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  1. #1
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Ride Report: First Night Ride (long)

    With a kid of my own now, some days I don't ride until after he goes to bed. And the days are getting shorter, so I finally decided to buy a decent light and start doing night rides. Tonight was the first.

    Let me start by saying that most of my ride is tight, twisting singletrack through the woods with a few open flats thrown in to get the legs spinning. Hardly any long descents, but a fair amount of roots and some logs/logpiles scattered throughout.

    I started off slowly, not sure what I'd would and wouldn't be able to see. Fortunately, I know the trails pretty well and know when to look for obstacles. I will admit it was a tad eerie, though, being out in the woods alone at night with animal noises all around me. The first time my light caught the eyes of a deer in front of me was a bit startling. And I was lucky enough to have my light illuminate a bat flying in front of me for a short stretch.

    It was a pretty cool experience overall, except for one trail through the pines. This trail has a lot of cut off stumps that appear suddenly out of corners and are pretty tricky to navigate around in the daylight. At night, the fact that they blended with the terrain and that my helmet light diminishes most of the contrast on the trail meant I had to ride that section slower than usual.

    I did alright dodging stumps for a while and got my courage up to go a little faster. Suddenly, though, something happened. I never saw anything. Never had any kind of warning. It was as if the hand of God reached down and snatched my bike out from under me---that's how fast it was. In an instant I was flying over the bars, my head scraping along the pine needles, blindingly white in the immediate beam of my helmet light.

    I layed there for a second, wondering what the hell had happened. Then I looked behind me. To the left I saw my bike. It was in a vertical position, propped up against a tree, standing on the front wheel, the rear wheel sticking straight up into space. It apppeared as if it were suspended in the air. Beautiful almost, like a piece of absract art.

    To the right, I saw the culprit. An eight-inch-high, 10-inch-diameter stump. A stump with a fresh chunk taken out of it by who knows what part of my bike. I simultaneously cursed it and pitied it. Then, fearing a pack of coyotes would set upon me in the darkness, I got up, brushed myself off, and pulled my bike off of the tree.

    No dents. No busted spokes. No bent rims. The bike was fine, and I was fine. So I rode. And it was a good ride. I hope your next one is, too.

    Later.

  2. #2
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    No light? That's gnarly

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Bodeco's Avatar
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    Great and encouraging story, thanks for sharing. I have my first child due in December and I plan to do the very same thing you are doing over the next few years. I've never ridden at night, but I've improved my riding skill a lot this year so I think I'll be ready for it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattP.
    No light? That's gnarly
    Good lord, dude...did you even read the story?


    Anyway, I love riding at night. I agree you do have to slow it down a bit on the technical sections. I have a 10w handlebar mounted light and find it a bit scary doing large log jumps b/c when you hit the log, the front of the bike goes up in the air illuminating the tree tops. You can't spot your landing. A helmet mounted light would be very nice...I kinda wish I would have gone that route.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed
    Good lord, dude...did you even read the story?
    I'm just gonna shut up now. But before I do, Peek, what light(s) are you running?

  7. #7
    Senior Member vw addict's Avatar
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    night riding is the bizzle for shizzle. Try winding a singletrack with 5-6 others with lights, it's like a light up snake, then try it on weed.

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    Whatever your main light is, throw a less powerful one on the other spot. IE, if you're running bar lights, get a modest head lamp. Vice versa if you're using a head lamp now.

    Having the 2 lights shining at different angles does wonder for helping define the terrain around you. Having only one source can really trick your eyes.

  9. #9
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    Ive been thinking about going out in the night hours myself. I'm trying to figure out what light combination to purchase, and since money is an issue, I find myself in my normal dilema. Buy something that is going to hold up and last, be efficient and reasonably priced.

    Glad to hear your okay Peek, and thanks for sharing the story it was very well written. Perhaps you could do a night riding column and keep us posted as to your exploits.

    I do have one suggestion, and it is easy to do. Get some reflective tape or tacks and mark those stumps. Just a slight illumination will really light em up and you can avoid them. For daylight ridings, if you do it right, they wont even notice the tacks/tape. If you have a state farm buddy, I use their bumper stickers, cut them up and put them on large thumbtacks.

  10. #10
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    The club I ride with has a weekly night ride. I don't have a chance to go with them but these guys have the night rides figured out. The recommendations are:
    - 15W light at minimum. Anything lower is not enough
    - helmet mount is best. You want to see where you're going, not where the bike is pointing to.
    - rear commuter light so that no one runs over you
    - backup light (flashlight or commuter handlebar mount light) is a must
    - make sure the batteries are charged before you go out.
    First Class Jerk

  11. #11
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattP.
    I'm just gonna shut up now. But before I do, Peek, what light(s) are you running?
    I'm using a Light and Motion Solo Logic Mv. It's a 13 watt (switchable to 10w and 7w) halogen light, and I'm using it as a helmet-mounted light. I didn't want to spend a ton of dough on a HID, so it was either this or the Jet Lights Starfire. The Starfire's a 20 watt light, but the fact that it was $100 more and had a much heavier battery led me to buy the Solo Logic.

    Turns out the 13 watts is plenty for the singletrack I ride, and I really wasn't even outrunning the light on the long, straight flats. I'd probably choose something brighter if I had to ride a lot of fast, technical descents, but I don't. So far it seems to be a great light, and I've read nothing but good things about Light and Motion's products.

    Eventually I'd like to get a second, bar-mounted light to help increase contrast, but this'll easily fit my needs for now.

  12. #12
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVictors
    Whatever your main light is, throw a less powerful one on the other spot. IE, if you're running bar lights, get a modest head lamp. Vice versa if you're using a head lamp now.

    Having the 2 lights shining at different angles does wonder for helping define the terrain around you. Having only one source can really trick your eyes.
    Amen to that. I'll probably end up buying another of the same light to mount on my bars. Contrast was definitely an issue. As was the light reflecting directly back into my face when I went through patches of dense fog or dust.

  13. #13
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JagdNeun
    I do have one suggestion, and it is easy to do. Get some reflective tape or tacks and mark those stumps. Just a slight illumination will really light em up and you can avoid them. For daylight ridings, if you do it right, they wont even notice the tacks/tape. If you have a state farm buddy, I use their bumper stickers, cut them up and put them on large thumbtacks.
    That's an excellent idea, JagdNeun. Thanks. I'm actually part of the group that builds and maintains the trails here, so I'll run it by the others and see what they think.

  14. #14
    Born Yesterday
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    Peek,
    where do you do your riding? I'm new to WI and am looking for advice on what trails to ride.

  15. #15
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stickydpaul
    Peek,
    where do you do your riding? I'm new to WI and am looking for advice on what trails to ride.
    I do most of my riding here in my hometown of Eau Claire. The CAMBA trails to the north of me and Levis Mound to my south are a couple of favorite road trip spots. Where are you in Wisconsin?

  16. #16
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    Down in Viroqua, about 40 minutes south-east of La Crosse. Unfortunatly, there doesn't seem to be much singletrack around here..

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