Horsing Around In The Dark

New light on the left

I got my latest gadget in the mail yesterday – a Niterider Mako 2 Watt light.  I’ve been making do with a basic Planet Bike Beamer light that makes me visible to others, but does almost nothing to illuminate my path.  This means that I needed to stick to pathways I knew VERY well to ensure I did not end up upside down in a ditch or wrapped around a tree or worse.  Even with extreme caution, it was still very easy to “outrun my lights,” making me very vulnerable to unexpected obstacles in the path.  There were even times when the headlights of approaching cars caused shadows in the path, meaning I could not see anything whatsoever for several seconds at a time.  That is a disconcerting feeling to have – almost like vertigo – and not what you want to experience on a bike.

Most nice light sets run at or near $100.  I found this one online for about a third of that.  I also saw that my LBS sold Niterider lights so I checked with them.  Naturally, they were out of stock and wanted $15 more than what I could get online.  Oh well, I tried to support them.

The Mako 2 Watt emits 130 lumens, which is a far cry from top of the line lights which can blast 1,500 lumens and serve as an anti-aircraft search light in a pinch.  It may be humble, but having been forced to ride nearly blind at night for over a year, the improvement was fantastic.  It was no longer necessary to use “The Force” to navigate.  I could actually see the path in front of me!

I tried some experimental night photography with my camera and got some mildly interesting results.  This is a pic of Interstate 95 as it crosses Cardinal Drive.  I need to do a better job of keeping the camera steady during these long exposures.  That’s a little tricky when your heart rate is elevated from cycling.  I may have just invented a new sport – cycling/photography biathlon!

REMINDER:  Don’t forget your homework assignment this weekend.  Take a pic and send it to me at martinsj2@comcast.net with a description of what you’re up to, and become part of the most amazing documentary ever conducted in the history of cycling!  Well, at least on this blog.

Historical Marker Segment!

This is my first-ever night-time photo of a historical marker.  Isn’t that exciting?  I drive by the Neabsco Church almost every day, but this marker is far enough off Cardinal Drive that it cannot be read by anyone not standing in the church parking lot.  It is impressive to me that people have been worshipping at this site for so long and many of the original parts are still intact.  We’re talking about former slaves building with wood – not exactly people of means with materials meant to last 150 years.  During the Civil War, one-third of the population of Prince William County were slaves.  It’s interesting to see how some of them got on after the war.

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12 thoughts on “Horsing Around In The Dark

  1. I had a 1 watt Planet Bike Blaze earlier this year but it has become lost. It was pretty bright so I imagine the Mako lights things up nicely. I attended a workshop about a year ago on making your own high power LED bike lights. Sadly, I still haven’t got around to doing so.

  2. 150 lumens is good enough for most road situations I think. My first night riding on the rail trail was with a miner’s wheat light or bug light as they are sometimes called. It lit up a tiny spot about 20 feet ahead of you. With my latest homemade light seeing is not a problem. The concern is that it blinds anyone comming at me.

    The night photo is cool, but if you want to get into that you should check out a gorillapod. Very good lightweight tripod for small cameras, can adapt to any situation and folds up tiny.

  3. I need to get extra head and tail lights, but with Christmas coming I might wait and see what happens. I am not as good at Matt or others in building my own gear, but I like reading about it.

  4. I go along with tootlepedal.. I am happy that I dont have to worry about night riding either.. However just out of interest I looked up the price of your light in UK and the best price I could find for it was 35pounds that included a 10% discount so i as usual in rip off Britain we pay around the same in pounds as you do in dollars.. I think !! math hasnt been my strongest point in the last week.. (witness my latest post.. as you know !!! :) )

    • That was the case when I lived there in the 90s. I would look at a price tag and briefly think the amount to be fair until I remembered the exchange rate. Whenever I left base, I decided to have the same attitude as one has when going to Disneyland – you know the prices are outrageous, but you need to pay them in order to have a good time!

      Of course, you have nicer public transport, national health care, and several other odds and ends that are in short supply over here…

  5. I’m still in the “twinkly for visibility” category….better than nothing I suppose, but it would be nice to have some real wattage! Nice entry once again by the way, and I like the photo of the lights….

    • Thank you very much. This model isn’t terribly expensive. It’s about the cost of a good tire, which isn’t that much if you intend to be riding at night regularly.

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