October 13, 2021 4 min read
We’ve all been there. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and the temptation is all too strong to put the bike away and stay indoors. Before you know it, one missed ride has turned into weeks out of the saddle, and your evenings have become a whirlwind of takeaways and chocolate. However, cycling in the winter months has never been easier. These 5 tips will help you conquer cycling in the dark and keep your fitness up in the longer evenings!
The most important piece of equipment for cycling in the dark: lights! Having highly visible rear and front lights is vital for staying safe on the road. This is true even during summer, but is especially important when cycling in the evening. To increase safety, your lights should be bright and capable of reacting to their surroundings. Luckily, See.Sense lights fulfill both these requirements. (Huh, who knew?) See.Sense lights react to their surroundings, flashing brighter and faster in moments of risk, such as approaching a junction, to ensure you always remain visible. At 150/125 lumens and 400/300 lumens respectively, our ACE and ICON2 front and rear sets are highly visible even during daytime.
In areas with poor lighting, such as unlight roads, the BEAM front light (The Independent’s ‘Best Buy’ bike light for 2021) can also illuminate the road ahead to keep you safe from obstructions and potholes, and is uniquely capable of adapting in response to your speed and the ambient lighting. When cycling in the dark, it is also important to ensure you don’t get caught without a light. It is good practice to charge your lights after every use, but if you do happen to run low on battery, our app will provide low battery alerts straight to your phone when charge drops below 20%. The BEAM’s ‘Get Me Home’ mode takes this one step further, adapting its light to keep shining for at least one more hour at 20% charge.
Few things can be as demoralising as a cold winter night, yet the right clothing can help fend off the shivers and keep you on the saddle in the longer evenings. First and foremost, safety is key. When cycling at night, some form of reflective clothing is a good idea, or at the very least attach some reflective strips to your bike. Attaching reflective ankle straps that move when you pedal can also make you more visible to motorists. This will provide you with extra visibility and act as an additional layer of safety alongside your bike lights. As well as this, warm and waterproof clothing is a must. Wearing multiple layers will help keep you warm, while a high-quality winter cycling jacket - although expensive - will keep you dry and insulated for years. Lastly, make sure you have coffee on hand when you get back to warm yourself up!
Cycling in the dark naturally requires extra caution, however with a little extra vigilance there’s no reason not to hit the roads as the days grow shorter. One of the most effective ways to remain safe in the evening is to practice good signalling. Ensure you use your whole arm to signal with confidence, and hold your signal for a prolonged period of time to guarantee motorists have seen you and are aware of your intentions. Any unattentive motorists may miss a short, lazy flash of your arm. Again, wearing high-vis or reflective clothing will help with this.
It is also effective to adapt your road positioning when cycling at night. Staying out of the gutter is good practice no matter when or where you’re cycling, but it is especially important when riding in the evenings. Cycling too close to the curb will put you in many drivers' peripheral vision, so cycling even more towards the centre of the lane than you usually would will make sure cars behind have seen you in the dark. This is particularly important on unlit roads or roads with frequent junctions. A more assertive road positioning in the dark will also deter poor overtakes and prevent cars passing too close, as can be the case on slower urban roads.
One of the most effective ways to stay safe and enjoy cycling at night is to ride with a friend. Not only does this provide extra safety in numbers, it’ll also help you stay committed and keep up your cycling routine. Cancelling your planned ride for a comfy sofa or duvet isn’t quite as easy when a friend’s counting on you! Similarly, get your partner involved; an evening cycle together is a healthy and fun alternative to a traditional date-night. Like many activities, introducing a social aspect is a good way to stay engaged with cycling and ensure it remains fun.
Lastly, simply enjoy it! If you’re well prepared and well lit, there’s no reason not to embrace the darker nights - go out there with confidence and enjoy your time on the road in the winter months!
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