Lesson: Always carry a backup light. I didn't, and it was a chilly/cloudy night to be picking lines on gravel in the dark.
Goal: Get miles. Kinda did that, need more
22+, avg 14 mph. Not great, but I think muscle memory is starting to work, and the legs tolerated it well. The discipline is coming back, too. I'm less impulsive, less driven to kill every hill, and more resolute about building the base.
I REALLY need to start eating again. I'd had one cinnamon roll all day. Plus coffee. I expect these rides will get longer and faster as I've just completed a major grocery run and have prepped a number of meals to take to work.
A couple of tips for riding at night:
1) It is possible for your light to be too bright, or too white - on pavement this is much less an issue, but bright or glaring lights make surfaces look much different by minimizing shadows and making the road look like copy paper. This means picking reliable lines on soft surfaces is less easy. I use about 300 lumens routinely, and this works well even descending at 30 mph.
2) Ride your night routes in the day, and know where the damn dogs are.
3) Be able to fuel and hydrate without looking. And operate your lights/phone/maps. And know what is in which pocket so that you don't have to rummage at speed on terrain. Kind of a no brainer, but worth mentioning.
4) I'm reminded after tonight's ride how much focus/cognitive energy it takes to ride at night. I'm much more alert, much more vigilant, and much more trained on the road surface. That's not a tip, but an observation. Night riding requires practice, and the more you do the less effort it'll take (like anything else). I think it means that at the end of the DK, when you are fatigued and still have a long way to go after dusk, being confident and rehearsed will be important.
5) Clear eye-glasses. Bugs. Gravel flying up from vehicles. Wind that makes your eyes teary/vision blurry.
I'm using Strava if anyone would like to follow progress there.