Up until last year I’d never even thought about going night riding. The reasoning behind this was quite simple – it’s dark and the trails I ride are very technical even in broad daylight. Therefore logic dictates that these trails would be even harder at night, right? How wrong was I!
MTB Night Rides – seeing the light!
After putting my preconceptions about night riding I got myself a relatively cheap but powerful bike light and went straight down to gloopy Clyne to try my hand at hurtling down trails in the dark. I quickly found that I was like a ninja-jedi in the dark! Laughing like a madman I started throwing myself downhill at speeds usually reserved for those who are able to see and with excellent results.
The light really focuses your attention, forcing you to pay attention to the trail in front of you and start predicting all the trickier bits well in advance. You start flying through all the bits that you know are easy and picking smoother, cleaner lines through the more technical parts. Before long I was smashing my daytime Strava times during night hours, then smashing them all over again when I went back when the sun was up.
Making the most of winter
Without a doubt, the biggest perks to night riding is the ability to get out and about even during the short, dark winter days. Those of us who work 9-5 often can’t get out during daylight except for on the weekend and even then weekends get over taken with family stuff and social lives. Strapping a set of lights to your handlebars gives you the ability to take your bike out whenever you can – maximising the amount of miles you can put in during the winter.
Mountain biking is a dangerous sport even at the best of times, night riding adds to the danger and excitement that little bit more. Which is why you should always ride with friends and tell people where you’re going. Make sure that your lights are completely charged before heading out and keep an eye on the time, there is literally nothing worse than your battery going dead when you’re rocketing halfway down a trail – you’ll be completely blind in the dark.
Even if you know the trails well, take your time the first time you go down them in the dark. Everything looks completely different and a drop that in the light wouldn’t phase you may look like a sheer cliff under your bike lights.
Most importantly make sure that you have fun out there! Remember, we ride bikes for enjoyment and fitness – nobody wants to crash and end up in hospital. Always keep to your own pace and ride within your ability and night rides will become your new favourite thing to do!