One of my favorite things to do is to go mountain biking at night. Every now and then, It can be quite a relief to ride in the dark instead of under the glare of the sun. However, the more time that I spend doing this, the more there is to learn about how to make this experience mistake-proof.
Therefore, in this article, I’ll introduce you to some of the best mountain biking at night tips and gear essentials.
Why You Should Try Mountain Biking at Night
Before we discuss tips, let me try to convince you why you might come to appreciate mountain biking at night. For the following reasons, this activity has started to gain a lot of popularity among the majority of cyclists.
Helps You Focus Better
Unlike cycling in the daylight, night time cycling will only limit your field of vision to the area right in front of your bike. Since you’ll be riding in the dark, your bike’s light will be your sole source of illumination.
Wondering how this can be beneficial for you?
Keeping your entire focus on the trail in front of you should train you to read your surroundings better. This way, your sense of awareness should be heightened the more you do this. This can be helpful even when you ride your bike during the day. This way, you’ll be able to notice little details in the terrain, which might save you from running into obstacles.
A Good Way to Avoid the Sun
In the height of summer, it might be a bit challenging for a cyclist to remain under the unforgiving sun for hours. As you know, being exposed to the sun for a long period of time can be troublesome.
It might cause:
In addition to that, we all know the health risks of UV rays on human skin. According to scientists, it’s associated with a lot of conditions including skin cancer. Therefore, to ride in the sun, you’ll need a lot of planning to do. From applying sunscreen every two hours to covering up as much skin as possible, these are a lot of details to keep in mind! Instead, biking at night should save you all the trouble. The temperature usually drops at night, and you won’t sweat as much as you would cycling during the day.
Great For Solo Riding
Sometimes, you’re just not in the mood to ride beside other bikers. Some days, you’d rather be alone on the trail so you can go as fast as you’d like without running into other people.
During the day, it might be hard to find an empty spot. However, this isn’t the case during the nighttime.
If you go biking at night, chances are you won’t encounter other bikers on your trail. Furthermore, it’ll be easier to know if there’s another biker approaching you because their lights will give them away.
Of course, we can go on and on about why mountain biking at night is such a great idea, I’m sure you agree. Other reasons include the following points.
- It can be more fun and challenging than biking in the light
- Gives you more liberty to do other chores during the day
- Less chance to come face-to-face with hikers on the trail
Now, you’re probably convinced of how great this experience can be. It’s time that you start preparing for your next night trip.
Top 7 Tips for Mountain Biking at Night
As much as I (and you) may love it, mountain biking at night can pose some challenges that bikers might face. For this reason, you should take a moment to read our list of hacks to save yourself the trouble.
Avoid Starting Your Ride at Full Brightness
If you’re going night biking for the first time, then you’ll probably be thinking that turning on your brightest lights is a great idea. For a lot of reasons, it’s actually not.
First of all, doing that at the beginning of your ride can make it harder for your eyes to adjust to the sudden illumination after darkness. This way, it might take you a long while until you can see your surroundings clearly.
Second of all, brighter lights mean faster battery consumption. Of course, it’s all cool if you plan on riding for an hour or something. But if you intend for your ride to be longer, then going at full brightness might not give you the chance to last longer than a couple of hours.
For these reasons, I suggest that you start with the lowest light setting. You can ride for a while after that until you feel like you need more illumination. This way, you’ll be saving more battery life and helping your eyes adjust better to the trail in front of you.
Pay Attention to Your Battery Life
The second tip that I have for you is to always know how your battery is doing during your ride. As I pointed out before, the more bright the lights are, the more battery life that they consume.
Of course, you can balance everything out to make the best of your ride. As a general rule, the brightest light option is better for going at a faster speed.
Therefore, you should only go full brightness if you’re descending a slope. As for when you’re moving horizontally or upwards, which tends to be slow, you should use the lowest light setting.
By doing this, you can control your battery life a bit better instead of having it die in the middle of your ride.
Keep Your Batteries Warm During Cold Nights
This is another hack that you should keep in mind if you’re biking on an especially cold night. Lithium-ion batteries can lose their capacities in low temperatures.
To prepare your batteries for a cold ride, you should keep them inside the warmth of your house until you need them. Furthermore, you can keep them tucked inside one of your pockets to get some of your body heat.
