It's that time of year again. (I'd like to make a joke about the Broncos not winning the Superbowl, but that would be phony of me, as I don't follow baseball at all.) I'm talking about night riding season. The sun is going down early here in Fruita, days are shorter, and by the time we get off work at 6 pm, it looks like midnight. When we want to ride Joe's Ridge or Kessle Run up at 18 rd after work, we have to ride at night. (It's technically ALWAYS night riding season, but this time of year it's gonna be happening a lot more often, because its gonna be dark a lot more than not).
If you have never ridden at night, you should, at least once. Why? The cold and dark is no reason to stop riding your bike. The after work ride can and should still happen, you just have to adjust to the current conditions. Riding at night will make you a better rider, you will learn to feel a trail more, you will learn to trust your bike more. Riding at night will make the same old hum drum trail you can ride without thinking into a new, exciting trail you've never ridden before. It's a totally different experience, and if those aren't enough reasons, riding at night is just plain fun.
Here are some tips to either get started night riding or have a better time night riding.
– Lights on the handlebar or helmet? Optimally, both. I've ridden with just lights on the handlebar, which is great except on tight turny twisty trails, when you have to look one way but your front wheel is going another way. If you are only going to have one light, put it on your helmet. This way you can look far ahead at the trail (which you should be doing anyway) and look around turns.
– Dress appropriately. Nights here in Fruita are getting colder. Shorts don't always work. You want to dress warm enough, but not over do it, or you end up a sweaty uncomfortable mess and it's no fun. Layering is key, and you should know if you start a bit chilly, you will be comfy mid ride, and if you start comfy, you will probably be too hot mid ride.
– Don't try to outrun your headlight. – Understand the trail is going to be more difficult than you might expect. Shadows create some fantastic optical illusions, and when you are rolling at a good pace, the trail can take you by surprise. Holy Cross, in the Tabeguache Area, what we call Lunch Loops, is a technical trail during the day, on of my favorites, one that I'm pretty familiar with and love to ride. I found out at night it's even more difficult, and I rode it about as slow as the first time I rode it. So if it's your first time, or you are on a new trail, maybe take it a bit slower than you normally would, and don't feel bad. It's not about speed, it's about having a kick ass time on your bicycle in the dark. Ride at a comfortable pace, at least until you are feeling confident, then go as fast as you are able.
– Don't forget the beer, or other post ride refreshments. You are still out there riding bikes, and the post ride camaraderie at the parking lot is even stronger, the laughs are louder, and the tales are taller, all because you all rode at night.
– It's safer than you think. When you ride at night, you are pretty sure every sound behind you is a mountain lion or a bear, and every shadow is a zombie or an escaped lunatic with an ax. Nope.
Don't let the dark and cold slow you down from riding. If you are gonna be in Fruita with your bike, bring your lights, and come ride with us (at night).
Join us out there, join us on the Darkside. Don't just be a mountain biker, be a NIGHT RIDER