Empowering women in cycling

Searching for “light”

Mountain bike night rides

3 Lights on the trail

A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA.

I am planning to do some mountain bike racing this spring and thus have been trying to get some extra miles on my mountain bike.  Living in the middle of Atlanta makes this difficult, especially during the week.  Luckily I’ve discovered a local Tuesday night no-drop trail ride.  I’ve ridden this ride a couple times recently and am pretty happy about the added miles that I’m getting without having to go too far or change my schedule too much.

I would like to say that when I first started riding a mountain bike, I thought that only insanity and a love of medical bills would cause someone to try this in the dark.  It was a challenge for me to make it through an entire ride in full sunshine, so why would someone make it harder by limiting what they can see?  As I’ve ridden more and mountain biking has become more intuitive for me, I’ve figured out why some cyclists choose to ride at night.  Night rides are great because:

  1. Winter days are short and dark.  Night rides provide the opportunity for mountain bike fun despite the short days.  Just make sure to bundle up, because the temperature gets colder the later into the night you ride.
  2. In the summer, when daytime temperatures are unbearable, riding at night decreases your chances of being disgustingly sweaty and getting  sunburned, thus increasing your chances of actually enjoying the ride.
  3. Weekends fill up quickly and 9-to-5 jobs leave little time for day time rides.  Night rides fit nicely into a busy schedule.  (I do get a little less sleep on night-ride nights.  I guess something has to give.)
  4. It’s a new challenge.  With just ambient light and a headlight to guide you, your brain has to adjust it’s depth perception and you have to react to the trail more quickly.  It requires you to step up your game.
  5. It’s fun to roam around in the dark woods.  It feels a little like being a high school hooligan (yep, I said hooligan), a little mischievous.
  6. (Don’t tell anyone that I said this, but it gives you the opportunity to ride trails that you might not be able to ride during the day–trails labeled “No bikes” or some private property trails.  Sshhhh…that’s a secret…I’m not saying it actually happens.  I’m just saying that it could hypothetically happen.)

I still consider myself a night-ride beginner, but every time I finish the Faster Mustache Tuesday night ride, I come home with new advice for myself, so I thought I might share some of that with those of you thinking about trying it.

  1. Plan ahead– I was planning on a night ride a couple weeks ago and got home to discover that I had forgotten to charge my headlight battery.  No light, no ride.  No plan, no ride.
  2. Be prepared–During a recent night ride I broke my derailleur hanger.  Luckily someone else had come prepared with zip ties and a chain breaker.  Otherwise, I would have had to walk the several miles home.  You should be fully prepared for every ride you go on, but the risk of walking home/back to the car in the dark and late at night underscores the importance of preparedness.
  3. Double check that your light is fully charged–Having ridden with a dying light before, I can tell you that it’s not fun.  Riding at night is already a challenge.  Not having a light makes it just plain dangerous.  Charge your light and if you think that your ride might outlast your light, bring an extra one.  I ride with the Niterider MiNewt Pro 750.  My night rides are about 3 hours and it hasn’t failed me yet.
  4. Know the trail or ride with a friend who knows the trail (and is the same speed as you)–I’m new to the in-town Atlanta night ride.  The other cyclists have generally ridden these trails hundreds of times or are pretty quick and can keep up with those who are familiar with the trails.  I am neither familiar or quick enough to keep up with the group (only girl on the ride usually…).  This makes for some frustrating moments sometimes.  I often get to trail intersections and have no idea which way to go.  I’ve discovered that I’m pretty good at either picking the wrong direction or not seeing the turn at all.  One of the guys usually comes to track me down or makes loud enough noises so that I can find my way back to the group.  I try to laugh about my adventures alone in the dark, but it can be frustrating.  That said, if you’re going to ride at night, pick a trail that you know pretty well or make sure your riding companions will ride at your pace or come find you when you get lost.
  5. Don’t give up after the first time–Night riding is hard.  Your brain will have to adjust its depth perception skills.  You can’t see as far ahead as you can in the daylight, so you have to react to the trail more quickly.  You might get lost at some point.  Don’t let those things convince you not to try it again.  Give it another shot.  It gets easier and more fun, I promise.
  6. Find a local late-night eatery–You know how hungry you are after every mountain bike ride? Night rides are no exception, so know where the closest late-night joint is located.  We always end our ride at a local pizza place and when we roll up at 11 pm, we’re always the last people in there.  A beer and some slices make the perfect midnight snack before we all split up to head home and go to bed.

For those of you who are night-ride experienced, did I miss anything?  What other advice do you have?

New Bike Lights for Burn 24 Hour

1 Light & Motion Seca 800

The Santa Claus of shipping brought many goodies last week, the timing is in order to get things sorted and tested for the upcoming Burn 24 Hour race. New parts getting installed, new rear wheel, new Camelbak, new chamois, and now new bright ass lights.

