Definition of the word ‘Moment’: A very brief period of time OR if you’re into physics, it is a mathematical expression involving the product of a distance and physical quantity.
Now we’ve got this definition out of the way, let me explain the relevance and context. I’ve got some MTB riding friends who have introduced me to night riding. This isn’t to say that I’ve never ridden a bicycle in the dark, it’s just that I’ve never purposefully gone mountain biking on the trails at night. I know this isn’t a new thing to do and I’ve resisted it partly because the light technology has changed every year, as have the prices, and I’ve not been with a group who actively extends the northern riding day when the days are short, and the dark nights are long.
As it’s September in the UK, daylight hours are getting shorter already for us here in the North. For my first ride with the group (Dario and Stewart), I was loaned some lights for my helmet and my bike. I was impressed with the lighting, and just being out with the owls and whatever else was wandering around the woods as we cycled by. At the end of the evening, I finally gave into the light-buying-resistance and bought myself one. For the record, the light that I bought, having seen it being used by Dario, is a Magicshine Monteer 8000 Galaxy MTB Headlight. It’s not a snappy product name to remember, and neither was it cheap at £300 including the helmet mount, but it is does exactly what it magnificently claims. The lighting is superb and having used it, I don’t need to supplement it with another light on the bike. So here you have this post’s product review and recommendation.
To come back to the ‘moment’ thing, which is the first definition above and not the physics one, rather than write about a specific night ride, which would be very boring, I thought I would capture only the few, special and exciting moments associated with night riding, and as I’ve recently experienced them, so here goes:
Moment 1: Getting kit and bike ready at a time of the day when people are either settling down post-evening-meal or about to go out to work on a night shift. It’s a different moment to daytime riding preparation.
Moment 2: The moment when the three of us meet up at the ride start point in the dark and go through the process of getting bikes out, putting on riding gear, adjusting the lights, and asking someone to plug in the light to the battery because I’d got everything ready apart from connecting helmet light with battery (memory man!).
Moment 3: Riding the first 50 metres and making final adjustments to everything that needs adjusting, and then adapting eyes and reflexes to the parts of the trail that I can see, and can’t see, but I know are there, maybe.
Moment 4: There are 3 different riding experience moments when I’m out with Dario and Stewart, and they are different depending upon whether I’m leading, in the middle, or at the back of the group. There are different senses that I need to use for the different light, vision and focus points that each position in the group requires. Each one provides ‘a moment’
Moment 5: When the three of us get spread out on a climb or descent, seeing the lights of the others through the darkness of the trees provides a moment where I’m riding on my own in the dark, but know that the others are there. It’s less of a scary moment!
Moment 6: Arriving back at the van, laying down the bikes and setting up the stoves for the post-ride hot drinks and bacon sandwiches. Enjoying the ‘finale moment’ together with the warmth of just-cooked-food in the woods.
So there you have my top 6 night ride moments. There are obviously other possible moments, which are the uncontrollables like the weather, a full moon, seeing some amazing wildlife etc. These moments are all down to luck, and as we all know, luck is just the outcome of where preparation meets opportunity😉.
All photos by the Author.