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Old 06-29-06, 01:19 PM   #1
lhbernhardt
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Riding in the Dark

We took the tandem downtown (rather than a car) to hear an excellent lecture by Jeff Kenworthy on "Disappearing Traffic," part of Vancouver's Bike Month activities. For the trip back, we put the clip-on lights on the tandem, and I discovered something I'd never realized - I couldn't tell what gear we were in. Part of the problem is that the Ergopower shifters don't stay in any one position, like the traditional shift levers. I had put a Shimano "bubble" indicator just above the downtube cable stop, but it was too dark to see it, the front chainring was too dark to check at a glance, and the rear cogs were way back in total darkness.

Normally, when I ride at night, I use my fixed gear "all weather" bike that normally carries lights and fenders. It never occurs to me what gear I'm in at night because I never ride my good bike when it's dark.

I think part of the problem too is that age affects night vision. I find I need reading glasses under normal room lights. Under street lights, the bubble indicator was totally illegible.

The only gear I could recognize was the big cog on back, since that's the limit of shifting. I tried remembering what cog the chain was on, but after a few minutes, you forget. Must be affecting short term memory.

- L.
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Old 06-29-06, 03:03 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhbernhardt
We took the tandem downtown (rather than a car) to hear an excellent lecture by Jeff Kenworthy on "Disappearing Traffic," part of Vancouver's Bike Month activities. For the trip back, we put the clip-on lights on the tandem, and I discovered something I'd never realized - I couldn't tell what gear we were in. Part of the problem is that the Ergopower shifters don't stay in any one position, like the traditional shift levers. I had put a Shimano "bubble" indicator just above the downtube cable stop, but it was too dark to see it, the front chainring was too dark to check at a glance, and the rear cogs were way back in total darkness.

Normally, when I ride at night, I use my fixed gear "all weather" bike that normally carries lights and fenders. It never occurs to me what gear I'm in at night because I never ride my good bike when it's dark.

I think part of the problem too is that age affects night vision. I find I need reading glasses under normal room lights. Under street lights, the bubble indicator was totally illegible.

The only gear I could recognize was the big cog on back, since that's the limit of shifting. I tried remembering what cog the chain was on, but after a few minutes, you forget. Must be affecting short term memory.

- L.
As stoker- Even though we have the indicators on the Gear change- I still have to tell the Pilot that we have gone into granny- Chain has actually gone onto the Big ring or that he still has two gears left on the rear cassette if he neads them (Gentle reminder that I would like him to change down to get the cadence up) This is for our normal daylight riding. When we started night riding- the problem was enormous as I could no longer see the Chain run or cogs. Tried to use a small front light permanently pointed at the Drive chain but it was not succcessfull. Then I got a helmet lamp, loaned it to the pilot and he got one too.

If we were to only use one lamp on the bike, and if it was legal, then it would be the helmet lamp. Mine has 3 powers of LED for illuminating the drive chain and also a powerful spot for signposts off-road. The pilots has only one led and that is powerful enough to read the indicators, and a less powerful spot that he does not use until it gets trickey. Then along with the 4 front lamps that illuminate where the bars are pointing- He can look further ahead or to the side with the helmet spotlamp.
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Old 06-29-06, 06:39 PM   #3
lhbernhardt
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Thanks for the useful advice, Stepfam. A headlamp would never have occurred to me, too geeky. I always try to minimize the extra stuff on the bike, and I had always thought that headlamps were kinda goofy. They're great for cross-country skiing at night, though; in fact, one time at Silver Star ski resort (middle of BC), I was skiing back to the cabin for dinner when the entire Swedish womens' Nordic ski team skied by the other way, all with their head lamps. Actually, I wasn't really noticing the head lamps...

Good to know there is a use for head lamps. Thanks!

- L.
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Old 06-29-06, 06:47 PM   #4
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I can second stapfam's opinion. The helmet mounted headlamp has been a terrific addition to my morning, (5:20AM) ride. I can see my bike computer for the first time rather than just reviewing the data at the end. Also by turning my head I can see all around rather than having a stationary light focused only forward. I have used it now for 6 months and would hate to be without it.
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