you to ditch the winter rode bike and get yourself a CX bike and rise to the challenge. I did and I haven’t looked back :)
Bioracer Pixel Jacket
This years show runs from 26th – 28th September 2014 and has exhibits from just about every brand you have heard of in the Cycling World and then some.
There are many highlights and there has been a push this year to get some of the fresh new equipment on show for the punters to drool over.
Kim Madsen presents New XTR Di2 Gruppo
Top of this list was the Shimano stand where Kim Madsen and his team have unveiled the new XTR Di2 Groupset and have set it up on a working bike along with a 3D interactive Trainer that when wearing the magic 3D goggles allows you to actually ride in the mountains!! There will be big queues to play with this so get there early!! Kim and his team are part of Shimano’s drive to keep the fun and excitement in cycling and when you see the faces on the grown-ups testing the new kit you will see this plan’s working!!
For Weight Watchers the big draw will be Treks stand featuring the new super light Emonda range which features there lightest ever production model. The excuse that they haven’t got one in the colour you want is out the window as they have a vast range of custom options to match your team or club kit, seeing is believing but this bike is measured on how fast your jaw drops when you lift it and say ‘Wow’!!
Bioracer have a fantastic simple stand which shows their new super safe Pixel range which reflects light the give riders visibility in poor light, ideal for winter and at the other end of the scale their much talked about Speedsuit time trial wear actually had people queuing to see what Martin and all the top testers have been using to help cheat the wind.
The exhibition is vast so take sensible shoes and enjoy the entertainment such as at 14.15 pm everyday Jules Thraser from ATG training giving a demo on how to program Shimano Di2 components, easy when you are shown well!!
Image: Alastair Johnstone
Why do we test ourselves? Why must we do things we don’t need to do, push ourselves towards intangible limits for no gain or glory? It’s different for professional athletes, of course – for them, pushing yourself physically is their stock in trade, but for the mere mortals that make up the bulk of the population, it’s more ephemeral, George Mallory’s response to the question, “why do you want to climb Everest?” It’s hard to argue a need to do endurance events, because there’s little glory in it beyond your own band of brothers (and sisters). You’re not going to make the news, the bank balance isn’t going to swell, and, outside of your fellow competitors, no-one’s really going to care. So. Why do you get a four-man team together for the Wiggle Mountain Mayhem 24 hour endurance mountain bike race? Because it’s there. Mallory would approve.
Team NTG are newcomers to the whole Mayhem thing, which goes way back to 1998 as the oldest 24 hour mountain bike race in the country. We picked up the gauntlet for the first time last year, as the event moved from the legendary Eastnor Park to new premises at Gatcombe Park, and although Mayhem has a reputation for being unlucky with the weather, it was dispiriting last year to have to spend a whole day collectively slithering through mud and along the ground. Still, where there’s no sense, there’s no feeling right? Right – the entry for the 2014 event was being planned long before the clag had been washed off the bikes.
This time the weather was outstanding, bright sun and blue skies all day long. The rules for a 24 hour mountain bike race are pretty simple – at twelve midday on Saturday, there’s a mass running start to the bikes. You can then commence lapping the 7.3 mile course right up until midday on Sunday, and any complete lap started within that timespan will count. Accordingly, as the team member who so far hadn’t yet started a race, I found myself amongst the masses lined up as the clock ticked towards midday.
There was a great, carnival atmosphere on the line, and it was hard to resist the temptation to run like the wind when the klaxon, especially with a horde of lean athletic types bounding past me like gazelle. I’m not an athlete – no, really, I’m not – but running is way down my list of sports I’m less bad at, and the outstanding first few yards that saw me in the top fifty at turn one had dwindled to a position as Tail-End Charlie, barely ahead of the solo riders (yes, solo racers at a 24 hour race – it’s not right, it really isn’t) who, less bothered by a rapid start, were walking the kilometre to their bikes.
Mayhem’s course designers have learnt a thing or two about building a track, and the opening miles were fast and open, which meant very little in the way of tailbacks, even with many hundreds of cyclists setting off at roughly the same time, plenty of room for passing if you were quicker than the rider in front. Gatcombe Park is Princess Anne’s garden, and it is glorious, rolling wooded hills and meadows – under the summer solstice sun, what had been slick, rutted tracks last year now became great, fast-moving trails. Downhills were the order of the day for the first half, culminating in the fantastic Red Bull timed section, but the payoff was a climbing-dominated second half. Ah well – you’ve got to have the bad to appreciate the good.
After the fast and technical Kenda descent, clearing the last climb out of the valley was a challenge for overheated riders, a natural sun trap in the bright glare of midday, but that led you to the final mile of the circuit, which led through the campsite itself, addressing a criticism of the event from last year and giving riders a great atmosphere as they panted their way to the line. I peeled off after one lap and handed over to Steve after a hard sixty five minutes in the saddle. Still just under twenty three hours to go…
Steve was on it and was back for changeover after less than forty five minutes – team captain Jon was next up and even quicker, clocking a sub 43 before Luke dropped in a solid anchor leg, putting me back on the bike little more than two and a half hours after I’d last stepped off it. If ever you have any doubts as to the elasticity of time, endurance racing like this is a great experiment – time on the bike can seem very quick, on the good downhills, or very slow, on the tough climbs. And between stints, when you’re trying to rest and recover as best you can, it flies like an eagle.
Having been tonked by my team mates on lap one (and, err, being lapped by the leaders, into the bargain), I pulled the pin on my second lap and gave it my maximum sustainable pace – the end result was that I was still miles off the pace, but quite a bit more fatigued, having no problems throwing water down my neck but struggling to eat, going big on malt loaf and flapjack. By half eight I was back out again, the heat having gone out of the day and a simply amazing dusky light settling across the estate, racers flying through dappled patches in the woods. After handing over to Steve, I hit the caterers for a pasta bolognaise and a brew – a curious sensation, I felt desperately hungry, but had absolutely no desire to eat, even though it was very nice. I forced it down anyway, and was very glad I did.
