The Ultimate State-of-the-art Ultra-marathon Lighting System

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in the UMCA Newsletter, May 1985

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The absence of following vehicles with addtional lighting during the John Marino Open is a very serious factor which all of us must take into consideration. For obvious safety reasons, as well as competitive reasons, a bright lighting system is a definite requirement. Many battery and generator powered systems are available, but I've yet to come across one which seems adequate for competitive use. Therefore I used a little ingenuity to develop a system which would be bright, easy to install and remove, and not restrictively heavy. The following is a description of the setup which I will be using in the JMO and reccomend to all competitors.

Here are the components and their respective costs: one Union Halogen headlamp ($12), one Duracell six volt battery ($6), one water bottle ($2), and miscellaneous ($3) which includes an alligator clip, two pair wire connectors, electrical tape, and one toggle switch.

The headlamp comes with a mounting bracket designed to be placed on the handlebar binding bolt or other similar position. The best thing to do is to cut the bracket so that it will slip on and off easily from the front axle skewer. Also, the headlamp comes with just enough wire to reach to the battery location site. Install the headlamp, then run the wire up the fork, down the down tube, and up the seat tube. Cut the wire just above the headlamp and install one pair of wire connectors for quick removal of the headlamp.

Next, cut the top of the water bottle off at the highest possible point. Fill it with water and bring it to a boil in a microwave, then quickly dump out the water, spray Pam Cooking Spray in it, and squeeze your battery into it. The bottle will melt down around the battery, giving it a perfect shape to fit into a bottle cage.

The third step is to cut a hole in the lip of the bottle, which hopefully extends one inch above the battery, to install the small toggle switch. Install a small piece of wire with a connector on it onto one of your water bottle braze-ons. Put the other connector on the one wire from the toggle switch. The other wire from the toggle switch should be mounted permanently onto the negative terminal of the battery. Lastly, install the alligator clip on the wire coming from the headlamp. This will quick disconnect on and off of the positive terminal of the battery.

And there you have it! The ultimate state-of-the-art ultra-marathon lighting system. Installation only requires putting the headlamp under the front skewer, connnecting its wire, placement of the battery pack into a bottle cage (my directions for wire placement assume a second set of bottle braze-ons on the seat tube, like my Ron Stout), connecting the negative groung wires, and clipping the alligator clip on to the positive terminal.

A few final comments: The batteries are good for one full night, usually, so build three bottle/battery packs before the race. Be sure the connections are secure, or consider soldering them. Always carry a spare bulb, and have quick access to another battery pack. For a rear light, use a Schwinn strobe or a Belt Beacon. Try to mount them on the bike somewhere, it's less hassle. SFLA Enterprises will have these systems available for purchase at the JMO West for the 86 RAAM. Good luck!

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