Sunday 28 January 2018

Lumiere London 2018

It was a couple of year ago that I first went to Lumiere London and having enjoyed that I was glad to see it back for 2018. Lumiere is a festival where international artists are invited to create artwork that quite literally lights up public spaces and/or buildings. The event had been booked in the diary for some time and David was persuaded to act as the leader of the group meeting at 19:00  on Saturday, 20th January, with the other group lead by another at 20:00.

I was rather looking forward to this all day and a little worried that it was raining through the morning and afternoon as I wanted to get the camera out for photos. Thankfully the rain behaved itself and just before 19:00 the early Brompton crew gradually rolled in.

It seemed like an age since we had all seen each other. The last time I saw David and Anne was at their wedding in September 2017. As for Mark (King of the Hill) it was even longer. After a brief chat about the ride from David we were off in search of the first illumination.

We didn't have to travel too far and soon Westminster Abbey came into view all resplendent. Of course this meant photos of this and our respective Brompton bicycles.

Not to be outdone Westminster Cathedral had a projections of people appearing to climb up a building. All very clever.

At Westminster Cathedral itself there was what appeared to be illuminated stained glass window. It was in fact made out of bottles and powered by a line of bicycles. You could take your turn to pedal and the intensity of the lights was only matched by the effort put into pedalling. Very clever.

At one point we found ourselves cycling past Buckingham Palace down The Mall. This brought back memories of cycling behind David when lots of us did our first St Crispins Day Night Ride a few years ago.

Somewhere in Mayfair there was a series of lit up circles, from which could be heard sounds if you stood almost directly in front of it.

When we reached Regent Street it felt strange that there was no traffic - certain roads being closed for the event.

In Berkeley Square an illuminated nightingale parched in a tree. It did not sing but Frank Sinatra could be heard singing the famous song.

In one location bike lights were turned off and it was as if fireflies were darting around.

In another chimes could be hit to produce a note in time to music being played as well as lighting up.

Not far from the US Embassy a rooftop restaurant was transformed with various light exhibits, the bike being catching my eye.

Out penultimate destination was Kings Cross where there were a great many items to interest. The illuminated birdcage proving to be very popular.

Further in there was a laser show that rendered the area a little like a nightclub in Ibiza in the mid-1980's.

The giant desk lamps were excellent and it seemed everyone had the same idea of wanting to be in the spotlight.

As the lights got turned off at 22:30 David rounded out those still there to make the last stop on the Southbank. When we got there I took a photo of an arch of triangles that you could travel through. No sooner had I taken this photo the lights went out! It was 22:30 and David had managed to get us there...just.

I really enjoyed the night and it was lovely to catch up with some of the old crowd as well as meeting some new faces too. Although saying that so many photos were being taken and video shot that talk was minimal from all.

Many thanks to David for leading us and it was a little like old times in many ways.

If you haven't already seen it, I managed to make a short video that sums up much of the above and allows you to see what we saw. Link for that below.

Link to post with video

Saturday 27 January 2018

Proviz Nightrider LED Cycling Jacket

Over the years I have reviewed several jackets by 'Proviz.' I have to say that I have universally liked them all. The 360 jackets with the entire jacket being reflective is something that has to been seen to be believed.

When the nice people at Proviz asked if there was anything I wanted to review, I jumped at the chance and was sent one of their  'Nightrider LED Cycling jackets. Sadly, I had to send the large sized jacket back and that an XL was sent out in its place. The jacket is a much closer cut than my much older Nightrider one so keep this in mind if you think about getting one.

The XL arrived and trying on it felt a much better fit. It is a much closer fit which in my opinion is a good thing as I am not a fan or jackets that have lots of extra room, seeming to act like a sail in the wind when cycling.

Finding it difficult to photograph myself in the jacket, I managed to persuade my good friend Dr John to be my muse for last night when a few of us cycled from the London Eye to Canary Wharf and back to see the 'Winter Lights Festival' before it ended today.

Plenty of reflective strips

There are several features to this jacket but of course I need to start with the LED. The LEDs are built into the arms and back. The back has five red LEDs and each of the arms have three white LEDs. They are powered by a small, matchbox sized battery pack which weighs 45g. There are three modes constantly on, rapid flash and flashing pulse. Battery is connected by a small port connected to a ribbon cable that is sown into the jacket. The battery has its own pocket and once in can be turned on, off or to run through the various options. It is a practical design that just works. Incidentally, I didn't really notice the battery pack at all when it was in place.

The selling point is the LEDs

Very small you would notice this battery pack is there

A neat little storage pocket for the battery pack

The on/off switch can be accessed by pressing on this part of the jacket

The LEDs are themselves embedded in some of the excellent Proviz reflective strips that are in abundance all over the jacket. Just these reflective strips alone are very good when cycling at night, but the addition of the LEDs - which really can be seen from some distance away - makes things even better.

Great visibility

One thing to mention. While cycling along for for over 2 hours last night, Dr John said that he didn't notice the lights on the arms and they were in no way distracting. I have to report that this was my experience too but following Dr John and taking photos I was certainly aware of them and could see them from quite a few angles as well as some distance too.

I have a 360 and 360+ jacket as well as a 360 gillet. They are truly excellent for night riding and still offer some reflective benefits even in daylight. The retina burning yellow of this jacket in daylight makes this an excellent for being seen. For those who like to run lights during the day, you can quite happily have the LEDs on whenever you choose.

In the past I have owned jackets with no pockets which I found inconvenient at times when wanting to stow away an Oystercard for example. This jacket has three front pockets (two on the side and one on the chest) and a large rear pocket. These are incredibly useful but none look to be fully waterproof.

Chest pocket

One of the two side pockets

Rear pocket

The jacket is lined with a soft cotton mesh that in addition to aiding air flow makes the jacket very comfortable to wear. I wore the jacket for a fairly brisk 40 mile cycle and this lining together with the 25cm underarm zips and shoulder/back vent I didn't feel that I was sweating greatly or boiling in the bag as some jackets make you feel.

Soft mesh lining

Zipped side vents on both sides

There are of course some other little finishing touches that some jackets just miss for some reason. The full length zip is waterproof and its own zip garage at the neck to avoid irrigation and chaffing. The zips all have short lanyards with plastic ends attached to make things easier to grab hold of with wet, cold hands or when wearing gloves. The collar is lined with micro-fleece making things more comfy and warm in colder weather.

Comfy lined collar

The jacket retails on the Proviz website for £124.99 and at the moment is a web exclusive. You are getting quite a lot of jacket for that but Proviz are extremely good at periodically offering some discount codes so if you keep your eyes peeled you might be able to get it for less than that.

I liked this jacket and I like Proviz as a company. They are always innovating and bringing lots of products that cyclists, runners and walkers that bit more visible. The only thing I think they could improve would be to have an orange version of it! Many thanks to Anthony the co-founder of Proviz for sending this out to review. A link to the Proviz website can be found below.

Additional info. One of my readers pointed out that the review was missing information about whether the jacket could be washed. Many thanks to 'Bean.' The jacket can be machine washed at 30 degrees.