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8 essential night riding tips

Hitting the trails in the dark is a whole lotta fun, but it does require a little more planning and preparation...

Now that the clocks have gone back and the evenings have drawn in, night riding season has arrived! Investing in a good set of lights and braving the dark woods after work isn’t just a way of getting your midweek fix, it brings a whole new dimension and challenges to old familiar trails.

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To show how much fun it can be, we decided to assemble the team and head to Merthyr Tydfil, to put our reaction times to the test down some BikePark Wales classics. You can read all about what we got up to – and check out a grouptest of lights – in our November issue (#375, on sale now). And if you think that sounds like fun, then get yourself booked on to one of the monthly night uplift sessions that are happening at the bike park throughout this winter.

Whether you’re riding a bike park after the sun has set or venturing off into the hills under cover of darkness, be sure to follow these tips to avoid your nighttime outing turning into some kind of twisted sequel to the Blair Witch Project!

Photos: Andy Lloyd/Jacob Gibbins

1. Be prepared

Make sure your bike is well-maintained and ready to ride. This will get you on the trails quicker and lessen the chances of having to perform repairs in the dark.

02.10.19. Mountain Biking UK Bikepark Wales after hours. PIC © Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

2. Sharing’s caring

Night riding is best done as a group activity. This makes things safer in case of an accident, and we can attest that it’s more of a laugh too.

02.10.19. Mountain Biking UK Bikepark Wales after hours. PIC © Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

3. Know the trails

Stick to trails you know well. It’s easy to get disorientated in the dark and tough to find your way around new places.

02.10.19. Mountain Biking UK Bikepark Wales after hours. PIC © Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

4. Carry spares

It’s no fun having to walk home, so carry a good multi-tool, pump, tube, tyre levers and spare quick-link (trust us – we needed ours) as a minimum. A back-up light and spare battery are a good idea too, plus a rear light for road sections.

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5. Understand your lights

There are tons of lights out there, each with different outputs, settings and batteries. It’s smart to know exactly how yours work and how long they’ll last. Make sure your ride will finish in plenty of time before your lights pack up. If you’re in the market for a set of lights then check out our latest grouptest, where we review 15 sets and explain all the technical info you might need to know.

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6. Dress for success

It’s usually colder at night, so pack some spare layers. Dress for the conditions so you can concentrate on enjoying your ride.

02.10.19. Mountain Biking UK Bikepark Wales after hours. PIC © Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

7. Protect your vision

A mudguard’s a good idea, because it’s harder to avoid puddles at night. Riding glasses or goggles will stop your eyes streaming on long, chilly descents, keep muck out and protect you from trailside foliage.

02.10.19. Mountain Biking UK Bikepark Wales after hours. PIC © Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

8. Stay safe

Always let someone know where you’re riding and what time to expect you back. Agree easy-to-find meeting points in case someone in your group gets lost or left behind. It’s a good idea to keep an ICE contact in your phone too.

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Read the full feature in MBUK 375 (available here)

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