Tips for Cycling at Night

Tips for Cycling at Night

I love winter training and with that comes lots of night riding as the sun leaves us pretty early. I am confident with riding at night because I am always prepared with reflective gear, lights and tend to stick to less busy roads— my only fear is getting doored! The first thing I had to acknowledge is that when it’s dark out there…


The number of cyclist in all black and no lights I see out there is ridiculous. Sometimes I wish I had spare lights to hand out to these people! At least the majority of night-time cyclists will be decked out with lights but pedestrians are worse because they don’t tend to think of these things… which is unfortunate but that is just a common human tendency. I would have never gotten this insight until I became started riding bikes and saw it from a cyclist’s perspective. Hence, another great reason to ride bikes!

Pedestrians: When you are wearing all black at night, we can’t see you!!

I had an incident last week on a wet ride home, when a guy in dark clothing, with headphones on, walked across a dark street without looking and the only reason I saw him was because he was looking down at his cellphone and I saw a tiny light emitting his phone when I got close enough. Otherwise I would have hit him. OH THE IRONY. On a separate incident, I was riding home along a bike route and I thought I was alone… until I heard a cough a few meters away. I didn’t even notice there was a person walking on the sidewalk under those trees.

And to make it clear, I consistently make a strong effort to stay mindful and always look around when I cycle— safety is the utmost importance to me because I love life too much.

hello sun? goodbye sun? Of course, your desire to be safe should never turn into paranoia, which may put some types of personalities off cycling. Believe it or not, the thought of riding at night use to give me anxiety but by forcing myself to do it anyway, I am now confident through experience and have no problems doing it. I never let fear hold me back from doing things I really want to do.

Here are some tips for cycling at night:

Stand out.

I noticed that when I ride during the day, I sometimes don’t see other cyclists or pedestrians in front of me until I get close because they blend in with the surroundings. Especially if it’s another cyclist on the road in front of me when they are directly behind a bunch of cars. It maybe because I’m tired and disillusioned, the sun is too bright, my eyes are over-stimulated from all the movement around me (cars, people, lights), but whatever the point is, stand out as much as you can! Have your lights on during the day.  If it’s bad during the day… imagine the night.

So LIGHT YOURSELF UP like a Christmas tree if you have to. No one cares how cool you look at night because no one can see you anyway!! I am actually considering these Monkey Lights for my Wilier for this winter… yes really!! I think pink ones would look so cute and no one will have a bike as sexy and as lame as mine. I mean, I already put fenders on this beautiful racing frame so I might as well go all out.

Avoid black.

Unless you are wearing something reflective… but I stick with my light-colored thermal jackets or my obnoxious bright pink jacket.

Lights are a MUST.

Front lights will let others  see you are coming and prevent accidents such as being doored by motorists getting out of their parked cars because they most likely cannot see you. Rear lights will let people behind you see you. If you regularly commute at night, carry spare batteries for your lights and keep an extra charger at work if they are USB-rechargeable. Check out this guide for choosing bike lights.

I got caught out on a late summer night with no lights… and to make it worse, prescription sunnies that I couldn’t take off. I didn’t plan to be out that late but we stopped for one too many pig out sessions. We were riding on busy roads so it was quite scary! Now I always have lights on my bike, even in the summer.

Consider the brightness of your lights (lumen).

I’ve been blinded by other cyclists’ ridiculously bright lights and it’s annoying! Especially when it’s raining or foggy. You don’t need high lumen if you are riding on mainly lit and well-paved roads but you may consider them if you ride on rural roads and need to see where you are going because of potholes and other road hazards. Lights with adjustable settings are always the best choice. Don’t cheap out on your lights either!!

Turn off your tunes.

I ride with one ear bud during the day (and pause my music when I hit busy roads) but I would never wear them at night. When you ride at night, do you notice how you seem to be riding much faster than you are during the day? Well, you’re not. Your perception will already be wonky so throwing extra noise in there is total distraction.

Leave later.

I may stay at work later to avoid rush hour traffic, especially in rain or fog.

Always assume they can’t see you.

You can never be too careful. Always be stay aware of your surroundings and keep your ego at the door… don’t take risky chances especially when visibility is low. I was in the car making a right turn downtown in the rain and did not see a cyclist coming up the bike path until she was literally right beside my car. Luckily I was stopped but even with her bike lights, the rain can play tricks with your eyes.

Consider ditching the bike in the rain or fog.

Seriously… visibility can get really limited. No matter how experienced you are, there are a lot of careless drivers out there.

Pedestrians and runners: follow the same rules.

You are in the same boat!! We are invisible!

