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Long cycles early morning in winter

  • 24-10-2022 3:00pm
    Registered Users Posts: 172 ✭✭Bot1

    Hi all

    I'm training for an endurance event happening next May.

    I'm trying to get one or two long cycles at the weekend.

    My schedule works best with early morning rides (family and kids etc.).

    However with the darkness at the moment it makes it difficult.

    How do folks deal with it?

    Lights? If so what's the minimum you need?

    Or do you all just wait until at least sunrise?




  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 36,380 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    It depends on where you plan cycling and what the terrain is like. I often cycle in the dark (morning or night) during the winter. I'd have two front and two rear lights. The two front would be to light up the ground up to about 30m ahead of me and the other lights up the ground just in front of me.

    Whilst this let me see the vast majority of road defects, you still need to keep your wits about you all the time and not start day dreaming.

    In terms of frost and that kind of stuff, you're more likely to have it in the morning than the evening so I'd be wary of sheltered routes on a frosty morning.

    However, I recall spins from Leixlip down to the first Blessington lake and home again on dark mornings with daybreak along the way - it's a brilliant way to start the day.

  • Registered Users Posts: 172 ✭✭Bot1

    Would be mostly cycling around East Cork.

    Midleton area, heading towards the Vee in Waterford, through Lismore etc. Or loops to Youghal and back via Tallow.

    Quiet country roads for the most part.

    Roads are decent in general.

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 36,380 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    meant to add that my front lights would be Fly12 (camera & up to 600 lumens light) and a Ravemen CR500 (up to 500 lumens).

    My rear lights would be visible from a distance. If you would feel more comfortable with it, you can get soem high-viz stuff free from the RSA @ (if they become available again, don't bother with those things they call lights!)

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 36,380 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    Out of curiosity, how long in the endurance event next May?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,110 ✭✭✭07Lapierre

    If the event is in May, you've plenty of time so why not wait until February/March when there is more daylight?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,475 ✭✭✭hesker

    Get good quality lights and have a backup.

    I like the rear ones that have a constant on setting + a flashing mode at the same time.

    Have a search in the forum. There have been a few threads about light recommendations.

    I’d be wary of cycling on country roads in the dark when it’s raining. Not so much when it’s dry.

    How long and how tough is the cycle and when is it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 172 ✭✭Bot1

    I'm racing in the Titan Desert

    Multi day stage race across the Moroccan Desert

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,420 ✭✭✭✭dahat

    Clocks changing this weekend will help you I’m sure with wary morning cycles.

    If I need to get out early in winter it’s usually one hour before sunrise and that’s for 4 hrs training spins just to get ahead and catch some part of a good day on the bike.

    However if there is a hint of frost I’d avoid backroads & stick to salted roads for safety reasons.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,122 ✭✭✭beggars_bush


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,552 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    That looks great.

    Just get good lights, and set alarm early and off you go.

    As you are a mtbr I'd be inclined to ride bad roads, forestry etc in the dark and step outside your comfort zone. You have good lights or you don't, if you have them belt away.

    Any thing like you have entered will throw unknown challenges at you, get used to dealing with them and not panicking is as important as km in the legs.

    There's two routes to get you started 🙂

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  • Registered Users Posts: 172 ✭✭Bot1

    Yup, I already do three days a week indoors, which I use for interval training.

    Much rather do the long spins outside.

    Also, as pointed out by @Large bottle small glass bike skills are important for the event also.

    I'll be doing one long road spin and one long MTB spin at the weekends.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,821 ✭✭✭billyhead

    As mentioned make sure your well lit up and stick to salted roads if frost is forecasted. Black ice is a big threat in the winter especially in sheltered areas.

  • Registered Users Posts: 125 ✭✭OKDublin

    How long have you had Fly12? I was going to get one and saw some comments saying it gave up after a year. Bit pricey for a year if that is true?

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,230 Mod ✭✭✭✭Weepsie

    Oh I know someone who did this. Now they're a very strong and pretty active cyclist (and also lucky to live near Madrid) but I think they just built it up as normal

  • Registered Users Posts: 172 ✭✭Bot1

    Oh really!

    I'd love to ask them a few questions about it.

    They're not active on here by any chance?

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,230 Mod ✭✭✭✭Weepsie

    They're not at all. If I'm in touch with them I'll see ow they readied themselves. Again, living in sunny Spain probably helped

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 36,380 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    Bought in March 2020 and has been used frequently with no issues. Excellent video and sound quality along with a decent light.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,676 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    I had one and it lasted 4 years ago, still works as a light but the camera had one crash too many. Mine had bounced along roads and off road tracks numerous times at high speed so I certainly have no complaints.

