Night Riding

Dusk to Dawn Ride: BORRAX Approved

This Year's Dusk to Dawn Ride has made the list of BORRAX Qualifying Events.  In fact, we're honored to be the first listed event of the season.  We're humbled to be in the excellent company of great rides including D2R2, the Irreverent Road Ride, the Pemi-Baker Adventure Ronde, and four others.

The B & Off Road Randonneur Exemplar award recognizes "cyclists who challenge themselves to do hard things, specifically to finish the long dirt road cycling courses in New England."  Developed by Carl Ring -- of Pemi-Baker Adventure Ronde fame -- the BORRAX requires that riders complete at least four of the seven events in the challenging series.

Get the series started off right by registering for the Dusk to Dawn Ride on June 24 and 25.  We think the D2D is the most unusual ride of the series and a great way to begin the BORRAX season!  Why is Dutodari unusual when compared to the other rides on the list?  Here are a few reasons:

  • Riding all night
  • 85% of the dirt is singletrack rather than dirt roads
  • Average time per mile; most riders will complete the 90-miles in about 9-12 hours.  There's a 60-mile version, too.
  • 3:00 am fire and barbecue dinner -- really dinfast or brinner depending on when you arrive at the fire stop
  • Lots of onroute support -- and sag wagon available.  Push your limits in a safe environment.

Join us on the D2D -- sign up as a team or ride indy -- you won't regret it.  And you'll learn something about yourself -- and what it takes to earn the BORRAX Award!

As a special offer to D2D registrants, the first 10 riders that sign up for the BORRAX get $10 off registration for the Pemi-Baker Adventure Ronde!

Learn more about the BORRAX Award at Pedaling Squares

Why We Ride Dusk to Dawn: Evening Sounds

"Shhhh.  You hear that?"

It didn't need to be said; we hear it.  The frogs.  They're making a racket.  They always seem to after the sun goes down.  They're in the distance so we can hear non-frog communications, too.

We just rolled out of the wooded trail into an unkempt grassy field.  We four, on the Dusk to Dawn ride.  We've stopped to take in the visual.  A partial moon low in the sky, the moonbeams show the rough treeline in the distance.  The sky is cloudy and that makes the landscape glow.  But what's most consuming, right now, are the sounds.

The tall grass whispers to us that there's a slight breeze tonight.  The air feels good and smells of summer.  This all calms the scene.

It's so quiet we can hear critters slowly eating the fallen leaves.  So much life, hidden from our eyes -- but not our ears.

A teammate's slightly labored breathing rises in the soundscape.  We had been picking up the pace because the Dutodari dinner-breakfast is calling to us.  It's only about four miles away; we can almost smell the burgers.  The growling of someone's stomach gets our group to chuckle, breaking the evening trance.

We stop ourselves, and listen to the almost silence once more.  The call of promised food is too strong.  It's time to roll through the next dirt sector.  Onward to the Dusk to Dawn meal.

We look forward to seeing everyone there.

This is why we ride.

Is Night Riding The Best Riding?

Why is mixed-terrain night riding so good?  The list is long and probably personal.  Here are some of the reasons we search for the night rides:

  1. You have all the trails to yourself.  No hikers, no dogs, no horses.  It's you and the trail.  Probably a lot of bunnies.  And maybe a co-rider or two.
  2. The trails are quiet and meditative.  Everything feels more peaceful at night.  Everything is calmer.  You can hear your breath.  It's unlike any day ride.  
  3. The trails you've ridden 100 times feel completely new.  The stream next to the trail speaks a lot louder; that drop-off feels a lot steeper; the slalom through the trees feels a lot tighter.
  4. Focus.  While life is quieter, there's a lot more need for rider focus.  Depth of field, shadow play, and tunnel vision all require heightened attention compared to a sunshine ride.  It's a good kind of focus.
  5. You have the roads to yourself.  Not only do you get the trails to yourself, the paved roads are deserted.  Rarely will you see a motorized vehicle.
  6. Cooler temperatures.  In New England, in the summer, the temperature can drop by 10-15 degrees when the sun goes down.  That's almost the perfect temperature for any ride.
  7. You are highly visible.  Motorized vehicles will see you really easily and give you wider berth that daytime riding.
  8. No blind intersections.  You can see cars before you might hear them; headlights are hard to miss. 
  9. You can easily keep track of your co-riders.  You're unlikely to lose anyone because visibility is so high.
  10. Bonding time with your co-riders.  We rarely ride the night solo.  It's always wise to have a partner or two; just like on any offroad ride -- the world is not predictable and that's part of the point.  We bond even without speaking.  There's something about riding trails, light behind light behind light, that brings riders together.
  11. Fewer insects.  It's bedtime for most mammals so the flies aren't looking for food.  Wondrous.

