With the change of clocks away from British summer time, it's suddenly getting dark at 4.30pm. This doesn't however mean that going for a ride after work is no longer a possibility, because night riding is a great thing to try if you've not done so before. If you're a little bored of riding in the same places all the time, then riding those same routes in the dark is such a different experience. For your world is focused on the small patch of illumination that your headlight lights up.
Here's a few tips for successful night rides that we've learnt from countless seasons of riding in the dark: Two lights are better than one; Having a light on your handlebars is ideal, but you should also consider mounting a light to your helmet as well. This way you've got illumination of the trail directly in front of you, and also light wherever you move your head towards. This makes navigation and obstacle avoidance much easier.
Pick your route wisely; Adventurous routes are great when you've got plenty of daylight hours to use, but tackling trails and routes that are unknown to you when it's pitch black and probably wet/muddy/getting late is not the best plan. Because the route you choose will look so completely different in the dark, it's best to stick to places you know, unless you're riding with others that have experience of those trails.
Give your bike a winter makeover; Good lights, obviously, are a must, but some sort of mud protection will also pay dividends. There are plenty of different mudguards out there, but I've had good experiences using the Ass Savers Win Wing for the rear and a Mudder Mini on the front of my gravel bike. Full length mudguards are liable to get clogged up, so you want something that'll shed the mud well. Talking of mud, it's wise to fit some grippy tyres and set them up tubelessly. Extra grip is always good in the dark, and tubeless tyres save trying to fix a puncture in the dark.
Ride in a group; It's good practice to go riding at night with some friends or a local cycling group. There's unlikely to be anyone else out on the trails in the dark, and having company makes it more fun to get coated in mud, and there's some people to share a drink with after you're done.
We, at Grvl, will be hosting regular night rides from the Church Farm Café in Aldbury, so keep an eye out on our social media feeds, and we have a calendar with rides and events on our website, so put them in the diary, charge your lights, and come join us for some night time fun.