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    Never Stop Dreaming

    Never Stop Dreaming

    How would you feel if you:

    • Took risks without promises of success?
    • Pack up all your things and leave your life behind?
    • Did what you wanted to do instead of what your parents wanted to do?
    • Quit a good paying job without another one lined up?
    • Start a new career from the bottom up?
    • Decide to remain unmarried and childless?
    • Decide to do everything against all of society’s predetermined conventions?
    • Didn’t care what other people thought of you?

    It’s scary.

    But that’s why most people live conventional, boring and predictable lives.
    That’s why they do the same thing as everybody else.
    That’s why everybody is afraid to step outside of the box.
    That’s why everybody is so hesitant on accepting the different.
    That’s why everybody is afraid to be different.

    That’s why society is so bound by common conventions.

    Don’t be afraid to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone…
    …of the comfort zone of everyone in society.
    Do the unconventional.
    Be the unconventional.

    We are so often caught up in the fear of the unknown.
    But shouldn’t we focus on what we may gain?
    We may not necessarily gain a reward but we will always gain experience.

    Have courage.

    Live a life with no regrets.
    You don’t have to be in control all of the time.
    What’s the point in living if you have your entire life planned?
    Predictability is boring.
    Who wants to live by the same routine everyday?
    The most memorable moments and best opportunities usually spawn from spontaneity.

    Nobody has it all figured out.
    If they did, that means they stopped growing as a person.
    They’ve stopped dreaming.

    The more we abandon this freedom to do what we want to do, the more stagnant we become.
    Welcome the unknown, the uncertainty and the unpredictable.
    Free yourself from the perception of what you “need” to do…
    …and do what y0u want to do.

    Surrender yourself into the flow of life and let adventure take a hold of you.

    The quest to meaning is all about the journey.
    When you have stopped growing, you have already ended your journey.
    There shouldn’t ever be an end in sight.
    When you think you’ve reached the end, take a break but keep on going.

    Never stop growing, learning and dreaming.

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      The Pilgrimage Up Mont Ventoux

      The Pilgrimage Up Mont Ventoux

      My schedule is becoming less hectic and the cold and wet weather settling in means I have more free time when I’m in town during the weekends (normally, I’d be out ALL day on the bike). And honestly, at the end of year, I always slide into a “slump” where I have less motivation to exercise… but it’s okay because I’ve been riding and lifting non-stop since January. I am still riding, but mainly commutes to and from work and if it’s a dry weekend, I may go for a nice and slow long ride. But only if I feel like it. No pressure or guilt.

      The best way to get over slumps is to “slow down and smell the roses.” Stop riding for speed and fitness, but ride just to ride— when you take the pressure off of ‘wanting’ to go fast, it makes it a lot more enjoyable.

      As avid fitness enthusiasts, sometimes it takes more discipline to not work out than to actually work out. That is what you call first world problems… so now is a good time to work on that discipline. Practice gratitude and start to notice everything that makes you feel good such as the cool, crisp air that wakes you in the morning, or when the sun peaks out from behind the clouds and you realize how lucky you are to be immersed in the glorious outdoors. All those little things add up and that is one of the keys to happiness. You can’t be sad or angry when everything around you is so uplifting!

      Viva La France | I Fucking Love Fitness | June 2014

      This entry is a way overdue but I still haven’t written about my Great Escape to Europe last spring. The trip changed my perspective on life in so many ways while I reveled in limitless experiences and worked on my bucket list.

      One of them was a pilgrimage up Mont Ventoux.

      Mont Ventoux is one of those mythical Tour de France climbs and although there are many mountains in Europe, I wanted to tackle this legendary one first. I was already a month into my travels. I had passed by London, Berlin, Munich, Santorini, and Athens, Rome and Nice. The ride always meant to be the highlight of my trip but it was bittersweet because the end was drawing near.

      As for training, I went to a gym once in London and did a workout on my patio looking over the caldera in Santorini but other than that, walking was my main source of activity. Nice was supposed to be a vacation during my vacation. I was there for the longest duration of my trip to spend quality time with one of my best friends (whose on the extremely extroverted end of the Artisan temperaments… while I’m the extremely introverted version). I would go the gym every morning spinning out intervals and lifting weights— a last attempt to prepare myself for Ventoux, have lunch and shop, and then as soon as her restaurant closed late at night, we would hit the clubs. I work extremely well under pressure so sacrificing time to get my ass on the spin bike was not an issue when the clock began to tick.

      Mont Ventoux's Malaucène  Route | I Fucking Love Fitness | June 2014

      After Nice, I took a train to Nimes, an old town that use to be a Roman village, where I based myself for the new few days. I wanted my vacation to be relaxing and completely stress free so I hired 44|5 Cycling Tours, ran by two cycling enthusiasts: John and Gerry. The company name are the map coordinates of Mont Ventoux a.k.a. their “local hill.” Just the sound of that fills me with envy! Can you imagine Ventoux in your backyard?  It’s like when my friend in Southern France tells me she goes over the border to Milan to shop while I go to Seattle. Ugh. The grass always seem greener on the other side.

