Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the cold, dark trail

Wow the winter season hit us quick, hopefully it's just a short blast and things will warm back up a bit once Sandy hits the road, at least that's what weather.com is telling me. I've never been a fan of the cold weather, my fingers & toes just can't stay warm enough, I think it's a circulation problem. I've got some of the warmest winter riding gloves, shoes & socks but sometimes I feel like I'm riding in flip flops. Nothing can ruin a ride more quickly for me than stinging fingers and toes on the bike.
With the daylight saving time change coming up next weekend, the night riding season will be in full swing as well. I thought we were ready for it with 3 separate lighting systems in the bike room but after Melinda and I both suffered dead batteries after maybe an hour of riding I quickly realized it's time to get rid of the cheap Chinese Magicshines.
Unfortunately we weren't the only ones who ran outta juice, 2 others with aging Niterider HID's walked out in the dark as well. What's bad is, our batteries were brand new with only a couple of rides on them. I sent off for the new batteries when Geoman had its recall and got 2 fresh new batteries which should have latest longer but these were worse than the ones that got recalled. Now with Geoman out of business I've got no other choice but to look elsewhere.
Over the last couple of years I've pretty much bought everything I could local and now I think it's time to do the same with my lights. I can understand buying something online if it can be bought locally but driving an hour and a half to buy at a big box store? I don't care what their return policy is, I would rather support my local guys, and it’s the right thing to do. When I bought the Magicshine's, they were selling LED's for under $100 when everyone else was $200-$300. Back then the LED market was just getting started and I couldn't bring myself to plunk down $600 just so Melinda and I could do the occasional night ride. Now things have changed, technology has gotten better and the prices have come down.
I've wanted to get away from lighting systems with a wire running down my back to the battery for a while but just couldn't justify it with 3 separate systems. Now the time has come to take the leap into the all in one unit LED's, that are all the rage right now. The technology is there and they just keep getting brighter & better.
Do the research though, I've been looking at 3 or 4 different models and it's the little details that make all the difference, like being able to swap batteries on the trail in the dark tool free. That right there is one factor that will decide which light I buy.
I'm not a huge night rider, with my shift schedule I'm able to ride during the day much more than most but there are times when everyone is doing a big night ride and I don't want to miss out on all the fun. I doubt I'll see any night racing anytime soon, I've pretty much been off the racing grid this year and the urge to pay $$$ and finish mid pack just hasn't been there this year. As far as training goes, I just can't bring myself to take the chance and ruin something I love to do. I would love to be fast and atop the podium but racing and training usually leads to missing out on the great things about mountain biking for me. Stopping and enjoying the scenery, pulling a can of craft brew outta my pack at the top of the mountain and toasting my buddies or spending weekends traveling to race venues I've already been to when I could be camping, and exploring new trails with Melinda and friends. Don't get me wrong racing can be fun and still is for me every once in a while but for now I'm just enjoying the ride.

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