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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am thinking about getting into the bike scene. Mostly this is for health reasons, but also fun, and something different to do. I joined this site about a month ago, but still haven't bought a bike. This is because I spoke with my girlfriend and she said, "why buy a bike if it gets dark before you get home from work? When are you going to ride it?"

So this got me thinking.. there's lots of places to ride where I live, but none of them are lit up at night (around a lake, in a park, etc.). How do you ride at night while keeping yourself safe, warm, and still keep everything enjoyable?

Thanks.
 

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"Ride Lots" - Eddie Mercx
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riding at night

is fantastic! But, I also live in the relatively warm San Diego climate so cold for me is a night in the 40s and frigid is when the rare arctic storm pushes this far south and temps drop into the 30s.

I don' tride at night alone though so unless you have somebody to ride with you have to make sure that your wife knows exactly where you are riding and how long it should take you. even during the daytime, I make sure my wife knows where I'm going if I have to ride solo so she can call one of my buddies if I am running exceptinally late.

YR
 

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Riding at night is ok but when it gets dark lots of bike/pedestrian trails/Parks close 1/2 hour after sunset. Thats the way they do it in minneapolis suburbs. Crime reasons I guess. So I am limited to road riding at night. It gets cold as a witches nipple here as many of you know but with the right layers it is fine. Lights are mandatory if you want any kind of enjoyment and safety after sunset. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting on a bike and riding. You may eventually get your Gfriend on one too and it will be that much more enjoyable. Good luck, Also I believe it doesn't matter what you ride as long as you ride.
 

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I've been riding at night for years and riding tight singletrack in the woods after dark is one of the coolest things I've ever done. Where I live it gets dark around 4:30 during the late fall/winter so if I want to go after work the ride will start and end in the dark. I usually go with my neighbor, but it's not unusual for me or him to go alone... probably not the smartest thing but someone always knows where I went.

Get a good bike specific light with a runtime at least 50% longer than a normal ride.
Make sure you know the trails you riding very, very well; everything will look completely different than in daylight and is is super easy to get screwed up.

One of the most amazing things about night riding is somehow it seems easier to clear sections of trail that ususlly hang you up during the day.
 

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El Malo
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Night riding is one of the most exhilarating facets of the sport.

When you ride at night, a trail that you may otherwise know well, can easily turn into a brand new trail. To further enhance this effect, ride it opposite direction if possible.
Also, it sharpens your skills as a rider.

I have a Tuesday night ride that a small group of friends and I ride up here in Seattle.
It starts promptly at 6:30 and it ends shortly before 10pm just before food stops being served at our favourite brewery.
We have one trail with multiple variations during summer and have another trail also with multiple options during the winter months even when temperature rarely drops into the teens and the ground is a sparkling wonderland of crispy ice.

Last night was our first "winter loop" ride immediately after it had been raining consistently most of the day. The tight singletrack was thick with wet foliage but no mud, just sweet dirt laced with many roots and rocks ready to take you down every inch of the trail.
The biggest climb is about 1,100 ft up steep and technical goodness that includes portage over creek crossings, wet logs and mossy granite.
The descent is fast, tight and full of adrenaline.

The smell of wet Pacific Northwest woods is an addiction.
I can't imagine not having night rides in my life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
[email protected], thanks for that. However, I am still a beginner and will mostly be riding asphalt and a few very light dirt trails to start off - especially after work, where I will ride just around the area where I live where there aren't any "real" trails. So I guess my question doesn't pertain to such technical riding as you describe, but it's still nice to read about. :)
 

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EGGROLL!!!
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You can get a pretty nice (~10W) light for riding at night for a good price. There are lights that are designed to be used for trail-riding, and those will generally be 10 Watts or more. They vary in price, and they can be pretty bright and pretty expensive depending on your budget. Then there are lights that are more geared to commuters, I guess. They have less power, usually run on a couple of AA batteries and are generally inexpensive. I wouldn't feel comfortable using these type of lights unless you're riding in the city where the roads are already lit. Any riding on roads or paved trails that don't have their own lighting I'd recommend the more powerful (10 W or greater) light.
 

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Grip it and rip it.
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First of all, i love riding at night! Trails that seemed dull before are suddenly so much more exciting and the street`s are so much quieter. If you are planning to do alot of off road with your lights then don`t go too cheap because they WILL fall apart, or constantly fail on you while riding. I got a cheap set of cat eye ones aimed at off road use and the bulb shattered, while i was climbing UPHILL!!
I reccomend a set of light and motion lights, i have the arc nimph at the moment. They may be pricy but you get what you pay for. NOW go enjoy some night rides and give us a report!!!!!!
 

