Training on the dark road
When training on the dark road you have 6 things to be aware of:
- Rear lights
- Known Local Motorists
- Road Stripes
- Between the road and bicycle path
The absolute most important thing for you is the installation of rear lights and reflectors at the back your bike. The biggest danger is to get hit from behind.
The headlamp is used primarily to be seen. Even good bicycle headlights performance is not always good enough to light up the road completely. Imagine a dark road where there are low clouds in the sky and almost no light. A powerful headlamp will light up a little bit of the road and is visible to you. The beam edge creates a sort of wall where you can not see anything, a bit like if you caught a fox in the cone of the light from a car (which almost happens all the time) that is why it would be a much better idea to actually turning off your headlamp. Try it and let your eyes have a few seconds to get accustomed to the darkness.
Remember to switch on the headlamp when there is oncoming traffic
By moonlight the road is lighted up if there are no clouds. So you can see better, but it is also a sign that the winter is colder in the hill valleys. You really have to take notice of this fact to avoid a crash on a icy road.
Local Notable drivers
When you bicycle on the small local roads and where the road is swinging you have to take more attention to the local traffic. The local traffic cut corners at high speed on the country because they know every corner. Even if you think you have a good headlamp your headlamp may not be visible to the oncoming traffic which is a very dangerous situation when the local drivers rush tired home from work. The risk of being hit is several times higher than when you bicycle on the straight. Always train on roads you know so you know when the road turns, and take an extra notice of the oncoming traffic in the country.
Where possible you should follow stripes on the right side (UK, left side) and you always place yourself to the left side of that stripe. By daylight you normally train on the right side of the stripe, but because of the darkness and your limited vision, you need a little extra time to react. If the right road stripe does not exist, you should follow the median stripe even if you turn off your headlights. If there is oncoming traffic, turn on your headlamp and wait for the oncoming traffic is around 100 meters from you and lights up the road in front of you. Then you pull into the right side. You can use exactly the same tactic for the traffic coming from behind. You should try it sometimes, so you get routine in this tactic. Your tail light (s) should flash and remain lit at all time. This will make sure that you always will be seen from far behind.
On a cold winter evening when it has snowed and the roads are cleared, the situation is almost optimal when you have to train on a bicycle in the dark. The snow lies on the sides and clearly marks where you should not ride your bicycle and the road is black and clearly marks where you should ride.
Between the road and the bicycle path
The rebate between the road and the bicycle path may create long black shadows on to the bicycle path, so you can see absolutely nothing in front of you. It is a veritable nightmare to cycle when you are almost blinded by the traffic lights in front and the grass rebate form long black shadows across the cycle path. This situation is very dangerous and it might even be the greatest danger of crashing. A very strong bicycle lamp might not even be a solution. The only alternative to this is to avoid these bicycle paths.