2300km, but where to start?

As you can imagine, a 19day epic generates a fair amount of copy.

You can go right to the beginning of the whole ordeal, or the startline/day 1.

I'm looking at moving from a general ride report to a more up to date what's happening site. Yes, Freedom Challenge doesn't just finish in Paarl! When i get round to it, there'll be a PDF of the 19days reports.

Send some feedback (I'm aware that the whole layout is just, well kinda rubbish!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

And there was light

One of the obvious features of holding the race in midwinter (is that a solstice I see in week1?!) is the cold weather and real possibility of riding in snow. Another factor that gets overlooked is that the days are short, nights are long. So if you want to ride big miles, take it easy or enjoy getting lost then you’ll need some way to see in the night.

I’ve done enough nightriding in Tokai to know that the theorem ‘there is no such thing as too much light’ holds true in those conditions. Out here on the trail things are a little different, and 600 lumens is a luxury not worth carrying. So what’s in my light kit?

The handlebar has a Blackburn quad road light. This baby never seems to run out, and is easy to remove during the day. It takes 4 AA disposable batteries. This snaps on only when necessary, and is really a back-up.

at the start, with batteries still on top

On my helmet is a brand spanking new Petzl Myo Xp, which takes 3 AA’s and has a brighter light than the quad, but a shorter battery life. This was a bit of a grudge buy as its one of the tried and tested lights on the market and it’s a brand with a great reputation. With the rapid way LED lighting technology is improving, I feel silly picking something that’s been around for two years.

Helmet lighting is quite important, firstly to see exactly where you going and secondly so you can read maps and speedometers in the dark. I feel I could get by with just the headlamp if needs be. I’ve chosen to run everything off AA batteries. None of this having to rely on rechargeables and a 220v plug in nonsense(chargers weigh too!). The camera has the same battery, and I could even end up switching batteries between photos in the day and lighting at night if desperate. A lot of headlamps run off AAA batteries, which are one of my pet hates. They are less efficient, much lower capacity yet surprisingly cost more.

Interestingly a lot of the headlamp electronic circuitry found in most of the top brands is actually designed in sunny South Africa. There’s a small but focussed company called Azoteq with a few of my friends on their payroll, all in a little dorpie called Paarl. (I remember hearing about that place somewhere).

Being an electronic engineer I’ve fooled around with homemade lights, and they can be done at a fraction of the cost. But I don’t really have the confidence to take their weatherproof and durability testing to the full. It’s nice to sit behind that CE label sometimes.

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