Tri Means 3. Or Does It Mean 3.5? Or 6?
Tomorrow is the rescheduled 18 Hours on The Farm that was canceled back in August due to HUGE storms. I must say PART of me wishes I was heading to Goochland, VA for the race like I was supposed to in August. Now it's just way to late in the season for me to have the proper fitness or more importantly the desire to race for 18+ hours. A bigger part of me is glad that I am NOT racing. Night time lows look to be in the 30s? Ah, NO THANKS! Good luck to J.B and my other friends who will "man (an woman) up" and race tomorrow. Stay warm!
Those folks racing at the 18 hours will be starting at 6 p.m. so as to avoid blood thirsty, flesh craving, Virginia hunters. That means 12+ hours in complete darkness. Hope you have a good light system if you're going Solo! Wich brings me to a subject I touch on now and again- Lights.
Lights have become so touchy with folks lately. It seems light systems are are just like everything else in mountain biking- LED vs. HID, Full Suspension vs. Hard Tail, 26" vs. 29", Lap Race vs. Big Ass Loops, etc., etc., Everyone had their opinion and the following is just some things I've noticed.
I, along with just about 90% of every other endurance racer, has seen that the future is LED lighting. HID is VERY bright, but at least to me, it has always been a purple/white light that can often f*ck with my eyes. The LED light systems that I've seen from folks like Princeton Tec and the new NightRider Tri-Newt are very impressive, and at least has my attention, if not my dollars in 2008.
I currently run HID. A NiteRider Storm. I can get 4 hours out of a battery and I have two. That's 8 hours of light. More than most folks could/would ever need. But HID can be problematic. My light has been repaired by NiteRider once and by Tommy H. once. The SurLoc plugs sorta suck and the bulbs are UBER pricey if they need to replaced.
I've saw the Princeton Tec lights first hand last year at Lodi Farms (thanks Justin!) and have seen the reports from Adam and Solo Goat. The Switchback 3 has a burn time of 6+ hours on high, is super bright (IMHO), comes with a car charger, has a short 2 hour charge, and can be mounted on bike or helmet. The plugs have locks and if I add a 2nd battery I would be looking at 12+ hours of light. This is pretty key for someone like me who has done/will be doing Solos in a sort of "semi" self supported fashion.
Some races Wifey is my pit crew, other races I am there 100% solo. Having the knowledge that light would be there for me 100% of the time would be pretty sweet. The only drawback I've read and seen to the 2007 SB3 is the battery weight and that the helmet mount mounts sort of high. I'm not sure if PT has any changes in store for '08 but I'm anxious to see.
The new NiteRider TriNewt is also VERY impressive and they drop some serious LUMEN numbers (near 500) on folks. I've seen beam shot picts and it is very impressive. BUT the problem is this: Max burn time on high is 3.5 hours. That means I would need a 2nd battery. A car charger is NOT included, which is pretty sweet accessory for a Solo racer without a sack full of extra batteries. Plus even with 2 batteries I would STILL only get 7 hours? VS. 12+ hours with the SB3. ANNNNND the charge time is 4 hours. A full 1/2 hour more than the burn time one would get from a 2nd battery??? Hmmm.
There are DIY systems that folks whip up. I'm sure some of these are lighter, brighter etc., But if you can't make it, you can't use it! There are lighter, brighter LEDs on the market. Some are upwards of $600+ AND STILL do not have the burn time or short charge time of the PTs. Again I say- Hmmmmmm.
Now I have no idea what I'll be running in 2008. Most likely it will be my NiteRider Storm HIDs. BUT seeing the progress that LED is making and what folks like Princeton Tec are doing with it makes me feel that in the near future I might have to make LED happen.
Anyway, that's my light rant. Hope to get some miles in out in the cold tomorrow and then head over to Y&M's for some food and home brew.