Night Riding Trend- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New question here. Night Riding Trend

    So I was reinvigorated to ride my bike in 2002 with 500 lumen lights after work in the trails near my house. Now, almost 15 years later I can do it with 2000 lumen lights for less $.

    I'm curious, are people still riding at night? If so, what % of MTBrs ride their bikes in the dark and what's the trend in events after dark like these days?

    Point me to the resources, and I'll dig a little more, but so far I've come up with no centralized location for the data.

    Thanks for the insight!

  2. #2
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    As far as events go I'm not sure where to find that. I started night riding in ~2000 to do some 24hr races. Found I enjoy the differences that night riding brings and have continued.

    In the early days a 350-500 lumen Halogen bar light seemed good enough and didn't really slow one up. Now I have well over 3000 available between bar and helmet if needed though most of the time run around 2000. High power LEDs and low cost Li Ion batteries have really improved the experience and reduced the cost.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by skasin View Post
    ...I'm curious, are people still riding at night? If so, what % of MTBrs ride their bikes in the dark and what's the trend in events after dark like these days?

    Point me to the resources, and I'll dig a little more, but so far I've come up with no centralized location for the data.

    Thanks for the insight!
    Yes, people still ride at night. If you associate with the bike club crowd you can usually find out about the different venues in the areas near you by regularly checking their on-line forum. Also some mtb clubs also sponsor weekly "sanctioned" night rides.

    Depending on where you live, night riding is more or less popular depending on the availability of "legal access" to trails. Where I live there is no legal access to trails at night, period. I will however on occasion see the other odd person like myself that buck the system and ride anyway. My hope is ( or has been until recently ) that some day a ( state ) Governor might be elected who may take it upon himself to do away with the antiquated laws that limit access to the state park trail system ( in Maryland ) and sanction night access to park trails. In the meantime though I'll not be holding my breath waiting for that to happen anytime soon.

    As to your question: "What is the percentage of mountain bikers that ride after dark"?...That is a very good question. I'd like to see an answer to that one myself. If I had that answer and proof that a high % of MTB'ers ride or would ride after dark ( if legal ) I might be more inclined to petition the local DNR with those facts to see if night riding could indeed be allowed within the local State park system.

    Mountain biking is an interesting sport and has many popular variations. Some people ride only with certain kinds of bikes, be they total rigid, single speed, multi-speed, suspended front, duel suspension. Then there are the different styles of riding; cross-country, free-riding, cliff huckters,...etc, etc. Almost all of these forms of mountain biking have legal access because most people ride in the day. Night mountain biking, as popular as it may seem to us that do it regularly, must not be as popular as we think.

    Anytime I put up a post on the local MTB club forum asking for support or criticizing the local DNR for their antiquated laws, all I get from most of the regulars is the same old B.S. like, " If you want change why don't "YOU" do something about it"!....Yeah, right. One person against the system. Nope, not gonna happen. You need support. You need numbers and those numbers have to have the power to vote. Otherwise, you'll just be banging your head against a wall and wondering "why" it doesn't move.

    Just last year I got-a-thinking to myself; "What if the hand of God intervened and suddenly access to riding at night was totally legal EVERYWHERE!"...hmmmm...interesting thought. More than likely I would start seeing more and more people riding trails at night. Just being honest here, I really don't know if I would like that. Most of the time I ride at night I'm alone and I kind of got used to that. Don't know what I'd do if I started seeing riders on every section of trail I ride. Maybe I'd get used to it or maybe riding at night wouldn't seem so special anymore. I really can't answer that. My ( CAt ) gut is telling me though that I'd miss the solitude of my typical night rides...yeah....Maybe it's just better to just, "Let sleeping dogs lie". Historically speaking, my CAt gut tends to be right about a lot of stuff so maybe this is just one of those things that is best left alone.
    Last edited by Cat-man-do; 04-18-2016 at 11:13 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    ...Depending on where you live, night riding is more or less popular depending on the availability of "legal access" to trails. Where I live there is no legal access to trails at night, period.
    A somewhat inverse situation exists near me. Some of the publicly owned (state) lands near me require a use pass if you are on them. State employees patrol the trailheads and ticket vehicles without a pass displayed and technically could ticket a rider who accessed the trails by bike unless they possess a use pass. Trails are open at night and that's when I would ride them if I wanted to ride those trails. The rangers don't work nights.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    As to your question: [I]"What is the percentage of mountain bikers that ride after dark"?...That is a very good question.........Night mountain biking, as popular as it may seem to us that do it regularly, must not be as popular as we think.
    Based on how rarely I encounter others while night riding, it's got to be a pretty low percentage. 2-3% maybe.
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  5. #5
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    There's a pretty good night riding group around here. Last night we put a last minute ride together of about 10 ppl. A ride we plan ahead there will be 30+ bikes.

    All depends on where you are. I ride at night ALOT myself. Others join occasionally at random.

    There is a lot more out there than ppl think, just have to look and ask. Especially if you join a local club.

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker View Post
    ....Based on how rarely I encounter others while night riding, it's got to be a pretty low percentage. 2-3% maybe.
    I'm inclined to agree. Unless I leave before dark the number of times I encounter other riders in a year I could count on one hand.

