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Do you go out on the bike at night specifically to train? Do you have any tips? Ever had a mechanical in the dark?

I went out on my bike the other night for the first time. I've commuted in the dark many times but going out for a training ride felt very different. I heard an owl hoot in the woods (had never heard that before), a fox ran out across the road in front of me and a bat flew right across the top of my head.

I did often think whilst riding, I wouldn't like to get a flat or a mechanical now because I'm in the middle of bloody nowhere and it would be a long walk back in cleats.

Any tips on equipment or food to take?

27 comments

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therevokid [940 posts] 2 years ago
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take along the same as I do when out during daylight hours plus a couple of
spare AAA or CR2032 batteries for the back lights (just in case :D)

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glynr36 [637 posts] 2 years ago
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The usual, plus 'main lights' and a set of back up ones.

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badkneestom [135 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm really curious about this myself, keep posting peeps

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 2 years ago
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Just wanted to add to my original comment, thinking about it logically, going out on a long night ride is no different from a day ride. If you're stuck 50kms from home in the dark, is that any different from being stuck in daylight?

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Bagpuss [99 posts] 2 years ago
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glynr36 wrote:

The usual, plus 'main lights' and a set of back up ones.

Exactly this. It's not really any different to going out in daylight, if you're in the middle of nowhere during the day and had a mechanical what would you do? Either fix it or call someone for help. Let someone know where you're going, how long you'll be and take a phone.

A decent light on your helmet adds a lot to a good bar light, doesn't have to cost a fortune and makes a world of difference to cornering and wildlife spotting.

And if you're in the countryside remember this, all those strange noises behind you are not your imagination. So pedal faster.  3

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William Black [193 posts] 2 years ago
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Do lots of night riding through winter, both off and on the road.

I take pretty much whatever I do in the day, I run Exposure lights front and rear and carry a piggy back, should the worst happen. but also run a cateye flashing one and a Hope Vision One on flash, again should their be some other catastrophic failure but after work you know you're only ever really going to get a 2-3Hour tops ride done.

As most of the rides are now going to be on the winter bike, it's mostly built like an ox so tend not to worry about mechanicals...touch wood.

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 2 years ago
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Confession. I heard all those strange noises behind me and, even at the age of 41, they did make me pedal faster.

One section I heard a dog barking and it was too late to turn back. Just had to pedal faster.

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Leviathan [1937 posts] 2 years ago
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What did the fox say?

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Bedfordshire Clanger [344 posts] 2 years ago
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Decent tyres are essential. You don't want to be fixing a flat in the freezing cold dark. Other than that, cover up and enjoy!

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 2 years ago
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The Fox said, what the hell are you doing out at this time of night?

Joking aside, I was back home before 9 o clock. That's not particularly late but obviously in the dark, when it's pitch black, it feels late. Maybe the message is, get out there and ride.

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SideBurn [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Potholes....
I think because you have reduced visibility you get less warning and so you are even more at their mercy. Noting where they are on familiar routes and notifying the CTC 'Fill that hole' website where appropriate. Otherwise making sure your tyres are pumped up properly can help prevent a pinch flat.
Having a good head torch is great, both when riding the bike and if you stop for a flat or mechanical.
I like to have a head torch and a handlebar torch, with good lights riding at night is great! Having a bat picking a large moth out of my head torch beam was pretty memorable!

