First, night riding is really fun. It might not be as good as riding during the daylight, sure, but when the sun sets just after 4 p.m., it’s most riders’ only option for a weekday escape into the woods. When the choice comes down to a night ride outside or an hour at home on the couch, night ride wins every time. You get to hang out in the woods in the dark with friends, which is it’s own special kind of fun. Spooky, spooky fun.
There are also bonuses to night riding beyond the thrill of riding through the dark. Spending time tiptoeing through the woods at night can help develop skills that benefit your riding in daylight hours, too.
Better sight reading
Every trail, even the most familiar, seems new and unfamiliar in the dark. Taking on your favourite stretch of singletrack at night is a great way to hone those sight-reading skills so that you’re more comfortable next time you get to travel and ride trails you’ve actually never been on before.
You end up riding slower at night, no matter how fast you feel like you’re riding. Riding more slowly is the best way to practice skills and techniques that you can get by without in the daylight. It’s hard to dial back the fun in full-light conditions when you’re crashing through the woods at breakneck speeds trying to get that one elusive Strava segment, but focusing on skills can add to the fun in the dark. Practising your cornering technique at slower speeds is a great way to go faster in daylight conditions.
Most people slow down at night. Cody Kelly somehow rides even faster
When your lights are attached to your helmet, you have a constant reminder to keep your head up and look where you’re going. Having a bar light to keep some light on what’s happening right in front of your tire is nice, if you have access to a second light, but having your only light attached to your helmet really drives home that reminder to look ahead up the trail to go fast.
Getting out of your own head
Looking farther ahead is a great habit to practise, but even if you’re doing that perfectly you still won’t see as far at night as you could during the day. Sometimes this situation can be good, as you don’t have time to see, and freak out about that steep up or down until you’re already at it. Not having as much time to prepare for an obstacle can take you out of your head, and out of your riding habits long enough that you calm down and ride things you might not have otherwise.