After deciding to enter the 2015 Rovaniemi 150 Arctic winter race it was clear that my current light set up would not be up to the task. Normally, if I was selecting a new off-road bike light, I’d be just be looking at the basic numbers of cost and lumens. When you’re heading out to the back end of beyond on a self supported race, the death and injury disclaimer tends to focus your attention a little.
I needed something robust, reliable and light with enough battery life to potentially see me through a 40 hour race in the Arctic circle. Oh yeh, it also needs to cope with temperatures down to -30c and preferably not to expensive (the gear cost was already heaping up!).
After a few recommendations I was put on to Bright Bike Lights and after a brief chat and a bit of guidance I had an SG-T2200 light set with an extra Solar storm 6 cell battery on its way to me.
I’d seen the light in action before and knew it would be more than competent for any night time trail riding I could throw at it but I had other plans for it. My initial wish list seemed optimistic but the light actually ticked all the boxes. The head unit was only 105grams and was small enough to place anywhere on my bike or helmet without disruption. The light is powered by a standalone battery pack with an easy waterproof connection coupled with a generous length cable that meant the battery pack could be stowed buried within my bike luggage with the cables routed up to my bars. This meant the battery would be out of the elements and helped to keep the cold at bay that I feared would be slowly draining the battery life. The light is controlled by a single button on the head unit that cycles through the different brightness levels. The button a nice large size and is illuminated green making it easy to use with bulky gloves, in the pitch black and has the added benefit of a rear light which is great when your night riding in groups.
In the year running up to the race the training piled up but the lights didn’t skip a beat. Regular 12-14 hour rides and over nighters through the winter became common place and I was never left without light. In fact by the time I headed out to the Arctic I wasn’t even thinking about light. Other gear had my focus but I never even worried about being miles from civilisation in the pitch black.
Before I knew it I was rolling out over a frozen lake and into the wilderness beyond. By the time the the sun started to drop the miles were slowly ticking away and the only interaction I had with the light was a couple of presses of the button on the head unit. Lights on and cycle it to low power; The snow did a grand job of reflecting light meaning the light could stay on a fairly low output. That was it. My affair with the lights was done. After about 10 hours of riding I had a burst of energy (must have just munched on a gel) and my tired mind came to the illogical conclusion that I couldn’t be bothered to get the sleeping bag out and just continuing to ride through the night without sleep would be somehow easier. A few dramas later and before I knew it I’d I was back on the same frozen lake 5 miles from the finish line. As luck would have it (his, not mine) I came across another competitor I’d bumped into a few times who’s lights had just failed on him. So lending him a basic camping head torch the SG-T2200 lit the rest of the race for the pair of us and we crossed the line together. Rolling into the hotel that marked the finish line I pulled the lead from the head unit marking the second time in the race that I’d had to touch the light. Second battery not even used. 10 months training, 1000+ miles in the dark and one Arctic race done.
If you’re heading out for an adventure I can 100% vouch for Bright Bike Lights to sort you out and I can safely say this setup will handle anything you throw at it. For now they can get me through what the UK’s winter has to punish me with until I strap them on again and head out into the unknown. I heard the 1000mile Iditarod trail in Alaska is nice this time of year…..
Read more about the trip here… Rovaniemi 150