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Northernbike [229 posts] 2 years ago
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I ride after work during the winter and my tips would be the obvious ones really:

1. save night rides for dry, still, mild nights; limited view of the road surface means you don't want standing water or ice to worry about, or poor visibility. decent bike lights can be seen for miles on a clear night, not so in fog or rain
2. don't venture too far from home; do laps of a local route rather than a long out and back and stick to familiar roads
3. wrap up warm
4. ride wide from the verge to have a chance of missing creatures emerging from the side. Rabbits are the most likely thing to hit as they are small and quick and there are loads of them
5. get a proper builder's reflective vest - these stand out brilliantly even if someone shines a torch or bike light on them never mind a car headlight
6. get reflective ankle bands which move up and down and identify you as a cyclist
7. use reliable kit; lights you know how long they'll burn on a charge, tyres you know you can afford not to see every thorn or sharp chipping in the road on, generally dull but dependable. Mobile coverage can be patchy and a break down in the cold, damp and pitch dark, with only a limited amount of lighting time left is NOT the same as the same breakdown on a summer afternoon
8. because the cold and damp is not great for your body and good headlights don't burn forever I tend to go for the short and sharp rather the long and slow; it's a faf to get rider and bike ready so make it count. Winter nights are not for three hours trundles around the countryside; save them for sunday morning

Riding on a dry still moonlit night is exhilarating and I really miss it when bad weather stops me getting out during the week

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700c [889 posts] 2 years ago
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Don't think I'd do it for training, (that's what the turbo is for), although my evening cycle commute is now in the dark.

I don't quite feel comfortable doing late training rides in pitch black (I live in the middle of the countryside), somehow it seems too much of a risk compared to simply cycling during my commute with the traffic!

Also I very much doubt local drivers where I live would be expecting a lone cyclist on a country lane at 9 pm, whereas at 5.30 with the evening traffic, it's more common to see cyclists about.

Frequently drivers will not dip their lights, either, when coming across cyclists..

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keef66 [68 posts] 2 years ago
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I do most of my riding in the evenings. I tend to wait till after 7:30 when the traffic has all but gone.

Wrap up warm enough in case you have a mechanical.
Pump, tube, levers, multitool, chain link, disposable gloves.
Take a fully charged mobile phone.
Decent lights front and rear and replacement batteries for both.
Make sure your tyres are properly inflated
If you're feeling nervous, choose a circular route so you're never too far from home.
Give way to anything with antlers.

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 2 years ago
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Have you ever seen a deer run across the road?

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Sadly Biggins [269 posts] 2 years ago
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Bagpuss wrote:

And if you're in the countryside remember this, all those strange noises behind you are not your imagination. So pedal faster.  3

too much protein? Could help with the latter too  3

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thereverent [398 posts] 2 years ago
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Take the normal tools, spare tube, phone, cash etc. Extra lights and batteries are good. A head torch is useful if you do have a mechanical. maybe an spare extra layer in case you get cold.

I occationally do training rides in Richmond park aftr dark when the cars have gone. So nice when your on your own on clear roads.
Do watch out for wildlife in the road or jumping out.

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madhouse [52 posts] 2 years ago
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Of course, it being cold and dark won't stop me getting out!

Apart from lights I take exactly the same stuff as I would during the day.

As for routes, I tend to stick to local ones that drivers expect to see cyclists on rather than head further afield - helps for both safety and ability to get home in the event of an unfixable problem (less availability of a lift).

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keef66 [68 posts] 2 years ago
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Tom Amos wrote:

Have you ever seen a deer run across the road?

Lots of deer round our way especially at night. Twice I've had them crossing the road in front of me and behind so I was effectively in the herd. Hearing the scrabbling of hooves on the road and clattering of antlers as they crash through the hedge gives me a pretty good idea that I'd come off worse if I ever have the misfortune to hit one

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jollygoodvelo [1411 posts] 2 years ago
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Tom Amos wrote:

Have you ever seen a deer run across the road?

Yes, but only in the car. Bikes aren't generally noisy enough to startle them, although occasionally they cross anyway.

Riding at night on road is just like the day except darker. At night in a forest is something else. Absolute pitch black everywhere apart from the pool of light from your Ebay Cree floodlight, the green, orange, yellow or red blobs of animal eyes, and the murderers*.

* doggers.

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Wolfshade [187 posts] 2 years ago
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Tom Amos wrote:

Have you ever seen a deer run across the road?

