Riding in the dark

By  October 10, 2016

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Autumn is here and as nice as it is to ride in this season it does sadly mean one thing, those evening rides aren’t so light anymore and you’ll be riding in the dark close to 7pm. Avoid those dark lanes!

Riding in the dark is understandably a big enough reason to put anyone off going for a ride. There is just something uneasy. The main thing is of course less visibility – you can only see as far as your light can and you do hit a lot more pot holes and go over those unexpected bumps.
Another thing is that mechanical are a complete nightmare to fix on the road side, the most simplest of jobs quickly become quite difficult.

When it’s dark out it’s not a bad time to go and so some hill reps. Keep the ride short but get a good quality ride in with some hill reps close to home on a well lit road.
For some reason I feel safe riding at night. I say this because I think having a couple of decent rear lights when its dark stands out a lot, especially if you have one flashing as this catches drivers attentions than just being out normally when it’s light out. You can also be seen much further away also with some good lights.
If you can’t avoid riding in the dark, embrace it…and here is how.

What exactly do you need to go out when it’s dark?

Lights! You can never have too many lights.

Make sure you have at least two rear lights anywhere on the back but the more the better. Go for one of the seat post and somewhere on the frame too like the seat stays. You get so many adjustable straps these they can fit anywhere. Your helmet is another good place to stick some rear facing lights.

Fibresticks are a brilliant way to add some visibility as well and can almost offer some side visibility too.

To be extra safe too get some little cheap LED clip on lights to store in your jersey or saddlebag in case your other lights are out.

Now for the front.  
Again go for two at least. One in a solid state and one flashing.

There are two types of lights and they are known as “to be seen” and “to see”. The former being to help you be seen by other road users and are often not too powerful. Lights which help you “to see” are of course much more powerful and have the ability to light up the road ahead but it only gives you about 10m of visibility. It’s still a bit nervy!

Reflective clothing isn’t a bad option, if there’s any chance you can make yourself more visible then do it. The most effective to increase reflective visibility is either on the pedals or failing that, overshoes. On the upstroke the pedal is close to eye level for the driver when they are looking at the road and also the constant movement of the pedal it easier to catch the drivers attention.

What else?

A cycling club. Going out, or even thinking about going out in the dark solo is so easy to swap the bike for a coach and stay in. Having plans to meet someone else or even a group gives you so much more motivation to get out. Plus a group always makes it fun – plus you can be seen more easily.

Lit roads. Staying on lit roads will keep yourself more visible and also the road. You may be able to get away with lights which just point you out to other road users.

Plenty of spares. With less visibility you never know what you’re going to come across on the road and could ride over objects which can easily give you a puncture so pack an extra tube or two.

Have a training plan. Having a training plan gives your ride a purpose and something to focus on and it makes it harder to stay off the bike if you have something you a specifically training for.

Stick to bright colours.

Never assume that you have been seen by a road user, just don’t. (You shouldn’t do this in the light either)

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