We could go on and on.  Why do you ride the night?

Sunset - Twilight - Dusk - Night

The Dusk to Dawn Ride begins at sunset.  This is just the beginning of a long procession to the dark. 

The passage from day to night is a process - not an event.  Nothing is ever simple about the transition from light to dark.  It’s never black and white.

These are the four most common aspects of the transition from light to night are:

  • Sunset is the moment when the top most surface of the sun dips under the horizon.
  • Twilight is the time between sunset and dusk.
  • Dusk is the moment when the sun reaches 18 degrees below the horizon.
  • Night begins when twilight ends.

And of course there are three layers of dusk.  More on this later.

Electricity for 24-Hour Mixed-Terrain Bike Rides

Here's the list of electronics I carry on any given all-day mixed-terrain ride.  It's getting a bit out of control.  And it requires too many electrical wall outlets and a tangle of cables; if I were to charge all these items at the same time it would require 14 outlets.  Therefore, I have to charge everything in stages, particularly when traveling.

My primary bike also has a generator hub, generator light, and Sinewave USB charger.  Regardless, I still carry all the lights and batteries mentioned below.

Will Not Ride Without

  • GPS Device:  Garmin 1000
  • GPS Device:  Garmin 810:  I always ride with a backup GPS unit.  I've had too many adventures where my Garmin ended up having a major issue.  The backup unit provides me confidence to head into the woods without hesitation.  And, my phone is my third backup - or fourth, see below - so I have no worries.  I have other GPS units but this combination I find to work best in most cases.
  • Phone
  • Battery backup 5,600mAh.
  • Battery backup 12,000mAh.  Three reasons I carry a second larger backup battery:  
    1. In the winter, battery life gets reduced by up to 75%; I've been on rides where my Garmin dies after about 3 hours.  
    2. When I'm riding with other people I find this backup has come in handy a number of times.
    3. If I have a mishap and will end up being outside throughout an evening, this backup will keep some items powered through an unexpected additional 10+ hours of dark.
  • Headlight:  Light & Motion Urban.  I typically use this for my helmet mount.  No better light placement for night riding in the woods - so you can see around a corner, or for urban riding - where you want drivers to see you.
  • Headlight backup:  Light & Motion Gobe 700.  I've found that the only truly waterproof light is the Gobe.  They're cumbersome for helmet mounting, and for riding in general, but being stuck in a lightning storm at 2am on the trails without light is not something I want to live through again.
  • Headlight backup:  Light & motion Gobe 700.  I carry enough lights that I can ride throughout the night without running out of light - regardless of my generator light.  I've had my generator system die on me once; don't want the ride in the dark again.
  • Taillight:  Clip-on to jersey pocket.  I use a battery operated taillight, not a USB chargeable.  USB chargeable don't last long enough.
  • Taillight:  Small mounted to helmet tail.
  • Electronic shifting:  If you have Di2 or eTap electronic shifting, make sure you do a full charge before any big ride.  With eTap make sure you check the brifter batteries, too.

Vanity Items

Items I pretty much always carry on all-day rides, but that I don't really need.

  • Camera:  Sony RX100 III.  Note:  For the photo above, I used this camera so I had a stand in - that's why the 'camera' looks a lot like an external hard-drive in this photo.
  • Video Camera:  Garmin VIRB or GoPro 4.

Don't Like Riding Without

These are items for other riders, or I'll bring if the weather or riding conditions indicate it.

  • Foot Warmer Batteries:  In temperatures below 20 degrees I'll typically wear Hotronics FootWarmers.
  • Third backup GPS device:  Garmin 800
  • Video Camera Backup:  Either second VIRB or GoPro 4 - or both.
  • Headlight backup:  Light & Motion Urban.  If you're counting, this is the fourth battery operated headlight I carry.  While the Gobe is more water-resistant than the Urban, the Urban is a better helmet mount headlight.  I've never killed an Urban in rain during its first charge.  However, if I'm doing multiple days in the rain, I expect the Urban to have issues; I'll keep it well protected from water until I need it.

That's about it.  Charging all this stuff takes a while; I better get started.

What electronics do you carry for your long rides?