The Nite Rider MiNewt.600 and Radbot 1000 head- and tail-lights arrived Friday night and I finally got to test them out last night.
Oh. My. Gosh. The first phrase that comes to mind is "Do not look into laser with remaining eye". Yeah, 600 lumens at point blank is kind of intense. With that important safety lesson under our belts, Scott and I took the lights outside for a test. I pointed the headlight at the woods across the street. Even with the local street lamps, I could still see the illumination created by the headlight. Scott climbed the hill into the woods for me. The reflective bits on his helmet stopped reflecting at 275 lumens but I could still see the glow at 400. At full blast, I'll be lighting up deer in the next county!
I put my old head- and tail-lights on his bike and we took off for the trail so that I could road test the new lights and also see what my bike would look like to an oncoming vehicle/cyclist/pedestrian. When we got to a fairly dark patch, we swapped bikes and I had Scott ride up a quarter of a mile or so and then ride back to me. Thing the first: my little Bell WO blinkies are NO match for the Radbot on steady. The blinkies disappeared in after only a few feet. Thing the second: damn, that MiNewt is powerful when pointed straight ahead even at 275 lumens. Thing the third: my Planet Bike Blinky 3 DOES stand up to the Radbot's steady glow; I was happy to see some blink action in addition to the steady. Thing the fourth: other commuters (we were passed by four as we stood off the paved trail adjusting and readjusting lights) are using dazzlingly bright headlights so it may just be a part of the commuting game and I'll be giving as much as I've been getting. I'm not especially happy about that last point and I'm going to do my best to keep my headlight from pointing directly at other cyclists' and pedestrians' eyes. On the other hand, I'm thrilled to bits that a whole new world of night riding has opened up for me. This is very exciting.
Something else that will might make a winter bike commute doable is the NVRPA's purchase of a snow plow for the W&OD. Whoo hoo! When I was jogging last winter, I had to change my route from the trail to neighborhood streets when we got snow because it took FOREVER for VDOT (or the local authorities) to send a plow down the trail. I'm not sure how (or even if) all of the forty-five miles of trail will be plowed -- my guess is that it will be for the inner suburbs -- and there's not much info aside from the mention of the plow purchase. To be perfectly honest, I'll most likely stick with the 4WD truck when the snow flies and ice attacks, but it would be nice to have the option of going out for a ride. We'll see if the late January/February winter crazies drive me to purchase studded tires. ;)