Riding at night - oh dear, I'm a bad person.

Night rides aren't anything new to the Muddy household. Riding at night in the woods is as old as mountain biking; it's just something one does. Initially the only problem was that of poor power lighting with short lived batteries - think candle power outputs and 20 minute run times. My pack used to contain 8 spare AA batteries and I'd get through them in one half hour ride. It was an expensive and slightly fruitless game. But now battery run times are silly, even at high power. On my rides now I just leave the lights on high power and be done with it. Why wouldn't you?

Well here's why. On Saturday night my ride was 95% off road as usual, so all was good. But the night was still warm and the pubs inviting. People were drawn to the country pubs for their last outdoors al fresco dining experiences. Some of the pubs around here are down little dead end lanes, lanes that link to bridleways. Bridleways that I was using. So there I was, full beam both on head and handlebars, popping out for nothing more than a quite zip down 100m of deserted country lane, only to be met with the odd and unexpected car coming the other way. Each and every time these cars would stop dead with the driver shielding their eyes, and I'd feel bad.

Cock. My fault entirely and I apologise. But have you ever tried to quickly change the setting on your lights, at night wearing gloves? Can't be done, this fumbling in the dark. The handlebar one is OK, but even then on mine you have to pass through two rather pointless strobe effects before it switches off. Full power strobe effects, and then it turns off. None of which is handy or friendly. And that's three separate events, three pushes on the little green button. I'm passed the car by then. And this excludes my helmet light - can't touch that whilst playing with the other light, only got so many hands. In any case the helmet light isn't much bigger than the button, which is smaller than my thumbnail. Takes time to find it even when stationary on the bike. Frikkin' impossible when moving at speed. Of course I could just avert my head or push the handlebar light towards the ground, but how far do I have to move my head so that the light doesn't dazzle, and is pushing down on an handlebar that clever against oncoming traffic?

So come on light people. Please design an integrated system with a handlebar mounted switch. I don't want to fumble in the dark for tiny little switches smaller than a fingernail, to scroll through six or seven settings just to drop my lights to quarter power for a second or two. I want a little dip switch on the handlebar that goes to one default setting instantly. Not too much to ask now is it? Sure I could stop before going on to the road, but the road is only 100m long and is usually quiet. In any case riding at night makes things all different. During the day you can see the road coming up, you just know where you are geographically. At night down looks up, left looks right and the trails are always shorter than they really are. During the day I know full well there's a junction coming up. At night, on trails I've ridden a thousand times, I've no idea exactly where I am. It's like your sat nav suddenly going from 1m accuracy to 100m, or "we're roughly here" mentality. It's part of the fun of riding, but also the downfall.

Apologies to the road users.