Light & Motion Seca 1400

1400 lumens on a light is completely amazing craziness. I remember when my previous Seca 800 was the brightest thing out there. Cars thought I had high beams on as I commuted on the road and on the trail even my sleep deprived eyes could see well with the high beam on.

I plan on doing a few test rides this weekend to get the helmet and handlebar light figured out. In my arsenal I have the Seca 1400 or 800 and Seca 600 or 300. Write out battery charging and burn time for my pit crew, probably even put the helmet light on my other Lazer helmet so that I can secure it and it ready to rock when the sun goes down Memorial Day weekend during race time.

Do You Ride at Night?

Night riding is one of my favorite things to do in mountain biking. Commuting at night I feel like people can see me better, especially with 1400 lumens shining at them!!

Tell us about your night riding, what lights do you use? Do you have questions for Light & Motion or myself about what lights you need or batteries?

Full Review: 2012 Salsa Cycles Casseroll

10 Salsa Casseroll

For the past couple months I have been riding the 2011 Salsa Casseroll on the road, on side streets, commuting, off the beaten path and really it has been the bike strapped to the roof of my car while traveling all over NC, SC and TN. I will be sad when I have to send this bike back as it truly is the Cadillac of road bikes (minus the drivetrain.) You can read the preview over yonder before you dive into my full review.

Continue reading →

Review: Rickshaw Velo Backpack

1 Rickshaw VELO Backpack

“Made right here in San Francisco, The medium Velo edition backpack is an exercise in minimalist design — sleek, simple, lightweight, black. My goal was to address the essential functionality of the everyday, all-purpose carry-all — nothing less, nothing more. I wanted a casual, yet stylish, alternative to the old-school book bag and the over-built wilderness pack — while still working with technical fabrics rather than canvas and leather.”

-Mark Dwight Founder and designer

Meet the Rickshaw Velo Backpack

• MSRP: $139
• Fully customizable
• Ultra light weight at 1.5 lbs
• Waterproof X-Pac™ sailcloth, YKK water-proof zippers
• Top-loading main compartment for quick access
• Seatbelt shoulder straps
• Reflective strip and light loops
• Removable padded 13″ laptop sleeve or document pouch
• Organizational front pocket
• Padded base and lumbar support.
• Made to order in our own San Francisco workshop.
• Dimensions: 15.5” H x 11” W x 5” D (16” top zipper)
Rickshaw Velo Backpack

Initial Thoughts of the Velo Backpack

Pulling the bag out of the box I could tell right away that this is a top quality bag. The seams, fabric choices and the attention to detail is superb!

As the designer stated in the quote above, this is a minimalistic, functional bag for everyday use.  You aren’t going to over load it, or use it for epic trips but for the everyday girl bag that needs to work as a backpack but not weigh you down – this is going to work well

Customization

When talking to Rickshaw about reviewing this bag it was offered to make a customized version. I jumped at the chance picking a bright color that is easy to spot but won’t show dirt horribly. The process is super simple with the Rickshaw online customizer and the back arrived about a week later.

Using the Velo Backpack

The bag is super light weight and easy to move from backpack to tote with the comfortable straps. The backpack straps are of seat belt material, making them wide and comfortable but not too heavy duty. This bag was meant to get you through the day but not to carry tons of weight.

When using it at a farmer’s market it easily was carried as a tote filled with corn and then swung around on to my back for walking or biking.

It’s a verily slender bag, fitting my bag well and leaving room for visibility when looking behind me on a bike.

Rickshaw VELO Backpack

Conclusion of the Rickshaw Velo Backpack Review

These days cycling inspired bag companies are popping up in all areas of the United States.  The quality of Rickshaw and the “handmade in the USA” all have meaning, add in that you customize your bag to your liking and I can’t think of another bag with these features at this price point.

The need to carry my iPad or MacBook Air with wallet and essentials leads me to using this bag more. Walking or riding down to the local coffee shop or office is what this bag was made for. You aren’t going to use this bag to carry you’re whole life but if you are looking for something trim and durable for the every day needs, check out the Rickshaw Velo Backpack.

Disclaimer: This bag was provided at no charge for review

2012 Burn 24 Hour Race Recap

3 Arleigh Jenkins 2012 Burn 24

The secret of discipline is motivation. When a man is sufficiently motivated, discipline will take care of itself. -Alexander Paterson

Every race you do, you must take away something from it. Learn, develop and strive to be that much better the next time. Often the fight you are picking is with yourself. To be a better rider, a better person.

Pre-Ride

Last Friday I went up and setup our camp with the help of pit boss, Kimberlee. She graciously drove an extra hour each direction so that I had an extra set of hands to setup three tents and carry everything I would need over the next 2.5 days.

