Tuesday, 3 April 2012

NightRider London Bike Ride

It is now time to take it up a notch.

I am one year into my cycling – I have progressed from total newbie to someone who is considerably fitter but feel like I have plateaued, I am much wiser as to how to spot danger on the road and far better equipped in terms of bike, components and clothing. And when I get my insurance cheque through and build the next bike I feel I will have a bike (all parts lined up and waiting for payment) that will meet my needs no matter how great given my current and future cycling needs.

The question then is how do I progress. To be realistic, it is fine doing my 22 miles a day on my commute but I will never really reach the potential that I would like to reach, also at 46 it is not going to get any easier, so really it is a case of now or never. Additional to this, weekends are just too busy (or I am too tired) to make the effort to go for a long ride and I really want to be able to do longer rides and be at a level of fitness where I enjoy them rather than them being a struggle and ultimately a miserable affair.

It therefore occurred to me that I was going to have to bite the bullet and sign up for a charity ride. I have been warned off the London – Brighton ride by people telling me it is just too full and the levels of cyclists too great – to me it just felt like it was not the right one to start with. I still may do it one day – just to say I did it, but it didn’t feel like the one I wanted to break my duck on.

So I have decided to ride on the Night Rider (http://www.nightrider.org.uk/) it is done with Capital Radio in supporting help a London Child. I will be riding for the Diabetes UK Charity (more on this later). The ride is 100KM (63 miles) around London at night time, taking in most of the main London landmarks – it seems like a fun idea, it certainly is different, and with a total of 3,000 cyclists starting at two different points (north and south London) so it should not be too crowded. The route is on the map below.

1. Crystal Palace – start / finish point
2. National Maritime Museum
3. Tower Bridge – break stop
4. St Paul’s Cathedral
5. City of London
6. Canary Wharf
7. Mile End Stadium – break stop
8. Emirates Stadium
9. Alexandra Palace – start / finish point
10. Hampstead Heath
11. Camden Lock
12. ZSL London Zoo
13. Regent's Park
14. Covent Garden
15. London Eye
16. IWM London – break stop
17. The Oval
18. Houses of Parliament
19. Hyde Park
20. Royal Albert Hall
21. Battersea Power Station

I am doing the ride with two (I hope three) other friends – all of a similar age and all of them have done long rides before (so no pressure on me then)!

In later posts I will go through the training schedule I have decided upon and also give a link for anyone who may want to sponsor me (pretty please). Also I want to go through why I am riding for Diabetes UK (I am Type 1 Diabetic (I inject 4 times a day) and have been for nearly 30 years) and the lessons I learnt in stepping up and training for an endurance event whilst being diabetic).

So please come back for later posts and updates.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Lezyne Super Drive front light review

Let me start this by saying that (as regular readers of this blog will know) As of February 2012 – I had spent four of the last 6 months unable to ride – this was partly due to a (non-cycling related) broken rib and also a lot due to the fact that I had been t-boned at 25mph buy a car making a right turn (think of it as making a left turn if you are from a country where they drive on the wrong side of the road).

Between the above, and the fact that in September last year a driver made a left turn into me whilst I was cycling down a dedicated bus (cycle) lane, and you can see why I feel slightly more cautious on the road – this lead to two items being purchased 
a) A helmet that I will actually use as it is not too hot to wear (LINK
b) A Lezyne Super Drive front light.

So that’s the reason for the purchase dealt with – now why did I choose this light? Well there was 450 reasons for this purchase, namely 450 lumens.

So what is 450 lumens? 450 lumens = one bright light that gets you seen, it is bright enough to cause a pause in the thinking of any driver pulling out from a side road, that delay means they are less likely to think they can chance pulling out in front of you, requiring you to slam on the anchors and curse to no one in particular about what an idiot the driver is. In essence - bright light means you get treated with more respect.

450 lumens also does not come cheap though – the retail recommended price for this baby is £100 (well £99.99 but let’s be real) I am sure you can get it a bit cheaper though. This is a lot of cash to pay for a light, certainly the people in my office think I am a little crazy paying so much for a single light. But really how much of a price are you willing to pay to avoid an accident or severe damage to your bike? Also the price is less than many other less bright lights.

The size – this is about 6 inches long and pen like – well a thick pen. But it is definitely not too bulky for the handlebars. It is quite heavy when compared to the cheaper plastic lights you can buy – but this is down to having a metal surround (therefore strong) and a very large lithium ion battery. What I really didn’t want was a separate battery pack – too much weight and too much fuss – so although not the lightest kid on the block this is still acceptable given its performance and the weight is down to having high quality and strong case. The case itself comes in either black or silver.

The light has 4 settings High, Medium, low and medium flashing. Being that I don’t tend to ride off road much – I tend to use this light only on Medium flashing setting. In this setting the battery seems to last for about 3 to 4 hours. The rechargeable Li-Ion battery provides 1.5 hours of juice on the full 450 Lumen mode.

You have one rubber button on the top to select the light mode you want (this can be done with gloves on) and underneath it has a rubber bung to the charging point. One complaint I have about this light is that the recharge point is a little difficult to access though by no means impossible. It uses a standard USB mini connection to recharge the battery – so you can probably use the charger you use for your phone (unless it’s an iPhone) on this light – therefore it is likely you can recharge this light at work and at home.

The useful function of this light is if the battery is going low it automatically switches to low constant setting – not sure how long this will last for as it has only happened to me with 10 minutes of my ride left but it lasted that time with no issue.

The handlebar mounting is also better than most as it allows you to swivel the light left and right. Because of its brightness I would definitely have this light pointing slightly to the ground or you will have blinded drivers swerving into you. Although the light mount is well thought out I have found an issue with it becoming loose on the handlebar – you need to tighten it very tight and then not adjust it up or down or it will work loose. This is mostly because it is holding a greater weight than the average light, so get the angle right and tighten it hard then it should be OK with no more moving. To be honest the only way they could improve this is to make the tightening nut have larger handles.

So that’s all the serious stuff – now let’s have a look at one of the fun elements of this light – when on flashing mode (although at half power) it lights up the road signs for 200 or 300 meters ahead of you – it is quite fun because if someone has just overtaken you and they are obviously faster than you – it is fun to watch them still push on at a panic because they think you are still right behind them – in reality it is your light and you are free-wheeling a long way back – just for the fun of this, the light is worth every penny!

Mambo Score 8/10