Last weekend the mountain bikers in Wenatchee, WA held the 9th annual Darkside nighttime MTB race to mark the unofficial end of the riding season. Sure, the days are getting shorter and we’re about to switch the clocks back an hour but look at it this way: it’s not the end of mountain biking – it’s the beginning of night riding season!
Yesterday we hit the Big Creek trails in Roswell for an early afternoon ride and by the time we finished around 5 the parking lot was PACKED. At the trailhead there was a handwritten poster that basically said night riding was prohibited and that riders caught would be charged with trespassing. RAMBO does have an official night riding program that opens the trails one night a week for supervised rides but otherwise folks will need to find a way to get to the trails before sunset. At least the park rules keep the park open 1-hour past official sunset times… All of this is to say, be sure to check the official rules at your local trail before you go for a night ride.
Night riding can be a mystery to many riders, particularly those who are just getting into the sport, but in some parts of the country it’s a necessity. Riding a mountain bike in the dark is a very different experience from riding in the daylight and the cool thing is how riding at night can transform even the most familiar trails into new dirt. Having a light focuses your vision to a narrow tunnel in front of the bike and gives the illusion of speed even when you’re moving at a moderate pace.
If you’re interested in extending your mountain bike season by giving night riding a try, check out the MTB light reviews here on singletracks. Then get out on the trail and post your night riding pics – we want to see how your trails look in the dark!
Otherwise, if you can’t get off work early or don’t want to ride in the dark, stick to weekend rides – who says mountain biking season ever has to end?