Experience a whole new adventure in the dark. This is when tracks and paths offer new challenges, as moon beams light your way.
Night-time mountain bike adventures add a challenging dimension to an activity holiday. What may be a familiar ride in the day will be transformed into a whole new challenge in the dark!
Night riding is awesome, and can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have on a bike, especially when riding with a group. When riding in the dark your senses will be heightened and all your skills as a rider will be put to the test! Combine your sharpened senses with starry or moonlit nights, or deep fog, and the whole experience becomes amazing especially if not so far away you can hear owls hooting and foxes call.
Riding in the dark is technically harder than riding in the day so choosing a route suited to your ability is essential. If you haven’t gone night riding before it is advisable to go on a trail you are very familiar with, or alternatively go out with a group and leader who are familiar with the route and can help guide you through it.
Simply venturing out into areas that are not lit after dark can be quite an experience in its own right. Don’t expect to go superfast or to do the same jumps and turns that you may find easy in daylight. Riding a blue grade trail or bridleway at night is probably more like that of a red trail in daylight, and because of the added technical challenge, you probably will not go as fast.
Although lights are clearly essential in the dark, partly for others to see you, but mostly so that you can see roughly what is up ahead, appreciate the full beauty and mystery of the night sky and keep your lights down low. Consider what the minimum light level needed to illuminate the trail and its edges. Low lights will intensify your ‘dark adventure’, and enhance the experience of others in your group. It will also have less of an impact upon other people out in the countryside, and importantly reduce light pollution and its impact upon nature.
There are some really powerful lights that are so strong you can almost forget it's night, however using such lights will detract from the joy of night riding. Also if in a group you will dazzle people if you face them with your head torch on, so save your battery and face the night.
Using a headlamp or lamp mounted on your handle bars will cast shadows. Be aware that holes, ramps and other obstacles on the trail may be hidden or obscured by shadow. Shadows will also make it difficult to know how deep or rough sections of the trail ahead may be. Learning to ride by feel is the exhilarating fun of night riding. Ride with your body alert, but loose enough to make your ride fluid and smooth - doing so will improve your ability to be proactive and able to deal with the challenges of the trail.
When out with a group be patient. So if others find the riding challenging, or have mechanical problems, consider that next time it might be you who is unlucky and gets a puncture. When riding in a group always remember to look after each other and consider that being left behind in the dark really is no fun at all.
Fortune favours the prepared and so avoid potential emergencies with good planning. Checking your bike, have repair equipment, spare head torch, refreshments, warm clothes and a map. Also tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Consider your first aid knowledge or have someone in the group who is competent in this area.