Thursday, November 06, 2008

SpiderFire LED

With another winters commute approaching I decided that I'd like to open up my route options which would mean that my pathetic LED front light would be useless. You know the sort, ye'olde LED flashers that are more "be seen" than "see by".

So I trawled the tinterweb and found Tactical4U offered a compact bar mounted LED system that ran off x3 AA's and pumped out 200 lumen's. Best of all the price was a smidgen over £20 - which surely made it worth a punt. Uphilla confirmed that he ordered something similar a while back and said it'd probably be okay for commuting. Sorted.

The Hong Kong shipment arrived less than a week later (£10 p&p) and was quickly filled with spankin' new NiMh's. Initially I was a little disappointed with the output but then found that the beam can be adjusted from a teeny spot (the shape of the LED emittor) out to a wide flood.

The lamp bracket is rubberized and fits well on the bars but only offers up/down alignment. A large recessed rear mounted switch controls the light through low, off, high, off and flashing. The battery uses an elasticated strap which fits easily underneath my 100mm stem.

In use the lamp is small and unobtrusive and the clunky button works well even with gloves pinkies. When the street lamps disappear I find that the flood setting (even on high) doesn't offer sufficient penetration but a couple twists tightens the beam to a more useful spot/flood combo. It works a treat on the roads though and cars/buses no longer cut across my path.

I've no specific details on actual runtimes yet but the spec's suggest 6hrs.

For less than thirty notes this is a marvelous offering and proves that robust, bright and long running LED's are defo the way to go :thumbu

Uphilla has fondled the the unit, played with the three light settings and mentioned that they'd since improved the battery casing and shrunk the lamp.

* "info" pic's listed on behalf of Tactical4U (to save bandwidth).

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Coed-y-Brenin, MBR Trail

After lunch we three headed out around the familiar MBR trail and the opening rocky section soon had DD doubled up with a headache. The tough lickle soldier soon shrugged it off and plodded around the rest of the trail without so much as a "where's the short cut" :p

I can't recall if Uphilla somersaulted here or on a later section but as usual our rubber pal immediately jumped back on and cranked off into the distance.

We've all ridden this several times before and mostly remembered what was coming although I'd forgotten how much fire road crankin' there is. Fortunately excellent sections like The Pink Heifer make the toil bearable.

Unfortunately none of us cleared the tricky bridleway climb up from the ragin' river but we were all quite tired by this point.

The trail was again much drier than anticipated with just the odd puddle here and there to remind you it's autumn. The sunshine was doing it's best to keep us warm but as the day light receded, so did the temperature.

The drive back through torrents of rain (from Telford on) which made me chuckle at just how good the weather had been for us - quite unusual for me this year.


Posse: DDave (4x), Farqui (5Spot), Uphilla (5Spot)
: None
Weather: Fabulous autumnal day, cold breeze but dry and sunny

Coed-y-Brenin, Tarw Trail

Uphilla and I had already hatched a plan to take in a couple of the north Welsh trails before the end of the year, namely the extended Penmachno and Coed Llandegla.

The day before arrived and we were pleased to see that the weather forecasts all looked favourable and before we set off we quickly checked the trails websites for the latest maps, etc.

, Penm was closed with a rally AND Coed-L had it's car park closed due to snow ! :O

Over the next few hours a sketchy plan-b was hatched with options of Coed-y-Brenin (which has lots of choice) and even Machynlleth to the south (time permitting).

The 'hillas' made their way NW after the Friday rush but by bedtime I still hadn't received final confirmation of our venue - so I guessed the lads were out in wilderness without a signal. Come 5am Saturday morning (yawn) and they'd managed to find a signal to confirm CyB @ 9.30am was indeed the center of choice(b) - game on.

3hrs later I'd enjoyed traffic free drive and been rewarded with inumerable truely jaw dropping views of the autumal colour with picture postcard snow capped peaks. All under a bright blue sky - which has been quite a rarity this year. Actually the drive wasn't without incident as I had a near miss playing chicken with a pheasant (thank you mr.ABS) and a windscreen strike serveral turns later of either it's dumba$$ cousin or a partridge. I do know that it was big, went with an almighty and in an instant took my ticker from calm and relaxed to pounding harder than Afan's 6km climb. But I digress, where were we ?

Whilst I waited for the center to open I assembled my trusty steed and watched the car park gradually fill as the daylight ticked by. The casual 'hillas' rolled up, unloaded, twiddled with this'n'that before we all rolled down to the trail head to decide which of the 6 routes we'd tackle.

Our opener was to be the medium length Tarw trail and off through the 'horns' we dived.

We've all ridden this in the past but not since CyB's overhaul and after a few short sections of singletrack we began our climb up the fireroad to into the short Heart of Darkness. I don't know about you but I find I need a few miles to adjust to these trails (they're so different from my home patch) and I through here I took many a bad line and fumbled plenty of dodgy gear choices. However I soon settled down and hammered through Snap, Crackle and Pop which were familiar from the ol'Red Bull trail. My 5Spot felt great with loads-a-grip from the NNic's, amble braking from my Mag's and the Pike felt so good being rammed into every rock that came my way :thumbu

Onwards we cranked and after thumpin' our way through the Rocky Horror Show, Mantrap and Flightpath a quick glance at my buddies showed the same moosive grin that adorned my chops :p

Back at the cafe we plunged into some lunch whilst deciding what the afternoon might offer...

The only photo I snapped was in the car park, before 9am.


Posse: DDave (4x), Farqui (5Spot), Uphilla (5Spot)
Mechanicals: None
Weather: Fabulous autumnal day, cold breeze but dry and sunny