The 4 Things You Need To Do Before Your First Night Ride
Night riding is one of the more intricate, captivating activities that you can do on a longboard, and many of us have indulged in it at least once or twice. It’s something about the midnight air, the lack of traffic, and how quiet it is that makes it a whole new experience when compared to riding in the middle of the day. It’s the sound of the wheels rolling, and the atmosphere that is quiet enough that you can chat with your friends even while going 20 miles per hour down a nearly deserted highway.
I remember my first night ride on my drop through longboard. It was different. Not especially scary or incredibly difficult, but coming from only riding in the middle of the day when I could see every little bump and pothole, to going riding fast with friends on a road that you can barely see, it could very well be phrased as just being different. It really was a pitchblack night. The only thing you could see was cars in the distance and the lights of houses lining the sidewalks of the spots that we skated that night. It was similar to sensory deprivation, with the exception of the sound of people riding their boards.
But in hindsight, it was dangerous. We had no lights. We couldn’t really see in front of us, we could only see the curb or the lane markers on the ground as they whizzed through our lines. I sometimes wished that I had some kind of light or marker that could make me visible in the night. If I couldn’t make out the silhouettes of parked cars, then how would approaching cars and people see me, a dark shadow in the night?
So I came up with a solution: I duct taped a flashlight on the bottom of my board to light up the ground beneath me. As janky and cheap as it was, I would like to believe that it kept me safe on the countless number of night rides that I have gone on after that very first one. There are products such as Board Blazers that make this a painless process and they are very beneficial to your riding and safety.
Night riding is a pretty delicate art. There are certain precautions that you definitely have to take before going on a night ride, whether it’s on the highway going fast, or just on your neighborhood pathways taking your time and relaxing. It all applies, all the time. Here are the four things you need to know to have a great night riding experience.
- Know how to stop efficiently.
It’s pretty reasonable to expect that people are less alert at night; they’re not always watching carefully for people and other things on the road. I also know a lot of people that keep their heads down when they take walks, especially at night.
This lowered attention means you must know how to come to a stop at a moment’s notice. I have, many times, been cut off by people who aren’t walking straight, and it’s usually better to just stop than to yell at them to move out of the way. Before you go night riding, make sure you can come to a quick stop.
- Know your gear.
Of course, always wear a helmet and safety gear, as it will save your life at least once in your journey, to become fluent in the longboard language. But you should also know exactly how your gear turns and moves, so that you can concentrate on other things while you are riding.
For example, if you don’t know how much your trucks turn in proportion to the amount of effort you put into them, you might so preoccupied with seeing where your board goes that you could crash into a curb or oncoming traffic.
This is obviously not recommended. In other words, a night ride isn’t the time to test out new gear—it’s the time to be riding with old, familiar gear.
- Make sure you're visible!
It’s incredibly important that people know where you are and how you’re moving. Some ways to make this happen are bright clothes, a bright, neon colored helmet, or board lights (like Board Blazers)! The investment is very well worth it!
Plus, aside from keeping you safe, you’ll look really cool too. I used to have these awesome light-up wheels, and I rocked them to races and free rides because they were so flashy.
- Start a night riding community!
Night riding is also where the community is at! At night, when people aren’t at their jobs, when people are done their work and their schoolwork is done, people are always up for a night ride. For example, in my city, the weekly event is a downhill night ride. We skate a garage, skate some pathways, and then we take this really fast downhill route down to our starting point, at which point we enjoy a coffee and some donuts and split for the week. This is on Saturday night and it’s a great thing to look forward to for the week! We named it “Saturday Night Ride” as a play on the TV series.
It’s not hard to arrange a night ride for your community scene. It’ll really make the scene progress forward and it’s something that I strongly urge you to do as a rider. You’ll singlehandedly be bringing people together every week, with minimal planning! Really, all you need to do is plan out a route, let people know about it and be consistent about it every week! Plus, this will bring you some authority in the scene and possibly get you acquainted with the pros (free stuff!).
Night riding is indeed one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve ever indulged in, and I hope it will be for you as well!
About The Author: Ryan the Longboarder is part of the Magneto Longboards Team and always wears a helmet while riding.