As darkness fell the woods became a moving cosmos, bright lights flitting between the trees, and NTG played what’s as close to a tactical ace card as we had – two lap stints overnight were planned in order to allow everyone to get as much rest as they could through the night. Having given ourselves a rough guideline of an hour a lap, we were way ahead of schedule, starting my night shift almost an hour and a half early, around half ten. Riding through the night is a different experience, each rider isolated in a little cone of bright white light, with little to be seen outside your own personal bubble. Modern night lights are astonishing, way too bright to be safely deployed on the road, but even they can do little to dispel the encompassing darkness of the woods at night, owls hooting and unseen creatures crashing through the undergrowth as you passed.
With the heat of the day gone, it was a really pleasant environment to be cycling in, but the fatigue load was making it very hard going – physically tired, hydrated but hungry, and desperate for some sleep. It was the thought of sleep that kept me going, trying to work out how much time I had, even planning strategies on my return to minimise the time taken to secure my kit before I could hit the sack. It’s at times like this that my respect for the solo riders is at it’s utmost – even now, just two days later, I know I can only get a sense of how bone-tired I was at that time, and how utterly incomprehensible to me it was that people had been riding non-stop since the race had started. The atmosphere and camaraderie on the course was fantastic throughout, riders chatting and encouraging each other all the way through, but to have a solo rider cheerfully tell me “ keep going, you’re doing well”, at nigh-on one o’clock in the morning as I slogged dispiritedly up a slope while he bounced past… I wish I knew who that person was, because in its own insignificant way, in that tiny moment, I caught a glimpse of what people are physically, mentally and spiritually capable of, and I knew how vast the gap was between those limits and my own. Even in the darkest depths of my own personal midnight, it was mightily inspiring.
It was just gone one’o’clock when I finally stumbled back to the changeover area, Steve handing me the transition jacket (© NTG VC), pedaling blindly back to the tent and jumping still fully clothed into bed, the alarm set for half five. But it was earlier than that when I awoke, still fatigued and wishing I could stay in bed for, ooo, another week or so. As I listened to the world slowly waking up in the earliest of the dawn light, I could hear Jon treading very carefully around, and gave him a quiet shout, see if he knew when Luke had set off so I could judge how long I had left in bed. But as we were chatting, disaster unfolded – Luke, unable to eat since before the race began, had been subsisting entirely on gels and energy bars, and the acidy fuel was playing havoc, giving ferocious acid reflux on top of the physical and mental fatigue. By six in the morning, he was through.
So it was an urgent jump out of bed, grab the bike, fill a bottle and time to head straight out on the circuit. Things were starting to hurt, but the air was lovely and cool and crisp, the campsite still asleep as the eedjits on bikes kept whizzing through. With the sun rising, the little damp that had developed overnight started to dry out and the return of visibility made the course fun again. But my concerns were purely selfish – I knew I had one more lap left to do before the end of the race, and I was becoming increasingly worried there might be two on offer. I knew from speaking to Jon that Steve had suffered cramps during his night stint, and there was an outside possibility we might end up down to two riders. I didn’t think I could face any more laps…
I was thus even more happy than normal to see Steve waiting for me in the transition area, and celebrated with a bacon and egg roll and a cup of tea before returning to camp – again, it was that curious sensation of feeling starving, but really feeling unable to eat. It was a struggle, but the food was delicious and I felt ten times better for having eaten something solid. Rejuvenated, I returned to camp and prepped myself for the endgame – which largely consisted of a change to dry clothes, some water, and a refill of my water bottle. Then all there was to do was wait.
As nine o’clock approached, the sun was well up and it was time to get back on the bike. I won’t lie, it hurt, but I knew that the backside pain would ease a few miles in – the leg pain, however, was going to be here to stay. Jon was in to hand over all too soon for my liking, and it was time to go.
It was a weird lap. I knew that, if nothing went wrong, I should be in time to hand over to Steve, then Jon, and they were still lapping plenty quick enough to finish before twelve, which left the possibility of another lap. Like a lot of blokes, I take a stubborn pride in never giving up in the face of adversity (see common perceptions of men reading instruction manuals, for example), but the realization was dawning that I didn’t want to do this anymore – could I still ride the bike? Physically, yes, I guess I could turn the pedals and still push up the hills, but… I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Mentally, I’d thrown in the towel and it was a hard realization to take.
But with that realization came release, and it was both a sad and enjoyable last half of a lap, knowing that I wouldn’t be riding this course again, at least for this year. One last attack down the Kenda descent (and how much more fun was that in the dry, compared to the slithery slide it was last year!), then out into the field for the last climb up the valley. Already crowds had started gathering as the final hours of the race drew nearer, and I was absolutely determined to ride that last climb out. I won’t lie, it felt a bit emotional riding the final mile through the campsite one last time, throwing a (very basic) shape over the plastic Jump Of Doom ramp before handing the baton to Steve. And I don’t mind admitting I had a little tear in my eye as I returned to camp for the last time.
We did ok, by our standards – 25 laps in 24 hours, 55th in Open Men out of 80. The post race celebrations were satisfied but pretty muted, and as I write this, two days later, I’m tired and it still hurts to walk up the stairs. Genuine consideration was given to not returning again next year, on the basis that it’s never going to get any better than that – that’s how good it was. But whether we do it or not (and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we will…), there’s no doubt there’ll be thousands ready to take up the challenge for 2015. Why ride Mountain Mayhem? Because it’s there.