Cycling at Night
Cycling at Night
by Matthew Peacock
Just because it is dark (not to mention wet, cold and muddy) there is no reason to stop getting your mountain bike fix. Night riding is growing in popularity as light technology improves, and the growth of the 24-hour mountain bike races means going for a ride in the dark is no longer the sole preserve of the madman.
Why ride at night at all? Well, chances are that if you have been riding for any length of time then you are familiar, to the point of boredom, with your local trails. You know where every rock, root or drop is; you know what speed to corner at, and where that tricky tree branch is. A ride without the ability to see these as clearly, certainly gets your adrenaline flowing again. Especially when the local owl thinks that you are fair game.
Your reflexes sharpen up, as you have less chance to react to the obstacles. The brighter your lights the easier this becomes, but the lights themselves can add to the challenge by casting odd shadows… is that just a mud patch or is it a great big hole? You will get fitter faster!
Cycling at Night: “Breathe new life into routes you have known for years”
You can’t ride quite as quickly as you can during the day, but you work harder! Plus, you have to ride in a lower gear and spin faster to be able to react to the unforeseen obstacles. Despite pedalling in a lower gear and riding a bit more cautiously, the other effect the lack of vision has is speed. It feels as if you are travelling a lot faster than you actually are.
Does this make you mad to want to go night riding? Not really. Although trying to explain it to other halves or family can be tricky. It will breathe new life into routes you have known for years. Also, night rides tend to be much more sociable than day rides, with everybody taking the riding a little less seriously and, quite often, ending up in the pub.
So what do you need? Well, the obvious one is good lights. Those that are bright enough to light your way start from around £100 and go up rapidly from there. The more you pay, the smaller they get. The brighter they get, the longer the burn times (proper night riding lights are fully rechargeable).