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Old 12-07-05, 04:06 PM   #1
stapfam
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night riding- part II

Been riding at night on the Tandem once a week for a couple of months now, so time for an update.

First of all it is an offroad Tandem and this causes a few problems with regard to lights. On the road you want to be seen and if there are no street lights about, a good light is required. When we do go on the road we use the LCD lights, a Cateye EL500 and a n EL310. The 500 is more powerful so is used as the distance lamp and the 310 has a wider spread of beam so is used set up a bit lower. These two lights are completely adequate for road use, and we couple this with two rear lamps, just in case one may fail.

However off road, we need more powerful lights so have gone to a System that has a 2.5 watt, wide spread lamp and a 10watt distance lamp. We still use the LCD's at the same time to give us ground coverage, and this is a good setup for us. However -- Better lights are available if you have enough money, but the main problem is battery life. The LCD's work on ordinary batteries and have a life of 25-30 hours to a set. Good enough for a few weeks rides and the batteries are cheap. However the main more powerful lights have a rechargable battery that fits in the water bottle carrier, but only have a life of 2-3 hours. Not enough for a long ride, and spare batteries are expensive. Still long enough for our night rides, but not for a few allnighters that we intend to do.

The big problem we have found is that we have no perception of how tricky the track is. Shadows cast mean that we cannot tell if the rut is 2" deeep or 6" deep. We cannot tell how slippery the trail is, just by looking at it, that we can do in daylight. We cannot tell how deep the mud is untill we are going through it, and the bike has suddenly slowed. We have to take it slower downhill, and we are finding that uphills are trickier to find the route with grip. Even on the flat, we have started take the "Safe" line as we have had a few offs completely unexpectedly through finding slippy patches on the normal trail.

Night riding is a challenge- but it is another way that we can actually get out on the bike on those dark winter evenings. It is going to cost us money for better lights eventually, but they will be worth it. It is also going to cost us a fortune in clothing, as those winter nights are cold, and the extra winter Polar type tops and leggings are not going to be cheap. Big factor is are we enjoying it? You bet we are, but My wife has now decided that a New Washing machine is on the cards as you ought to see the state we come home in after a 3 hour ride on the Winter mud.
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Old 12-07-05, 05:07 PM   #2
Aonbay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam
Been riding at night on the Tandem once a week for a couple of months now, so time for an update.

First of all it is an offroad Tandem and this causes a few problems with regard to lights. On the road you want to be seen and if there are no street lights about, a good light is required. When we do go on the road we use the LCD lights, a Cateye EL500 and a n EL310. The 500 is more powerful so is used as the distance lamp and the 310 has a wider spread of beam so is used set up a bit lower. These two lights are completely adequate for road use, and we couple this with two rear lamps, just in case one may fail.

However off road, we need more powerful lights so have gone to a System that has a 2.5 watt, wide spread lamp and a 10watt distance lamp. We still use the LCD's at the same time to give us ground coverage, and this is a good setup for us. However -- Better lights are available if you have enough money, but the main problem is battery life. The LCD's work on ordinary batteries and have a life of 25-30 hours to a set. Good enough for a few weeks rides and the batteries are cheap. However the main more powerful lights have a rechargable battery that fits in the water bottle carrier, but only have a life of 2-3 hours. Not enough for a long ride, and spare batteries are expensive. Still long enough for our night rides, but not for a few allnighters that we intend to do.

The big problem we have found is that we have no perception of how tricky the track is. Shadows cast mean that we cannot tell if the rut is 2" deeep or 6" deep. We cannot tell how slippery the trail is, just by looking at it, that we can do in daylight. We cannot tell how deep the mud is untill we are going through it, and the bike has suddenly slowed. We have to take it slower downhill, and we are finding that uphills are trickier to find the route with grip. Even on the flat, we have started take the "Safe" line as we have had a few offs completely unexpectedly through finding slippy patches on the normal trail.

Night riding is a challenge- but it is another way that we can actually get out on the bike on those dark winter evenings. It is going to cost us money for better lights eventually, but they will be worth it. It is also going to cost us a fortune in clothing, as those winter nights are cold, and the extra winter Polar type tops and leggings are not going to be cheap. Big factor is are we enjoying it? You bet we are, but My wife has now decided that a New Washing machine is on the cards as you ought to see the state we come home in after a 3 hour ride on the Winter mud.
I looked up Cateye lighting and the dont list a EL310. Could you have meant a EL210?
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Old 12-07-05, 08:33 PM   #3
jppe
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Now that sounds like a REAL adventure. Sounds like you guys are determined to get in the time and distance regardless of how much daylight is available which is terrific! I'd probably do the same but it would mean getting out on the roads and I'm just not sure that would be the safe thing for me to do........

We do ride on Tuesday and Thursday nights in a lighted Business Park and can do 2.5 mile loops to get in about 30 miles in about 1 1/2 hours. Lately I've had business meetings and have not been able to get out and do those. I hope to get back on that schedule next week.

Do you come across any critters on the trails by chance? Do you guys have opossums?
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Old 12-07-05, 09:02 PM   #4
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These rides sound like a lot of fun. I live in the city with bright lights all around already, but not far from country roads should one want to get out of the city. Pretty darn cold here right now (down to 10F tonight, with a snow storm due tomorrow night), but I'd like to try these types of rides come spring. Personally, I'd prefer paved roadway, as I have no experience off-road, and don't think I'd develop any at this age.

Lighting has come a long way -- and there are a lot of options outside of the sphere of what's available as "cycling" lights. Lightweight Lithium powerpacks too.

Of course nightvision goggles would be an option -- they've become "relatively" inexpensive and lightweight compared to years ago. You could even dissassemble a SONY nightshot camcorder and use the night vision setting -- with lens on the front fender and LCD panel mounted on the handlebar. The battery lasts for hours. Whether either of the above would take away from the experience -- or add to it -- is another matter.

But definately going to plan on night rides beginning this spring.
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Old 12-08-05, 01:49 AM   #5
stapfam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aonbay
I looked up Cateye lighting and the dont list a EL310. Could you have meant a EL210?
Stand corrected and it is 210. One thing I forgot to mention is helmet lamps. We both have them and they are invaluable. only a 1watt mainbeam, but this points wherever you look, and there are LEDs to be able to see the controls on the bars. If a choice were to be made again- I would go for a helmet lamp before gettin a second Bike lamp.

On Wild life- plenty of Owls, a few foxes, and on a few occasions- Deer. Bit worrying on Deer when they turn and charge towards you. It is surprising how many Walkers are up on the hills at night aswell. All using helmet lamps.
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