Insight into Illumination

bikeyRolling into another season of commuting, I wanted to pamper my commuter rig. I gave my bike the gift of dynamo lights. It’s one of those upgrades I’ve wanted to do for quite some time but always found an excuse. Mostly it was cost. I have a vast array of USB lights and a few others which take batteries. I had more than a few occasions  last year when I neglected to recharge my lights at work and ended up with only the blinky light on my helmet to find my way back home at night. Something is better than nothing, however, I was doubting my ability to remember to charge my lights before leaving work this year so at the end of the summer one of my favorite bike shops posted a picture on Instagram of a Kona bike with these awesome fenders and dynamo lights and I felt compelled to get it done. Sadly, the bike mechanic said the fenders wouldn’t work for my bike, but the lights were a go!

Naturally the next part is the immense regret and heavy burden I bear for not having the wherewithal to install the lights a long time ago. What was I thinking? This is the best thing I’ve ever done on behalf of biking and commuting! What are you waiting for? If you don’t have dynamo lights and you are on the fence about getting them—get off the fence and get it done! Talk with your mechanic about what it will look like and how it will be mounted and then choose your lighting system. I wanted the safest, brightest light I could get without taking out a second mortgage.

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I did spend some time getting quotes from three shops, but service and willingness won out. I was going to be out of town for a week and I opted to leave my bike at the shop for a few days. The hubs and rims needed to be rebuilt and I needed new rims anyway, so it all worked out. Be prepared for spending $400 to $600. It might be less, but I didn’t realize how much I needed to rims. While it was there I had the break pads done and a few other little tweaks. My final bill was $560.

After. The first thing you’ll notice if how liberated you feel. Pure unfettered biking with little regard for time. I can go to Happy Hour and still get home without worrying about the whether my LEDs have enough to get me home or if I will get plunged into darkness and need to catch a bus. Those days are over! I feel like I’m in control, not the lights.

My first encounter with integrated bike lighting was in 2009 when I rented a bike in Potsdam.

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My bike rental in Potsdam, Germany in 2009 had a lighting system that was bulking but effective.

 

The other great thing is that these lights can be taken off this bike, in the event that I ever replace the Kona, and installed on another bike. Personally, I can’t imagine buying a bike without having a dynamo system installed. I commute 50-70 miles a week and there are days when I’m at a meeting which goes a little too late compromising my ability to get home safely. Dynamo lights on my bike mean I can think about loftier issues and not worry if I’m going to make in home before it’s pitch dark.

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What do you do for lights on your bike? Do you have a dynamo or similar system?

Be safe out there.
Happy riding,

Bike Goddess

Getting in Gear

Last year I joined Strava. I like tracking my rides because the data is illuminating. I had been using MapMyRide, but it seemed like most of my friends were on Strava and they loved it. Peer pressure took over. All the cool kids were using Strava and I wanted to be one of them. I tried the free account for a few months and then went Premium at the tail end of 2014.

Why bother? Two reasons: motivation and data. In 2015, I started the year with ride #1 and ended with ride #303. The data says I completed more than 303 rides, but that’s what I named them. There were rides that were not numbered, but that’s fine. You can choose your own system. I decided to start 2016 the same way; ride #1 was today.

Also, when you see how many miles you ride every week, month and year, you see your progress as a rider. Essentially, you compete against yourself. Either app (and I’m sure there are others) provide features that keep you riding. You can determine your weekly mileage goals or annual totals. Plus there’s a community of riders out there who have your back. I love it when another rider gives me kudos on a ride.  Also, I enjoy seeing their routes. I wish I knew more about all its intricacies and I’d love to have a manual to explore some of the features, but most of what I’ve learned in the last year has been by experimenting or looking up stuff online. For example, the graphic above is an annual summary provided by another app or extension I found here, and it uses the Strava data.

My goals for 2016 are to keep riding and recording my rides. I’m not sure about my total mileage yet. I’m setting the bar for 4000 miles. My Kona Roundabout gets the most use use since it’s my commuter bike. I have Luna, a Cannonade Synapse road bike which is a fair weather bike. No fenders, just speed. There’s the Trek Portland and it was my commuter up until 2012. I don’t ride the Trek much and I’m considering selling, but it’s a good backup bike.

I love bikes and I love riding. Your gear can be your kit, clothing, shoes, your bike, bags and tools but one tool in particular that allows you to quantify your riding. I use Strava for everything, even walking my dog Max. It’s a new year and it might be time to explore a tool to help you track your rides.

Strava is not paying me to sell you on the idea although this post does sound like a pitch. I was dubious about making the move from MapMyRide to Strava and now I can’t imagine a simple ride without Strava. When I travel I try to rent a bike or use a city’s bike share and tracking my rides is becoming a sort of keepsake for me. It’s a great way to share your
adventures and remember your routes.

Thanks for reading. Have a great day and get out there and ride!