Lighting Strategies for Solo 24 Hr Race
I'm signed up for my first solo 24 hr race in June and at the moment, my biggest concern is how best to deal with my lights. I've done a bunch of solo Hundos, lots of 8 hour solos, and some 4 man team 24 events....so I have a pretty good idea with how I want to train, what works for me nurtrition wise, etc. But I'm a raging newb when it comes to optimizing my light set up for a solo 24 effort.
I'll have ample pit support and am planning on bringing two bikes. My primary geared FS race bike and my Ti 29er SS hard tail as a backup. One strategy I am considering is having two light setups...and as I head out at dusk when I need my lights, have my SS backup bike already setup with lights and just grab it and go. Then when I'm out on that lap, my pit crew can set my primary bike up with it's system and then I can switch out again on the next lap (or stay on the SS a bit longer for the change of pace).
Throughout the night I'll need to recharge a few times so having the two bikes will help facilitate that with minimal pit stoppage time.
My current lights are not that great either.... Just a MiNewt 600 that I don't particularly like but it was won in a raffle and free so I've using it and an older MagicShine. Neither of these have particularly long burn times or brightness so I'm in the market for something more worthy with all the above considerations....
Thanks in advance for any input, stories or suggestions.
Last edited by Tyrone Shoelaces; 03-05-2013 at 08:29 PM.
Got no experience with 24hr racing... But these guys are local and make a very nice light. I've got their helmet mounted LED light and it's much better than my Magicshine.
Jetlites :: Complete Systems
You might call them up and ask if they are renting lights at the race. They often do that for local Tahoe Races.
- Booker C. Bense
When my wife raced last summer we went with an Exposure (Toro) on the bar. Their quick clip on system made it great that she did not even need to switch bikes just snap the light on in 5 sec. For helmet we had two helmets and I set up either an Exposure joystick or Ayup. She prefered the Ayup as it was ridiculouly light and she did not even notice it on her helmet. There are lots of good systems out there and it is totally possible to spend as much as your bike if you want to.
I'd recommend getting some Exposure lights. I sixx pack or maxx D for the bars and joystick for the helmet, all have 10 hour burn time on the medium setting which is plenty bright enough for night time racing.
Tyrone, I have been renting from Night Rider when they are at the races but from what I have been reading there are longer burn times on lights like the Exposure lights and with the Bikeray Speed 1000 on medium you get 650 lumens for 6+ hrs and a 1000 lumens for 4 hrs not bad for only 140 bucks I'm going to check the reviews on it and heck for that price I could get an extra battery and still be under 250 bucks.
SPEED I | BikeRayUSA
My lighting strategy for a 24 is easy. Go into the race with enough batteries to run full power ( or rather at the maximum lighting power that you feel you will need ) for the entire night. Recharging canít always be counted on. Either look into buying extra batteries to get you through or look into renting batteries (especially if you have a company coming and giving support at your race). You can rent entire systems at some races but itís nice to have your own and know exactly how youíre going to mount the lights long before race day. Which light system is the best to go with is beyond me. There seem to be quite a few good little sets out there and anyway everyone has slightly different ideas on makes an ideal setup.
I have two lighting tips:
1) Have your second bike and a second helmet set up with lights before the start of the race.
Itís one less thing to do at that dusk transition, and you will have more than enough to do at that transition anyway.
2) Put your number plate on your bike and then mount your lights. Make sure that your lights clear that plate.
Light sets are getting to be like tires in that there are a lot of choices and technology has narrowed the gap between good and bad. I too will be out there with you in June....I am just glad you are not in my class.
I have used Ay Ups for the past few years and just upgraded to their stronger lights. I run one on the bar and one on the helmet. They are plenty bright, have good burn time and I can ride as fast at night with them as during the day. I have one set up as a wide angle for distance and one as a spot. They are super light so you can keep the battery on your helmet and not feel the weight. I used them when I solo'd in the Coolest 24 a few years ago when it rained for over 20hrs of the race. They did not skip a beat and did not fail in all the water, mud, etc. During the race I did an endo into a creek in the middle of the night and submerged all my lights and again....no fail. I live local to you so If you want to try them, just PM me....sometimes I show up to Team Revs mid-week night ride out of the EDH library......
I agree size and weight can be a key factor for a solo rider. Have you considered getting a light that is handmade by another cyclist? I have been making high performance LED bike lights for over 5 years now. I have lights being used by commuters, mtn biker, and endurance racers all over thew world.
These are some of the reasons some people purchase my lights -
1. - Size
2. - Weight
3. - Non proprietary batteries (an extra battery does not cost about as much as an entire light)
4. - Customer service
5. - Made by someone who uses his lights on an almost daily basis and knows the importance of reliability and has the same passion for biking.
Shoot me an email if you would like some more info. Do a search here on MTBR for "Amoeba bike light" and you will finds all kinds of references.
Oops. I meant put your lights on the bike and then put on your number plate, making sure that your light beam doesn't reflect back at you from the rear of the plate. It's just easier that way around. Do this before the race starts for both your bikes
Originally Posted by dskunk
Thanks for the responses everyone!
A few things I hadn't considered...renting at the venue, not sure if there will be a lighting company there or not yet (I believe there usually is), so yes that is an option.
The option of just having enough batteries to get me through the night for the lighting system that I end up having is something I didn't even consider. Seems pretty logica
I have a buddy who has Ay-ups, but I've never heard of Exposure...will look them up.
mtbne1 - what category would you end up racing in? I am in Solo Open Men (going to be racing gears, not SS, for this).
scar - will check your stuff out too, thanks!
Another vote for the AYUPs, and a swag of batteries fully charged. If you are like me the last thing you or your handler is going to want to worry about is having to charge bloody batteries. Keep it simple.
