Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1
    Neil_B
    Guest

    The Light That Failed

    From my blog:

    ...The sun was setting, but I felt secure with a blinker attached to my backpack, the reflectivity of my Illuminite cycling jacket, and the Bell Dawn Patrol headlamp I was using. Besides, I know the local roads, and I wasn't going to be out in the dark too long.

    Man proposes, and God disposes. Sunset took place while I crossed the Kennedy covered bridge, and it was dusk as I reached the market. I parked, leaving my headlamp on, and went inside to get dinner. As I decided between vegetarian lasagna and a rice salad a fellow in the market said to me, "You've left your blinker on."

    "It's easier to leave it on than reach back there to turn it off" I said. I mentally noted he must be a cyclist, and headed to the cashier with my lasagna.

    Back in the parking lot, I straddled the bike to push off, and noticed a set of handlebars sticking up from the back of a truck. It was an Electra Amsterdam, a shiny new Dutch-style cruising bike. Never having seen one, I was fascinated by it. I waited a few minutes for the owner to come out of the market. The owner turned out to be the man in the market who spoke to me about my blinker. Although he drove for this trip, he is a bike commuter, and we talked bikes for 15 minutes. And lights:

    "I have a great German light set from Peter White that makes this look like a motorcycle at night. You might want to get one."

    "I have a nice headlamp for my commuting to work, but I'm just down the road, and this little light should be fine for me for now," I said. "I'd better get going though, as I don't want to become a hood ornament." And I pushed off onto the road.

    I decided to take Pughtown Road instead of back roads. Yes, the traffic would be heavier, but the route was more direct, and it was starting to drizzle. And I was very visible, I thought. I pedaled across the intersection of Kimberton and Hare's Hill, the same intersection my car was struck in five months ago, and a truck quickly slowed down at the cross street. It was clear he hadn't seen me from a distance, and was preparing to run the intersection when he spotted me. So much for visibility, I thought, as I pedaled faster up the hill out of Kimberton.

    The rain began to pick up. I took the lane, since there was little or no shoulder. Cars passed me in the other lane, and I was grateful for the additional light their headlamps provided. Then one car passed me and the road ahead was dark. I looked down at my headlamp, and it was dark too. I banged it with my hand, and it flickered on and off. I pressed the on button again and again, and it flickered dimly. I reached the top of the hill as the rain splashed around me, and dismounted.

    No amount of tinkering made the light shine again. The light had failed. And I was faced with a four mile ride down a sizable and wooded hill and over French Creek, at night, in the rain, without a headlight. I took a deep breath, mounted the bike, and pushed off.

    The descent was nerve-wracking, but uneventful. Passing car headlamps and the little ambient light from nearby homes helped illuminate the road for me. It helped that the road had been repaved and repainted that summer. I silently thanked the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as I rolled downward. As I approached the bottom and the road's curve to follow French Creek a car followed me a distance. He may have been trying to be cautious to avoid a cyclist at night, but for whatever reason his keeping behind me lit up the road enough that I could follow the road's curve with confidence. He sped past me as the road straightened, and the tree cover thinned enough to allow me to see my way across the steel grate bridge on French Creek. The tree cover ended, as did the rain, and I was less than three miles from home. All that stood between me and a warm fire was a busy road and an unlit bicycle. And off I pedaled.

    The last stretch was the worst of my ride. The night had grown darker, the road markings were not as new as the ones I'd seen the past couple of miles, and cars passing in the other direction blinded me. At one point I was completely disoriented and only avoided a ditch by noticing the sound of gravel under my tires. As soon as I heard it I swerved back into the lane. As the car passed I noticed I'd been what appeared to be less than two inches from the ditch. After a few more feet I dismounted and began walking the bike.

    After a quarter mile, I tried my headlamp one more time. I clicked the button, and the headlamp shone. I mounted the bike, pushed off, and made it home by six PM, about an hour and a half after sunset. Total miles for the ride, 12.50.

