Lots of my friends who ride bikes aren’t that comfortable riding at night.
And it’s not just the night of course. More like the dark. And depending on where you live that can be 4:30 pm. Yikes.
So if you’re going to use your bike for fall/winter transportation you need to get comfortable riding once the sun goes down.
Here’s some of the things I do to make it okay…
If you’re on the streets, around traffic be sure to be extra visible. Wear something super reflective. I’ve got this jacket.
2. Go for super bright lights, three of them at least. You want a solid red light at the rear and two bright lights at the front, one for your helmet and one for the front handlebar. These aren’t just to be seen they are also to see.
Why two? Why one for your helmet? You want to see where you are going to go, where you are looking. Since you won’t yet have turned your front bar light won’t be pointing there. At speed, in actual dark (as opposed to city street dark) you want a light on your helmet. Trust me. It’ll make sense once you are out there.
Caitlin from the wonderful blog Fit and Feminist posted on Facebook recently about enjoying running in the dark.
I’m also a fan of running in the dark but only the early morning, not night. I’m pretty wired to early morning exercise though I did a fair bit of night time running the year I took a 10 km clinic over the winter.
When I first started running on my own I confess I liked the dark because no one could see me! I didn’t look like a runner and I felt stealthy about it all. In the dark it didn’t matter that I was a much larger than average runner, that I wasn’t going that fast, and that I didn’t have all the right clothes and gear. It gave me the protective nudge I needed to get started though now I’ve left that cocoon behind.
In general I don’t like the reduced daylight hours that come with living nearer the poles than the equator. I thrive on sun and I’m a creature of the day. That sounds much less sexy and exciting than being a creature of the night, but there it is. I tried going goth in the 80s but it never quite took. I liked punk but I liked bright colours too, usually in my hair. I was a “cotton candy punk” as one friend teasingly called me.
However, there is something very special about the dark. It’s powerful. And there is something that feels mysterious and secretive about it. The dark hours of the morning feel like stolen time, extra hours of dark before the day really begins.
And soon enough, it will all turn round. The worst of the lost daylight happens just about the time real winter begins. Soon, in just a few weeks, the days will be getting longer and the sun will getting stronger again, as they say. December 21st marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. If what you fear most about winter is cold and snow, the worst is still ahead. But if it’s light you crave, we’re almost at the low point, that halfway mark on a race to the sun.
I like riding at night too and I have super dooper headlights. They don’t just made me visible. They’re bright enough so that I can use bike paths in the dark. You feel so much faster at night, the world just whooshes by.
There are safety concerns about running in the dark and I wear lots of reflective gear so that I’m visible. I’ve been thinking of getting the dogs flashing collars to add to the disco party effect. I was going to include ‘running in the dark’ safety links but most of them are about personal security. If that’s an issue where you live, have a look. One of my best safety running stories concerns Sweden. I asked the young man at my hotel in Gothenberg if it was safe to go out for a run. I’d been traveling for awhile and staying in large American cities where people worry about that sort of thing. He looked at me quizzically and then said, “Oh, no there are no wild animals in the city.” Different cultures, different concerns.
These days I like running in the dark because I feel like a speedy ninja! And I’m a fan of all things ninja.