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New bike light

Went to the bike store today, thinking it was time to replace my 7 year old bulb-based headlight that doesn't do that much other than announce my existence. (Which is more than most bicyclists around here bother with, jerks.) There were a bunch of Blackburn lights, advertising long lifetimes, but no brightness measurements, just "extremely bright" or "superbright". So I got a Trek LED saying 225+ candles. I don't know what that means in practice but if I'd done some research I would, and I support giving numbers. I was told by the staffer that any of these lights would just be for self-visibility, not lighting up the road. Which seemed odd, since even my old light does that a bit, for a short distance, with the light down. (Of course, I generally had a choice between that and being able to illuminate stop signs.)

Yeah, he was wrong. I went for a spin just now and HOLY LEDS BATMAN. I'm sure it's no car light but it can certainly illuminate obstacles at some distance, and as well as lighting up anything remotely reflective from quite a ways away. It's awesome. And almost too bright to look at directly, I almost worry if it can mess with drivers like hi-beams do. The one thing is that it is pretty directional, so stop signs can pass in and out of visibility as my fork wobbles, but hey. And I think it claims some hours of life, whereas memory is that my old light would start draining after 40 minutes at full power.

I also got a lesson in 7-year old stuff. Had trouble getting my old light off, like the screw was stuck, and some rubber padding between it and the handlebar had decayed a lot. I also replaced my helmet -- had forgotten about duct taping the chin strap back on, and hadn't noticed a big crack in the temple regiong. Ended up getting a similar model, the only one with my size head and a visor. Trek bike, Trek helmet, Trek light. Overheard a conversation with someone who'd gotten a road bike and a flat, in that order; he said his Trek mountain bike hadn't ever had a flat. Neither have I, with my 40 pound Trek 800 tank. Can't remember if I ever had the store replace the tires for fear of them wearing down; I might have once, but might have been my old bike...


Oh yeah: walking home from swing dance I saw a bicyclist with, of course, no lights. He did have his cell phone in his hand, and I don't know if he was texting while biking or using it as a makeshift photon source.

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Damien Sullivan
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