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Nocturnal Cycling – Mastering the Dark

By Jiri Kaloc

With the right gear and a well-planned route, night cycling can be an exciting adventure. To get the most out of it, we put together a set of tips on how to adapt your riding style and fuelling and tackle night-time weather conditions.

Adapt your riding style

Night-time presents a different set of road conditions that require adjustments in your riding style. The main thing is to adjust your speed to keep the ride safe. Here are a few other tips, mainly for urban nocturnal cycling.

  • Keep your weight on your legs rather than your seat to absorb sudden bumps. Even with good lights, you are more likely to run into the occasional pothole than during the
  • Don’t hug the curb too tightly on busy streets. Own the road. This will discourage drivers from passing you by in situations that may be relatively unsafe.
  • Be mindful of your speed. Don’t outride your lights. Give yourself enough time to react to any obstacles in your path.
  • Slow down when approaching intersections, always assume that you haven’t been seen by other road users.

Focus more on nutrition and hydration

Cycling at night can alter your perception of time, which makes it really easy to neglect nutrition and hydration. You can get ahead of this by having a meal rich in complex carbs before you head out. And, of course, take a lot of snacks like energy bars, fruit, rice cakes or sandwiches. For hydration, you can consider taking a hydration pack to be able to drink without having to reach for a water bottle, making it easier and more top of mind.

When you get home from cycling at night, try to avoid stuffing your belly with a huge meal. This could negatively impact your sleep, which you already may be cutting into. Try to have a moderately sized, easy-to-digest meal rich in complex carbs and protein. This could be oats with berries and Greek yoghurt or a simple 2-egg omelette with bread and veg.

Pay attention to your other senses

We rely mainly on our eyesight when cycling in the daytime. Our other senses become much more important at night with reduced visibility. Learn to become attuned to all sensory cues to enhance your nocturnal navigation.

Sight – Train your eyes to adjust to low-light conditions. Try to look beyond the beam of your bike light and use your peripheral vision to spot obstacles.

Hearing – The sound of an approaching vehicle can often be heard before its lights become visible.

Touch – Your sense of touch can help you gauge the condition of the road through your bike’s handlebars and saddle.

Adapt to the nighttime weather

Nighttime often comes with cooler temperatures and increased moisture. This requires some adaptations in your gear and riding technique.

  • Layered clothing is even more important for night cycling to prevent overheating or getting cold as temperatures can change quite quickly.
  • Keep your extremities warm. Don’t forget gloves, a balaclava or skullcap, and good socks. Wool is your friend.
  • Extra water-resistant gear is always advisable, especially if there’s a chance of rain.
  • Wet roads are slippery, so practice caution. Your braking distance will increase, and turns will require slower speeds and wider angles.
  • Consider getting clear glasses to keep your eyes protected from wind, insects, and dust even after the sun goes down.

Now you’re ready to fully enjoy everything that night cycling has to offer without risking getting in trouble. Next time, we will talk about how to best experience the magic of night sounds.

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