    ...Which reminds me, this year I have to rethink some strategies for getting into some of the parks after dark. While I've never gotten a ticket before I have had some bad encounters with DNR police before ( although gladly most DNR personel could care less what a guy on a bike is doing back in the woods at night ). Yep, high on my list is getting into the woods without "A bad encounter of the close kind". I hate having to use stealth techniques but one does what they have to if they want to avoid problems. Sadly at one of my favorite venues I have to take extra precautions so I don't run into the ( highly problematic ) person I ran into last year. My biggest problem is usually, "where to park the car where it won't get towed". Sometimes there just aren't good/safe options that are close by. I hate having to ride more than a couple miles to a trailhead but I'll do it if I have to.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    ......There is a lot more out there than ppl think, just have to look and ask. Especially if you join a local club.
    That may be true. I don't do the club thing and >99% of my rides, day or night, are solo.
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  8. #8
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    Ya I do A LOT of solo riding and rarely do I run into another trail user at night. But most aren't up as late as me. They usually start the ride as soon as it gets dark and done before I go out. Weekend group rides is where we get the numbers. And we have now 3 trails full open to night riding. Only one is fully denied for night use, other 2 are "club sanctioned rides" only.

    I'm working on getting a special use permit for the trails I rode Saturday night (my favorite trail set when I wanna just haul a$$) so I can use it for doing videos and such.

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  9. #9
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    Our Cycle club here in Sussex UK orgenise two different levels night/evening rides every week. I lead one of them weather allowing. We ride in our local forest and I personally much prefer ridding at night, no dog walkers or rambler! At this time of year, this is half and half, summer mostly in evening day light and in winter 100% night ride.

  10. #10
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    On average how many folks would you say regularly attend your Sussex night rides? Is there a time of year it happens more regularly?

  11. #11
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    Great riding in MD! Is there any night riding allowed in the state parks there?

  12. #12
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    Sounds great! Where do you all ride? City / Town / State ... ? What's the average turnout on those weekend rides? Thnx!

  13. #13
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    North Western Illinois. Club is located in the quad cities.

    Turn out varies. Preplanned rides that have had good advanced notice (especially when camping is included) is 30-50 riders. Last minute (posted day or 2 before) 10-15 riders.

    Thankfully I don't have ranger or police problems here. All small town areas mostly and they are all used to seeing my car at trails late at night. Only time one is waiting for me is if it's someone I know or one that sees my lights up on the trail and wants to see what's generating all that light, either way well hang out and talk for a bit when I get back to my car.

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  14. #14
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    I think the percentage of night riders is probably still pretty low although it's probably more than it was a 10 or 15 years ago. The ultra cheap led lights have to be making an impact on this. The cost of decent lights was always a huge impediment to getting into the night ride scene.

    I don't think there's any organized site for night riding events, it's all done at a local level via bike shops rides and local club rides.

    During the warm months it doesn't get dark until 8:30 and 9 PM, so probably most people are doing day rides just after work. By the time it gets dark people are at home and getting ready for the next day of work. During the fall and winter months only the true die-hards do the cold and dark rides. Everyone else just goes to gym or other indoor sports, or just sit on the sofa watching brand news television. I unfortunately have fallen into the latter category this winter.

    I would say at least 80% of riders just don't venture out at during the winter months, especially at night.

    One thing we have in my part of Virginia is that the temperatures don't drop much after dark (I'm near the coast) in the summer, but the relative humidity skyrockets. A hot ride that can be completed with moderate discomfort during the last hours of daylight becomes almost unbearable a few hours later. It's like riding through a swamp. So that limits the night riding scene around here.

    Personally, I love the feel of a summer night ride, but trail access is limited around here. I could spend all night riding around outside when it's not swampy and there's a nice cool breeze rustling the trees.
    Last edited by varider; 04-19-2016 at 01:34 AM.

  15. #15
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    Varider, I think your forgetting one key point in recent yearsbut you are quite right. Not a large percentage of night riders overall.

    The winter weather in many areas has gone rather warm. Rarely did I have to go out when it was much below freezing after dark this year. Felt like winter lasted a total of a month lol. Used to be winter sucked and was a few months long.

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  16. #16
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    I got fed up with getting home too late from work and loosing daylight. Now I'd prefer to ride at night. I rarely see anyone out. I like it that way. I did get the spotlight from a state trooper near a trailhead. Prolly looked like a ufo with about 4000 lumens coming out of the woods.

  17. #17
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    There are some trails within 45 min of me that stay open to 11:00 PM. Night riding is fun and a different experience. I want to start night riding more often. I have the lights for it.

  18. #18
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    I don't night ride as often as I like. Proximity to night-rideable trails is the biggest reason.

    Nearest state park closes at a specific time. Hours change based on season (there is no camping at this particular park, so staff do not generally keep it open much after dusk), but some legal night riding can be done at certain time, usually around the DST time change. Local city parks with trails close at dusk. Folks can arrange with the city to do organized night ride events, though. Trying to schedule them too far out is tricky, due to conditions and how variable the winter weather here can be. It could be perfect and frozen, or it could be above freezing and flooded. Most of the scheduled dates end up needing to be cancelled.

    The places where night riding is more easily done are farther from town, so I don't do them so often. There's a group that does 2 rides per week down there more or less year round, though. The route varies quite a lot, so it keeps interest up, I think. But it's still a pretty small group. Fewer than a dozen riders.

    The biggest night rides locally are urban rides. Those can have pretty substantial groups. The beer stops are probably a big part of that.

  19. #19
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    Here in Helena, MT we have excellent trail access directly from the edge of town. I know I hear a bit of occasional chatter about other locals hitting the trails at night. But in the 5 years or so that I've been night riding I have run into another biker once. One time a jogger, and maybe 3 other times hikers.

    I only ride at night because after having kids it seems like the only "me" time I can arrange. If I didn't have kids, I'm sure I would still never ride after dark on purpose. The uniqueness of night riding wore off a long time ago and now I do it only out of convenience. I jump on every opportunity for a daylight ride that I can get!

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