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Help/ Suggestions for night time trail riding in Washington DC

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Help/ Suggestions for night time trail riding in Washington DC

Old 06-14-10, 10:55 AM
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wonkamas
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Help/ Suggestions for night time trail riding in Washington DC

I'm in the process of training for a century ride in September and am fortunate to live close to the Mt. vernon trail which I love but unfortunately don't seem to have as much time during the day to ride besides it being hot as blazes.

So I'd love to hit the trail up at night but am not sure how much light power I would need.
Just as with anything there seems to be a million options and price points and I guess I'm wondering if you guys have any ideas on what I might need at a minimum as in how much light wattage or if any of you ride this trail or others in and around DC at night what has worked well for you?

Thanks
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Old 06-14-10, 01:12 PM
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I think most of our trails close at dusk, although they make exceptions for commuters. Not sure if anyone enforces it.
If you have good front and rear lights, why not stick to the roads.
I have a Cateye EL200 headlight, but it's more for me being seen than it is for seeing.

edit - Checking with the NPS site, Hains Point is open 24 hours a day. Might be a good place for night loops.

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Old 06-14-10, 01:40 PM
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We have almost 15 hours of daylight this time of year. I'd suggest riding early. The sun will rise at 5:42 tomorrow.

Training in the dark on a bike path doesn't sound like a good idea to me.
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Old 06-14-10, 01:50 PM
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wonkamas
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I think I saw that online....what does that mean commuters like how do they know if your coming from work or not?
I'd like to stick to the trails untill I get more comfortable w/ the clip in pedals and all. Hains pt. is a good idea I'll have to check that out.
I mainly go for Mt. Vernon because it is literally a block or so from my house so it's just the easiest option.
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Old 06-14-10, 02:51 PM
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Like qmsdc15 said - it's light enough to ride (and MUCH cooler) pretty early now - take advantage of it. With sunrise at 5:42, you can actually be out a bit earlier and it's quite rideable with minimal lighting. Ride to work if you can as there's benefit in getting your body used to being on the bike a lot. For century prep, you can save your long rides (and you'll want some) for weekends. You want some time getting used to riding in hot weather, too, as September weather can be cool, hot, or in between, or sometimes all three!

Which century? The PPTC Backroads Century (9/19) is somewhat hilly (and they have a great web site up with routes info and training suggestions). The Civil War Century out of Thurmont (9/11) is very hilly. In my experience, you may want to do some riding on hills besides racking up miles on relatively flat trails to get ready. Both rides are very well supported and fun to ride. There are some great hills in Arlington that probably are not too far from the Custis Trail.

re: Lights - you don't really need much if any this time of year, anything bright enough to be seen by car drivers, maybe with a flashing mode, should be OK. For taillights, I like the Planet Bike Superflash or the knock-off Performance sells for lots of light (use strobe setting) in a small not too pricey package that can just stay on the bike. Dinotte headlights and taillights are what I use for dusk/dawn/dark commuting; probably more than you want to spend right now.

re: Commuters on 'closed at dark" trails - LEO can't tell who is and isn't, but someone with helmet, mirror, rack, panniers, multiple lights, reflectors, etc. probably is and may just get a reminder about trail closing, while the folks with no lights, no helmet, and no clue will get more attention. I've heard of examples of this (W&OD out by Rt 28) during fall and spring, never experienced it 1st-hand.
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Old 06-14-10, 04:31 PM
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Cool good suggestions guys I guess I need to get my butt in gear early....I get your point about it not being a good idea at night it's just that w/ a newborn that's the time after he goes to sleep that I'm more inclined to want to go or even if it's light when I start say 7-7:30 it will be dark before I get back
I was looking at the planet bike lights they have some for cheap on ebay and they seem to get good reviews
Let's just say I was dumb enough to ride the trail at night how many watts should I have to be safe?
Oh and it's a century in Ashland VA called " The heart of virginia bike festival"
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Old 06-15-10, 05:45 AM
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I ride on the trails all winter. I use a Magicshine headlight, and just a Blackburn blinkie in the rear. I've never seen any cops kicking people off of the trail at dark, but I guess it might happen, maybe moreso towards Mt. Vernon?

I did the RABA ride the year before last. It's pretty flat, and is a great choice for a first century. It's nice and cool that time of year too. I have this one penciled in for this year, but I'm not sure what else I'll be doing then.

Watch your odometer though. I ended up with only 98 miles, so I had to tack on a little extra in Ashland
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Old 06-15-10, 08:59 AM
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Thanks I'll look into the magicshine
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Old 06-15-10, 09:22 AM
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I haven't heard of people being kicked off the trail after dark, either.
The rule was probably put in for liability reasons, and so the police can stop people that they think are suspicious without needing another reasonable cause.
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Old 06-20-10, 07:03 PM
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wonkamas
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Hey I found a magicshine 900 lumen head light for 79$ online....you like yours alright? seems like such a good deal for the price....curious too how do you mount yours on the bike or the helmet ?

Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
I ride on the trails all winter. I use a Magicshine headlight
Watch your odometer though. I ended up with only 98 miles, so I had to tack on a little extra in Ashland
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Old 06-21-10, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
I did the RABA ride the year before last. It's pretty flat, and is a great choice for a first century. It's nice and cool that time of year too.
Huh? It has been very hot the last few years for the Heart of Virginia ride. Don't count on it being cool. But it is a beautiful ride.

Wonkamas, why not commute to and from work on your bike? That way you get the miles in during your commute time, instead of having to tack it on to the end or beginning of the day. Commute to/from work during the week and then do longer rides on the weekends and you'll be fine for a century in September.
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Old 06-21-10, 09:51 PM
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Good idea I live in va and work in DC so I'm still getting used to actually riding w/ the clip in pedals in traffic I've been kind of keeping it to the trails just cause that's what I'm comfortable w/ but I need to venture out a bit more.
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