Category Archives: Night Riding

This is Why I Am a Morning Person

Recently, I had one of those nights where I woke up in the middle of the night (1 am) and could not go back to sleep. I went to sleep, only to wake up again at 3:30. I did the same thing and woke up again at 4:30. I just couldn’t go back to sleep.

Oh screw it. I have fully charged lights, so I went into my cycling clothes, and went for a ride … at 5:15 am.

One of my favorite night spots is the Mary Ave bridge (although it probably has some more official name to it).  I wanted it to be dark, just so I can take this picture.

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Mary Ave. Bridge (at least that’s what it says on Google Maps)

Off I went to climb Montebello Road. It’s so peaceful this time of day, as hardly anyone is out on the road. I was passed by 3 cars, and that was it. There was something about riding on a crisp morning, and I felt like I was climbing it pretty good (even though I didn’t get a PR out of it).

One of the main reasons for me to get out here was to see the views, and they were awesome.  No matter which angle I took, I couldn’t quite capture the beauty, and enormity of being up before sunrise … so peaceful

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View from Montebello Road, just passed Montebello School

As I continued climbing, sunrise came, and that just made the climb even better. I was the only one climbing Montebello at this hour. Where’s everyone? What’s the issue … are you sleeping? Oh, wait, I guess you are.

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Good morning from the top of Montebello, Vidovich Vineyards

As I descended down the hill, I saw a bunch of riders climbing. I guess I was an hour earlier than everyone wanted to start. Yes, I am a morning person!

Riding in Wind, Torrential Rain, and in the Dark Makes You Badass

Yes, I did see the weather reports that forecast is for rain on the commute home, but hey, I’ve  been through weather like this before.  I mean, I rode the last 50 miles of Camino Real Double Century in the same conditions.

Yes it was driving rain, with wind, which meant rain was going into my face, to the side, on back.  I was already wet, right?  It is interesting how without rain and wind, visibility is not bad.  Add wind, rain, and darkness, it becomes a HTFU rude.  If you ride in this weather, you are truly badass … Rule #9

Bike Commuting Night Gear

Some of you may be worried about being able to be seen at night on my commutes home.  Well, I’ll document it here.

So on the front, I’ve got a nice 500 lumen Exposure Sirius light.  It’s very compact, lightweight, and the mount is not a hard plastic mount that will scratch up the handle bar.  In fact, it’s got a sturdy rubber stretchable mount, that is easy to take on or off, and will conform to even most irregular shaped handlebars (which seems to be the in thing nowadays).

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Exposure Sirius Handlebar Mounted

I also have my Niterider Lumina 250, which is sufficient to direct the beam towards any dark patches of the road. I typically point the beam downward, such that it doesn’t blind other cyclists or drivers coming towards me. That is only courteous anyways.

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I then bought some reflective tape, strategically designed to be placed on your spokes, so that if anyone shines a light at you, they’d have to be blind not to see it … especially when the wheel spins. I got these at REI (http://www.rei.com/product/808967/lightweights-for-wheels-power-reflectors)

Under my seat post, I have Serfas Thunderbolt … very powerful rear facing light, about 30 lumens.  It’s also a USB rechargable light.  This can be seen for miles.  Being the lazy ass that I am, I choose the lowest blinking mode, always forgetting to charge them up.

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Serfas Thunderbolt

I also have some Blackburn Flea rear facing blinkers.  They’re very compact, and has a tight clip, where you could put just about anywhere.  I usually clip these on the back of my jacket.  Could I use more???  Yes, definitely it’s better to be seen.  But with what I have, I feel pretty safe on the night commutes … Now if only others would be more caring about being seen, that would be great … but I’m not holding my breath for it.

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Blackburn Flea

It still amazes me how many walkers, joggers, go out on the multi-use trail, with no reflectors, no lights, and it’s pitch black out there. Not every is like me, with a super bright light. That’s bound to create accidents.

Days Starting to Get Longer

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Are The Days Getting Longer?

Is it me, or are the days getting longer? I know, it just turned New Years, but when I get out a little after 5 pm, it does seem a little lighter than before. That’s something to get this bike commuter excited about. As if getting off work isn’t excitement enough, but commuting by bike, and having it not quick so pitch black … it’s something to smile about.

Today was the first day it was fairly dry since the weekend.  We’ve had 3 days of pretty heavy constant rain, and waking up in the morning, to see it not rain was exciting.

I went on the Stevens Creek MUT today, and it was pretty eerie, because it was just me, and a few other joggers on the path.  There were no other bikes on the MUT at all.  Usually I’d see 5 or 6 others, but tonight, it was just me.  I mean, it wasn’t raining, so that couldn’t have scared everyone away, would it?  I was just happy to be back on the road commuting again.

