You’ve seen them. Late at night, slipping through the darkened city, roaming packs of bikes taking over streets, parking lots, hidden alleys. Some of the best riding happens at night - out in the cool evening air, empty(ish) streets, surrounded by a swarm of bike riding buds. You’re ready to join the rolling party, but where do you start? In today’s post, we’ll look at what it takes to join a night ride!
Check Out Your Bike
First thing’s first, make sure your bike is rideable and in good shape. Nobody likes the guy who shows up with flat tires, chain issues, and “just needs to borrow a few tools and a tube before we get rolling”. Before you head out, just make sure everything’s aired up, tightened down, and ready to ride. And don't forget to slap some lights on there!
Being ready before you ride is important, but you also want to make sure you’re prepped for any issues that come up along the way. Patch kit, pump, tool roll, all that jazz. Even if you end up having an event-free cruise, you might be able to help out another rider in need and that night-ride karma won’t be forgotten.
Night rides have a tendency to… wander. You may only be expecting a 25-mile easy roll, but all it takes is someone saying, “I heard about this really cool thing/tasty burrito/great spot just around the corner” and before you know it that 25-miles has turned into 50, 75, etc… Sure, you won’t have too many impromptu centuries (and you can always split away if it starts getting too late), but when you’re up for it, you don’t want to have to bum hydration from other people.
And speaking of hydration, a few more "adult" beverages tossed into your backpack or pannier will always be appreciated, and you’ll never struggle to find folks willing to share. After all, most night rides involve their fair share of hang-breaks, meet-ups and the like – and the non-water beverages will usually be flowing. Don’t be a mooch, just BYOB.
Those stops are also a great reason to carry a bit of cash. Besides being able to boot a tire or catch a bus if things really go sideways, there will inevitably be at least one liquor store/coffee shop/grocery stop and you’ll want some dough in case you need to fuel up (or restock your hydration stores). IDs are important, but cash is king, never leave home without it.
Find a Ride
Now that you’ve got yourself and your bike ready, all that’s left to do is find a ride! If you’re in LA, Midnight Ridazz has the scoop on pretty much everything going down bike-wise. If you’re elsewhere, hit up your bike shop to find out where they look for action, check the local fixed-gear facebook page, or just ask someone on a bike who looks like the kind of person you’d want to roll with. Everyone’s got their favorite rides, and they’re usually happy to welcome new members as long as you’re not a weirdo or a jerk about it. Worst case scenario, just head out with a couple of buds and ride until you find some more people on bikes. One of the best things about night rides is their tendency to snowball as you pickup loose cyclists who see the herd and join up just to “see what's going on”.
Meet People/Have Fun!
And once you’re out there, talk to people! Make friends, share drinks, help people with repairs, compliment someone’s whip, it’s hard to not find something to talk about when everyone’s out sharing the experience. And the best part? Once you’ve made some new friends, you’ll find out about more and more rides and eventually you’ll have to find some time just to take a night off! Nah.