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Night-Time Trail Riding

I wanted to post a few of my thoughts about riding single-track mountain bike trails in the dark, with a head lamp:

· While a decent head lamp (like the Nite Rider Digital Evolution I was loaned) works well, having the light helmet-mounted and thus in line with one’s eyes means that shadows aren’t visible in many situations. This is the same as using camera-mounted flash on detailed textured surface and losing the texture in the final image. The result was that I couldn’t tell the depth of many rocks, gravely areas, and roots and almost fell a couple times.

· It’s basically accepted that riding one-way trails opposite the posted direction is okay after dark when done with headlights. Part of tonight’s ride involved going through The Pines backwards. (Videos of this trail forwards are here: 1 & 2.) This wasn’t hard, seemed to flow nice, but felt like a bad dream. It was dark, my field of vision was relatively narrow, there were bright lights dancing around in the distance, and while recognizable the backwards riding made whole trail feel somehow wrong. A couple of times while riding I had the sort of deja vu which comes about when one flashes back to a nightmare where Things Just Aren’t Right.

· Riding in the dark is a lot of fun. It’s a completely different feeling than the normal everything-can-be-seen daylight riding, and I like it a lot.

· A heavy head lamp (like the one I was borrowing) mounted near the front of my helmet made it tip forward slightly on bumpier sections. This was a bit awkward. It might be nicer to use a lighter lamp with a light Li-ion battery mounted on the helmet for balance, although the battery-in-pack setup I used tonight worked great and wasn’t noticeable while riding.

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