10 Reasons to Bike at Night

Before I turned 16, the only way that I got around was by bike or rollerblading. Fast forward 13 years and I’m back to those modes of transportation for fun and exercise.

Given my rekindled love for biking, I’ve also come to appreciate and love night biking. Sound crazy?

Here are 10 reasons that might change your mind:

1. Riding in the dark makes you a better rider. At night your field of vision narrows, which allows you to concentrate on reading your path in new ways. Basically, you’ll learn to be more alert and to react more quickly to the terrain.

2. Old trails become new. If you’re like me, sometimes you get bored riding the same routes week after week, but night riding changes things completely. Riding through a dark tunnel of trees and blackness will get your adrenaline pumping and make a familiar trail new and exciting.

3. Dark trails are empty trails. If you’re looking for solitude and open space, night riding can be just the ticket to getting the trails all to yourself. That way you can also ride faster without worrying about running into riders coming the opposite direction. Even if you do encounter other riders you’ll be able to see their lights ahead of time.

4. Lower temps in the summer. Riding at night during the summer is often the best time to ride. You can avoid heat stroke, dehydration and sun burns this way. Since temperatures are much lower than during the day, you can ride at night or even before the sun rises if you prefer.

5. Open up your riding schedule. Depending upon your work schedule or if you have a family; getting in a little trail time can be a challenge some days. Riding at night is a good compromise to open up your schedule for other things during the day.

6. Good excuse to get new gear. Biking isn’t all about the gear, but sometimes it’s fun to play with new toys. For night riding you’ll need at least one high-tech light system and warmer clothing if you’re riding during the colder months. I picked up some awesome lights by NiteRider on NashBar and some sweet compression pants from Dick’s Sporting Goods.

7. Night riding can be more social. Riding at night by yourself is kind of dangerous; even though I typically ride alone. However, get your friends involved and go grab some beers afterwards. Make it social and safe. Places like Bicycle Butler and Bike Hub often host evening rides from their places of business.

8. Avoid trail user conflicts. I’ve never heard of anyone going “night walking” or “night hiking,” however there are always exceptions to-the-rule. Still, you typically won’t find walkers or hikers out on the trails at night, which opens up route possibilities if you’re picking up what I’m throwing down.

9. See the light show. Just because it’s nighttime doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see your scenery. For example, have you ever seen a stream or a river with lights reflecting off of it at night while you’re cruising along the trail? Pretty cool sight.

10. Extend your season. Most people hit the trail after work, but non-daylight savings months can cut down your trail time both in the morning and at night. So get some lights and ride year round! (Remember to have red flashing rear lights as well. Helps other cyclists and vehicles see you at night.)

What do you personally like (or dislike) about riding in the dark? What kind of gear would you recommend to other night riders?

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