The days are getting shorter, they are under 12 hours now, its starting to get dark around 6:30, soon the time will change and it will be dark before I even get home from work. In the past it was time to hang up the bike for the year and move on to eating, watching TV, and generally getting fatter. Now I ride in the dark.
My friend Speaks introduced me to winter night riding about 5 years ago. We have a rail trail in town which is the perfect place to ride at night, I had rode it in the dark with a very weak LED light once and nearly
ran into a down tree. Speaks showed me his riding light, which was a miner’s Wheat light, or commonly known as a “Buglight,” my Dad had an old buglight and the 8 pound lead acid battery which powered it. Speaks used gelpack from a kid’s remote controlled vehicle to power his, I put some of my old Radio Controlled car stuff to work on mine and went with NiMh cells. Three of us met twice a week and did about 15 miles in the dark all fall and winter, we called the ride off only when the temperature got below 25 degrees.
I don’t know if it’s a virtue or a vice, but I’ve never been able to leave well enough alone and since then I’ve made several different lights for night riding. My most recent uses high powered LEDs and Lithium Ion batteries. It cost me about 50 bucks to build but makes about the same amount of light as a bicycle lighting system in the 500 dollar range. I don’t mean to brag but this is one bright light. It’s so bright you can’t look at it, it burns your eyes.
A few nights ago Shauna, my Mom and I went out for a night trail ride. I normally don’t care much for riding the rail trail, but at night its a whole new experience. Eye’s glow at you from the woods, half light trees reach out above you, foxes and deer dash across the trail near the edge of your light, and the stars form a blanket over our heads. I highly reccomend trying a night ride out if you have acess to a bike trail. I don’t reccomend riding any kind of road outside of well lit areas in the dark, I’ve tried it once, my light freaked out a car and it nearly went in a ditch.
Thank You, and Good Night.