How To Mountain Bike At Night

Posted on Nov 4, 2013 in News | 0 comments

How To Mountain Bike At Night

Short days and long nights have arrived, leaving precious few hours of sunlit riding. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up your mountain bike for the winter. If you learn to embrace the evenings, you still have plenty of time to ride singletrack. These tips will help you get started:

1. Choose your light wisely. There are tons of lights on the market today, and picking the right one for your ride can seem overwhelming. For taking on nighttime singletrack, a light with a helmet mount is a great choice. The light will follow your gaze, helping you anticipate obstacles and stay on track. You’ll also need to consider how many lumens you’ll need. In this case, it’s better to go big; aim for 700-1000 lumens. This will give you plenty of light, and better battery life to boot. A high-lumen light run at half power will last far longer than a low-lumen one on the brightest setting.

2. Ride trails you know by heart. The spooky shadows your light casts will make everything look different—including trails you’re only slightly familiar with. Ride on trails you know well and have no trouble following. It’s way harder to find small, less-traveled trails when your only light is on your head. It’s best to bring a buddy, too— anything that goes wrong is much easier to handle with another person on board.

3. Stay in the middle of the group. For a nighttime newbie, the middle of the pack is the easiest place to ride. You can see the lights in front of you following the trail and will hear about any low branches or tricky spots. Plus, the lights behind you will provide an additional glow and some extra support.

4. Adjust your beam. It’s tough to learn exactly where to point your light—and it’s made tougher by the fact that the ideal spot for your beam is constantly changing. If you’re going slow, you’ll want the brightest spot aimed just a foot or two in front of your wheel.

5. Prolong your battery life. The battery life of your light is an important consideration when planning your ride. After all, nobody wants to trudge out of the pitch-black woods on a chilly night.  Make sure your light is charged up before you head out—you never know when a mechanical or other mishap will hold you up.

6. Don’t use the brightest setting. It seems counterintuitive, but the absolute brightest setting on your light might not be the best choice. Consider this: When you walk from blinding summer sunshine into a dimly lit room, what happens? You can’t see a darn thing. This same concept comes into play while you’re speeding down dark singletrack. If you use the brightest setting on your light, it washes out your vision and leaves you unable to see subtle contrasts in the trail. Try turning it down a notch for improved clarity.


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