Had a herd(? or what ever the collective term for them is) of them run past me one day, fortunately it was day time but still lots of those beasts running very close to you is not fun.

As for the Originial question. Same stuff I always take, jersey pocket is full of spares and bits and peices. I do take an emergency front light out with me (it is rechargeable you see, unlike me rear which is battery powered).

Winter nights can get cold so make sure you are dressed appropriately.

One winter mronging on top of my highest hill in snow my free hub collapsed, no shelter nowhere to go and not enough clothes. Brrr!

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Leerf [8 posts] 2 years ago
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I was visiting Brighton this week and went out with a friend for an evening ride over the downs. Turned into one of the best, most peculiar rides. He had a decent front light and I had on a decent back light so together we formed a sort of tandem. Half the time I couldn't see anything of the road ahead, it certainly honed my reactions as this was two days after the storm and there was loads of crap on the roads.
I went over a fair few logs and sticks but we just ploughed on though it all. I'm convinced if it had been daylight we would have just tiptoed around. As it was we were cycling through a flooded lane at one point, both wondering if the road would just disappear and we would end up in a river.
Other times we were riding through beautiful tunnels of trees which felt amazing, at one point I really couldn't tell if I was going up or down, very strange sensation.
Cars not dipping their headlights had us screaming at them but again, we just had to trust our instincts and carry on. Also, due to the focus I had to put on the immediate road ahead I totally forgot about my legs, lungs, brain etc.
I think I'll definitely go out at night again, especially where I live in the South Pennines, but with a full set of lights.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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I enjoy cycling through the night. There's nothing quite like riding quiet roads, with good lights, and not seeing another vehicle for sometimes hours at a time. Even if I'm out on my own, I can feel the benign spirits of other cyclists urging me on. I think they approve of my old Claud Butler.

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ragtimecyclist [158 posts] 2 years ago
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I once had a peacock jump out at me on a dark night...not sure if that's any help?

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 2 years ago
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Leerf wrote:

Cars not dipping their headlights had us screaming at them

This is why i run two lights on the bars, and a third, turned off, on the helmet. Turn good old number 3 on, point it in their face, usually gets their attention.

Before, I used to make desperate arm-wavings forcefully down, shouting "dip your lights!", but this is exhausting.

Highly recommend one of these plus a cheapo nylon mounting block or two for your helmet (also available from dx.com):

http://dx.com/p/sipik-sk-68-cree-xr-e-q5-260lm-1-mode-white-light-zoomin...

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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I find pot holes the biggest problem when out in the dark. Even with decent lights they can be easy to miss, especially if its wet. I find that 28mm tyres help a bit. I'm now running MTB SPDs on all of my bikes which is helpful if I get a mechanical and have to walk any distance (either home or to find a source of light to fix my bike by). Walking on road cleats sucks. I'm lucky enough that I probably wouldn't have to fix a mechanical anyway as I'd call for rescue or walk if close enough.

I usually plan a route that sticks to fairly major roads as they tend to be a bit more pedictable and closer to help if I really get into trouble, like taking a spill. I had a scary moment not so long ago when I passed a parked car with its lights on full on an unlight rural road. As soon as I got past it I was blind for good few seconds; I was almost certain I was going to be jumped (but wasn't). Although I think its fairly rare cyclists are sometimes targetted at night and this is worth considering. My routes are typically circular and don't take me more than 5-7 miles from home as the crow flies so the odds are I'd be fairly close if I had a problem.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1193 posts] 2 years ago
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Tom Amos wrote:

Have you ever seen a deer run across the road?

Certainly (Richmond park, anyone?)

Also (and not just there) foxes, rabbits and squirrels. And the occasional unidentified creature that might have been a domestic cat, a badger or an Alien head-crab for all I could see of it.

All of them seem to have more sense than dogs though. Dogs have all the smarts of a box-of-rocks! ("A fast moving object! I will adopt a carefully plotted intercept course with the front of it!")