A big part of the reason why I've struggled to keep up on the ascents during my recent mountain bike rides is because I simply haven't been riding as much. There are two explanations for this: 1) Far too busy with work, and 2) I can't see in the dark. With the days getting shorter, it's just become impossible for me to ride during the week after work. And with the fall videogame crunch period, there hasn't been any time anyhow.
Fortunately, this is all coming to an end. I'm in the midst of my fourth book in what has been a very busy 2 months and things are finally settling down. I can now sleep for more than 4 hours a night without suffering too much guilt and I can definitely find time for an occasional 2 to 3 hours on the bike. And as for the visibility problems, I received new mountain biking lights for my birthday.
In order to safely ride at night in the woods, one needs a very powerful light. And if one can get an HID (high intensity discharge) light without breaking the bank, all the better. Thanks to a local bike shop (www.singletrackcycles.com) agreeing to give BBTC members a one-time 25% discount on these lights, I was able to score one monster of a system.
The NiteRider "Rage" is a HID + LED light system that has a 4 hour burn time (on max setting), a 2.5 hour quick charger, and can also run the HID lights at less power for 5 hours or 6 hours if necessary. Being that I don't plan on soloing any 24hr races anytime soon, this will be fine. The light also contains 3 LED bulbs that can burn for 80 hours per charge. While LED lights are worthless as far as night riding is concerned, they are great to have for snack breaks or for while operating on the bike or fixing a flat tire. Having them built into the main bike light means that I can toss my various little Petzl headlamps into the closet of forgotten sports equipment. Right next to that badminton set we received as a gift last year.
I'd put these lights to use tomorrow night, but I can't. For my other new bike purchase -- Avid's Juicy Seven hydraulic disc brakes -- are being installed and the shop is closed on Tuesdays this time of year. Oh well, until then, I'll just have to settle for blinding my wife with them when she comes to bed.