Tales from the Ultra: Knowing your bike light

Old Pueblo podcast reminded me of this. :grinning:

I did a 12hr TT earlier this year & the start time was midnight. I’ll have to check the calendar but I think it was a new moon evening. Anyhow, there was no moon. It was dark, dark, dark.

Previous to the race I had actually gone out at 2am for a night ride in 28 degree weather…turned out over 100 miles. So I thought if I can ride for ~5.5 hours at that temp my battery is good for 6 hours. I checked that box and went on to other things.

I WAS WRONG! Ha! The battery was good for 5 hours and 46 minutes. Now, I had a backup light on the bike so I wasn’t stranded but the light went completely out with no warning on a down hill. I went from riding at 20+mph in well lit condition to complete darkness.

It was a dangerous situation. Not on a 100% straight road. Probably the only thing that saved me was a team truck parked on the back of the course on the side of the road in the oncoming lane. The support crew in the truck were looking at their phones so up ahead I could see the glow on their faces. I grabbed a little bit of brake and steered towards them…so that saved me.

But if I ever do another night race I’ll be paying a lot more attention to lights and backup lights and how to make 100% sure that I have at least some sort of forward-facing light on at all times.

Main take away: In a night race there are many details that can cost you time if you get them wrong but getting your lights wrong can cost you a lot more. :wink:

I’ve done a few overnight rides and settled on a dynohub for it so I wouldn’t have to worry about the light running out of batteries. The cascades 1200 last year required a backup light even if you had a dynamo system since they aren’t perfect. I had a B&M battery light and it’s pretty good. For a TT I would probably worry about the extra few watts of drag that the dynamo hub has but I am not sure that 6w or whatever it is would count for much more if you have to stop and swap out lights a couple of times…

The battery I did have was pretty big. Probably more than 6W penalty just in weight and drag. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I have spent a lot of time looking at Dyna Hub prices/data over the past couple weeks, though. Not for ultra…I think in a few years there won’t be any more ultra events in the US…but there are a few point-to-point races I would contemplate doing.

I’m running an ~1800g wheelset with the sp dynamo, it’s pretty sweet but I did managed to break a spoke on the front wheel during a 400K. To the credit of the wheel it was fine once I tweaked the remaining spokes enough to clear the brakepads and it got a replacement spoke and was solid for a 600k and many more rides after that. Unfortunately the rear rim started to get cracks around the spoke holes but I recently got a powertap hub so I dunno if I will use that or rebuild the rear. The wheelset is the IDC pro-lite if you are curious.

FWIW: Someone has looked into dynamo drag.

Light Switched OFF While Cycling @ 10-30km/h
Schmidt SON28 // 0.25w-1.25w drag
Schmidt SONdelux // 0.25w-1.25w drag
SP Dynamo PV8 // 0.50w-1.75w drag
Shimano DH-3N80 // 0.50w-2.50w drag
Sanyo H27 // 1.00w-6.00w drag

Light Switched ON While Cycling @ 10-30km/h
Schmidt SONdelux // 2.50w-6.50w drag
SP Dynamo PV8 // 2.75w-7.00w drag
Schmidt SON28 // 3.00w-6.50w drag
Sanyo H27 // 3.75w-7.25w drag
Shimano DH-3N80 // 3.50w-7.50w drag

Yep. Read that. I can’t ignore fahrgeschwindigkeit. Under any circumstances.