MBWales - Night Riding Tips

Night Riding Tips

Shorter days and longer evenings mean it's the perfect time to take up night riding. For me, the sensation of riding my bike at night takes me back to when I was a real beginner - not because I'm making guff errors on the trail - but because I often find I have a heightened sense of focus and intensity when I ride. So October's MBWales 2012 Challenge is to take up a night ride adventure.  Here's my 4 top tips to get you started.  
Night Ride
Image by 'badbobevil' from the MBWales Flickr Pool.

Night Riding Top Tips.

1) Take time to set up your lights.

The ideal light setup combines a helmet-mounted spotlight and a handlebar-mounted broad beam light. But if you can afford only one I would recommend a helmet-mounted light. Mount it close to the centre-top of your helmet and aim it at least 8-10 feet ahead. The bonus of helmet mounted lights are that they direct the light where you are looking rather than what's in front of the bike.

2) Ride a trail that's familiar

At least for your first few times night riding it's better to ride a trail that you know like the back of your hand. It will be a completely different experience anyway and it will help your confidence if you don't come across any unpleasant surprises.

Last year both One Planet Adventure at Llandegla and Wheelism at Coed y Brenin organised night riding sessions within the week so if you don't feel like taking the plunge on your own why not join a group of other like minded night riders. There's also the possibility to hire lights but it's best to book in advance first.

3) Wrap up warm

Temperatures at night can drop rapidly so make sure you're prepared for riding the trails but also have an extra layer incase something doesn't go quite to plan. If you have a mechanical or an accident which means you can't pedal it can be a long cold walk back to the car/house/pub.

4) Charge your batteries

Obviously double check you've charged your light battery before you even leave the house but also know how long your batteries last and don't plan a route you won't finish in time. My light has a number of settings and I often change it to the dimmest setting when on flat, smooth doubletrack or forest road. It's still plenty bright enough for people to see me and for me to see ahead but saves battery life for when I need it most.

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