Narrow spread, higher power version on the helmet. I used to run the "small" batteries on the helmet but now run a lead to a "large" battery (still not that heavy) in the back pocket. I find the weight of a small battery on the head can become noticeable if the course is rough. I only use the one helmet. Attachment of the lightset takes about 10 sec if the mount is already zip-tied on. I run on full power and change batteries twice (every 4 hrs) during the night.
Wider spread ("intermediate"), low power lightset (ie old set) on the bars, and large battery velcro'd to the stem. Adding the lightset and battery takes 30 sec (you'll be craving some down-seconds come the eve). Also have a plastic mount on the spare bike (10 g) - you can swap the lightset over easy if you have a mechanical etc. One battery change for the stem 1/2 way through.
Hence 5 large batteries in total + a spare = 6. Simple. Works for me anyway.
Good luck out there!
This isn't an issue at all with Exposure lights. One light bracket on the handle bar of each bike is all you need, changing your light over to the spare bike is quick and easy, and you'll easily realise if you set off without it I imagine!!
Originally Posted by dskunk
I am racing Coolest in the 45+ Men's category
Also: Careful about relying on a lighting vendor to be at the race as I have seen them "no show" for 24hr races. Have a back up plan just in case. Contact Northey and see if he has nailed down the vendor. He has used Lights & Motion and I believe Nite Rider in the past.
Good luck with all this.....believe it or not 24hrs goes by fairly fast or at least faster than you think it will once it is over.
I recommend giving the Exposure lights a look. When I started doing 24 solos 12 years ago the lighting choices weren't great but as others have mentioned they have come a long ways. Originally I started with Niterider lights, then switched to Light & Motion for a few years for the increased brightness. In 2010 I switched to Exposure for the simple mounting, no-wires, and super long battery life. For 24 hr solos I value my lighting up there with bike/seat comfort. The recommendation to have enough battery life to run the whole night without relying on charging is solid. If you are planning to continue with 24 solo racing for a few years the extra batteries/lights are worth the money.
I have a 6 pack and Maxx D for my handlebars and 2 Diablos for helmet mount, between the 2 sets I have more than enough battery life.
Good luck with your first 24 solo and hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Hey Steve, hope things are good! You have anything lined up for this year? Drop me a PM if you don't want to post up here.
Tyrone Shoelaces, I've done 22 24hr Solo races and I've tried a few lights over the years. Asking for recommendations is a good idea, take your time to make the right choice for you.
I agree with the comment that Exposure lights are a no-hassle scenario. No hassle is what you want in a 24 Solo, especially if you are self-supported (which can happen when your pit crew bails on you a day before the race). Mainly I race with a Dinotte XML-3 but if a course calls for a helmet and a bar mount I'll throw my Exposure on as well.
Things to consider...
Like Steve said, you need enough battery life to run the entire night and not have to rely on recharging stations. That will probably mean multiple batteries. Also, it's better to own your own lighting solution leading up to the race, rather than relying on an on-site vendor. You will want to be doing a bunch of night riding prior to the event so buy your solution months in advance. Finally, try several brands out and don't be attracted to the 1,000,000 lumen light marketing pitch, there's more to lights than just lumens. Get out on night rides with different brands and see how far they throw, how wide they throw and what spectrum (colour) they throw. My night vision doesn't work real well with the super crisp blueish white light, nor do they work real well with the yellowish tinge lights. Find a spectrum that works well for your eyes. If you make a smart choice you should be able to race as quickly at night as you do in the day time.
Good luck at your race.
agree with the above, I have nitelights and ayeups in a duel setup helmet and handlebar, having an ability to switch the power of the beam can be useful to. In Canberra aus during the scott 24hr it can get really dusty with a fine powdery dust, having a high beam light can end up with you almost blind, but being able to lower the beam output can help with such problems.
I gotta give a 1+ to amoeba. Best and lightest lights out there. He can custom build batteries for any time length or you can buy extra batteries for about $40 a pop. I like the smaller batteries because they are just so light. I think my whole light setup is less than 200 gm including battery and light head.
It reminds me that I need to pick up a AA battery holder that he makes for my light for bikepacking.
For Solo 24 I run a bar Light and a head light. I turn the bar light off for easy sections to save power.
I keep a backup battery with me and one or two more charging between laps.
Portable Jumper batteries with inverters work well for charging if there isn't manufacturer support or neutral support.
Neutral support is usually in or very close to the timing tent, so swapping them out isn't that time consuming.
If I don't have access to that many lights or batteries I'll run one light and have a backup in my pocket. I've had lights die mid lap and that sucks. I'd rather wait in camp than walk back. I can't see well enough to ride a wheel at night.
Mike Henderson, Dirty Hippy Mountain Biker and part owner of Jet Lites
Ron- my offer still stands to throw my Dinotte setup in a box and ship to you to borrow if you get in a bind!
lots of good info here thanks folks. will tuck this away for if I ever sack up for a 24 solo
My first 24 was on a team and I used a 230 lumen LED flashlight mounted to my helmet for three night laps. It can work if you know the course and still ride kinda slow.
Did the following year I did a solo on the same course (Dark Mtn in NC) and used Magic Shine on the helmet and Bikeray on the bar. Wow, it sure was nice being able to see.
I will be at the Coolest 24 also, with the same Magic Shine/Bikeray setup. Cheap lights fo-sho, but they are bright 'enough' so there ya go. I will also be bringing a couple LED flashlights (with mounts) as backups, just in case.
As has been said, there are a lot of good lights out there. If I had some spare cash, I would probably get a light from scar. I have seen them in person and they are very impressive.
Good Luck (and I'll see you there).
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