Whenever you see images of mountain biking it seems to be of people riding on one of those endless summer days. You know the ones, those long leisure hours on the saddle with the panoramic views. I love those rare days, but guess what? I love riding in winter just as much! ‘Come again?’ you say. ‘I have two words for you….night riding’.
With the nights drawing in by late afternoon,to keep up your evening mid-week ride, then you have to ride in the dark. Some regular mountain bikers have never tried it, and in my opinion, they are missing out.
Some of my best riding memories is heading to my local trail centre in the Forest of Dean to meet some mates in the pitch black. There is a chill in the air, so faff is kept to a minimum. We switch on our bike and helmet lights and head off into the blackness of the forest.
The ground is rock hard, and even the Blue graded trail which I would only normally ride with my youngest child in tow, has a magic-ness to it. The riding is quick, the rest stops are brief and chatter is kept to a minimum as we are all lulled into the silence of the woods.
Your whole world is just within that beam of light. As I said before, Magic.
Want to give night riding a go? A few pointers;
- Bike lights (decent ones) are NOT cheap, but some bike shops/trail centres rent them out. Failing that, we all have that one friend who upgrades everything every year, show them an article on the new, must-have light and offer to take their old one off them for a good price!
- Don’t ride alone. There are a lot of group rides out there that you can tag on to. I offer monthly night guided rides (last Thursday of the month) throughout the winter starting from Pedalabikeaway, Forest of Dean. We ride and then have a curry and pint afterwards. It’s like the perfect night out
- Chuck a survival blanket in your rucksack. If you or your friend have an off, then you all can get very cold, very quickly.
- Ride trails that you know and are well within your capability. They feel so different from daytime anyway, but you have the comfort of knowing where the exit points are in case you need to bail.
- Don’t be scared of those reflective eyes you see staring at you through the trees. They are far more startled to see you.
Are you a British Cycling MTB Leader?:- fancy a bit of CPD to upskill you to lead night riding? Then click here for information on our British Cycling Leadership courses including a specific Night Riding module for qualified leaders