The sun is going to set at 7:45 next week. With the mornings already dark before work, this whole day-job thing and families, that the daylight ride window is short. If you want to keep rolling outside, you’re gonna need to take a few extras steps to stay safe.
First, the obvious. Having bright front and rear lights is key to making your nocturnal shred safe. There are tons of options, and it’s worth getting the right light for how and where you ride. If you’re planning on primarily hitting the road, you may need fewer lumens than in the woods. Consider how many lumens you’ll need, how long you plan to ride, and how the light will mount. If you’re switching bikes day-to-day, having a light that can quickly and easily bounce between handlebars is a big perk. It’s also smart to find lights with multiple power settings that allow you to get more battery life with every charge.
Plan Ahead. It doesn’t matter how nice of a light you’ve got if it’s dead or dying when you roll out of the garage. Dedicate a spot in the garage or a place you walk by frequently to charge lights and set a reminder on your phone to plug them in on a set schedule. Depending on how long you ride, you may be able to get away with charging every couple of days. Once you get in a rhythm, you’ll never suffer the panic and disappoint of a dead light five minutes down the road.
Shine Bright. While you’ll be using your own lights, reflective materials and stickers help you make the most of vehicle and street lights, too. Opt for coats, shoe covers, and other clothing with reflective stripes. These add more visibility to your set-up, and the moving aspect is often more eye-catching to drivers. We also like to add a few low-profile strips of reflective tape to chainstays and forks to add more flashing, visible pieces to catch drivers’ attention.
Nail Your Route. Take a hot second to plan a route that minimizes traffic and intersections. You probably already know where to ride to avoid cars, but traffic patterns can be different throughout the day. Know which direction early morning traffic tends to be the most congested, and stick to side roads with lower speed limits if and when it’s possible. Another tip? Avoid routes that take you past schools, which tend to see a lot of distracted traffic.
Get A Crew. There’s added safety in numbers. Once or twice a week, coordinate an early morning ride or late evening shred with a few pals whose schedules jive with yours. One set of blinking lights is visible; a half dozen is impossible to miss.
By working in a few safety measures, riding smart, and knowing it’s okay to hop on the trainer when there isn’t a safe time or place to ride, you can survive these shorter days without going nuts. If the roads are too busy, hit the woods!