We generally have less and less time during the day to be able to cycle and train in full sunlight, either because of work or school schedules, or simply for leading a busy life that doesn’t allow take the bike when you want. If this is your case, try living by this motto: “If you want, you can”. Try doing it at nighttime – the most relaxing and peaceful time of the day will make it possible to go out, relax and enjoy cycling.
At Santafixie we want you to go cycling at all costs, regardless of the night, cold or heat. For this very reason, we have compiled some tips so that you can enjoy cycling at night without any problems and in complete safety.
5 tips for safe nighttime cycling
1. Make yourself visible
The main drawback of night riding is the poor visibility you have. That’s why it is very important to carry lights and reflective elements to offer excellent visibility to all road users.
You should carry powerful, long-lasting lights so that you can see where you are riding and to alert other road users and pedestrians about your presence. You should use a front and rear light at all times, combined with reflective elements either on the bicycle or on your clothing.
Your front light must be white, as its aim is to enhance your vision of what’s in front of you, the road or path you’re cycling on and the obstacles ahead. This will ensure you ride safely. Moreover, front lights also work as a warning to motor vehicles cyclists and pedestrians moving towards you. In order to be considered sure, a front light must illuminate at least 200 m ahead, so that you can see everything in advance and have time to react.
A good tip to save your front light’s battery life is to reduce light intensity during uphill sections, as you won’t be needing to see a great distance ahead. You will save battery and will be able to ride longer.
Rear lights must always be red-coloured, and are as important as front ones. They must be powerful and ideally feature different lighting modes, in order to adapt their intensity depending on where you’re cycling.
It’s advisable to carry an external battery with you in case your lights run out of power. Keep in mind how long your ride will be, so that you can correctly plan ahead how much battery life you will be needing.
2. Equip yourself accordingly
Nighttime cycling equipment must be the same as daytime one, with some extra clothing layers to prevent cold temperatures. A thermal baselayer and an additional outer layer, such as a jacket or a coat.
Keep in mind that temperature tends to drop suddenly at night, so you must plan ahead in order to withstand the cold. Wrap up warm and carry an extra layer in your backpack or jersey, just in case it gets colder than expected.
It’s important that your clothes have some reflective element in order to increase your visibility.
3. Plan your route in advance
Before setting off at nighttime, you must plan the route ahead and estimate how long it will take you to be back. Planning ahead, which is also crucial during the day, becomes even more important at night. Stay hydrated and eat something along the route, in order that your energy doesn’t plummet mid-route and you can enjoy the full ride.
A good hydration is very important, but not essential as it is during the day – temperatures are colder and you won’t need to drink as frequently. However, it is very advisable to do it, always before feeling thirsty. You can set regular drinking intervals; if you sip water every 20 minutes, for instance, you will stay hydrated until you return home.
Depending on how long your route will be, carry more or less food and drink with you.
4. Drink warm or hot liquids
Depending on the season your nighttime cycling session will take place on, temperature can be pretty low, and that may prevent you from fully enjoying your route or ride. Apart from bringing the right equipment and warm clothes, many professional cyclists carry a bottle with a hot drink, that will keep your body temperature up and keep you warm. Tea or coffee are amongst the most used, especially in colder countries, to stay warm throughout the whole route.
In order that your drink stays hot for a longer time, it’s convenient to carry your drink in a thermal bottle. Thus, it will stay hot for a longer time, which is especially useful in the event of a long ride. You can use conventional bottles, but your drink will become cold much more quickly.
You can also bring a backpack with you and put the hot drink inside a thermal cup such as the Look Mum No Hands! keepcup or the stainless-steel 24bottles bottles, that will keep your drink warm. All of these products can be found at our site, Santafixie.
5. Always stay alert
Whether you’re riding at night or during the day, focus and stay alert to react in time in case of danger, in order to prevent accidents or unpleasant situations. At night, however, your alert levels should be higher, because you see, and are seen, less than at daytime. Also, keep in mind that many animals get out at night and roam around places that they don’t usually frequent during the day. A bell can be a good way of warning others about your presence, as they will not only be able to see you thanks to your lights, but also hear you.
Stay alert and focused at all times.