I am a big fan of night riding. There is something almost mystic about flying down the hill in the darkness lit up only by spotlights and the moonlight. The fact that the hills are usually less busy in the evening means shorter lines at the lift and more wide-open slopes. Top it off with the stunning view of the lights of Vancouver sprawling out below you and you have yourself a nice Monday night, like the one I had this week at Grouse Mountain.
It’s been a while since I’ve been night riding. I’ve had a pass to Whistler the past few years where it’s not offered and buying extra lift tickets while a student just wasn’t in the cards. I really do love it though and I’m glad I went again. The mountain is just different at night. Calm, tranquil. Ideally some stars and the moon are out. Some sick beats are in your ears. There is something serene about it. I prefer the crowd at night too, there are no fair-weather riders or kids learning to balance on a board. Just people that love to ride.
Now, there are a few caveats to my love of night riding. If the conditions are even slightly inclement it’s really best to stay at home. Riding in poor weather sucks in the daytime and at night it’s only darker and conditions tend to be more extreme. Save your night rides for when there’s zero to light precipitation and wind. Of course, it’s colder at night as well so make sure the temperature is in your wheelhouse before heading up.
Riding at night is a little different than day riding. First of all, anything resembling backcountry is not a great idea. Getting lost at night would be a really bad scene. So essentially you’re riding groomers or in the park. Night is a great time to practise your freestyle as you can get a ton of laps in with the short lift lines. I’m not personally crazy about the park so I tend to stick to the natural terrain and good old fashioned speed. Be sure to be extra aware of your surroundings as your visibility becomes (obviously) hindered at night. Taking it easy on the first few runs is a good idea to get your bearings down before you start dominating the hill.
So skip the gym once this week and go hit the hill for a much more enjoyable workout. Vancouver is blessed with three mountains within minutes of downtown and that should be taken advantage of. Grab a friend or two after work (or why not take a lady friend on a different kind of date?) and make it a social night too. I’ve always found that the chairlift always provides for some great endorphin-enhanced conversation. Tick tock though, the season is only so long….