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Top tips for night time cycling
This blog post will cover some of the basic things you need to know before venturing out in the early mornings or late evenings during the winter months.
With the winter months fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, the amount of sunlight per day will significantly decrease, leaving you with two options to keep cycling.
Either you hop on the indoor turbo trainer and clock up the miles indoors which can be boring and uncomfortable.
Or you can brave the winter elements and cycle during the dark. Obviously, there will be times when it is just too unsafe such as icy or snowy conditions.
However, with a bit of preparation and good thinking, it is possible to cycle in dark winter conditions.
Why you should cycle outside during the winter
I will start with the most basic question of why you should cycle outside in the winter. Yes, it is cold and dark, but there are many magnificent parts of cycling in winter that you would otherwise miss out on if you spent your whole winter cycling indoors. How to plan a cycling adventure.
For starters, the winter scenery is just spectacular. As the morning sun begins to hit the icy farm fields on country lanes, the fields shine in a different way that you will have never seen before and you will likely see some animals that you would not see during other parts of the year. Jacks experience of riding the south downs.
The social side of winter cycling is another thing to look forward to. Having cycling friends or teammates that you can meet up and ride with will keep you accountable to your cycling goals when the weather is colder.
Having some accountability to your training plan can be the difference between getting to the 9am Sunday group ride and constantly hitting the snooze button because you would rather be in your warm bed. Five long distance cycling tips.
Riding outside will keep your bike handling skills sharp
After all that winter training you do not want to be the person who crashes on the first corner in a race because you have not ridden outside for six months.
Yes, there will be times during winter where it simply is not safe for you to ride outside. However, with a bit of common sense, you should be able to ride outside most of the time.
Just riding indoors on a static bike or turbo trainer may help increase your fitness, but it is not going to help you practice bike handling and riding with other cyclists.
So, you really need to ride your bike outside during the winter months so that you remember how to go around corners and position yourself in the peloton.
I recommend doing at least one ride per week with other cyclists during the winter months. A night ride can be perfect for this. It will keep everyone accountable for their training after a long day at work. Cycling advice from steven robinson.
Night rides with friends can also be great fun. Getting a group of close friends and going for a short 1-2 hour ride early in the night can be a great way of working on your cycling fitness whilst practising how to ride in a group and handle your bike through technical corners.
You can mix indoor cycling with outdoor riding during the winter months and doing a mixture of long endurance road and shorter more intense rides will keep you fit and motivated through those tough winter months.
Think carefully about where you are going to ride your bike
One of my biggest tips for cycling in the dark during the winter months would be to create a small training loop close to your home. When it is light outside, we all enjoy going on long epic endurance rides far far away from home.
However, when it is dark, going on a long point to point ride or loop far away from home just isn’t smart. If you do want to go on a long cycle, then you should create a short loop near your house. This loop shouldn’t go too far away from any major towns or villages.
Creating a short 5-10 mile loop that contains hills and flatter sections of road will allow you to do multiple laps to create a long cycling route whilst never being that far away from home.
The reason for this is that if you have a mechanical or a crash then you will not be too far from help and in winter you really don’t want to be waiting at the roadside for longer than you have to. Five long distance routes in winhester.
Lights to be seen vs lights to see
Obviously, you’re going to need lights when cycling in the dark but you need to think really carefully about which type of lights you use because not all lights are the same.
There are two types of bicycle lights. Lights that allow other road users to see you and lights that allow you to see.
The first type of light, ones which make you visible, are often smaller and cheaper and are used when cycling in light areas either during the day or when it is slightly dark.
The other type of light, lights that allow you to see, are usually much more expensive but are far brighter. These lights are used when cycling on dark roads that have no street lighting such as country roads.
The key here is to try and get the most lumens for your budget. Lumens is how bright a light is, the more lumens you have the brighter your light is going to be.
If you are going to be cycling at night on roads that have no additional street lighting, then you really want to get a light that has over 800 lumens. For roads that have normal streets lights, a bike light with 500 lumens is sufficient.
When purchasing a rear light, make sure the light is red in colour and has at least one flashing mode.
These pointers sound simple but get them wrong and you will leave traffic confused and maybe at greater risk in traffic. Another element of lights to think about is how visible they are from the side.
Lights that have a plastic covering all the way around may not be as visible as lights with a bigger glass light element.
This is especially important for those who want to commute in low light conditions as it will allow other road users to see you from junctions and side-on situations. Pros and cons of cycling.
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