Thursday, December 6, 2012

Night Spins

This week saw me undertake my first “night spin” of the winter, about a month later than normal but I convinced myself by racing cyclo cross I didn’t need the night spins as sessions on the turbo would do. I was probably lying to myself but I am sticking to my story!! For anyone out there planning on 2013 being “their year” with the goal of riding the Rás, starting racing or even riding some of the harder sportives they will look at incorporating night spins into their training programme especially if they have a 9-5 job. Below are a few pointers and tips for making the most of your night spins and maximising your training.


Might sound like an obvious thing to anyone undertaking a night spin but you would be amazed how many guys aren’t lit up well enough. I would recommend a minimum of two lights on the front and two on the rear. Your main light on the front should be a good quality rechargeable light, with the secondary more of a light that lets you be seen rather than one that helps you to see, set it on flash mode to make you stand out more. I also find a small light attached to my helmet to be a great help, especially going around corners as when you are looking around the corner you can see where you’re going as opposed to your lights following the direction of the handle bars. On the back of the bike I have two lights as well one red one white both set to flash to draw maximum attention. I also find it good to have one of the lights attached to your helmet as lights on the bike are set low so if you have a light at helmet height there is more chance of a guy driving home from a long day in the office paying attention to you. Never have just one light on the front or back just in case the battery goes in one.


More is better is the rule I apply when training at night, if you can fit two pairs of socks on do it, nothing worse than suffering through a couple of hours of cold feet. I would always wear a long sleeve thermal base layer a long sleeve jersey and a thermal jacket with a rain cape in my back pocket in case it rains or I get a puncture. I would have a good hat on under my helmet and a good pair of gloves. I would wear the thickest tights I have and the heaviest duty pair of overshoes I own.

Perhaps the most important piece of kit I would wear would be a high vis jacket. You may think it’s best to wear your fancy Assos or Rapha thermal jacket because it has a reflective strip at the rear but safety is the name of the game so dig out the high vis!!! Bike shops these days sell specific high vis jackets for cyclist so that could be a good stocking filler this Christmas.

I also find that an arm band that walkers wear occasionally are good to have around the calf on your leg as your leg will be constantly moving and drivers will see it quicker.

Remember at the start of a spin during the day if you are chilly for the first ten minutes you have the correct amount of gear on as you will warm up as you go but on a night spin the temperature will drop as you go on so make sure you have plenty of clothing on. You won’t look like a pro wearing all this gear but you’re not a pro if your training at night so the objective is to arrive home in one piece!!!

Be wrapped up like this guy


You’re going to burn more calories on a night spin as your body is working harder to fight the cold so great for burning off the “winter weight” but not so good if you get the knock 10 miles from home on a poorly lit stretch of road so stick a bar in your pocket better be safe than sorry.


If you are horrendously motivated and your coach has you doing some form of intervals as part of your plan I wouldn’t recommend doing them on a night spin. Firstly for safety reasons it would not be a wise idea to be doing 25mph in the dark; no matter how good your lights are its easy to get caught out by a pothole at night. Secondly training at night is a strain on your system mentally and physically doing intervals is a strain mentally and physically so don’t overstress yourself by doing both; save the intervals for the turbo….or March!

Eye Contact

As you would on a normal spin always make sure you make eye contact with a driver as you approach a junction, if he hasn’t locked eyes on you its probable he hasn’t seen you he may be admiring your vast array of lights but it’s doubtful so take care and don’t end up going over the bonnet like Mr Wiggins.

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