Do you wish to add a little excitement to your two-wheel cycling experience? If you haven’t tried riding in the dark then you are totally missing out. You don’t have to stop enjoying your cycling adventure simply because the sun goes down. With the right equipment and tips, you must as well go on riding.
Imagine cycling when the full moon lights up the night and the evening is crisp and exhilarating. You definitely want to embrace the darkness and enjoy that experience.
But first things first. Riding at night is not the same as riding during the day. At night things are a little different. There is no daylight and there tend to be lots of flashing and bright lights from the motorist and other cyclists. You, therefore, have to make yourself visible while on the road. Wearing reflective jackets, protective cycling gear and properly lighting gear become an important part of your preparation for night cycling.
You will have to make your bike noticeable to other night riders and motorists by installing a headlamp, reflectors on the pedals, a red reflector on the rear and reflectors on the wheel spokes on each side. The front light serves to help you see what lies on the road ahead from approaching cars, to crossroads, to driveways and so on.
So what’s the secret to comfortably riding in the dark?
Ways to Prepare for Night Cycling
You need to have excellent lighting for obvious reasons. And getting good lighting does not have to be an expensive affair. You can get bright, long-lasting lights without breaking the bank. For your night ride you might consider having the following.
- A rear red light that blinks for your hybrid bike. This will help make you visible to other road users especially now that you will be in the dark.
- Headlamps that are not too bright to blind motorists or other road users as you ride in the dark.
You don’t want to go night cycling only for your main light to go out. Not only is it uncomfortable buts also very dangerous. Ensure that your hybrid if fitted with back-up lighting in case your main lights die.
As a way of ensuring that you are noticeable in the dark reflective gear is very valuable. Reflective gear range from jackets, overshoes and ankle bands. Consider fitting your bike with reflective pedals and adding reflective tape to make it visible at night.
Service your Bike
There’s nothing as difficult as having to conduct mechanicals on your hybrid in the dark because it broke down in the middle of nowhere. Always ensure that your bike is well maintained and is in perfect condition for a ride before you go night cycling. Ensure that you carry enough tools to use in case of mechanical failure.
Know Your Route
Take your time in knowing the route you will be riding on and identify the bicycle-friendly transit points. You need to be comfortable with the route before heading out on your bike in the dark. A good tip would be respected for the law. You will have to follow the same rules as motorists or other bikers. Never ride against traffic.
Different cities have different laws so make sure you are conversant with the areas riding laws so that you can have a happy stress-free night ride.
Numbers provide safety especially when night cycling. Also, your group riding provides the motivation and incentive you definitely need to head out at night. Consider riding with a friend or group so that you get more help in case you experience mechanical issues when you are out night cycling. Starting a club of friends you can ride with at night is a brilliant idea.
Plan Your Ride
Planning ahead for your night cycling adventure is highly recommended. Whether for leisure or fitness cycling planning the ride and the route you will take will help you get the most out of it.
Night rides are not meant to last long, just a short 1-hour structured session will do. Also, keep the adventure close to home and on a route well known to you in case you need to get back as soon as possible. Avoid rough, bumpy terrain while night cycling.
Take Off-road Routes
You probably don’t want to keep running into motorists when you are keen on enjoying your night ride. You can choose to take some off-road route to avoid traffic. It is important to however look out for your safety when you are off-road. This is where group riding comes in handy. Because the off-road route may have wet roots, rocks and mud, this calls for some experience in night riding. Again, knowing the route well really helps.
Night riding is fun and you should enjoy it. The darkness can be intimidating but it comes with lots of excitement. If you are the kind of rider looking for adventure then you’ll find it fulfilling. You might find it a bit difficult leaving the comfort of your warm home into the crisp, dark night at first but as you get to do it frequently you won’t find it so strange and daunting. You can start by going night riding for 30 minutes and gradually increase the timing to an hour or two.
You will enjoy night riding because there are fewer distractions and often, depending on routes, the roads can be much quieter once the rush of motorists to get home has died down.
Keep Communication Open
If you are not night riding in a group, it is advisable to inform someone of your whereabouts. Ensure that your phone is charged up and you are reachable at all times when you are on the road. Staying in touch with someone is important in case you are stranded somewhere in the dark. If the worst happens in the dark it is much difficult compared to daytime thus don’t underestimate the power of informing your family or mate about your night adventure.
Finally, always make sure to give the bike a quick visual once-over before a night ride. Always ensure the tires and brakes are in good condition before heading out.