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How about lunch?

Hey Moscow,

Your profile says you are in the Bay area. That's a pretty big and diverse area. Depending on where you are, maybe you could slip out for some lunchtime rides. I do that sometimes, especially during the fall and winter months when it is dark after work.

There are some quiet suburban streets near where I work, and I can put together a few routes for a quick ride, and come back to work refreshed and pumped up for the afternoon. I'll eat a sandwich at my desk post-ride.

HC
 

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Double-metric mtb man
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I'm part of the northern connection here on the forums Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). It is dark when I ride to work and darn close (even with the time change) for riding home. I'll second the recommendation for a good night-riding specific light. I have a 15W Halogen light that does quite well on the trials (summer or winter) as well as a little "just see me" LED light for commuting.

Riding at night is a different experience. It is like going for a walk at night...the perspective changes dramatically and even old trials and routes become new.

Take it slow and enjoy the ride a little more. Also, think about a good rear light (so you can be seen from the back) and possibly adding reflective strips to bike, helmet or other spots. You need to be a little more cautious, but other than that, it is a fun and enjoyable experience I'd encourage you to give a go.
 

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ballbuster
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Get something...

Moscow said:
Thanks for the support so far, guys. :)

What is a nice light for night riding?
... with a 10-15Watt Halogen bulbs minimum with at least 2 hours of run time. There are lots of good brands out there. Be prepared to spend at least $125 or so, if not more. I know it sounds expensive, but that is what a decent light goes for these days. You won't be able to see well enough to navigate trails with a commuter type light.

I like having a powerful bar light (10-30W haogen on different settings), and a 10W halogen on the helmet.

I love night riding. There is a local regional park that stays open to 10 PM where we do a weekly after work ride. We usually go about 12 miles with 2200 feet of climbing over 1.5-2 hours.

Lighting has been discussed to death elsewhere. Check the Lighting and GPS forum for more info.
 

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I just started night riding a couple weeks ago and it is wonderful. I just did alot of lighting research and finally ordered a 12W/20W halogen with a rechargable Lithium Ion battery that lasts over 4 hours on 12W and about 2.5 on 20W. I have ridden the gravel roads in the local state forest at night. It requires much less light than singletrack, espescially if you aren't trying to set any speed records. There are some LED's for under $75 that are really bright and you can ride a paved/smooth dirt trail just fine. I got my light on batteryspace.com for $160 shipped with extra bulbs. They have many options. Read the reviews on this site, but remember alot of those people want to ride technical singletrack very fast, which is not what you want to do right now. Also, post on the Norcal forum and ask about places to ride close by. Ask the guys at you LBS as well. There might be more places to ride close by than you think. I also second that you should make sure someone knows where you are going and about how long it should take you.

-VTB
 

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trailmaster
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Moscow,
Years ago (way too many years) when I was getting started, I'd get home just about dark when the time changed. I didn't want to lose the little bits of skill I'd gained over the summer. So, I bought a miners light and fashioned an aluminum plate and pop riveted it to my old helmit. Over that season of darkness I'd go out on the bike a couple hours almost every night. And, by the time the day light came back my skills had improved to the point where the veteran riders in the neighborhood were no longer leaving me in the dust.

I was riding jeep roads and a couple miles of single track my friends and I had cut in the Cumberland mountains of Tenn. I'd go slow at first and the dark made the technical sections seem scarier. By conquering them cautiously with the light I believe it made me a better rider with much better confidence in the day light.

The next year I was building trail by night with a 20 watt helmit light. A great way to stay in shape over the winter.

Definately get some lights and ride what you have. The natural progression is to find more difficult things to ride to push your skills envelope and night riding can be a big part of that. Just don't try like I did to Jerry rig a light set. The miners light died by the end of that season. And, I have learned to appreciate the expertice put into a good set of bike lights, even if they cost$$.
 

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5 x 5
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Riding at night is the best

It's really awesome. Fire roads or 2wd dirt roads aren't generally any more difficult to ride on a good headlight than they are in daylight, so I wouldn't worry about that too much. These days, I tend to think of my night rides (1-2 a week) as fitness-building/maintaining rides, so when the weekend comes I'm not a slug.

Before you know it, you'll be riding the singletrack at night. I'll tell you, twisting through trees underlit by a lamp on your handlebar.... that is one of life's true pleasures.
 

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