1 hour after I have got back from my ride this evening and I am on a high. My co-rider and I have not been out on the Tandem for around a month, thanks to holidays, so it was a ride that had to be done tonight. Quite warm, but early evening the wind got up to around 30mph, and a bit of rain in the air. We decided to do one of our gentler rides, that is 8 mile warm up on the road, then 15 miles offroad and a final 6 mile cycle track to get home.
1st disapointment was our normal cafe after 8 miles was not open so had to go to McDonalds for coffee. Still coffee was better than expected so back on the bike to tackle the offroad--just as it started raining. My old Polaris jacket (as I was about to find out) is no longer water proof so it was a good job I had some protection being the stoker. Pity the wind was sideways on or I may have stayed dryer, but as it was, within 2 minutes of riding it chucked it down and I was soaked right through.
This was going to be our first night ride and we wanted to see if we could ride at night. We had two light systems on board. Back up was a good quality cateye lamp that uses 5 LED's, and seemed bright enough at home. It isn't so it was a good job our main system is a 5 watt flood lamp and a 10 watt spot. These do work- or would have done if my pilot decided to use them. He kept switching all the lights off to acustom his night vision. Mind you, he did switch every thing on for the downhills after a couple of spills, but luckily with no damage.
This was just a recce ride to see how we got on, and a couple of things came out of the ride. First of all, you need maximum light possible to ride off road at night. Even when well light you cannot see how slippery the trail is untill you start sliding, and a couple of times that was too late. Some form of helmet lamp is a must, if only to see the controls on the bike, so we will have to get a couple.
All this pain tonight of a couple of falls, a very muddy bike to clean tomorrow, getting soaked through but fortunately suffering nothing else is for a reason. In 4 weeks time there is a ride that covers 80 miles of the South downs way. A shorter version of the big ride I do each year. Difference is, this will start at 8 pm and will be a totally night ride. Having never ridden offroad at night before, we wanted to find out what it was like, and to our surprise- it is great. We may have to take the downhills a bit slower, but the thrill of getting out on the hills at the end of the day is still there. I might aswell cancell my subscription to the gym now, as I can see we will be out on the tandem a lot more this winter, even if it will cost an arm and a leg for the new lighting system that will be my next expense on the bike.