Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Road Loop

Happy Valley Rod just opened up between 83rd Ave and Lake Pleasant Blvd. It actually has a bike lane. I decided to do a different loop today on the road bike, So I left the house in Sonoran Mtn Ranch and took 67th down to Happy valley, west to Lake Pleasant Blvd, up to Westwing Parkway, east to Jomax, east to 67th and back home.

It was a bit windy today and I took adantage as much as possible, averaging 22+ mph to Lake Pleasant Parkway. Unfortunately, the wind was out of the northeast and most of the way home is slightly uphill. Having a rather ample frontal area did not help. Overall the distance was 16.2 miles, and the average speed was 16.2. I'll let the math lovers figure out the average for the return trip.

Other than the wind, it was a beautiful morning for a ride, but it left me wishing I had chosen to go sailing instead.

Here we are battling the elements on Lake Pleasant a couple of weeks ago. Picture courtesy of Sean.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good Bike Light Buy

Since there aren't a lot of good trails near my house, I have been mostly road riding just to stay in shape for the weekend MTB rides. The road riding is 5:00am, which means that its now dark when I leave and dark when I get back. I've been running a dual halogen setup with a bottle cage battery. It was cheap and continues to work well, even though it's a bit heavy.

Somewhere along the way, I saw a web page at for an LED light at $84.99. Hard to pass up, so I placed an order a week ago. I added a helmet mount for another $9.99, so with shipping it came to about $103. It arrived on Thursday and turned out to be a really good deal. I am generally impressed.
My box did not say Magicshine. It simply said "Bicycle Light." I must have received the generic version.
It was neatly packaged, just like the picture. The battery is only about 3 inches long and weighs 205 grams. The light comes in at 120 grams, so in all the setup is way lighter than my halogen set.
Note that the power cord exits toward the front instead of the back. Not sure why. I'd have taken it out toward the back. Note the mounting clip. This set uses a rubber o-ring (2 sizes included) that wraps around the handlebar or helmet mount. My first impression of that was "cheap!" Then I thought about it and two things came to mind. First, I only paid $85 for an LED light set, so it is cheap. Second, the o-ring is actually pretty heavy duty and replacements can be found at hardware and auto parts stores for almost nothing. The o-ring actually holds the light pretty firmly. Kudos to the folks who came up with that idea. It tracks well with my theory that if you can't fix something with duct tape, baling wire and rubber bands, it ain't worth owning.
The helmet mount has two velcro straps, each about a foot long. They allow you to strap it down just about any way you want. The mount stays in place. With the light, is seems a little heavy, just because it's noticeable, but it isn't a real distraction.
Performance of this set is, dollar for dollar, the best around. It puts out 900 lumens for 3 hours on a single charge. At lower levels, 500 and 200 lumens, it should be good for at least 6 hours.
Since lumens don't really make sense to anyone without a physics degree, 900 lumens doesn't seem too far off from an automobile low beam headlight. Like laser warnings, don't look into the light with your remaining good eye. This sucker will make you wish you hadn't done that. With this light mounted on your helmet, when you meet people on the trail, make it a point not to shine the light in their eyes. They'll be seeing spots for a week.
The light has 5 modes, 900, 500, 200, flashing, and SOS. Flashing is a very rapid and should get the attention of drivers. SOS mode is interesting, mainly because it doesn't spell out SOS. It actually spells out 37. It flashes 3 dots, 4 dashes, 3 dots. Close, but no cigar. Frankly, if I get into a situation where I need the SOS function, I will probably have broken the light in the crash.
FYI: SOS is ...---... 37 is ...----...
I'm not one for making recommendations, but this is an exception. If you want an LED light that works great at low cost, check it out at Its well worth the price.