Tag Archives: night cycling

Nightrider

Riding at night on the MTB, sounds take on a much greater significance….

click, click, click as we clip in and leave the yard
calls of “clear” as we head out on the road
the whirr of knobbly tyres on the tarmac
puffs and pants as we hit the first hill before we’re properly warmed up
conversation petering out
the buzz of the transformer on the electric pole at the forest entrance
the first crunches of gravel as we enter the forest trail
the clunk of changing gears as the trail steepens
calls of “straight on” as the lead man almost takes the wrong turn
the blood thumping in my ears as the climb hits 12%
splashing through puddles as we descend the far side
the wind whistling past my ears as the descent picks up speed
the irritating rub of grit in my brakes from the earlier puddles
skidding tyres as we stop abruptly for the forest gate
calls of “holes!” as the lead rider discovers the massive potholes on the next descent
the noisy stream as it cascades down the hill in full spate
the clatter of a falling bike as one of the guys mistimes clipping in after the short break
the unwelcome intrusion of car engines as we briefly rejoin the main road
the beep of my Garmin as I complete another 5km – why so long since the last one!
the whirr of the power assist as one of the guys passes me on his ebike on the next steep hill
the crunch of metal cleats on tarmac as I step off and walk the hill that I swear was 20%+
bark, bark, bark of the dog – stay away from my house
silence then BARK! BARK! BARK! – I’m going to catch you and kill you all!
the rhythmic whoosh, whoosh of the windmills hidden by the darkness
the sound of rain hitting the plastic shell of my helmet as a short, sharp shower passes over
calls of “car back!” as we get closer to town
the crunch of beech nuts as I take the slightly longer route through Drumboe Woods
the “quack” of ducks on the river and splashes as they squabble
the rumble of tyres on wood on the small forest bridge
the squelch of wet leaves under my bike on the bicycle path
tyres on concrete as I lap the yard to avoid finishing on 29.9km
beeps of my Garmin as it confirms my ride is saved
rain thumping on the roof of the van just minutes after finishing my ride
hellos! as I finally come through the front door

Header image from mbr.co.uk

gear review: sportful reflex ii gillet

It’s unlikely that many cyclists will be missing a gillet from their cycling wardrobe. For me it’s an essential. It’s very rare that I leave the house without one of some form, either on me or in my pocket or saddle bag. It’s only on one of those very rare days that we’re guaranteed warm sunshine that I will venture out without one.

club gillet

My main gillet is my Club one that I wear over either a jersey or my Perfetto from Autumn through to Spring. It’s usually too heavy for Summer use and as it’s not waterproof I also need something for the cooler days and/or when I can expect a heavy shower or two. That’s when the Reflex comes into play.

I bought my first one of these a good few years ago, not long after I started cycling regularly and when I realised that a full waterproof jacket wasn’t going to be practical on the warmer days. I’m one of those people that generate a lot of heat and I’m most comfortable when my arms are bare or just lightly covered.

original reflex

This gillet is still in decent shape but the lack of visibility of the black colour concerns me on duller days and the reflective strips are getting worn looking having been stuffed and unstuffed countless times over the years. I’ve been very happy with it so when the time came to replace it Sportful was my first choice again.

reflex ii

The design had been updated slightly over the years and now has a much better reflective pattern. There are a number of colour choices with Sportful showing fluro yellow, white and black on their website and Wiggle giving a further two of fluro orange and blue. I went for the yellow this time as I wanted something to increase my visibility.

I’ve worn it quite a number of times now and find it really good at what I want it to do. I mainly use it as an additional windbreaker over my Club gillet and Perfetto on very cold Winter days or just over a jersey on fast descents on cooler days. It also gets good use when I get caught in heavier, more prolonged showers when a soaking is unavoidable and unwanted. It has a very handy integrated stuff sack that allows it to compress into a very neat package for a jersey pocket or saddle bag. I’ve also worn it out running on warmer but wet days and found it good for keeping me dry while preventing overheating.

Overall I’m still happy with the new version but I do miss one feature from the original. It had mesh panels down the sides that made it much more breathable. I’m sure removing them has made it more waterproof but they suited me.

I’ve seen some negative reviews on Wiggle that the zip is flimsy but so far I’ve had no issues. They may have upgraded it as it looks and feels sturdy to me.

Value: 9/10 simply because I’m tight fisted and always feel like I’m paying too much! It was €40 when I bought it which is pretty much the RRP.

Durability: 8/10 a decent zip and robust fabric. Negative reviews on Wiggle have me cautious for the longer term.

Effectiveness: 8/10 a great windbreaker, about as waterproof as a gillet can be but would have preferred to see better breathability via the older version mesh panels or a shoulder vent.

Overall: 9/10 highly recommended.

Manufacturer’s Website: https://www.sportful.com/ii/men/collections/protection/p/110163620P-002

muddy puddles

In perfect Peppa Pig style “everyone loves jumping up and down in muddy puddles!” or in my case splashing through them and bunny hopping over them 😊

Friday nights have morphed with the shortening days into MTB night. Two winters ago a group of us were out nearly every week for 2-3 nights but last year the rest of the group moved to the Dark Side and switched to Zwift instead. Admittedly it’s warmer and drier in Zwiftland but it’s still hard to beat the feeling of a frosty night spent rattling around forest trails and splashing through puddles.

This year it looks like I’ve managed to recruit a new group from the club that are interested in getting wet and muddy every Friday night and tonight we had our first spin out together.

click the image to view on strava

A really enjoyable couple of hours of hills, banter, complaining, downhill speeding and of course…….muddy puddles!

riding into the sunset

I managed to get get badly caught out on my Friday evening spin last week.

Due to a mixture of bad planning and disorganisation I ended up leaving the house about 20min later than planned and without hiviz or proper lights. My handlebar light has a decent constant mode but it was low on battery and almost failed before I got home with the last half hour on a setting too dim for comfort.

This week I was much better organised with the lights all fully charged and in place last night and all my gear left sitting ready to go when I got in from work.

much better prepared

I got away only 5min later than hoped and did the same route as last week which has very little traffic. With an unusually clear evening I was treated to great sunsets over the Bluestacks as well as an impressive moonrise over Castlederg.

sunset over the bluestacks
barnes gap
moonrise over castlederg
moon through the trees on the derg line

It was a perfect night for cycling and I could have stayed out hours longer!

click the image to view on strava

Over the last couple of weeks I feel like I’ve really got my cycling mojo back again. Last month I managed 235km. That’s not an awful lot but in context it’s my biggest month since November last year and by a long shot!

stats for the year

I’d set myself a target of 450/500km for September and so far I’m at 285km. I’m also feeling fitter and stronger and was pleased to set a distance record on Sunday from November last year and then to beat it on Wednesday 💪

Combine my extra mileage with two nights per week in the gym and I am now optimistic about my condition and fitness come the Spring 😊