  2. #2
    Senior Member guybierhaus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Oley, PA
    My Bikes
    Flat bar road bike, trail bike and MTB
    Posts
    878
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Well I told myself as I read your note, that you must be ok, or you wouldn't be writing. If you are going to be riding after sunset, and I'm pretty sure you will be on your cross country tour, you better equip yourself with a minimum of two lights front and back. As I recall Pughtown road has very little shoulder. I'd want at least three lights on my tail. One solid on and one yellow. The son in law who mountain bikes at night, likes the handle bar light and a helmet light. I guess one lights the road where you are pointing the bike, and the helmet light shines where you are looking. Anyway get more lights, as one who also spends a lot of time driving a car, bikes are tuff to see. Especially if its been raining and another car is approaching in opposite lane.
    BierHaus Bertolette Road Bike, built 2007
    BierHaus SRT Trail Bike, built 2010
    Fuji Mt. Pro - 2007

  3. #3
    Neil_B
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by guybierhaus View Post
    Well I told myself as I read your note, that you must be ok, or you wouldn't be writing. If you are going to be riding after sunset, and I'm pretty sure you will be on your cross country tour, you better equip yourself with a minimum of two lights front and back. As I recall Pughtown road has very little shoulder. I'd want at least three lights on my tail. One solid on and one yellow. The son in law who mountain bikes at night, likes the handle bar light and a helmet light. I guess one lights the road where you are pointing the bike, and the helmet light shines where you are looking. Anyway get more lights, as one who also spends a lot of time driving a car, bikes are tuff to see. Especially if its been raining and another car is approaching in opposite lane.
    A neighbor passed me in the other direction on the way home. He told me that I was almost completely invisible from the front. Only the reflectors on my tights were visible until he was opposite me. So much for my reflective jacket.

    If I'm going to be out at night in the future, I'll carry spare lights. This was not an experience I care to repeat.

  4. #4
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Vacaville, CA
    My Bikes
    '08 Orbea Diva "The Avocado"; Specialized Dolce comp "Sweet Thang"; Co-Motion Roadster "Blue Jay", Fuji Team Pro
    Posts
    6,864
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    You're a wild and crazy guy! I grew up in that climate and no steenkin' way would I ride in the rain, after dark, without a light! I rode all over Burlington County, NJ, in all kinds of weather, and the minimum lighting I had was two strap-on leg lights. In my old Boy Scout backpack I carried, among other things, spare batteries.

    Occasionally I was caught unprepared but not quite in your circumstances. I'm glad this tale has a happy ending.
    When my feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh, *****, she's awake!"

    Visit my blog.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    1,412
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Historian,
    I always go out (in the day) with at least one headlight and a couple of tail lights. For these short days the headlight is always a serious one. If I plan to ride after dark I carry and usually use two headlights. I also have a very small but very high tech headlamp in my repair kit for repairs after dark. Everything is certified waterproof (tested by me).

    Headlight: NiteRider MiNewt X2 (Highly recommended), Dinotte 200L-AA (Highly recommended, mountable on handlebars but usually on helmet for serious night riding with the X2 on the bars), Cateye E410 (not a particularly serious light but blinks brightly in foggy conditions, very light, waterproof to 50 ft and small, light, long-lasting, legal).

    Tail Light: Planet Bike Superflash (Very extremely highly recommended, Dinotte 140L-AA (A real retina burner with numerous blinking and steady settings), Blackburn Mars 2.0 (okay) and 3.0 (okay)

    Plus, I wear ankle reflectors, have reflective clothing and a blinking light on the back of my biking jacket.

    Why not set up a "BoB" (bug out type bag) with some of this stuff in it so you can always grab it as you go out the door.

    Please be careful out there. You're not the only one who is eager to see you start and finish your xcountry trip this summer.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    SE Ohio
    Posts
    222
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    The Historian

    When I ride at night, I have a handlebar light, headlight and a back up Cateye LED light that will accept batteries bought in a store. I have a primary and back up tail light. I have a permanently mounted red rear reflector (required by law in Ohio), an orange automobile reflector, I wear a reflective sash by Nathan or a reflective safety vest, leg bands that I put around my neck (I ride a recumbent and they show up the best here) and a reflective strip permanently attached to my helmet. The back of the seat has reflective areas there as well. I also put reflective tape on the backs of fenders, on crank arms, on the very front of the bike.

