About three years ago I began semi-serious bicycle riding on a beat-up mtb I bought at a junk store. I had no tire pump, water bottle, computer, or lights of any kind. When winter came and the evenings were dark I would ride north of town on a desolate blacktop for about 5-10 miles. When cars came I would get over on the shoulder. I could see them coming for at least a mile.
Now I have a Trek mtb and a Raleigh hybrid. I've done metric centuries and I can fix tires and do other basic repairs on the road. I also have a Dinotte 200L and a Plant Bike Super Flash and a couple of back-up blinkies and headlights.
My usual after-work ride is 14 miles; 5 of which are on pavement and the rest on gravel. Five of the gravel miles are on a path through some very thick river bottoms. Vehicles cannot go there. Since the time change I've been riding the pavement only with my new lights. Last night I rode the entire circuit, including the 5 miles in the snakey woods. It was great. The lights have opened up a whole new world for me. Now I won't have to greatly limit my riding in the winter.
Next, I plan on getting some studded tires for the mtb so I can ride the ice on the river backwaters. Any suggestions on those?