Night Rider

Part way into my 2nd ‘off-season’ as a cyclist and I really don’t want anything to do with the ‘off‘ part of that phrase. Cold-turkey symptoms clearly kicking in with pangs of anxiety attacking on dark Friday evenings at the realisation that the weather is going to be too cold/wet/windy to enjoy a weekend on the bike and that, shock-horror, I actually have to find something else to do for the weekend. Pure panic sets in and in no time I’m worrying that in the space of a month or two I’ll have lost my form that I spent hard work building up throughout the spring and summer months. My muscles are already aching through lack of use. I can’t have that!

So to keep my inner chimp that much happier, I suggest to my club members that given the reasonably warm-ish evenings (once you’ve 5 layers on and spinning a happy 100rpm), the increasing number of high-vis and high-tech lights that are available on the market, and of course not forgetting our well lit cycle paths here in the Netherlands, that we head out for a night-ride.

Now, getting on the bike, in the dark, and completing 50km is not something I would have considered this time last year. And it’s not because I think it’s unsafe (more to come on that), but more because I wasn’t so bike crazy!

To me, the idea of getting out in the dark, only the immediate road ahead visible, seemed like a great exciting adventure. After all, there’s only so much flat land you can look at here before you get bored. At least riding in the dark would require a little more concentration!

It’s probably no surprise however, that the majority of club members responded as if I’d asked them to jump in front of a train. It ‘sounds scary‘, ‘ooh it’s too un-safe‘ or, it would seem, some of them actually know how to participate in an ‘off season’. Luckily however, another fellow English person, maybe as crazy as me, volunteered to pick the route and accompany me. And that there, is key. Identifying our route in advance, we were able to flag any obstacles or parts of the route that may cause an issue.

Getting on the bike last Monday evening, I didn’t really know what to expect. But being well prepared, I enjoyed it much more than I thought. It was a little odd at times cycling through pitch-dark country lanes, not able to even identify the animals in the adjacent field and unsure if the dog barking ferociously at us is locked up, but the whole experience was much easier than I’d thought it to be. The roads were pretty empty, and the cars that did pass us (thanks to a lot of lights between the two of us), did so with great care; some in fact refused to even pass us – imagine that!

I not only enjoyed my night ride, but I managed to get 50km of cycling in during the week, that I didn’t think would be possible without sitting in a gym or bare room staring at a wall or DVD. So, why not mix it up and get out there and try it too?
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Want to plan a night ride? Here’s my tips on keeping it safe and enjoying it.
1) Plan the route – know your intended distance and pick a route you’re familiar with or know well. Identify in advance any obstacles i.e. blind junctions, corners, road furniture and make sure everyone is aware of the intended route. Maybe plan a couple of ‘get out’ short cuts or train stations that you can easily get to if you need to cut it short. And of course, be extra vigilant in making calls – forget pointing – you need to be vocal about any little thing that could easily cause trouble.

2) Don’t go alone – as tempting as it may be, going out alone isn’t the best idea. The more people, the more visible you are to others and the road to you. Plus, if you happen to get in trouble (try fixing a puncture in the dark!) 2 is better than 1. However, don’t forget that too many bodies can also be a hazard.

3) Be prepared – I’ve already mentioned the dreaded puncture, so bike maintenance is key. But, should things not go your way, make sure you carry a phone with plenty of battery to last the ride, and enough money for that emergency lift home should you need it.

4) Be bright – this goes without saying really, and I hope I don’t have to go into detail. Lights, lights, more lights and reflective clothing. It can be surprisingly dark on the rural roads than you might expect, so a good headlight or even a helmet light is best (those shadows can give you the eebie-jeebies if you’re not careful!)

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What kit did I use?

Lezyne Macro Drive Front Light – this is a very powerful headlight but also has 5 settings you can flick between – so dimmer on the lit roads to full beam on the dark country roads. It lasts between 2.5 – 3 hours, so I supported this with a couple of small LED lights, turning off the headlight when it wasn’t needed. What’s great about this light, is the built in USB for charging.
Lezyne Femto Rear Light – nice and small, I was able to hook this light onto my saddle bag with ease. As it is small, it’s easy to slip it off and into
your pocket when you leave your bike/ no longer need it.
According to my friend – it’s nice and bright!