    This is certainly one area that I pay great attention to detail.
    Gary

  7. #7
    SSP
    SSP is offline
    Software for Cyclists SSP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Redding, California
    My Bikes
    Trek 5200, Specialized MTB
    Posts
    4,618
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Riding in the rain with an $8 headlight!? Even if it was working, that light is far below my minimum standards for after dark (much less when it's raining).

    FWIW, my primary headlight is a Dinotte 600L (600 lumens of raw power), with a 1 watt Petzl headlamp as backup.

    I also run two Planet Bike Superflash, and a Dinotte 140L taillights (the Dinotte is the 44 magnum of taillights ).


    And that's not counting all of the "passive countermeasures" - reflective ANSI Class II vest, leg band reflectors, DOT conspicuity tape on the crank arms and rear fender, etc.


    And, for the holiday season, I added 60 flashing LED's in red, green, yellow, and white. If anyone hits me after dark, I'll own 'em in court.
    CycliStats.com - Software for Cyclists
    WeightWare.com - Weight Management Software

  8. #8
    SSP
    SSP is offline
    Software for Cyclists SSP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Redding, California
    My Bikes
    Trek 5200, Specialized MTB
    Posts
    4,618
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    A neighbor passed me in the other direction on the way home. He told me that I was almost completely invisible from the front. Only the reflectors on my tights were visible until he was opposite me. So much for my reflective jacket.

    If I'm going to be out at night in the future, I'll carry spare lights. This was not an experience I care to repeat.
    That's been my experience with Illuminite gear too...very much over-rated.

    You'd be better off getting a mesh ANSI Class II highway worker's vest in fluorescent lime/yellow - they're designed specifically for high-visibility, and can generally be seen from 1000 feet. They're also good for low light/fog/dusk, because the lime/yellow appears very bright under those conditions.
    CycliStats.com - Software for Cyclists
    WeightWare.com - Weight Management Software

  9. #9
    Neil_B
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    Riding in the rain with an $8 headlight!? Even if it was working, that light is far below my minimum standards for after dark (much less when it's raining).

    FWIW, my primary headlight is a Dinotte 600L (600 lumens of raw power), with a 1 watt Petzl headlamp as backup.

    I also run two Planet Bike Superflash, and a Dinotte 140L taillights (the Dinotte is the 44 magnum of taillights ).


    And that's not counting all of the "passive countermeasures" - reflective ANSI Class II vest, leg band reflectors, DOT conspicuity tape on the crank arms and rear fender, etc.


    And, for the holiday season, I added 60 flashing LED's in red, green, yellow, and white. If anyone hits me after dark, I'll own 'em in court.
    My point was that I was unprepared for it getting dark so quickly, the unexpected rain, and the failure of the Bell light, not that I willingly ride that way. I have a Cygolite Night Rover headlamp, blinkers, reflective tape, etc, on my commuting bike. I commute at night, so I have a good idea what's involved. But thanks for sharing information on your setup.

  10. #10
    SSP
    SSP is offline
    Software for Cyclists SSP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Redding, California
    My Bikes
    Trek 5200, Specialized MTB
    Posts
    4,618
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    My point was that I was unprepared for it getting dark so quickly, the unexpected rain, and the failure of the Bell light, not that I willingly ride that way. I have a Cygolite Night Rover headlamp, blinkers, reflective tape, etc, on my commuting bike. I commute at night, so I have a good idea what's involved. But thanks for sharing information on your setup.
    That's good to know. Getting caught out after dark, or having a lighting failure, is always a scary proposition...especially when it's raining.

    I think if it had been me in that scenario, I would have called a friend or a cab (but I don't much like riding in the rain anyway!).
    CycliStats.com - Software for Cyclists
    WeightWare.com - Weight Management Software

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    1,412
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    ...but I don't much like riding in the rain anyway!...
    I love riding in the rain (within reason).

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •