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  1. #1
    zpl
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    My first night ride

    I just returned from my first "official" night ride - one started after darkness with the express purpose of riding at night. I have been commuting home as darkness falls lately, but this was a whole different experience.

    A summary of my night riding setup:

    * DiNotte 200L on my handlebars
    * Fenix L2D on my helmet
    * 2 PB SuperFlashes at the top of my seat stays - one on blink, the other on steady
    * Red rear reflector on the seatpost
    * Wheel reflectors
    * Reflective material already on my shoes and hi-viz jacket
    * Xinglet reflective harness/vest thing
    * Reflective bracelets added to my ankles and wrists
    * Riding glasses with clear lenses and my Take A Look mirror
    * Cell phone, Road ID, and the typical stuff to fix a flat.

    As you can tell, I'm pretty serious about taking responsibility for my safety and visibility.

    The first thing I discovered are that the back roads in my area are totally unlit. This is probably best for my visibility and lighting effectiveness anyway. I left around 7:30 and went out for a little over an hour. Traffic wasn't as dead as I had hoped, but was certainly lighter than the evening rush hour.

    There were definitely a few cases where cars did not know what to make of me. One car headed in the opposite direction nearly came to a stop in the middle of the road as I rode by, and another just sat at a Stop sign for ages as I approached, probably wondering what the hell I was. I found this a little bit disconcerting, but it certainly reinforced how visible I was making myself.

    The light combo I have is pretty good but it's clear that here is no way I can ride much faster than 15 MPH safely. So the rule of night riding is to take it easy.

    It was a bit awkward having the helmet light, sometimes having to tilt my head in odd ways to see further down the road or to look down at my water bottle cage to make sure I don't miss it when I take a drink. I'm guessing it's a general rule to turn off the helmet light when coming up to major intersections, or I'd end up potentially blinding drivers.

    I did see and hear some critters on the sides of the road and found the darkness behind me to be slightly spooky. And I doubt fixing a flat would be much fun.

    My plan is now to ride into work late (in the light) and come home late (in the darkness), and get more comfortable with it.

    It's a unique experience. I'd feel very safe doing it regularly if I wasn't doing it solo.

    Scott

  2. #2
    Senior Member cyclefreaksix's Avatar
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    Darkness is your friend as far as visibility is concerned (assuming you're lit up like a Christmas Tree!). It's dark when I ride into work and it's dark when I ride home from work. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become with it. Sounds like you've done your homework and are pretty well outfitted. Good job and congrats!!

  3. #3
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    Yea I just got back into riding and rode 5mi tonight on a road that is like a mini Highway. It was quite an experience. I used my Trek 7.2fx with a Blackburn Headlight and taillight;front and rear reflector; wheel reflectors; flat fix stuff; little bag that hangs from the rear seat with my multi tool. I had my cellphone in my pocket with a bluetooth headset on. It was a little scary with a lot of traffic doing about 40-60 mph, especially when I was approaching sewer grates and had to either stop or swerve around them (not sure what would happen when riding over a sewer grate perpendicular, so I was being cautious). Let's just say that is was exhilirating.

    How is the mirror working out for you? I'm debating on whether or not to get one.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zpl View Post
    I just returned from my first "official" night ride - one started after darkness with the express purpose of riding at night. I have been commuting home as darkness falls lately, but this was a whole different experience.

    A summary of my night riding setup:

    * DiNotte 200L on my handlebars
    * Fenix L2D on my helmet
    * 2 PB SuperFlashes at the top of my seat stays - one on blink, the other on steady
    * Red rear reflector on the seatpost
    * Wheel reflectors
    * Reflective material already on my shoes and hi-viz jacket
    * Xinglet reflective harness/vest thing
    * Reflective bracelets added to my ankles and wrists
    * Riding glasses with clear lenses and my Take A Look mirror
    * Cell phone, Road ID, and the typical stuff to fix a flat.

    As you can tell, I'm pretty serious about taking responsibility for my safety and visibility.

    The first thing I discovered are that the back roads in my area are totally unlit. This is probably best for my visibility and lighting effectiveness anyway. I left around 7:30 and went out for a little over an hour. Traffic wasn't as dead as I had hoped, but was certainly lighter than the evening rush hour.

    There were definitely a few cases where cars did not know what to make of me. One car headed in the opposite direction nearly came to a stop in the middle of the road as I rode by, and another just sat at a Stop sign for ages as I approached, probably wondering what the hell I was. I found this a little bit disconcerting, but it certainly reinforced how visible I was making myself.

    The light combo I have is pretty good but it's clear that here is no way I can ride much faster than 15 MPH safely. So the rule of night riding is to take it easy.

