Here I am, facing a computer, writing my thoughts and experiences of the many months of mountain biking at night. To me, cycling in the mountains after sundown is like an all-extreme playground for adults. The thrill and adrenaline you’ll never experience during the day comes rushing into your bones when you cycle at night. The bumps and uneven ground looks scarier and intense with the slight shadows casted by the moon and lights from my bike.
The trails look different during nighttime compared to the day, and I have developed likings to trails I find less intense during the day. Mountain biking at night brings out the challenges that the day hides, proving a great workout. Yes, it may sound dangerous, but all it takes is just some reliable equipment and safety precautions to get you on the wheels after dusk.
I took on night mountain biking after being inspired by night riding stories on the net, and also to rid the stress that’s piling up on my shoulders, to take on the challenges that nature brings, and also to get into strenuous physical activities to pump up my old body and soul. Once you try out mountain biking at night, you’ll feel that this activity is just like what life brings; one second you’re effortlessly riding down slopes at a terrifying pace, and the next, you’ll be tested to your limits while struggling up an almost-90-degrees steep cliffs and hills.
Plus, riding at night helps you avoid slow riders who normally come during the day. The mountains are also usually packed with kids and mountain climbers before sundown. Well, nothing beats withdrawing into the wilderness for a few hours of solitude nocturnal ride, that’s where my adrenaline rush takes place.
Helmet lights are always better than bar-mounted lights
Nothing is more frightening than the unpredictable road ahead of you in a dark abyss. Direction-controllable lights are far better than those that dutifully pointing straight ahead. Therefore, getting one that sticks to your helmet is better; you get to see where you want to see. Once, I was riding down a steep hill with my bar-mounted bike lights, and came across a high-speed switchback which I had to force to brake quite suddenly. The lights were only leading a straight path while my eyes were looking elsewhere in the dark. You can use both set-ups if you are really serious about mountain biking at night or you really want to be a pro.
You can get acceptable bike lights for only less than twenty dollars (mostly recommended to be used for normal city cycling or for cars to see you) at your nearest department store, but it is still recommended to get something better, more reliable and longer-lasting, something you can get in between a hundred to two or three hundred bucks. You don’t want your only source of light to burn out suddenly while in the middle of a ride. While handlebar-mounted lights (single, double or triple beams) are stronger than helmet lights (single beams), it is advice to get lights mounted to a helmet for a wider range of view.
- Wear reflective and bright clothing. The night makes the clothes look brighter and more eye-catching, this way, you won’t need to worry about not being seen by your mates. Jackets, vests and pants that are specially designed for nighttime activities. They may look normal during the day, but are highly reflective during the night when lights hit them. For more choices on reflective vests, head on to our store to check them out.
- Ride with a friend or two. Get a friend to join you when mountain biking at night, so that there’s someone there for you when something unexpected happens. Also, inform members of your friends and family to where you will be riding, so that they would know where to find you if anything happens. Well, it’s always safe in numbers. If you prefer a solitary ride in the dark, with nothing but peace and quiet, you should be riding to places where there’s not much obstacle and possible pitfalls, like a nearby park.
- If it’s your first time to ride in the mountains, stick to path and trails you know. Keep in mind paths that you have been to during the day looks completely foreign after sundown. Roads may look narrower, trees may look scarier and bumps may look bigger. Make sure you ride slowly and carefully; it’s ok to show a little fear. We are humans, aren’t we?
- Also, make sure you bring the necessities, like a small flashlight, portable bike-repair tools, mini first-aid kits and other important tools. Always be prepared, accidents are unpredictable. If you fall and break your bike lights, you can always use the flashlight. Bring extra batteries too; you might not know when your bike light or flashlight is battery dead. To conserve battery power, shut your lights off when you stop to rest or talk.
- Last but not least, dress accordingly. It may be summer, when the sun is scorching hot during the day, but at night, the mountains are cool, even considered cold and chilly. So wear clothing something warm and dry, without being inconvenient or taking up to much space.