Here are some useful tips to help you on your next night ride.
Pedal on over to cycling’s “dark side” for a radical new ride sensation.
You don’t need to stay in the dark when it comes to riding at night. Riding your bike at night on your own or in a group can liven up your routine ride. Night riding can even create a new cycling season in places where daytime temperatures soar but where nighttime temps are perfect for a bike ride. Once the sun goes down, the fun factor ramps up for road or off-road riding because old routes become new and a sense of adventure is all but guaranteed.
Throwing your leg over a bike to go ride in the dark will seem like total madness until you’ve tried it for the first time. Then once you’re hooked on night riding, you’ll find your people: other bike nuts who like to start riding when most everyone else is done for the day. Night ride sportives are where you’ll find them — those others who are in search of an experience that can’t be matched during daylight hours. Before you blast off into the night though, here are a few bright ideas to make your ride safe and enjoyable.
1. Light up the night
Seeing what’s in front of you matters as much as being seen from behind. The best bike lights for night riding are found out in front and in back. A handlebar light that casts shadows off of large objects will give you a better idea of the size and proximity of upcoming obstacles. A rear light will help everyone stay safe since it lets both cars and your fellow riders behind you know where you are on the road, trail, or in the pack.
2. What you can't see can hurt you
Tree branches, dust, pollen, and bugs can all threaten your 20/20 at night. Choose night vision glasses for bike riding, which eliminate the halo effect around streetlights, or opt for specs with clear or light orange or yellow tinted lenses.
3. Let your radiance shine
High-visibility clothing that’s both comfortable and breathable announces your presence without shouting it, and keeps you safe and snug without smothering you. Reflective panels or accents on your outer layers radiantly bounce artificial light from headlights to let drivers know to share the road. Breathable fabrics protect you from the wind and cold while allowing you to maintain your pace.
4. Speak up!
There’s lots to talk about on a group ride, especially on a night ride sportive, which can draw together several thousand like-minded cyclists all headed in the same direction. There’s no harm in slipping into the flow of conversation, just keep one eye on the road and call out road hazards like potholes or puddles, or changes in pace in order to maintain forward momentum.
5. Ride smart to be safe
If you’re an experienced cyclist but are new to riding in the dark, it’s like night and day. Drivers and pedestrians aren’t expecting to see cyclists on the road after sunset so it’s best to take extra precaution when navigating busy streets. Better yet, take the long way around to avoid traffic; you’ll extend your ride and enjoy it that much more.
Night riding reveals a side of cycling that’s there during the day but only comes out at night. To experience this new way to ride your bike, all you have to do is wait for the sun to go down, gear up and go!