      There are three routes that will take you to the summit and after a bit of contemplating, I chose Malaucène. John picked me up from my cute little cottage that I rented from AirBnB, and drove me to the starting point where we also picked up my rental bike, shoes and helmet. They had everything planned out for me so this felt like a luxury cycling vacation… just so I can get all disgusting sweaty and really make the most out of my suffer-fest later on. That’s one of the best things about cycling— you can ride in isolation so no one can see the pain in your expression and not have to listen to your moans and groans as you slowly pedal yourself and your bike uphill. But I don’t moan and groan. I swear.

      You can imagine the excitement building up prior to the ride. It’s been on my bucket list ever since I discovered cycling and although I couldn’t really train, I wasn’t nervous. After climbing so many mountains at home, this was just another climb… and I knew I would get to the top one way or another. Conquering mountains is all about mindset, but most importantly, you have to remember to have fun. When you choose to look at challenges in a different away, you can easily avoid any fears or anxieties. Just embrace it.

      Mont Ventoux | I Fucking Love Fitness | June 2014

      The beginning of a two hour spin up this mountain. I definitely took it easy and didn’t push myself because I was having knee issues caused by a tight ITB… which was fine with me. The climb turned out to be easy because of that but I wanted to enjoy the moment and not get caught up trying to get to the top within a certain time. That’s the reason why competitive cycling never interested me. Cycling is supposed to be fun and fueled by intrinsic motivation which makes it sustainable because it does not depend on external awards. Thus turning it into a lifestyle.

      Mont Ventoux | I Fucking Love Fitness | June 2014

      I stopped to stretch at one point when I felt my knees starting to get really tight. John was in a support car following me up the entire way, making sure I had everything I needed and more importantly, snapping photos so I can have solid memories of this ride! I love memories. I hope he didn’t get annoyed when I demanded him to take photos of this and that …and this and that!

      Mont Ventoux | I Fucking Love Fitness | June 2014

      I quickly settled into a rhythm and spun up the mountain. I spun and spun and spun while trying to take in all the beauty around me.

      Mont Ventoux | I Fucking Love Fitness | June 2014

      Freedom. This is truly what it means to live… when you are doing what you love!

      Mont Ventoux | I Fucking Love Fitness | June 2014

      I was climbing a road to nowhere… nowhere but the summit. The famous barren limestone tip of Ventoux was finally in sight! It was as if I was climbing towards heaven.

      As I was counting down the kilometers and getting closer and closer to the top, I began to feel a little somber… I didn’t want the ride to end! After all these months of planning… it was going to be over. Only two hours of slow climbing up this monster they call the Beast of Provence? I wanted the moment to last forever!! Of course, I had to talk myself into realizing that all roads eventually come to an end so when I got to the top, I was ecstatic. You know that feeling when you finally achieve something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time? Epic. EPIC EPIC EPIC!!! I will never forget that moment.

      Writing about this experience over a year later, all I can recall was how happy I felt during the entire climb. Emotions are what makes memories come alive. I know parts of the ride had to be grueling with the 12% gradients but like with any hard ride, I don’t remember it at all! Our brains are good at leaving out the details of the suffering and leave us with the only pleasant memories to dwell upon. That’s what makes cycling so addicting and makes you come crawling back for more… with tight ITBs, hip flexors and all. Every moment of pain is worth it because it never lasts forever.

      Mont Ventoux | I Fucking Love Fitness | June 2014

      So there we have Ventoux. Next year as I let myself aimlessly wander in Europe again, I will be joining John and Gerry on their Girona Breakaway Tour in Spain. I am naively letting all the stalkers of the internet know my whereabouts but I am happy if it’s going to get anyone on a bike.

      If you are interested in climbing Mont Ventoux, mark your calendars in July (ahem *TOUR DE FRANCE*) and join the guys on their epic Highroad Ventoux tour where you will have a live view of the pros battling it out on the slopes, just after riding it yourself. How cool does that sound? If I didn’t have to be attending bridesmaids duties at that time, I would be on tour with them and perhaps get my chance to ride up all three routes in one day (so I can cross the Triple Ventoux off my bucket list). But I have all my life to do it again…

      With Ventoux conquered, I hopped on a train and headed to Barcelona where I literally had 10 hours of sleep during my 5 days there. That’s how you celebrate crossing something off your bucket list.

      Paying homage to The Beast of Provence