It might not rain until Friday evening, so looks like I’ll be commuting again tomorrow.  I gotta do something to trim down for the coming season.

The Challenge of Getting Quality Miles In

One of the challenges of being able to stay fit, and do endurance rides is being able to get out there.  I didn’t have this challenge before, because I typically was able to have my weekends free to ride.  However, lately, that has changed.  My weekends have been occupied by either a weekend on call, a weekend visiting dad, or a weekend free to myself, biking.  This rotation is a 3 week period, so as you can see, my weekend to bike is once every 3 weeks.  That is tough to keep fit, especially if I do all these double centuries.

This means having to squeeze in whatever I can during the week.  I would have to really prepare myself on how I commute into work.  You may ask, in what way?  Well, consider this schedule:

Monday:  Commute in with my normal commuting bike (with panniers, maybe carrying my laptop with me)

Tuesday: This is the day I usually have my mid-week ride, with the Meetup group.  I usually bring my Volagi, and stash my change of clothes in my backpack.  When I take off for my Meetup ride, I leave my change of clothes in the office

Wednesday: Ride my Volagi into work, wearing a T-shirt as a base layer (this is Silicon Valley, and as a tech, a T-shirt is my normal work attire).  On my ride home, I take my change of clothes with me, in my backpack.

Thursday and Friday: Take my commuting bike into work.  Friday, I put the laptop in my panniers.

This sure is a lot of prep work to get in extra miles during the week, but it is necessary.  Even then, the amount of miles I’m able to get in is not that spectacular.  Yesterday, I was able to accumulate 40 miles (10 in the morning, 30 on my evening ride).

Now that it is getting darker earlier (by 6:40 pm), I also have to be well equipped with blinding light display.  It is pretty cool, to get out there, enjoying the night scenery, while everyone else is stressing on getting through rush hour traffic to get home … Me?  My struggles are to lug myself up that big hill, so that I can get these great views.

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Please Wear Reflective Clothing on Multi Use Trails

OK, I admit, I am ranting … By the time I get home, it gets dark on the MUT … At least I think it does.  So why don’t more people wear reflective clothing or carry a little light with them?  There are some that wear black, and it’s hard to see them, especially when going thru an underpass. 

Until it does get really dark, I’m going to use blinkers on front and back.  I really don’t like blinkers on the front, but this seems to be the only way to get people’s attention.

I really don’t understand why people walk in the dark, with dark wardrobe.  Can someone explain that to me?  Because of this, riders should really slow down, especially those that don’t have adequate lighting.

Always Keep a Backup Light Handy

Sometimes you get into a routine that you take some things for granted.  In my case, I ride in the dark without hesitation, and with my bright lights, that gives me confidence to ride not only in darkness, but in traffic too.

My light is a Light and Motion Urban 400 (400 lumen).  I typically charge this light at work with usb to my laptop, which usually isn’t an issue.  Well one day, suddenly I see a message on my PC regarding a power surge to the usb hub (or in this case, docking station).  Suddenly, my light, wireless keyboard, all fall.  So I unplug all usb devices, then plug back everything again .. keyboard, console works again, and I didn’t think anything off the light.  I left it plugged in to continue charging.

Now on this day, I forget to bring my backup auxiliary light … Murphy’s Law?  I head home, try to turn on my light and it won’t turn on.  Damn, it’s a good thing Sports Basement is close by, so that I can buy a light there.  This was last Friday before the time change, so that gave , me just enough light to make it to Sports Basement.

I get home, then I charge it to my wall socket, and leave it overnight.  It is blinking an amber led, which usually means it is 30% charged.  I wake up the next morning, and it’s still amber (it should turn green when fully charged).  This light is toasted, fried, you name it.

Just my luck, this light is just over a year old, so there went the warranty.  I still find it strange that the laptop showed a power surge.  I’ve never had that happen before. 

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I went ahead and bought a Niterider Lumina 700 (700 lumens).  So now I keep a backup light, no matter what type of ride it is.  Lesson learned, and don’t take things for granted.

Daylight Savings Time .. Yay!

Daylight savings time .. yay!  Not only does that mean I can leave the office with daylight, but it also means I can do a little more riding after work.  It’s really nice not having to carry that big extra bulky battery for my Stella 300 (even though I still carry the Urban 400, but I can just mount that on my handlebar.  This also means I don’t have to mount it on my helmet, and have a head heavy ride.

Meetup rides are more fun … I get to see what everyone looks like … LOL.  I also get more aggressive with daylight, and I think everyone else did too.  We did Los Altos Hills, and it just felt like a more frisky ride.  Paloma gave us a swift kick in the ass, and if that weren’t enough, we then attacked Mora.  I think I over prepared myself for Mora, and just went on the easiest gear, but that did make my time suffer a bit.  By the time I finished this, I went back home, and only had to turn lights on with 3 miles to go.  That’s a win win!