Once everything large was in place and I helped a bit with registration I pre-rode the course very slowly. I have learned the course pretty well over the past year but making notes of sections to take slow at night, pull off’s incase I needed to stop for food, etc etc.

The biggest thing I was debating was if I wanted to wear a Camelbak or not. The temperatures would be hot which means I should drink more water, but it also means the Camelbak would be adding a ton of heat to my bag during the day. I finally decided I would start with the Camelbak and see where it took me.

Last Minute Prep

After pre-riding and seeing how slick the roots were going to be at night I swapped my front Michelin Wild Race’r for the Maxxis Ardent. My new Powertap rear wheel had the Wild Race’r on it, which I would run during the day, swapping to the Fulcrum Red Metal XL wheel with Ardent as I entered my night laps.

I putzed around camp the morning of, moving things around, preparing some bottles, and keeping my brain occupied.

Arleigh Jenkins Burn 24

Lap 1-4

My goal was to look at the 24 hours in 4 blocks of 6 hours. My lap times stayed consistent but my pit times were getting longer. My wrist were killing me as I was taking the downhills pretty darn fast (it really is the only thing I’m good at) and I kept forgetting to take out some PSI everytime I came through the pit.  In the first lap I also quickly realized my normal staple drink of Perpetuam wasn’t sitting well in the heat. Even though I have used it for hundreds of miles this year in training, my stomach wasn’t liking it. Around lap 3 I left my Camelbak at the bit and switched to only carrying one bottle of water, a packet of gu chomps and a gel flask. At the halfway point I would stop and down some gel, drink half my bottle and fill it back up.

Arleigh Jenkins Burn 24 Hour

Lap 5-7

I needed to switch shorts, my wrist were causing my hands to lose grip on the bars, I probably wasn’t getting enough food, I needed to find my groove.

Lap 7 is when I put lights on. The Seca 1400 was absolutely freaking awesome. I should have had it on my head, not my handlebars. I always use my main light on my helmet, almost never running it on the handlebar. For the first lap I figured I had enough day light to get through and could just run it on my handlebar.

Bad choice. 

3/4 through the lap, just as you start pointing downhill for the last section, I caught something on a tree. Feet before the rock garden. As I was thrown hard to the ground, my head hit hard, followed by my shoulder and hip. I knew I had to get out of the way, I was in a blind turn and it was dark. If I didn’t move I would get run over. I pulled myself and the bike off the trail to take an assesment of damages. My arm was killing me, my left ankle was killing me from being stuck in the bike as it turned around, my shoulder and collar bone didn’t seem broken which was my initial thought. I started talking to my bike, willing it to simply get me down the mountain and back to my pit. It did just that. I don’t remember much about getting down the mountain. I pulled into my pit and never would leave it again.

My race was over.

The medics checked me over. My shorts and possibly jersey were ruined. I still haven’t checked over my bike. I remember sitting, shivering, in shock. Trying to make light of it all. Faces of my pit crew, the race director and my family all staring at me in the candlelight. Everything hurt. Looking back now I’m glad I didn’t get it in my head to get back on the bike. As it is now 3 days after the race, it still hurts to walk and my body is super banged up. My biggest fear would have been in the slippery night I would have gone down again, or jerked something the wrong way and been left sitting out on the side of the trail waiting for the 4 wheeler to come get me.

Arleigh Jenkins Burn 24 Hour

Hindsight

One of the guys on the crew, Ben, was keeping my moving lap times. He didn’t show them to me when I was riding but I looked at them the next morning. I was consistently turning hour lap riding times. This isn’t pit times, as those got longer and longer, but the moving time. That made me happy to see. That motivates me to strive onas on Saturday night as I sat there, I never wanted to ride that trail again.

Last year I did 8 laps over 24 hours, sleeping about 7 of those 24. This year I did 7 laps in the first 9 hours. That’s improvement in my eyes.

I need to continue to work on climbing, dial in exactly what I need as the hours go by from food, to chamois selection and motivation.

Thank You Notes..

Ben Wilson

Though I was only on the bike for 9 hours I owe a great amount of thank you’s.

Kimberlee – Next year she will have a shirt that says pit boss. The only person I trusted as my brain went mush. From food, to entertaining and grounding as the hours went by.

Ben – pure entertainment, time keeper and comedian. He is also really good at putting away a tent!

George – drove up to help and ride with me in the middle of the night. Unfortunately I wrecked out just as that was supposed to happen. He also checked on our dogs and fed them.

Family – It was great to see my parents, they had never to been to an event like this so it was stellar that they could drive down and see what I do for fun.

Wes – The mechanic of the hour came at the exact moment I needed my rear wheel changed and cranks checked over. Next year I need him there the whole time!