Don’t Ride in a Tight Group
Make sure not to do this if you decide to go biking with your group of friends at night. Yes, the whole experience can be more fun and challenging, but staying too close to each other can be troublesome.
How is that?
If someone rides on a bike right behind you, then their bright lights will cast a shadow of you in front of your bike. As a result, you won’t be able to see your path clearly.
Therefore, you might run into different obstacles without having the chance to avoid them.
To keep this from happening, you can ride some distance away from your friends. Keeping a few feet between one and another, you should stay safe from these issues.
Increase Your Visibility
Sometimes, riders might encounter weather conditions that make it harder for them to see with their helmet lights alone.
Such situations include:
- Heavy rain
If you come face-to-face with any of these conditions, you must increase your visibility. You can turn on your bar light to see better if you have one.
What if you only have your helmet lights? It’s no big deal. Simply attach it to the bike’s bar instead and it should get the job done.
Always Bring a Spare Light
You never know if you might need an extra source of light during your ride. A lot of things can happen that you should be prepared for.
- Your battery might die
- Your helmet light might stop working
- A trip might take longer than you’ve planned
For these reasons, it’s always a good idea to bring an additional light with you. You shouldn’t just depend on your helmet lights.
Also, check that all your lights are working properly before you leave your house.
Don’t Forget to Eat
Most riders prefer to go biking around dinner time, which might lead you to skip it altogether. Of course, biking on an empty stomach is not an option.
It can leave you starving when you come back and might cause dizziness and fatigue.
Some people would suggest eating before you set out to ride. It’s a good idea, but don’t eat right before heading outside.
Your best option is to eat an early dinner a couple of hours before you go biking. When you come back, you can have a snack and call it a night.
If you’d prefer not to have dinner so early, you can switch places. Have a healthy snack an hour or two before riding, then a light dinner after your ride.
Now, you have a better idea about what to do to enhance your night biking experience. It’s time to discuss the most important aspect of this topic: the gear you must have.
Mounting Biking at Night Gear Essentials
Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is to buy a reliable set of lights; helmet lights and bar-mounted bike lights.
As I mentioned before, including both can be a lifesaver in many situations.
When choosing lights for mountain biking at night, aim for a high-quality product and don’t go for cheaper options. Investing in good lights can save you a lot of trouble for the following reasons.
Naturally, following the previous tips alone might not be enough to make the most of your ride. For this reason, I’ve put together this list of products that every cyclist should get for a mistake-free adventure.
- They have longer battery lives
- Multiple power modes
- Better illumination
- Weather-resistant materials
Also, always pick cordless helmet lights. Flashlights with cords can get tangled up in your clothing, helmet, or low branches. It’s best to save yourself all this trouble.
The second item on the list is a light jacket or a hoodie. As you know, the temperatures drop at night, and you must be prepared for that additional chill.
It doesn’t have to be a heavy jacket; you’ll already be on the move and pretty sweaty. Nevertheless, always pack an extra hoodie just in case you need to stop for a bit.
Also, it’s even better if this jacket is waterproof. This way, if you face some rain, it can protect you to some extent.
An Extra Set of Batteries
Just like how it’s important to have spare lights, an extra set of batteries is essential, too. They should keep you covered if your ride takes longer than you’ve anticipated.
In addition to that, they might come in handy if you’re with a group of friends. Sometimes, more than one light can stop working. You should always be prepared for such circumstances.
A GPS or Map
You shouldn’t always count on your senses or knowledge of the path. Even if you’ve got it memorized riding during the day, it can look different at night. Anyone can easily get lost in the dark.
Therefore, you should always bring a map with you. If you’re not good with maps, then your best bet is to check the GPS on your smartphone or smartwatch every now and then.
A Bike Repair Kit
The last item on this list is a sturdy bike repair kit. You never know when you might run into trouble with your bike. Again, preparation is always the key.
This kit must include:
- A pump
- A multi-tool
- A spare tube
- A patch kit
Mountain biking can be fun whether you’re alone or with a group of riders. Furthermore, doing it at night gives it a new perspective and opens your eyes to more details.
Hopefully, after knowing and putting in practice these mountain biking at night tips and gear essentials, you should have the adventures of your dreams.
It’s only a matter of paying attention to your surroundings and making sure that your lights are working efficiently. After all, when you go out in the darkness, your lights will be your sole guides.