Let There Be Light

Is it just me or does everyone have a bunch of old cogs and chains? And what about all these blinkers! I mean sure ride with blinkers but come on. I really need to start pitchin’ stuff. Hey! Maybe arts and crafts!

I’m a morning person. Always have been. Early to bed early to rise. For me it’s the best part of the day.  I love the early morning bike ride, usually solo. Sometimes I meet up with others (actually how it started, working out with the fit lads) but for the most part it’s just me. I go where I want and pace how I want all while using the Idaho Stop Laws. The earth seems to be standing still. It’s cooler, calmer, less humid, less traffic, less everything. I do my short intervals 1 day and longer ones after a day off. Climbing drills in the parking garage downtown with only the janitor to impress. He’s not.  And hey, when it’s really nasty hot and humid I’m done by 7ish. Sorry. Can’t beat that.  Oh, forgot to mention the sun rising over the Peace River. Never gets old.

The early morning ride requires lights front and back. Over the years I’ve accumulated a few. Everyone  offers them for sale but I do not and so these are just my own thoughts and experiences with them. First off YES ride with a head light and a tail  light. Common sense tells you to. Also the law says you must after dark / before dawn. Riding during daylight hours with lights that can be seen is also a good idea. No law says you must do this but hey, can’t hurt. Might be the difference between getting hit and not. If you are hit by the motorist after dark/before dawn and you have no lights, in the eyes of the law and the insurance co. you will share the blame. Nothing like this during daylight. Here’s hopin’ dealing with the law and the insurance man are the biggest problems you have after a crash. AMEN. . Anyway the sheriff can fine you for riding with no lights when it’s dark. Cheaper to buy some lights if you want to look at it that way.

Okay then.  First I must confess to my poverty of knowledge about  lumens, or lumenous energy. This should bother me more than it does due to my electrical background. I find no reference to lumens whatsoever when referring to Ohms Law and so solving for lumens is a bit of a hand full and whatever happened to candle power, foot candles? (Still the basis of measuring light). Simply; lumens are to light what pounds are to bananas or pints are to beer.(Not an original analysis except for the beer part). Simpler; more lumens = more light. Got that! Don’t believe me! Modern Bike offers this handy demonstration. 

Remember this set up? If you’re old like me ya do and it was great. Rotating motion gave me continuous uninterrupted sustainable power unlike a battery which is diminishing stored power. BUT….. modern stored power for cycling is far and away better/preferred unless of course you’re the English Mail Man riding with a Gen Hub. No more needing to create rotation using the tire or tyre to make power. The power is stored in the battery that is recharged simply using the wall outlet in your home that is connected to the power grid that leads back to the nuke/coal plant, wind mill or maybe some solar panels out there somewhere where the power is made.  And so these days we ride with the USB rechargeable lights front and back. My head light is rated at 300 lumens max with 2 lower settings and a strobe function. I arrived at this particular rating or max output if you will by observing what others are using, cost and physical size. Some of the lads have taken to the helmet with Integrated lights. They’re very cool what with turn signals and brake lights but the real upside as I see it (get it? see it!) is the 360 degrees of illumination. The motorist in the intersection to your left and right has a better chance of seeing you.  Just search the web for bicycle helmets with integrated lights to find out more.

Question: when the power goes out where does the light go? Answer: light is energy and thus consumed. Here endith the basic electricity lesson.

I’ve taken to having a blinker attached to the back and slightly left  on my helmet in addition to the traditional one/ones affixed to the seat post. The blinker on the back angled slightly left gives the motorist typically to my left a better chance of seeing me. For all you blokes and mates it would be the right side.  For awhile I had a beam attached to the helmet front as well. This  was for the motorist at the intersection to see as I turned my head towards them. I don’t recall why I abandoned the front helmet beam but most likely something to do with getting a new helmet along the way or the light I was using quit working. I want to return to this practice. Pretty sure you don’t want to alter the helmet to accomplish this. Probably don’t to want to affix a light, or anything for that matter,  to the helmet rigidly and definitely don’t drill any holes in your skid lid.  But you knew that right! Doing that could very well prevent the helmet from doing what it’s suppose to do upon impact, give and move in away to minimize injury. And who knows how your insurance provider would look upon this. Another vote for helmets with integrated lights.

Garmin offers the  Varia tail light with radar . Read all about it here at DC Rainmaker who says it’s gotten mixed reviews. For me I would talk to the guys I know who use them and get their 2 cents as well.

I’ve discovered that not all tail lights work well with an aero seat post.  It has to do with the shape of the light mount base where it meets the seat post. Unless designed for the aero seatpost it may not stay in position just moving around willy nilly.  Ask the supplier about this if you intend your new blinker to be compatible with your aero seatpost. The aero seat post can be massive in circumference which should make you scratch your head a bit when looking for your new tail light but even the much smaller one on my TCR is problematic with some. I found this out the hard way and upon reviewing the manufacturers sight sure enough it was mentioned. OOPS.

All righty then. Oh! One more thing. I draw the line at putting lights on spokes. Okay maybe for the Christmas Towny Bike Ride. I’ve gotten away from attaching anything to the spokes including magnets. Spokes can and will corrode and who needs that. Plus something attached to a spoke can become dislodged and now you have a projectile.  Attaching lights to the seat stays is popular and I have not heard of anyone having any problems but it is something else I don’t do. Their proximity to the wheel just makes me nervous.  But of course never let anyone tell you what to do. Stand your ground because you are always right.

Which reminds me. Make sure to get a good mount wherever you attach your lights.  I really like the stretchy rubber like straps that have come along. I use my lights on multiple bikes and they make this so easy and allow removal for charging.

One more thing. Some will say that your lights are too bright, that you look like an emergency vehicle out there. Looking like an emergency vehicle on the 5 AM solo ride is the way to go, BUT,  don’t be a jerk, angle that high intensity head light down a few degrees so it doesn’t blind others.



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