How to Night Mountain Bike

How to Night Mountain Bike
Night mountain biking is a challenging and exhilarating activity. Mountain biking at night is a good way to mountain bike when you don't have enough daylight to get a ride in, or when the days are too hot to bike safely and comfortably. After one or two rides under the stars, you may find that you bike during the day less and less. Before you hit the trail, however, there are a few things to consider.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Lighting system
  • Helmet light
  • Mountain bike tools
  • Hydration
  • Spare flashlight
  • Bug spray
 
Step 1
Get a light system for your bike. Ideally you'll want a good handlebar-mounted, halogen, LED or HID light system designed specifically for mountain biking at night. Read some reviews at websites like MTBR.com and find a system that offers ample brightness for the type of riding you want to do (dirt roads, flat doubletrack, tight, technical singletrack). While it may be tempting to purchase a cheap light or simply strap a flashlight to the handlebars, spending the money on a quality lighting system will be the safest, highest-performance option. LED systems are becoming an excellent standard, as they offer increased durability, more efficient power consumption and superior bulb life.
Step 2
Consider purchasing a helmet lamp in addition to the handlebar system. This will provide additional visibility and allow you to see when you turn your head to the side or the rear. This can help when approaching corners as well as when you're looking in the bushes to see what the heck that loud noise was. A helmet light will also be very handy in case you need to repair the bike.
Step 3
Test out your light system. The only way to know just how well the light system will light up the trail is to test it out. Before you take it onto technical, winding singletrack rides, give it a test run. Use a dark street or fire road for the test run, and get acclimated to the lighting. Familiarize yourself with the operation and settings.
Step 4
Choose a trail that you're familiar with. Night riding is not the best time to ride a trail for the first time. Choose a local trail that you've ridden numerous times. To be safe, avoid extremely technical or exposed trails, and opt for something a bit more tame. You'll be surprised how even a seemingly boring daytime trail will come alive at night.
Step 5
Double check to make sure the trail is open at night. Trails in park systems often close at sundown, so to avoid being on the wrong side of the law, make sure the trail you chose is available during nighttime hours.
Step 6
Charge your battery pack fully, be aware of the burn times that it provides and plan the length of your ride accordingly. Mount the battery pack and light, and get out and ride.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Don't forget to bring bug spray.
 
It's a good idea to pack an extra shirt, as even warm nights can get pretty chilly out in the woods and mountains.
 
Pack an extra flashlight in your bike pack or hydration pack to serve as backup.
 
Mountain biking is dangerous on its own and night mountain biking is even more dangerous. Stay in control, prepare properly and be aware of the dangers of the specific wilderness area that you're riding in.

 

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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