Dec 7

Cycling and lights

Taken from the Blazing Saddles Column in the Tayside Courier Weekend Supplement 8.9.12

Scot Tares sheds some light on riding in the dark

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.” ― Terry Pratchett

It’s getting to that time of the year, which seems to come around all too soon, when the darkness of the night encroaches ever closer into our valuable time for riding our bikes and many turn towards their indoor trainer to keep some semblance of fitness through the winter months. Fortunately, the advance of bike-light technology means that the darkness no longer forces you to lock your trusty steed in the shed to hibernate until spring.

There is a vast array of lights available on the market now that can extend your cycling throughout the year; no longer are we limited to a few heavy battery-operated lights or the leg sapping dynamo lights powered by a turning bike wheel.

As usual, however, along with choice comes the inevitable confusion of which light is best. For starters, you have to choose the type of light you want that matches the type of riding you will need it for; do you want to see, be seen, or both? Generally, if you are commuting in an urban environment your priority will be to be seen and a choice of reflective, bright clothing and front and rear lights will do the job. If your ride takes you on to roads without street lighting, or you plan some winter off-road riding, then you will need a front light with a bit more power to illuminate the way ahead. Again there is a wide choice of products available, but manufacturers often add to the confusion of choice by marketing the brightness of their lights in various ways: candela, candlepower, lumens, lux and watts are all used to describe the brightness of a light and it makes comparison of one light to the next difficult. As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive a light is, the brighter it will be. It is worth doing some research, but from experience I have used the same expensive light over several winter seasons of weekly riding in extreme conditions and it is still going strong, so the initial outlay is often worth it. The last consideration with lighting for your road bike is the legal requirements expected and again it is worth researching this to ensure that you are adhering to the law.

Whatever light you choose, riding in the dark on and off-road, especially out of the neon glare of street lights, lets you enter a whole new world of cycling where you can be engulfed in your own sensory deprived bubble of white light spread out in front of you and roads you may have ridden many times previously take on a whole new feel and thrill.

Scot Tares

Twitter: @SkinnyTyres

Where to Ride: cycling around the Dunkeld Lochs

To find out more about lighting regulations visit the CTC website at: http://bit.ly/QHisqU
Where to ride: The Tour of the Lochs

Moderate hilly road ride

Location: OS Landranger Map 53 – Start/ Finish – NO 025429
Distance: 20 miles/ 33km
Details: Starting in Dunkeld and heading east along the A923, this circular route passes by the Lochs of Craiglush, Lowes, Butterstone, Clunie and Marlee  and was once part of a road race route organised by Mac Hastie. As you reach Marlee Loch turn right onto the unclassified road that takes you west past Craigie and Clunie and eventually back to Dunkeld. It is worth checking the map, as additional climbs, such as that at Forneth can be added.

Copyright DC Thompson 2012

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