With winter about to hit it is almost inevitable that you will be cycling in the dark but this can be a fun new adventure if you do it right! You just need to put a few things in place to help keep you safe.
Lights are essential if you want to ride at night; you legally have to have a front white light and a red rear one in order to ride after dark. You can also get ankle lights which can be the most eye-catching. A big issue with night riding is potholes, especially down country lanes with no streetlights, so your lights need to be bright enough to light up enough of the road ahead.
The most important thing is to ensure before you go out your lights are fully charged and will last throughout your journey. If you have extra lights take them with you to ensure you have a backup if anything goes wrong.
- Reflective Clothing
Your brightly coloured cycling gear does not work at night. Instead, you need plenty reflective surfaces that enable cars to see you. You can buy reflective tape so add that to your bike, helmet, and clothing. Reflective tape around your legs and on your pedals can be the most effective way to be seen as when your legs move it attracts the attention of car drivers. Don’t solely rely on reflective surfaces but they can be a great additional way to make sure you are seen by other motorists.
- Pre-plan your route
When cycling at night the best thing to do is choose routes and areas you are familiar with. Plan routes which you have ridden many times before. This is safer as you are better able to change your route early if the roads are busy, and you also have a better idea of where potholes and other hidden dangers may be.
Completing a long route in the dark may not be sensible. Save longer rides for the weekend. However, if you are keen to keep the miles up, going on short routes or completing a loop multiple times can be the best way to train in the dark. This also means you are closer to home in case anything happens, for instance if your lights stop working.
- Check your bike
It is hard to change a flat tyre or put your chain back on in the dark so don’t ride if your bike isn’t in the best shape. Give it a check over before you head out and ensure you have all the appropriate kit on you in case something does go wrong, but most importantly, take a well charged phone in case you get into trouble.
- Ride with friends
The best way to stay safe riding at night is to ride in a group or with a friend. In addition to providing safety in numbers it also helps to keep you motivated. It can be much more fun going out with friends so in the cold winter months why not help each other out and go out together to keep each other going!
Even though riding at night can be daunting and may seem like a bad idea if you put the right checks in place you can keep riding throughout the winter months getting in those miles ready for the challenges you have set yourself.