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

The Good Old Off Season, As Confusing And Unsuccessful As Ever…

 

Avoiding the DIY - Image ©Copyright John Steel Photography - www.johnsteelphotography.com

 

So the season is over, the racing bike is back in the shed and the long winter months are upon us, but what happens now? Where do all these riders go to? If you’re a ‘normal’ member of society no doubt this change doesn’t seem a big deal, maybe you will swop your summer stead for the trusty winter machine, find the lights you hung up last year and carry on your daily lives like nothing much has changed, but if you’re a full time cyclist this change is much bigger and more disturbing than you could ever imagine.

The easiest way to describe this is to split it into stages, so here goes I’m going to let you into the unknown world, give you an insight to where everyone of ITV4 fame (sort of?!?) goes.

Stage one is best described as ‘unsuccessful social season’, it’s the same every year, the racing bike goes away, the phone starts beeping and large groups of cyclists gather at charity events or show’s where after a meal and some speeches are taken care of, everyone forgets they haven’t drunk much in the last eight months and gets stuck into a session they really can’t back up. It all gets messy and everyone makes big statements of intent for next season. It’s ridiculous and tends to go on for a good month or so before the realisation that cyclists although capable of putting on a good party are rubbish drinkers! This problem is multiplied if you have to go to a non-cycling related party in which case you try to keep up with people who aren’t built out of nothing like us cyclist’s and can drink you under the table, stay away from these gatherings they are dangerous!

Stage two is a combination of DIY and too much coffee, after the ‘unsuccessful’ drinking season hasn’t gone down with your other half too well, you will promise to fix everything in the house that has broken over the last eight months of the racing season to repair the situation. Although the problem with that is when a cyclist is left at home all day, the majority of that day will be spent thinking about fixing things and not actually fixing them as the permanent state of ‘coffee bonk’ takes hold as the coffee machine takes the full brunt of a day at home, you will end up with an ‘unsuccessful’ DIY season at the end of this stage, much the same as the before mentioned drinking merry go round!

After being caught up in Ian Bibby's & Geraint Thomas's Tumble in The Tour of Britain

Into stage three and by now most cyclist’s will either have started to beat themselves up about been unfit, got bored of destroying the house through DIY or waking up in the morning after having been drunk under the table by a rugby player again. Now they will have begun to think about starting some sort of comeback. The main problem of this stage is that it involves getting the winter bike together and no matter how well you looked after it before you put it in the shed last year it isn’t going to work. My own personal list of problems this year involved a stuck seat pin (that was 2cm to short? Work that one out), and a distinct lack of working brakes. This is the time of year you are most likely to see domestic pro’s in their local bike shops as they attempt to head off on rides but lose bits of the winter stead on route and have to bail into the shops for help, if your after your favourite domestic pro’s autograph this is the best time of year to be creeper and hang around in bike shops.

The light at the end of the tunnel will start to show by now though, the realisation that a comeback to training is required or more that it’s easier hiding out on the bike than having to attempt DIY SOS LIVE at home has hit all cyclist, you will start to see them come out of the stages as you read about where they and their team have taken off on a training camp to get ready for the coming season. These training camps are where the demons of the winter are thrown off and cyclists become cyclists again, back to reality and the safety of the bike!

Important! No cyclists were hurt in the process of this blog!

 

 

Minty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Light Revolution

 

 While browsing the latest submissions on KickStarter.com I came across this slightly Close Encounters meets Tron with a dash of E.T. bicycle lighting solution. The Revolights attach to your wheel rim with tiny clips that you place on your spokes (yes it only works with spokes). Take a look at the video below.

You can get involved by becoming a financial backer for the project via the KickStarter.com website, the design project has proved to be very popular so far with the minimum funding goal already being reached. Backers get their own set of lights once they go into production and before they go on general release to the public. It certainly will be interesting to see if they would be considered road legal in most countries, or indeed if the light is sufficient and casts far enough on very dark roads. It’s a very innovative idea and certainly means you’d have less bulk on your bike, it puts me in mind of my childhood and Spokey Dokeys! I can’t wait to see try them out!

 

Click here to visit the Revolights Project Funding Page for more info on how they work.

 

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