It is amazing to see the improvement in technology over the years with regard to night MTB riding with lights. Back in the day, we used Night Sun lights with rechargeable batteries in a water bottle. At best, these gave off a yellow light and the life on them was sketchy. We moved on to Night Rider equipment and the lighting was still kind of yellow but it was an improvement. In fact, at the 24 Hour Races in Canaan, West Virginia, Night Rider was a sponsor of the event and brought their charging stations which made recharging between laps convenient and it took half the time to charge compared to the time it took at home. The cost of these lights was always around $300.00 and it was limited to handlebar lights with the water bottle batteries.
I have experimented with lots of light options over the years. Lately I have used a product from Wuben Light Systems called the B2 with a rechargeable 3.7 volt battery which you can order as an extra. http://www.wubenlight.com The B2 can be adapted to mount on your helmet as well as your handlebars. I recommend using the 4800AH 21700 heavy duty rechargeable battery. I would replace the stock battery with these and order an extra for your pack as a spare. The whole system is $39.00 and the extra batteries are in the neighborhood of 20 bucks. A considerable improvement from the old days and the best is……………..they are wireless. No more dealing with light cords. Rechargeable and cordless. Super convenient. And they provide a nice white bright light with plenty of lumens.
Another improvement has been clothing. Riding in the winter takes fortitude and the last thing you want is to be cold. I use Endura products for general riding. http://www.endurasport.com These shorts and items can also be found on Amazon but the winter riding outfit of choice is the MT500 jacket and pants. A great outfit for winter riding. Pricey but definitely worth it. Keeps you warm and protected from the wind. I can thank my buddy Bob Kowalski for the tip on this product. The Endura MT500 takes a lot of punishment like the shorts that I use in the summer, and do very well with multiple washings.
Ok, now to the heart of the matter. I don’t like to be inside for exercise. I am not a gym guy and I like to be outside all the time to exercise. I have ridden mountain bikes since 1987 and lights have always extended the season for me and it can for you as well. Fat bikes are popular for when the snow comes and you would be amazed at how much traction you can get on snow packed trails. I personally use a 29er plus bike with 3 inch tires- my winter bike. My friends use studs in their tires when it gets icy. But I am not that hard core. When the trails ice up- I switch to hiking with Yaktrax ice spikes- but that is another story. The bottom line is you can be outside all year long if you want and get that clean, cold, fresh air all the time.
Riding in the winter is also very peaceful especially when it snows. Our local trails are quiet and the skies are filled with stars that help light your way with a cooperative moon cycle. Most of the time the trails are just frozen and dry. But the occasional snowstorm makes things interesting. Lots of funny stories out there too with breakdowns, battery issues, and general malaise that takes place when you do things in the cold at night. The innovative ways our guys work through issues are well remembered during our summer and fall rides with laughter around the camp chairs with the beers. ” Hey, remember when what’s his name lost both lights on a downhill and wiped out in the snow?” Funny stuff. To most people this may seem like a cold, fruitless activity. But for those of us who ride most of the year, night riding is fun and can keep you in good shape when most people retire to their couch for the winter. If you can hang in there during the winter, the spring “get in shape” time doesn’t have to be so painful.
So, if any of you are contemplating an alternative form of exercise this winter, consider extending your season by night riding. I have always enjoyed it and if you have the right equipment and clothing, you can too. Thanks for reading and ……think snow!!!