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Hello Save The Trails Forum:

In our next IMBA Trail News, Fall 2004, we¹re planning to run an article
about night riding. As the days get shorter, more and more people use the
evening and night to squeeze in their rides after work or school. Night
riding is a relatively new activity, and we are curious if you or your club
has encountered some issues with this element of mountain biking. Even more
important, what solutions have you come up with to deal with these issues?
Some examples:

1. Many parks are closed after dark, yet this is obviously the prime time
for night riding. Is this the case in your area? Have you come up with a
solution to the issue?

2. We often hear about the environmental impacts of riding after dark.
Has your group encountered this? What are some of the specifics raised? Has
your group come up with a solution?

3. Are there cases in your area where night riding actually benefits a park?
For example, in some parks land managers actually encourage people to night
ride because it wards off unsavory types who might otherwise frequent the
park. Night riding mountain bikers can make the park safer in these situations.

4. Any general tips for night riding? What to wear, what kind of trails to
ride, etc?

If possible, send me your feedback by next Friday, August 27 (right before
you head out on a full moon night ride!). Send the info on to [email protected].

Thanks - Dan for Trails

Dan Vardamis - Advocacy Manager & IMBA Trail News Editor
International Mountain Bicycling Association
ph: (303)545-9011 x 101, FAX: (303)545-9026
e-mail: [email protected]***website: http://www.imba.com
--

What Would We Do Without Trails?
 

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best tip

no access issues or closed trails in durango, so no input about that.
best tip I know is: use two lights, on on the bar, aimed just ahead of the wheel to see up close; and a helmet-lighted spot, the tigher the beam the better, to see where you look and to scan further up the trail. neither has to be a super duper wattage megalight. I have a decade-old turbocat 6-volt helmet spot that is like a laser beam it's so bright, but only in a tight focused beam. It also has a real long runtime. with that, even one of those commuter type all-in-on bar lights is sufficient for aiming just ahead of the wheel, at least at singletrack speeds.
Anyone who spends $400 on lights is either using them for flying down dirt roads at 30 mph, or more likely, just caught up in the more is better hype.

a bar light alone, no matter the wattage, doesn't look where you turn your head and so doesn't really help on twisty trails or switchbacks.
a helmet light along causes the same effect as driving with high beams into a snowstorm, if you're not the lead rider of the group. and the resulting flat lighting washes out the terrain ahead so you can't read the trail well at all.

but for twisty trails, I personally would go with a helmet light over just a bar light, but my friends all feel otherwise.
but two is the hot setup

there are spiders in CO, not tarantulas, but smaller hairy scary looking ones, that have eyes that gleam emerald green when hit with lights and they tend to sit right in the trail, so it's really freaky to be riding along and see this super brilliant emerald green light on the trail.

bear eyes glow red. skunks are red too. I don't even wanna know what color mt. lion eyes glow at night, not even.

another good tip for fall niterides: stick a balaclava in yer pocket, surprising how cool it can get.

carry a little maglite or similar so you don't waste your riding battery life dicking around with mechanicals, rolling fatties, etc. and if all the other lights fail, you can use the flashlight to get out of the woods, albeit, slowly.

great sport when you're bored: call up the dick at NiteSun and tell him his lights are messed up and keep at it until he starts swearing and hangs up on you, which shouldn't take long if he's off his meds.
 

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bear eyes glow red. skunks are red too. I don't even wanna know what color mt. lion eyes glow at night, not even.

Yellow, evil yellow.

great sport when you're bored: call up the dick at NiteSun and tell him his lights are messed up and keep at it until he starts swearing and hangs up on you, which shouldn't take long if he's off his meds.

I gave up on NiteSun years ago, no response to complaints. Basically the dew of night riding corroded everything - I went to Niterider because of their waterproof experience.
 

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cranktankerous Mainer
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Our land manager keeps toying with the idea of closing the park at dark, or at least enforcing a rule which is already in place that has been stashed away in some dusty cabinet. Usually spawned from a drunk teenage driving incident, closing the park to the public at dark is a reoccurring topic. The best course of action seems to be convincing the land manager that just because the sun goes down on the trail, doesn’t mean mountain bikers stop caring for them. Calmly and comically, pointing out the fact that it’s not our fault the sun decides to set at 6pm..heck, it gets dark at 4:30 up in this neck of the woods!..anyway I try to get the point across that we are very dedicated to our sport, it is a lifestyle, and that we are nocturnal creatures ourselves. Enjoying nature doesn’t end when the sun goes down. Above all mountain bikers need to escape after a long day of work and just pedal that stress away, it priceless therapy…. just like some people head to the gym to pump up, or go whack their balls on a lit tennis court or perhaps take that nightly jog around the block. It would be a very difficult task trying to get bikers who have been riding at night for a number of years to change these habits so as to conform and comply with a new rule that really just makes no sense and seems to be unfair. Enforcement would be a headache because in essence they are eliminating the best source of enforcement and "safety presence" that they have during these early evening hours. My point to the LM was that no matter what time of year it is, no matter how cold it is, no matter how dark it is…we must ride! Instead of saying- "ohh its 4:30pm, its dark, no biking!", how about a compromise- parks closed at 11pm, that’s fair. In fall during hunting season, nightfall is the only time we can safely ride. “Is it the disturbance that night riders cause to the wildlife that concerns you?” “A few guys riding their bikes in the dark can’t be half as bad.. then if we dressed in camo, hiked off trail and shot stuff during the day?”

Although our park is “officially” closed at sunset, mountain bikers and their nocturnal activies seem to be safe and overlooked by the authorities for now.
 

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San Antonio night rides are thriving

The STORM club in San Antonio has a regular Wed night ride for the whole "fall back" season in McAllister Park. It's now a sort of shop ride since Jaime (the usual ride leader) opened Drop Zone Cycling. The park closes at 10/11? - not at dark - so it's all legal.

Additionally, people ride there throughout the week starting before dark and extending til about 9pm. The SA Parks and Rec Dept knows about it/appreciates it cause the rides tend to keep the "less desireable elements" out of the park. Nearby, a mtb ranch in Comfort (Flat Rock Creek Ranch) is open for night riding year 'round except during deer hunting season.

Tips: 2 lights: bar + helmet, helmet alone as primary most of the time w/bar as backup and for technical descents; ride in a group; something reflective on your back or a red light helps keep the rider behind you make the turns w/o hanging on your wheel; call "right turn, etc." beginning with the lead rider each time a rider in the group makes a turn; set up your tires as if you are riding a trail a bit rockier than it is (usually a couple # harder) to prevent pinchflats since you won't always take the smoothest line in the dark - let the bike kinda float under you with a lighter grip on the bars; take a newby - they'll progress faster since they'll have to focus on following the line of the rider in front and they'll worry less about the section they're on.
 

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Not much legal nite riding in SF Bay

Pretty much every piece of public land in the Bay Area is closed 30min after dusk. Some people poach. Others ride Alpine Rd (mostly a fireroad) - legal - but only good for fitness training or some place in the East Bay that's also said to be not very interesting.

An hour's drive gets you to some legal nite riding, but that's only done infrequently - like to get a 24hr team ready.
 

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featherweight clydesdale
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Good topic, sorry I missed the deadline. Anyhow,

We have a private property owner who let's us night ride. His general rule is no less than 3 people, incase there's a bad wreck.

Our county run parks officially close at dark. They have been reluctant to open them to our activity, because then you have to allow other activities like "night fishing" (drinking) and they worry about someone drowning in the dark.

Our local club currently has a proposal to do night riding as a "special event". Announced, organized, insured, and infrequent (maybe once per month). The county attorney is looking into the situation.
 
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