Figure in that several riders will also see the nightfall on Saturday evening, and may possibly ride up to 10 hours in darkness, it doesn't take a genius to see that a really good set of lights just might be your friend out there. But what constitutes a "good set" of lights for something like Trans Iowa?
Well, here are some things to consider when you start putting together your lights for T.I.V9, (or any night based gravel grinder).
- Power: Unlike, say- a 24 hour mountain bike race- gravel roads do not demand high powered lights in terms of lumen output. If you can muster 120-150 Lumens from a system, you will be good for most gravel riding. * (More on this later.)
- Run Times: Obviously, your light run time is a critical figure that you need to consider. How you replenish battery power, (or if you want to avoid having to do that), becomes a major consideration here.
- Light Placement/Type: Not only will you need a good light, you may want to consider three good lights. One to see by, one down low to reveal ripples, pot holes, etc, and one to aim at signs and read cues by. Of course, lets not forget that all important tail light.
- Reflective Materials: It also is a wise thing to use reflective tape, Scotchbrite or similar clothing, and small flashers to make sure you are seen by motorists, especially going through towns and cities.
Night riders with lights and reflective bits.
Plus, as if that weren't bad enough, if the gravel the morning of the event's start is wet at all- it will be like thick, gooey peanut butter that will be getting sprayed up into everyone's faces with the exception of the leaders. Add in darkness, bad lights, and well......you could be in big trouble before ten miles go by.
Finally, Lumen power output is one thing, but you can find lights that will throw a beam far up a road, or flood the road way without spending yourself into the poorhouse. Of course, if you can afford, or if you want, the best, it will get the job done with aces. I'll be revisiting this subject next week on Saturday, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, add any questions you have in the comments section.