    It was a bit awkward having the helmet light, sometimes having to tilt my head in odd ways to see further down the road or to look down at my water bottle cage to make sure I don't miss it when I take a drink. I'm guessing it's a general rule to turn off the helmet light when coming up to major intersections, or I'd end up potentially blinding drivers.

    I did see and hear some critters on the sides of the road and found the darkness behind me to be slightly spooky. And I doubt fixing a flat would be much fun.

    My plan is now to ride into work late (in the light) and come home late (in the darkness), and get more comfortable with it.

    It's a unique experience. I'd feel very safe doing it regularly if I wasn't doing it solo.

    Scott
    One of the problems with night riding, is that it tends to be much colder, especially if the weather is clear, it's not uncommon to lose 10℃/18℉ soon after the sun sets, you lose less when it's cloudy as the clouds act like a blanket, keeping the heat in longer.

    As for spooky, probably the spookiest is walking through the bush at night, especially in winter, as many of the noises from frogs and insects are not present, so it can be dead silent, so when you hear something, you immediately conclude it's something dangerous....

  5. #5
    Bull nobull60's Avatar
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    Darn and that glow I saw earlier was not a meteor?? Good job on the lighting. I say you can never have enough safety equipment when it comes to YOU!!

  6. #6
    zpl
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeGk View Post
    How is the mirror working out for you? I'm debating on whether or not to get one.
    I've been using a Take A Look eyeglass mounted mirror ever since starting to bike commute. It totally changed how comfortable I was riding in traffic. I can't recommend it highly enough.

  7. #7
    zpl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    One of the problems with night riding, is that it tends to be much colder, especially if the weather is clear, it's not uncommon to lose 10℃/18℉ soon after the sun sets, you lose less when it's cloudy as the clouds act like a blanket, keeping the heat in longer.
    I hear you! After spending over $200 on a lighting setup, it's become clear to me that I won't be able to ride at night that much longer this year. Kind of frustrating, but I think over time I'll get enough out of my gear to justify the investment.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zpl View Post
    I hear you! After spending over $200 on a lighting setup, it's become clear to me that I won't be able to ride at night that much longer this year. Kind of frustrating, but I think over time I'll get enough out of my gear to justify the investment.
    You can always dress for cold, in many ways it's easier to dress for cold weather, then hot weather....

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    You can always dress for cold, in many ways it's easier to dress for cold weather, then hot weather....
    +1
    You can always add clothing....There is only so much that you can remove and remain tasteful / legal!
    Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
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  10. #10
    Clydeasaurus tomdaniels's Avatar
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    I just ordered a 900 Lumen Flashlight (probably not quite 900, but darn bright I hear) from dealextreme. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.12060 I can't wait to try it out as my new headlight, but I expect shipping to take another week. I have a 120 Lumen light that I intend to point down to light the ground around me and of course some rear light blinkies.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    I guess you were wisible from outer space..

  12. #12
    Thread Killer evblazer's Avatar
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    That light setup is exactly what i had last winter and it didn't hold me back, although i'm no speed demon. I know different road situations, ambient light, night visions and all that change things but try and experiment with where the dinotte is pointing to see if you can get it into a more comfortable position. For a time I was using the fenix to see a little bit further down the road then where I had the dinotte pointing and it seemed to work out well.

    The xinglet is nice eh? My wife and I both have one and it works really well when riding our road bikes. Riding in the cold can be really nice and rewarding too. People tend to stay inside at home in the cold in the areas I have lived so you have more of the roads to yourself. As long as you keep the wind chill off you keeping warm isn't much of a problem.

    TomDaniels.. be sure to report back on how you like that light. I have heard that although those things spit out alot of lumens they are more floody and don't have alot of throw, plus for bike riding alot of light ends up in drivers eyes or the sky instead of on the road so be careful where you point it.

  13. #13
    zpl
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    Well I went on night ride #2 last night, this time staying out for nearly two hours. I found I was much more comfortable and had better luck adjusting the DiNotte and Fenix to maximize their effectiveness. It also helped that this time I left around 8:30 so I got to enjoy lower traffic volumes. I got to see a pair of deer and it was just amazing to look up and see the moonlight falling on the tops of trees.

    I'll say, riding on pitch black back roads has its spooky moments, but I thought to myself what would be really scary would be mountain biking solo at night in the woods!

  14. #14
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Nice setup! Pics pics pics pics pics, please. Or do I just use Google Earth to see a picture of you riding?
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  15. #15
    zpl
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    Nice setup! Pics pics pics pics pics, please. Or do I just use Google Earth to see a picture of you riding?
    As a matter of fact, I did post some photos of the light setup in the commuting forum:

    Some photos of my helmet light mount setup

    Enjoy,

    Scott

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