Really, really early ride?

Deej

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Oct 13, 2007
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Setagaya
#1
Like many of you, I presume, I don't get to ride nearly as much as I would like to. Generally speaking, Saturday is the only day I can pull my bike off the rack and take it into the mountains. And when I have other plans for the weekend, riding is out of the question.

This weekend I cannot ride due to other engagements. So I got to thinking, "What if I did a super-early ride out into the mountains before work on a weekday?" I would go to sleep at, say, 8:00, wake up at 2 a.m., leave between 2:30 and 3:00, do a "quick" Otarumi-Wada loop, and get home in time for a shower and breakfast, then head to work.

The first couple hours would be dark, and dawn would be breaking shortly before or after summiting Wada. It sounds rather fun to me, as it appeals to my adventurer/explorer side. At the same time -- that's a lot of riding in the dark. One collision with an unseen rock in the road could turn the "adventure" into a nightmare.

Obviously, I would need a good lighting setup and be extra mindful of the road. But aside from the folly of getting up so early, how silly/awesome is this idea? Have any of you ever tried anything similar? I may attempt such a ride this Friday. If I do, I'll let you know how it went.

I welcome your feedback! Thanks!

Deej
 

kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
2,655
474
103
Japan
#2
When I was getting paid to ride, my rides(usually 100kms) started at 4am. I would ride typically 4 hours and with warming up, cooling down and the buffer time in there for repairs or other stuff, helping others in trouble etc. I would get back at 8. shower and breakfast and get to the school for 10am lessons(eikaiwa). Finish at about 6 and home for dinner and other stuff. Tried to get asleep by 10. But people call and if you are trying to sleep from 8 with the knowledge that you'll need to get some sleep or die the next day a phone call or a noisy neighbour could be your undoing.
Watch out for snack types going home with poor reactions( chemicals?), newspaper delivery types not expecting bicyclists to pop out and make yourself stick out with reflectors, lights and flashers. The benefits are of course less traffic and cooler temperatures and the primal joy of seeing the sun come up. In winter seeing Fuji slowly get illuminated is still a vivid memory. Watch out on bridges in winter cause they ice up sooner than normal roads. On quieter less travelled roads you'll also encounter snakes out warming up on the ashphalt, many of them are still too slow to get out of your way and they make a nice little bump as you run them over, doesn't seem to do them any lasting harm. On morning there was this Aodaisho from hell that was too big for me to risk riding over so I threw rocks at him till he moved. Took about 5 mins before I hit him. Big snakes are scary.
Other than that morning riding is really good, ride safe. Oh and have enough cash to buy your way back if you have a major mechanical.
 

snoogly

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Oct 14, 2007
695
48
48
Machida, Tokyo
#3
Ahhh, morning rides. I love them for all the reasons kiwisimon stated. It's certainly much safer to be riding in the pre-rush hour and pre-walking-session hours. For a long time I rode anything up to 80k before breakfast! Just a good swig of coffee, and off I'd go. This was a great way to lose weight, but in the end I relented, and now bolt down a fried-egg sandwich before heading out. I don't have to overcome the wall of horribleness riding home any more.

A 3:30 alarm usually has me out of the door by 4:00 ~ but I need to get everything ready the night before, with my bike sitting in the genkan waiting for me. It's important to get everything you might want to take packed the night before, as it's not easy to concentrate when you are blundering around in semi-slumber.

However, I find that as soon as I am on the bike I wake up 100%, and within a few minutes have no regrets about getting up so early.

Good lighting is very important, especially if you ride on unlit river banks, or gloomy country roads. The only really bad crash I have ever had (so far ..) was down to bad lighting. As I ride so much in the dark I splashed out on some Dinotte lights (http://www.dinottelighting.com/). Shockingly expensive, but they turn night into day for me, and I have no regrets about paying so much for lights. A good source of information about lighting is the Bike Light forum at MTBR: http://forums.mtbr.com/forumdisplay.php?f=124

Such a great feeling to reach the sea just as most people are waking up, and to be getting home when people are off to work. I always feel they have missed the best hours of the day.
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#4
Good lighting is very important, especially if you ride on unlit river banks, or gloomy country roads. The only really bad crash I have ever had (so far ..) was down to bad lighting. As I ride so much in the dark I splashed out on some Dinotte lights (http://www.dinottelighting.com/). Shockingly expensive, but they turn night into day for me, and I have no regrets about paying so much for lights. A good source of information about lighting is the Bike Light forum at MTBR: http://forums.mtbr.com/forumdisplay.php?f=124.
I just bought my "see" lights (as opposed to "be seen" lights) after about a year of off again, on again research. I wanted something for short evening rides in the rural roads around my house, for longer rides in the winter, and possible overnight brevets in the future.

I came very close to getting the Dinotte lights that you mention, snoogly, but ended up going with LED flashlights + handlebar mounts for their versatility and (slightly) lower cost.

