The long summer days where an abundance of daylight hours allow for ample riding opportunities won’t be seen for a few more months. Winter solstice doesn’t mean that you’re without your bike and left longing for the days of two-wheel drifts and shred sessions. Brett Tippie, the legend himself, is known for his nighttime escapades and maximizing his ride time throughout the year.
“I love night riding! Not only is it just cool because it’s different and makes one feel like a high tech redneck, but it’s also awesome because it can double your available riding moments”, says Tippie. “As a dad and a busy dude, I don’t always have time to go out for a ride during the day and if I realize it’s not going to happen, I don’t stress because I know that after my kids and wife go to sleep, I’m shredding. Having good lights is also valuable when you want to ride in a remote location until sunset, and then make your way back to civilization safely, while shredding some more. Another awesome thing about night riding is that you usually have the trails totally to yourself. It’s quiet out there and the masses are having dinner, or in the pub or asleep, while you are ripping it up.”
Trust your lights: “I have been using Niterider lights for the last 20 years because they always work, and have both a wide-angle flood and long-distance beam at the same time. Whatever you’re using make sure it’s not going to leave you in the dark.”
Double up: “Make sure to always try to use two lights–one on your helmet and one on your bars. If you use one light and your battery dies unexpectedly, you are suddenly in the dark. This can be very bad in high-speed or technical, exposed terrain. With two lights, one will always keep you safe and it’s not only brighter but the two angles cut shadows better. If you have to use only one light I think it’s better to have it on your helmet than the bars because you can look ahead into corners, down step rollovers and drops (while the handlebar lights generally just shine ahead horizontally).”
Foggy conditions: “If you ride in the thick fog or snow it’s helpful to put your handlebar lights on medium or high and the helmet light on low to minimize the glare or illumination of the fog/snow up high by your eyes while keeping the ground lit up down low (similar to driving your car with the low beams on in fog or snow etc).”
Save your batteries: “When you are climbing or in slow-speed sections put your lights on low (and even use one light at this time) to preserve your batteries and save them for full power on the downhills and technical sections.”
Extra juice: “It’s smart to bring a spare battery for your lights in case you have a mechanical, find someone with a mechanical, get lost or decide to ride longer than you originally planned.”
Know your route: “Things look different at night so make sure you know your route very well.”
Glasses or no glasses: “I like to use clear lenses on my glasses or goggles to protect my eyeballs.”
It’s all about the angle: “When you mount your light on your helmet it’s important to have the angle of the beam just right. You don’t want it too low and light up your front wheel or too high and be signaling planes, but right where your eyeballs are aiming while looking ahead. I also like to have the helmet light mounted in the center of my helmet to evenly distribute the extra weight of the light and not have your lid jostle around when you ride through bumpy terrain. I carry my helmet light battery in my pack so I run the wire from the light to the battery down the back of my helmet and velcro it in the center of the back of the helmet.”
Don’t blind your buddy: “When you stop on your ride and look back at your buddies riding down the trail make sure not to blind them with your light as they’re trying to negotiate the trail.”
Recharge: “Last but not least, when you return home from your ride plug your lights in immediately to recharge them so you can go night riding the next time at a moment’s notice. Get out there and enjoy.”
Remember, when life hands you lumens…go night riding.