Thursday, April 18, 2013

A commuter bike is not a toy. Or, sucks to be you

Given the nice spring weather, last weekend I decided to take the bulky Niterider Trinewt headlight and battery off the Long Haul Trucker so it would be a little more light and lively for my increasingly adventurous rides home from work as the days get longer.  I left both rear strobes and reflector on, though.

Yesterday's forecast was for a storm to move in late in the day, but as of yesterday morning, the forecast was for it to hit pretty late--what I thought I read was close to midnight. So sitting in my office at about 1700 yesterday, I was a little surprised to see it snowing quite heavily. Of course the phone rang twice and it was about 1730 when I could turn off the lights and change to go home.

Leaving the parking lot, the snow was coming down hard but fortunately, not sticking.  Motorists heading home were all running full headlights. I had none. I did remember my bright yellow rain slicker and since the temperatures had dropped, it made sense to put that on over my jersey for both warmth and visibility.  That still meant that at each intersection, it was up to me to make sure that my lower than optimal visibility and lack of proper running gear did not result in a turning and crossing crash.

Bottom line. First, its not always wise to treat a commuter bike as a toy. Leave the essentials on or suffer the consequences. Second, if you do as I did and unwisely remove critical safety equipment, its up to you, not the hapless motorist, to ensure you remain upright. That Trinewt would have been a good thing to be able to switch on last night. Its back on the bike now, thus ensuring no more snow for the rest of the spring, eh?

I have to laugh at myself. Back in my twenties, I rigged a quartz-halogen automobile driving light to a  motorcycle battery for nighttime bicycle riding, as there was no such thing as a high performance bicycle headlight, at least for someone on a graduate student stipend. Compared to that, the Trinewt is an inexpensive feather. Yet I felt compelled to remove it. Sometimes I think I've become a little too much of a middle aged twit.


Jerry said...


I did exactly the same thing. I didn't get out of here until just after 6:00 pm and had 3 flashing tail lights, but no headlight or helmet strobe.

Ian Brett Cooper said...


I'm glad I no longer commute at any time likely to be dark. I remember with horror the times, back in the '70s and early '80s when I did have to commute in dark and I was in my teens and green in judgment - a gutter cyclist, long before I found the benefits of VC. Thinking back to that narrow, dark and busy A4124 - the main road between Bloxwich and Brownhills, where I spent many a dark winter morning or evening being overtaken with a clearance of a few inches, it's a wonder I made it to my 20s.

Nowadays, I ride farther out - and I do keep a light on the old bike, just in case, along with a myriad of other Rube Goldberg devices that I never use. I always reckon the more I carry, the fitter and slenderer I'm going to get. Somehow though, I seem to always overcompensate in terms of eating just a little bit too much. Maybe I need to find just one more heavy device to add to the bike.

Khal said...

That's funny, Ian. The one more heavy device on my bicycles is increasingly, me....