Riding at night, riding at dawn.

Posted: February 15, 2011 in 2011, General

Articles or discussions about night riding are usually timed to coincide with the release of new light units all boasting thousands of lumens with prodigious burn times measured in days or weeks as opposed to old skool (sic) hours. [irony]Strangely enough[/irony] this gives night riding aficionados enough time to save their pennies and buy the brightest and best that money can buy in an attempt to drown out their mates’ lights throughout the winter. The logic is impeccable, it is dark in winter therefore let’s sell people what they need to ride throughout the grimmest time of year. You can’t argue with it, it is logical from an advertising and a journalistic sense. after all, there’s no point writing about night riding when it is light half the night…is there?

Well it is here that I beg to differ and I will try to argue my point over a series of posts; there is just too much to cover off in one go. I’d run out of time, and anyone reading this would run out of patience.

I believe night riding in the summer has as much, if not more, to offer than the winter. First off it is lighter for longer, secondly it is warmer and you aren’t riding around manically trying to keep warm, wearing multiple layers of clothes, trying to remember what your fingers and toes used to feel like, and dreading the pain as blood works its’ way back into your extremities. You have time to enjoy yourself a bit more, riding buff trails which are devoid of life apart from maybe badgers, foxes and deer. You can often spot barn owls quartering fields and the ride seems to be taking part in an explosion of life rather than a deep freeze. Imagine all the good things about riding in the summer, add the buzz that a good night ride gives you and all of a sudden you have a completely different (enhanced) experience. One of the huge benefits is that stopping for a mechanical or a natural break will not result in your turning into an icicle.

Night riding in the summer is also a good time for novices to feel their way into the activity. As it stays lighter for longer, a lot of the ride may take place in a sort of half light and this allows you to appreciate quite how different the forest or your local riding spot, can be at night. If you think you know your local riding spot inside out, try riding it at night, everything looks different, familiar landmarks disappear or take on completely different shapes and the trails you blitz in the daytime suddenly become a little more complicated, you have to ride slower but paradoxically, you have to react more quickly too as trees and obstacles jump out of nowhere. The normal endorphin fuelled feeling of satisfaction you get after an average ride is heightened by a different buzz which stays with you for ages, often until the next day. To be honest, there’s nothing quite like it.

Novices can sample the delights of night riding by starting in the summer, preparing themselves for the winter without any of the down sides; think of winter night riding as something akin to a grim November day somewhere “oop North” freezing rain hurtling horizontally across the landscape at 90mph and you are facing a 10 mile upwind slog to get home and summer night riding as a glass of Pimms on the lawn in the height of summer.

At the other end of the spectrum is the early morning ride, an experience so full of unique pleasures that it deserves a post all of its’ own.

(I have not touched on any of the hardware needed, nor any of the practicalities, they can come later.)

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anne Gould , John Gould. John Gould said: Riding at night, riding at dawn. http://wp.me/p1dSIB-7X […]

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