So there I was, window shopping at the Performance Bike Shop in Reston, when I came across a dirt-cheap bicycle light set, on sale for 50% off. The sun has been setting earlier (funny how that happens) and my weekday rides have been difficult to get in. I decided to take the plunge and enter the world of Night Cycling. Behold, Bike Modification #4: the Ascent Commuter Bicycle Light Set!
This installed very quickly on my bike, although the front light was still a tick loose when I tightened it as much as possible. The lights have several options, including steady and various blinking configurations. Having successfully installed the gear, I took the pics you see here and waiting for dusk.
It was after sunset when I headed out. There was still plenty of ambient light, but it was getting dark quickly. Staying on multi-use paths and side streets, I made my way to the Rte 234 path. I was surprised to see a couple of cyclists without any lights or reflective gear. I also saw four middle-schoolers wandering unsupervised along the dark pathway and reflected on the current state of our culture.
I rode seven miles out and by the time I turned around to come home, it was well and truly dark. This was an interesting experience: riding over a path I knew very well, only now in conditions of darkness. I’m glad I stuck to a path and stayed off the street. I would have felt VERY unsafe on the road next to the path – I simply would not have trusted the oncoming traffic to see my blinking red tail light, even though it seemed to be quite bright. I was also glad to be on a path I knew very well. When I was moving at or above 20mph, the visibility was dicey and I was occasionally surprised by an unexpected bump. I almost hit two joggers who were heading toward me with no reflective gear at all. Fortunately, they saw my light in plenty of time and cleared out of the way!
On the whole, it was an interesting experience. My lights performed well and served their purpose of notifying others of my presence. They’ll let me continue weeknight rides into the Fall, albeit at a slower pace and only on routes which include paths. I have since read several reviews of this light set – most of them negative. We’ll see what the future brings, but after one hour of riding, I can report they handled just fine!