Night Rider

 

Trail Riding is one of the few motorcycling pursuits that can be just as rewarding any time of the year. You won't find many trail bikes with six month road tax, they are used summer, winter, rain and shine. A Green Road can change from season to season, dry, dusty, muddy, sloppy, to outright frozen solid. One of the great joys of the British year is that the changing conditions keep the experience of the Green Road network fresh and rewarding.

But you don't have to wait six months to see your regular Green Road with new eyes, or not see them as the case may be. Our short, bleak winter daylight hours mean that it's dark by 4pm, making night riding an adventurous alternative to the commute home.

Herts TRF members Peter Rawl and Rupert Jordan strapped on their head torches and headed for the lanes...

 
 

TRF:

Hi Peter, I saw on Facebook a film of you and Rupert taking part in a night ride. It looked great, a really different take on riding green roads. What's the story behind it?

Peter:

I've done a 'night ride' before and really enjoyed it. I have been waiting a while to see if another would be advertised but nothing was happening so I decided it would be up to me to make it happen. I posted an ad on our Herts TRF FB group and had quite a few people sign up. Unfortunately a mixture of bad weather and 'fair weather riders' meant that in the end it was just myself and Rupert who were up for it.

I know that Rupert has been making some great trail riding films and he was keen to film this one too. I was skeptical as it would be so dark but he did a great job.

The route was one that I have ridden before so I was confident and didn't need a map, though we did recce it first. One of our Herts TRF Rights of Way Officers supplied Rupert with a GPX file.

TRF:

For someone who has only really ridden in the day and maybe gets a move on as the sun begins to set, what is it actually like riding in the dark?

Peter:

Well it's still trail riding so it's not so different. Of course you can't see too far so you tend to keep your speed down. I guess the biggest difference is that you end up 'feeling' your way rather than seeing it. I actually found that I was better at riding ruts in the dark than in daylight, you can't see what's coming up so you don't worry about it and you just feel what the bike is doing and react accordingly.

It's hard to believe but in some ways it's easier than day time riding!

TRF:

I know my KTM has rubbish headlights. Presumably you needed to boosts these with extra lights. What kit did you use?

Peter:

Night-Ride-01

My bike light struggles to illuminate the end of the front mudguard so I definitely needed something else.

I had a Cree light fitted to the bike which gives a wide spread of light and one of these on my helmet peak carrying the small battery pack in my rucksack. This gives a narrower but brighter light that points in the direction you are looking. So you can see you can buy both for less than £20. If you only buy one then the helmet mounted light is the one I would choose.

TRF:

Were you riding late into the night near populated areas? Do you need to give any consideration to the fact that people won't really expect anyone to be out on the trails at that time of night?

Peter:

You've got to bear in mind that whilst we were 'night riding', it was actually mostly a December afternoon. We set off at 4:20pm and the whole ride only lasted 2 hours, we were all done before 7pm.

We did come across a walker and a dog walker without any bother. Common sense says be careful as you come across populated areas as they wont be expecting you, but your lights will alert them before you arrive. And as with any kind of trail riding, keeping the noise down is important.

TRF:

Finally, and this is perhaps the subject for another interview, I find it fascinating that we have so many members that live in London, the very last place you would expect to find a trail rider. What's it like?

Peter:

Living in London I have to ride north towards Hertfordshire to find my first Green Road, however, it doesn't take long and I can be on a lane within 25 minutes. A bonus is there isn't a market/desire to steal dirt bikes (hope I haven't spoken too soon) as London thieves don't know what they are!

TRF:

Thanks Peter!

 

Peter and Rupert's 'night ride' took place in the middle of December and was scheduled to start at dusk and be over before 7pm. The TRF has a Code of Conduct that promotes a healthy and responsible approach to enjoying the countryside.

A similar ride in the summer would have more impact on the local community. If you are planning on taking part in your own 'night ride' please follow the Code of Conduct and pay particular attention to your timings, route and potential impact.

If in doubt, your local TRF Group can help you.