Do you Ride at Night?
We have all had the age old discussion of whether your a fair weather rider or an all-season one at some point in our biking lifetime. A question I have asked a few people though in recent times has brought a fairly consistent answer of "I don't really know." The question? How well does your headlight perform?
So we have ascertained which of us Ride only on dry days, sunny days, hot days etc, all of these having the one thing in common...days. How many of us actually bother to do any night riding? It's a different experience entirely, so why do so many of us never try it out? Well, lets start by figuring out what's different about it. For starters, it's obviously dark. This brings with it so many different factors to consider, generally wildlife, such as deer, badgers, rabbits and the like are prowling about during the dark quieter hours. These alone can become a huge contributing factor in our decision of whether to ride at night or not as it's not like you can really spot these beasts until it's a bit too late even when in the car so finding yourself encountering one on the bike could, I would imagine, be quite an unwanted occurrence.
What other factors change? Generally the temperatures plummet in the dark hours so unless you have good layers and decent kit you might find your fingers begin to nip as the windchill makes its way through your gloves. Your knees may start to cramp up more than usual due to the colder climate. You can't see as far ahead as your used to because the headlamp on your bike is quite often poorly aligned as plenty of testing centres don't physically get you to sit on your bike to check the headlamp beam aim. In 10 years of riding only 1 test centre I've visited has actually asked me to sit astride the bike to check the beam setting.
I would hedge a bet on approximately 85% of people I have asked, how well does your headlight perform, haven't been able to answer properly. There is something eerily enjoyable though, to be had from taking a bike out for a blast in the dead of night, from the shapes and shadows cast from your headlight shining on the trees and street furniture ahead of you to the cold crisp air that seems to find a way into your helmet even when all the vents and visor are firmly closed. The way the instrument panel glows brilliantly into life showing the vitals to you better than they look in natural daylight. The sound of the bike singing it's heart out in the still of the night, to be heard echoing round the hills for miles. You know that if any fellow biker happens to be hearing the harmonious music resonating from your exhaust, they are probably grinning from ear to ear right about now.
The next time your sat indoors during the darker nights, wondering how your going to pass an hour or two whilst the soap watchers of the household take control of the tv, go and get that bike out and take it for a blast. Afterwards you'll be able to firmly say how good your headlights really is and also you might find that you actually thoroughly enjoy the experience.