Hampton Inn Wilkesboro - The clean sheets and shower were much needed after the abuse I put myself through.

Jason Bum – Race director and stand up guy. He puts on a great event and does it with a smile.

Chris Strout & Family – Chris was a stellar motivator as he hit lap after lap with his solo efforts. His wife Kim and kids were motivating just for being there, smiling and encouraging.

Tomorrow is my Birthday, This is What I’m Wishing For

2

November 13th is the day that I annually turn one year older, or my mother reminds me that she was in labor for four painful days with me. Either way, I’m going to be older which means I’ll be wiser.   I plan on getting up before the sun, riding my yet to be unveiled bicycle and then go golfing with my parents.

In an effort to take steps forward with my life, and in hopes that I’ll be the change I want to see in the world I am going to publish my wish list of various things.  Please add your own in the comments! Continue reading →

Where Do You Go Now?

5

A follow up from a few Friday’s ago..October 1st.  The first day of October Two Thousand Ten.  10,01,10.

TGIFThank God It’s Friday

That’s what I kept saying to myself a few Friday’s ago.     It was the first day of October, which at work meant that all the month end reports, analytics and answers for clients were needed to be finalized.

As I ended my business day, still very proud of myself for working out at lunch, I exchanged my work pants and shoes for cycling mountain bike shoes and cycling knickers.  I hopped on my bicycle to ride .5 miles to the bus station.

The weather was phenomenal – the fall in Charlotte, NC is my favorite time of the year.  70º, sunny and blue skies.

Took a left out of the parking lot. Stop at the 4 way intersection.  Straight, and then a right hand turn onto South Blvd.  Double check the rear Cateye blinky before I go under the Morehead bridge. Under the bridge there is a dark overcast shadow, and an exit ramp of an Interstate.  Double checking all angles, cruising through with ease.  I smile – it is a great day and a great way to begin the weekend.

Stop at the traffic light

At the intersection of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, I stop at a red light.  Time the next light well to roll through easily with the green.

Slowing

At the intersection of South Caldwell and 3rd Street.  This intersection always has cars pulling illegally from the parking lot on the right.  Tap the brakes once more as an oncoming car comes to a stop in the left hand lane.

Continue forward

Spot movement at my 11 o’clock.  The car that was stopped is now moving, pedal to the metal actually.

Where Do I Go?

I angle my path 45º right in hopes the cars screeching tires will stop the vehicle, in hopes I’m giving the car more room to stop.  My path was too far right.  There’s a steep curb, there is a car & a curb & I am between them.

Screeching Tires and Yells from Pedestrians

The car didn’t stop in time.  The car hit my legs and the rear of my bike.  Folding the rear end of my cyclocross bike and back wheel.  I quickly bounced from the car to the ground.

Panic and Yells from Pedestrains

Shock.
Shaking.  Multiple people kept me on the ground. Making me lay flat on my back.  “Are you okay?”…”What’s your name?”….”Call 911!!”

Shock.
Fear. I refuse to look at my body.  Extreme pain in my left back & hip from hitting the car & asphalt.  I see my bike in tangles at my feet.

Shock.
Shaking.  I’m a statistic.  I’m yet another person to be hit on a bicycle in the area just this year.  I can’t be a statistic.  How can I tell people that commuting by bike is safe?  I’m not safe. I’m hurt. I’m a statistic.

Shock.
Alone.  I repeatedly make a complete stranger call friends & family.  Please, someone answer!

Shock.
Sirens. More fear.

Shock.
Confusion. Am I broken?  Please call my mom. Where’s my bike going?  I’m on the ambulance.  Needles and poking.  Questions.

Shock.
More shaking.  The ambulance ride is hard, and rough.   The ER is responsive, there was a cyclist among the doctors.  They made me feel safe for a moment.  X-rays.  They need Cat Scans they say.  Finally, I get through to my girlfriend on the cellphone.

Shock.
Neck brace, back board and I’m waiting for a Cat Scan. All I can see is the ceiling tiles above my head.  There’s screaming.  A major car wreck and multiple people needed to get through cat scans.  Hearing screaming wasn’t helping my nerves.  I tell my nurse to let them go through first.  I could wait.  One bed pain later, and one hour later.. I’m still waiting.

Catscan. Finally two guys there that have personality that help give me the catscan.  They talk to me like I’m human.

Family and friends.  My girlfriend and boss find me soon.  The morphine drip is wearing off. Drugs, wheel chairs and finding my bicycle in the utility closet of the hospital parking lot.

Shock.
They give me more drugs.  I’m trying not to think.  The car drive makes me panicked. I no longer feel safe outside of my four walls.

Mom.
My mom arrives at what I think was 3am.

I’m a statistic yet again.  My freedom is not mine.  My legs are not my own.

Where do I go from here?

(No spell check or grammar check here.)