|Night Riding Rules||To to the HahnTronix Bike Lights Web Page|
This page was last updated on: 10/28/10.
Suggestions for riding at night:
Most of this is common sense.
And I appologize if you've already thought of all the suggestions I have.
But trust me, if any of this seems new to you, please think about following my advice.
Most of this I learned the hard way.
Don't stare at your lights, don't point them at others
Newer LED bike lights can be very bright.
Staring directly at one from a short distance, like less than arm's length, might damage your eyes.
It will certainly ruin your night vision for several minutes.
You would probably have to stare at one for several seconds to do any permanent damage.
When riding in a group, be careful not to point your light into the eyes of other riders. This is really easy to do accidently when wearing a helmet light. It's normal to look at the eyes or face of someone you are talking to. Try pointing your helmet away from the person you are conversing with and move your eyes to look at the other person.
More lights are better
I feel it's best to have two lights.
I like a floody light on the handlebars, one with a more even and wide spread of light.
The handlebar light shows you what is just ahead of you.
It's low angle to the ground highlights bumps and dips in the trail/road.
I like a spoty light on my helmet. It can have some spill, but should throw a beam a long ways. The long throw helps you see where your head is pointed (hopefully where the trail is going). A bit of spill is nice, it shows those low tree branches rushing at your head.
Riding with 2 lights also gives you a backup if one fails, one of your batteries dies, etc.
The harder the ride, the more people you should bring along
If riding a local rail trail or road riding at night you'll probably be fine by yourself. If you're riding 10 miles from the trailhead, on some gnarly rocky single-track, after midnight, you want some buds along who can help with problems. Don't ride single-track alone at night unless it's in your back yard. Crawling 10 miles back to your car with a broken appendage really, really sucks.
Nobody gets left behind
I don't care how slow the slowest member of your group is, wait for them at every intersection. It's fine to ask if they would like one or two folks to escort them back to the trailhead via a shortcut, but don't leave them lost in the woods. You were the slow newbie once upon a time. People waited for you or you wouldn't be reading this.
Tell someone where you will be riding and when you'll be back
My wife always insists on this, and it is a really good idea. When we lived in Oregon we'd regularly read these sad stories in the local paper about hikers who got lost and died in the Columbia Gorge. The Gorge has these spectacular cliffs and a bunch of cool hiking trails that rise from the Columbia river to heights of thousands of feet. People would go out hiking without telling somebody where they were headed, get lost, and wind up on the top of a cliff with no idea how to get down, often within sight or hearing of Interstate 84. Lots of these people died of hypothermia. Within a 1000 feet of a major interstate highway. Some tried climbing down to the highway and fell to their deaths. Had someone known where to look for them ... Now a lot of this happened before there was good cell phone coverage in the Gorge, but even today there are places you'll ride with crappy cell coverage.
Always bring a cell phone
"Hi Dear. No everything's fine. Matt broke an axle. We have to walk out. We'll be very late". Trust me, this results in less arguments the next time you go riding at night and don't get home till 3 am. And if something really bad happens, it's nice to know the paramedics will be there within the hour. Nuff said.
Always bring too much crap
Bring more tools, tubes, patch kits, and spare parts than you think you could ever possibly use.
One day you'll need them all.
Just think about walking 10 miles in the dark back to the car.
Will your lights last that long?
Bring too much water and food. The extra weight adds to your workout. If you bonk having something to drink and eat will help you get out in one piece.
In winter or at higher elevations, bring extra clothes. Hypothermia kills. A "space blanket" weighs very little yet will keep you suprisingly warm when it gets cold.
Extra batteries and flashlights. Think about how much that long walk back to the car will suck if you have to do it in total darkness. I always carry 2 flashlights and extra batteries for them. I also carry mounts that will let me attach these flashlights to my handlebars. You can't ride 20 MPH with one of these but you can ride faster than a walking pace.
That's All Ffffolks!