First night ride in a decade on a new bike with an inadequate light setup?
Sure, why not! The only thing that I had going for me was the temperature. It was cool and still out with a temperature in the mid 40’s. As some of you can understand (Large Men Who Run Hot Brotherhood unite!), this was perfect riding weather.
Mark, my riding partner had a shiny new 1000-lumen dual-light setup, and a bike he had been riding all summer. Neat.
As we set out from the Lebanon Hills parking lot, I quickly learned that riding only with a handlebar-mounted light was, well…less than adequate. This, coupled with the fact that I was on my new Mukluk and still very much getting used to big tires on twisty singletrack, made this ride unexpectedly challenging, and also a complete laugh riot.
The trails I have been riding for years suddenly became brand new to me. Roots and rocks that I would roll over with minimal thought in the daytime loomed on the trail as small mountain ranges, with huge shadows cast behind them from my light. Riding the small 10-12” drop-offs on the trail reminded me of one of those rocket propelled canyon vehicle jumps that were all the rage in the 80’s. Get your cape on (in this case a yellow windbreaker) go for it, and hope for the best. Familiar corners were also an adventure, and generated many panicky grabs at the not-yet-broken-in disk brakes.
Photo by the man with lights...Mark Woker
Once I learned to let the bike run a little bit, kept the weight back, and just let the fat tires roll over things, I found myself bombing over sections of trail that I would have normally had to pick carefully through on my 29er. To my surprise, I was laughing the whole time. Corners were still interesting though, and I almost had a few unscheduled shoulder and tree meetings. When we rolled into the parking lot at the end of the ride, it was almost a surprise. When your world is a spot of light 4’ in diameter on the ground in front of your bike, you tend to lose track of where you are.
As a result of this ride I am planning to go again next week. I had completely forgotten how much fun night riding is. However, this time I’m going with my new 700-lumen helmet-mounted light. Hopefully, I have as much fun.
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I enjoy anything with wheels, human powered or not. If I'm not in the BWCA with my wife and dog, you can find me working on my old house with varying degrees of success, or tinkering with my project car in the garage, beer in hand. Feel free to stop by! Random fact: Efred trained me in at my first bike shop job in 1998.