Setup is twin Fenix flashlights using fishblock mounts, the same as this guy:

http://www.ruscelli.com/biking_fenix.htm

In addition to snoogly's resources:

Commuters and randonneurs (long distance riding) care about lighting, so those subforums on Bikeforums.net are good places to check. Also the Electronics & Gadgets subforum, of course.

But I got most of my info from the Candlepower Forums:

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/forumdisplay.php?f=86

This thread convinced me to go with flashlights:

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=199726

Got my stuff from here:

https://www.fenix-store.com/

Deal Extreme has a lot of good stuff, too. This was the flashlight I almost got (900 lumens!)

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.12623

Having these lights really makes a difference to night riding. On full power narrow lanes between wooded areas, usually pitch black at night, are completely lit up and I can ride at close to full speed.

Another bonus is cars give you a very wide berth and treat you much more like a vehicle. Cars never cut me off when turning left in front of me...I suspect that they think I'm a motorbike and travelling faster than I am, so they always end up waiting.

Anyway, sorry for the looooong digression. As for the actual question, I say sure, go for it...just don't expect me to come along. :p
 

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#5
"Night Rider"!

Like many of you, I presume, I don't get to ride nearly as much as I would like to. Generally speaking, Saturday is the only day I can pull my bike off the rack and take it into the mountains. And when I have other plans for the weekend, riding is out of the question.

The first couple hours would be dark, and dawn would be breaking shortly before or after summiting Wada. It sounds rather fun to me, as it appeals to my adventurer/explorer side. At the same time -- that's a lot of riding in the dark. One collision with an unseen rock in the road could turn the "adventure" into a nightmare.

Obviously, I would need a good lighting setup and be extra mindful of the road. But aside from the folly of getting up so early, how silly/awesome is this idea? Have any of you ever tried anything similar? I may attempt such a ride this Friday. If I do, I'll let you know how it went.

I welcome your feedback! Thanks!

Deej
My friend Simon (ponyman) has been very gung-ho recently about wanting to set up night rides across (and outside of) Tokyo - Re: Our last excursion onto Rainbow Bridge - at 2:30 - 4:00am.
"Night Rider" is the name he (Simon) definitely wants to use, despite my admonitions about having too many references to David Hasselhoff.
I would prefer "Riding (K)nights", but he is adamant!

Still, I think the idea has a lot of merit - provided nothing "illegal" is involved.
Simon recently did a ride from Tokyo to the Pacific coast of Chiba (to a beach just south of Choshi), in the wee hours, arriving just after sunrise.

As for the lighting situation, Phil's suggestion of the Fenix flashlights looks pretty good! Or even a "Mag-Lite" taped to the top of one's helmet might even do the trick.

As for this Friday, Deej, send "ponyman" a PM, and see what he thinks! If he's in too, I myself may even be persuaded.
T
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#7
Still, I think the idea has a lot of merit - provided nothing "illegal" is involved.
Simon recently did a ride from Tokyo to the Pacific coast of Chiba (to a beach just south of Choshi), in the wee hours, arriving just after sunrise.
Er, this is a real longshot, but that wouldn't have been at New Year's, would it? Saw a foreigner cyclist heading down to the beach when we drove down for hatsuhinode...

As deej says, there's something deeply satisfying about seeing the sun come up:
 

Deej

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Oct 13, 2007
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Setagaya
#8
Finding your inner Hasselhoff

Kiwisimon, Snoogly, Phil, Travis and, er, Philip -- Thanks a bunch for the feedback. Good stuff. The lighting links were quite illuminating.

The moral of the story, then, is that late-night/early morning rides can be transformative and sublime as long as one has the proper lighting and awareness of herpetological lounging habits. I am inspired to go on some pre-dawn adventures now and run me over some snakes.

Travis, I'll let you know when I'm planning a Knight Ride. Maybe we can hook up for some nocturnal knavery. Wait, that didn't come out sounding the way I wanted it to. What I mean is, perhaps we can pair up for a ride. Doh! The Hoff would know what to say...

Deej
 

Deej

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Oct 13, 2007
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Setagaya
#12
These jokes have no legs...

... but your reptilian wordplay has me rattled. Are those Monty Python references, you cold-blooded plagiarist?

Deej
 

Deej

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Oct 13, 2007
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Setagaya
#14
Whoa Nelly!

Herpetology (from Greek: ἑρπετόν, herpeton, "creeping animal" and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles.

Philip :p:p:p
Thanks, professor, but wasn't it I who first wrote "herpetological lounging habits"? :cool:

Deej
 

Deej

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Oct 13, 2007
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Setagaya
#16
Hey neighbor

Philip, seeing as how you live so close to me, I suppose you're going to have to join me on one of my early bird specials to the mountains.

Deej