  • Once you have the right lights and gear it's a pleasure to get out in the pre-dawn hour. I stick to roads around Cork I know well and take it handy. Riding into sunrise is exhilarating and is such a nice way to start the day. I'm often on the road by 6.30am these weekends and will do the first hour in pitch darkness. It's so quiet on the roads and I find any cars are very respectful. Usually home by 10.30 and have the day ahead with family.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,037 ✭✭✭JMcL

    I suppose the other aspect is having a bit of flexibility with regards to clothing and taking a layering approach. I find the temperatures on morning spins in the winter can change rapidly over the course of an hour when the sun comes up, so - depending on your own metabolism - if you dress to be comfortable going out, you might be roasted on the way back, and conversely frozen initially if dressing for forecast "morning" temperature.

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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,676 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    My commute in the morning is now all in the pitch black. One thing I will say is even on familiar roads. If you are used to travelling them by daylight, they are very different at night. It's quite cool but you will notice different features and not notice others.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,349 ✭✭✭iwillhtfu

    Good lights, discipline and quality kit to keep warm are all you need. A tip I used to get some of those heat patches and have them in the pocket to use if I started to feel cold.

    I used to do the same years ago when winter training due to small kids and before zwift etc. On smaller roads I find it a bit safer when it's dark as you're more aware of cars approaching and the lights I had were great.

    These days if doing that I generally use the gravel bike and head for some off road trails. It's more fun except the clean up after but might not be an option for most although up in the nire valley there's endless gravel trails.

    Watch out for ice though and I wouldn't even consider heading up into the comeraghs in dark/winter there'll be ice on a good day.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,000 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    One thing to watch is that gritting might not be as effective at weekends. Less cars on the road is a good, but gritting needs traffic to effectively break up the ice.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,552 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    Given the event in question a gravel bike would be ideal for training and also to keep routes interesting.

    From Midleton I wouldn't be heading to the Nire Valley to ride gravel though. There is a brilliant pocket of back roads north of Midleton to the Blackwater valley. Once there the choice would be west and tackle the Araglin valley and the woods around Kilworth or east and the Knockmealdowns.

    The Knockmealdowns with its 6 passes running North to South all of which are connected with back roads or gravel is a standout place for gravel.

    As someone who grew up in the Nire Valley and who currently sitting here I can confirm it's not in the Artic circle 🙂

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,349 ✭✭✭iwillhtfu

    It is punching above it's weight on the cold front though 😂

    Ah I missed the Midleton bit, I know Curragh wood is great for the mtb but I'd say I'm not sure it would make for a gravel spin without getting a tad boring but there's plenty of boreens etc knocking around there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,552 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    Don't ever head to Ballingarry.

    Years back the lads I used to play GAA with got suspended playing soccer in Ballingarry on a winter's morning.

    Now Ballingarry is the last place to go looking for a row. When I asked the lads wtf they were doing fighting in Ballingarry, he replied "fighting? Three of us were suspended for walking off the field as it was so **** cold".

    Great place to ride a bike though

    Sorry OP

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,821 ✭✭✭billyhead

    Good point. Patches of wet can freeze over quickly again. I usually find black ice at the edge of corners. One thing to be wary of OP is the low Sun is more prominent in the winter so drivers behind you and even yourself might be blinded from it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 456 ✭✭ARX

    +1 for that point about the sun. It's possibly the biggest hazard in winter. If you're riding into a low sun, a driver behind you (particularly if they have a dirty windscreen) may not see you unless you have a really good rear light (all the hi-vis in the world won't help you in this situation). I'd recommend the Bontrager Flare RT. I've ridden behind people using this light and it's really effective. It's designed for daylight use.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,122 ✭✭✭beggars_bush

    Next 10-14 days promised very wet.

    Get your cycles in when you can

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,565 ✭✭✭thebouldwhacker

    Get good lights and just do it, lights to see and be seen. Lots of hi viz, think Christmas tree. Ive gone through loads of sets but the best I have are USB rechargeable, double cree lights from Aldi bought in 2019. Battery life is about 4 hours full beam and they let me see potholes descending at speed on dark country roads. I use dynamo lights for long distance but those cree lights are great to get you to dawn. When you're planning these spins keep the weather in mind. You get no where sick or cycling on ice and on long spins the cold/wet soaks your energy to the point where the training is counter productive.

    There are plenty of cycling nuts in East Cork / Waterford who do early morning / long winter spins, see if you can link in with them. Check out the festive 500 and the Audax Ireland calendar, they gather around them for their medication 😂