By Kate Amos
The leaves are falling, the air is growing colder, and the days are getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean your bike needs to collect dust until spring. With the right attitude and the right gear, evening rides can be a great way to relieve stress after work or start putting in base miles for next year’s race season.
As with every ride, safety should be the number one priority. While the usual guidelines, such as maintaining your gear
, developing situational awareness and knowing your limits still apply, evening rides can pose some unique challenges. Dawn and twilight are the most dangerous times of day to ride in traffic, as the sun is low and drivers are rushing to and from work. So it’s essential to be sure that you can both see and be seen during these times. A good set of lights paired with reflective clothing are must-have items for night riding. For maximum visibility, look for a rechargeable high-output white light for the front. Also, consider adding a helmet light if you’re planning to do any technical mountain biking or if your route takes you through under-lit roads. Rear and side safety lights should be red and have the option of being set to a blinking pattern.
Day to Night
Keep in mind that the weather can quickly turn from comfortable to chilly as soon as the sun goes down, so plan to carry a variety of clothing that you can easily layer. Remember that all layers should include bright colors and reflective elements—you don’t want to cover your day-glo jersey with a plain black jacket that will camouflage you with the road. Arm and knee warmers, vests and caps are versatile items that should be included in any night-rider’s kit.
As the temperatures drop, it can be easy to forget to drink, but hydration is still hugely important regardless of the temperature. So don’t skimp on the water, even when you’re bundled up.
Plan your route carefully; choose well-lit, low-traffic streets as often as possible. Consider riding in parks or paths that are closed to car traffic or hitting the trails on your mountain bike. Commuting to and from work is another great way to get in some miles even after we set the clocks back, and being geared up ahead of time will give you something to look forward to after those late nights at the office.Whether you’re taking in the early sunset over the ocean or squeezing in some last outdoor miles before snow and ice blanket the roads, night rides are a fantastic way to fit a solid workout into your day while enjoying the peace and quiet of the outdoors.For more tips to create new rides, indoors or outdoors, subscribe
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