Moon Riding: Taking Your Bike Out at Night

By Jocelyn Brown

For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed cycling at night rather than during the day. It might be because there’s less traffic or if they use their lights, they’re easier to spot. Of course, it might be the moon and the stars when you get out of the urban lighting and into the country. Regardless of why I like it, taking part in the annual Atlanta Moon Ride for the last 3 years has allowed me to share this passion and interest with people from all over the city and indeed, country – many of whom have never done a real night ride before.

Preparing for Your Moon Ride
Whether going alone or in a group you need the right equipment and need to feel comfortable on a bike. It’s not possible to go into all the details now, but typically you want a road bike or a hybrid rather than a mountain bike or bmx. You need good tires too – kevlar if possible which reduces the chances of a puncture. Adjust the saddle until your tiptoes touch the floor – if this is not possible, the frame may be too small for you. In terms of safety equipment, always a helmet if cycling in traffic – for slow events, this is less necessary. Finally, at night, ensure you are well lit – this means using LED lights. These lights provide the strongest, most consistent light, and are being employed to develop ever better cyclist safety equipment from wearable light jackets to projections.

Going Solo or in Groups?
For the most fun and traffic safety, it’s often best to join a big group or even like the annual one here in Atlanta, Georgia. Large events come with a safety backup and groups to help you out if in trouble. It’s a good way to meet people, dress up, have fun, and see the city at the same time. Night cycling is ok for people on their own too, but make sure you let people know where you are going, remain well lit, and considerate of traffic around you. Largely, it is down to you. I have enjoyed many night cycles in my neighborhood and on vacations, but in new and unfamiliar places, it’s often been better to do this in a group.

Taking it International
Tour companies across the world are organizing nighttime cycling tours when there’s less traffic, but you can also see buildings lit up, night time displays and so on. You can easily find ones, for example, in places such as London, Singapore, and Mumbai. There are growing events across the United States too. Naturally check out reviews and event information for safety, equipment and so on. If you need to hire a bike or buy one local, there are plenty of options but again, make sure you are using solid, reliable equipment. In foreign countries, do check out rules and regulations on the road as each country has its own system and signage.