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Night Riding
When the clocks are rolled forwards in Spring I'm one of the few mountain bikers who feels melancholic. Riding the night off-road awakens instincts and sharpens senses, cold, still, black and foreboding my local beauty spot is empty of human flotsam and filled with the sound and scents of natures surreptitious night shift. In the piercing silvery light of the Cateye Stadium a single shaft of daytime brightness leaves me alone where all around is black as pitch and in the darkness eyes are watching me.

Blackness surrounds you..

I don't stop for too long. If I point my head torch in to the trees I often see the orange glow of eyes shining back at me. Most likely a fox I tell myself reassuringly. Could be a rabbit or a badger, nothing much worse though. But if you can sit and look at those glowing eyes for long, you're a braver biker than I am. 

Riding a cliff edge is more fun...

I never try out new trails in the dark. Instead I re-ride some of the trails I know all too well, the night renders the easiest of them challenging. Night time in the Winter also brings frost. This freezes the dreaded winter mud in to a tarmac hard race track. Beware though, muddy tractor trails you could hit at high speed when soft, can be concrete hard bike stoppers when frozen. 

 The Cateye Stadium - Rules the night.

 

 High speed riding is possible with brighter light units.

Such a cold night is one of the few times you should let air in to the tube of your Camelbak. This should stop the water freezing solid in the pipe (it is possible to buy an insulating sleeve for the tube though). Don't forget that water in a bottle can freeze solid, I found some startlingly attractive crystals in my bottle one Winters night on a training ride, nothing to drink though. 

 But a 10 Watt lamp is even more fun.

Remember to have your shoe bindings fairly loose and use SealSkinz waterproof socks on cold nights with the addition of neoprene over shoes on the coldest. (Sidetrak make the best ones for mountain bikers, with loads of Velcro overlap at the back).

How to Light Up the Trail - Lighting techniques.

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