Sunday, 24 January 2010

Midnight ride

I've been a fan of night riding for a long time now, but pretty much all my night riding so far has been done on well-lit urban roads. This is easy to explain: for proper night riding you need a decent light and I didn't have one.

Being a natural-born-geek one of my favourite sites is Instructables.com and on there I stumbled onto an article detailing how somebody changed an old Nokia phone to power their bike light. Given that I had a almost-decent LED headlight, I got to work. The end result was pretty good - a Lithium Polymer powered LED light that would last at least 4 hours. The trouble was the LED light was never going to be bright enough for night riding, regardless of what I powered it with.

Back on Instructable.com another article shows how to build a halogen headlight that provided a lot more light. I built one of those as a test, using a 10w lamp.
At first I was going to power it off a 4800 mAh 12v battery, but a disagreement between me & the supplier meant I put that on hold. In the interim I found an old NiCad battery from a radio controlled car and started using that. Unfortunately it is only a 9,6 v battery and I'd guess the mAh is below 1500. In case you didn't know, mAh is a good indication of how long your light will last before the battery's drained.

Last night I went on a proper night ride using my new light and it was brilliant! Although I knew the path well, it was almost like riding on a new path and there were surprises in store all the way. Mind you, not having charged the battery fully, about half-way through my ride I was relying on the moonlight! It was a tad hair-raising and I nearly cycled off the path several times, despite having slowed to around 5 mph!

One of the blogs I follow regularly writes about midnight rides. This, combined with the fact that I have a light that makes it possible to ride at night, made me decide to organise a Midnight Ride near Plymouth, Devon.

So here it is then: the very first Princetown Midnight Ride! Hopefully it will become an annual event.

The ride will take place on Friday 19 March 2010 going into Saturday, 20 March. We'll meet up at the car park on Station rd, Princetown, from 23h00 onwards and we'll leave at midnight. The route will take us out along the disused railway line, around Kings Tor. We'll probably stop for a break somewhere near Kings Tor as Dartmoor at night is too gorgeous to ignore!

The ride will NOT be a race but a social group ride, going at the pace of the slowest riders. We'll essentially have nowhere to go and all night to get there, so we'll focus more on the experience than the speed.

You WILL need lights, even if only a torch strapped to the handlebars and you'll want your lights to be able to last at least 2 hours.

Please note that this ride will go ahead regardless of the weather! Also, you and you alone accept full responsibility for your own safety - there will be NO suing anybody for being saddle-sore or any other reason. (Sad that I have to use disclaimers, isn't it?)

Please tell anybody & everybody about the ride and PLEASE ask them to post on this blog if they are planning on coming along? It'd very useful if we can get an estimate of numbers.

I'll be organising another midnight ride for 6 months after, probably from Mt Edgecombe to Kingsand & Cawsand and back again. I'll post details here as and when I have them.