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November 16, 2006

New lights

The other day I fumbled through setting up some headlights on my commuter bike. It was an interesting and kind of expensive process. But in the long run it will work out ok.
First I bought an old dual-headlight Cyco light system with a 5-battery D-Cell battery pack. The package said it was "upgradeable" to a rechargeable system. So I went to the battery store and talked to them about getting rechargeable batteries. The simplest solution was of course to just buy rechargeable D-Cell batteries and a charger. So I did and I tried it. With both headlights on the batteries only lasted for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Not good. They died on me on my way home in the dark. So Tuesday night I went back to the battery store and bought a 3-hour rechargeable battery that fit in the little carrying bag that mounts to the bike, and of course I had to buy a charger for that.
Bringing the battery home, I had to try it right away, so I went to hook up the battery and discovered that the manufacturer had soldered the connectors to the battery pack. I dug out my soldering iron and tried to melt out the solder, but it was very difficult and time consuming. That stuff just doesn't want to 'flow' away from the metal it was attached to. I ended up getting it to 'flow' onto a needle, thus removing it from the connector. By the time I finished I was ready for bed. But the lights worked great. Well, these lights aren't the brightest but they are brighter than anything I've had before and I can see potholes and curbs in the dark.
So here is my winter-biking light strategy: I bought a second battery that I carry in my backpack along with my charger. I can make it all the way to work and home again with one battery fully charged. So I am happy with this solution, and I won't have to run out of light, especially since it's dark when I leave for work and dark when I go home.
Now for a little illumination of another kind. One of the volunteers that has helped us tremendously in our bicycle salvage operations at the bike shop has been writing about his experiences in dealing with colon cancer and the treatments that almost seem worse than the disease. Stephen is a little older than me, and has had his share of troubles in life, but when it comes to life itself, or the threat of losing it, it does change our perspective a little. Stephen also rides his bike all over for basic transportation, because as he puts it, it's good for him. Last night at the shop he was there in spite of having gone through chemo treatments that same day. You can read about his experiences here. I found it interesting and insightful. And I think Stephen has found writing about it kind of therapeutic. I like writing for some of the same reasons.

Posted by carl1236 at November 16, 2006 6:21 AM | Winter-Biking