Funny note about yesterday’s commute … I rode all fall and winter, in the dark, and without a flat.  Now, riding in bright daylight, I get a flat.  Doesn’t make sense does it?  Go figure.

Quest for 600 for January … Complete

January had been an up and down month for me .. literally.  To start off the year, I was just getting over a cold, so I wasn’t really 100% to start off the new year.  Then, after climbing Sierra Road, I think inhaling the cold air forced me to have a sore throat, coughs, and generally more time off the bike.  Then, I suffered some back spasms.  Damn, January was just not a good month for me.

I recovered from my back spasms after a week and a half, then I was looking at my totals for the Strava January base miles challenge, and I was 60 miles from 600 … on the 31st, the last day of the month.

Well, hell … I can probably get an early start, do the Mt. Eden loop, then head into work.  I was still feeling it a little bit in my back, so I wasn’t going all for it on the hills.  I was probably going 75%.  I did the Mt. Eden loop, got back to the office, and didn’t realize how far from the office Mt. Eden was.  I looked, and I already logged in 30 miles.  Wow!  I’m only 30 miles from my target!

The meetup biking++ group was doing an evening ride, starting in Woodside, going up Kings Mountain, and the whole loop would be ~ 17 miles.  Again, I misunderestimated distance to the start of the ride.  I was estimating if I left the office by 5, I’d be able to get to the start (at Whiskey Hill and Woodside Rd) by 6:30 … but then found out they were leaving by 6:15 … d’oh.  Oh well … I looked at my mileage, and figured just making the trek home, I’ll definitely make it to 600.

I made it home, surpassing the 600 mile mark, and yet another Strava achievement … woohoo!  But unfortunately, I caught a cold from those last miles.  Down again … hopefully for not too long.

Christmas Lights on Bikes

The Peninsula and South Bay Bicycling Group had a cool night ride recently, dubbed “Seasonal Lights Tour”.  I haven’t done many night rides this year (other than my daily commutes in the dark along San Tomas Aquino Trail), so this was a good excuse to do a night ride, with some camaraderie.

We started out in Palo Alto, and we did the usual 15 minute grace period before actual starting of the ride.  It was actually a little longer, as we did the obligatory group ride shot.

Photo courtesy Steve Cutcomb

Not sure if you can make it out from the photo, but it was a cold night (although my Garmin read it to be only 44 F).  The ride led out of Palo Alto, through Stanford, and on through to Woodside.  In other words, it was flat.  I was just waiting for the climbs, just so that I could warm up (I think a few others echoed the same sentiment).

Going up Sandhill was interesting.  We rode right into 2 other groups, and we couldn’t quite tell which was which.  One of them was MVV, and I believe they went out towards Kings Mountain Road, and a few of the riders followed them.  Each was pointing at the other “you gotta go this way” … “no you gotta go that way” .. eventually, we all got back together on Canada Road, but it was funny .. a few added a few extra miles.

We did one more hill, that was going up through Canada College, before a fast descent down  Farm Hill Blvd, but I wasn’t in the mood for any fast descending, especially in the dark, with traffic.  So I was riding the brakes a little bit, just so that I can keep my speed down.  It was advertised that you could easily go 50 mph down this stretch.  No thanks, not for me tonight.

We eventually got to San Carlos, and turned onto Eucalyptus, where we were greeted with the Disneyland of Christmas Lanes … it was such a spectacle.

As you can see from the video, this street drew a big crowd.  The street was illuminated so brightly, it reminded me a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I was definitely thinking of the Griswold’s when looking at this house.

Photo courtesy Tom Hon

Photo courtesy Mark Koenig

We headed back towards Palo Alto.  Since we were on Alameda de las Pulgas, a few of us decided to go straight along Foothill Expy back home, while the others continued on another christmas lane in Palo Alto.

It was getting late and I needed to get back.  Plus, I didn’t prepare this day to intelligently, as the last food I had was at 2 pm.  I thought I was being smart by leaving my laptop, backpack and clothes in the office, since I would only be going to sleep once I finished the ride.  However, a couple of things I forgot about … 1st, I left my wallet in my backpack, which is in the office.  Second, the last time I ate was lunch, which was around 2 pm.  It is now 9 pm, and I didn’t have any clif bars with me.

Note to self … when going on a night ride, nibble on food all day, to last you through the night.

I had a great time, and I just wanted to crash when I got home.  Was a great, and fun ride … nice way to get some mid-week miles in, especially since it’s not raining.