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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-03-09, 02:27 PM   #1
con
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Why I love the sound of Botts Dots in the morning

Yup, on my morning commute the sound of a carís left hand tires hitting the Botts Dots behind me adds a smile to my face every time I hear it.

My mountain commute roads are narrow, two lane, no bike lanes, are steep and have almost no sight lines in many of the sharp turns due to the trees and forest growth coming right down to the edge of the lane.

For me the two most comforting sounds when on a steep section of my morning commute is not the babble of the streams I pass nor the songs from the birds that are singing, it is the sound of those car wheels decelerating (it is very distinctive) combined with the very clear sound of the tires on the left side of the vehicle hitting the Botts Dots lining the center line. Those two sounds mean the car driver saw me, is slowing and is giving me room by moving over into the oncoming lane. Ya gotta love that; I wave a thank you every time a car does that.

You may ask, ďwhy the sound from the wheels?Ē

ĎCause, thatís how I keep track of approaching vehicles in that kind of environment, especially when climbing. It is not by sight of the car, nor by the sound of the engine; on most modern cars you hear the rumbling sound of the tires on the chip seal roads echoing off the trees long before you hear the car motor. The tire sound can be heard far away, as it bounces off the trees, that it is usually not possible to determine if the car is approaching from ahead or behind until it gets close, yet the vehicle is still out of sight on the narrow roads. What it means, if I canít see them, they still have not seen me as they rush to get the kids to school or get themselves to work. These mountain commuters know these tiny roads well and drive them very fast.


The flip side; when you donít hear those two sounds as the approaching tire sound gets closer, YIKES! I then do a very vigilant head check and prepare to take evasive action.

Typical road I ride


My little friends that talk to me; meet the Botts Dots
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Old 04-03-09, 03:17 PM   #2
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Bike commuter? what are you a lumberjack or a park ranger? I'd be more afraid of cougars then cars in that part of the country...and they don't make any noise...not if they're on their game.
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Old 04-03-09, 04:25 PM   #3
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Bike commuter? what are you a lumberjack or a park ranger? I'd be more afraid of cougars then cars in that part of the country...and they don't make any noise...not if they're on their game.
Not a park ranger, nor a lumber jack be me; I have a desk job. Iím lucky enough to live in a city that is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains on the other. Just a mile or so from my house in town, a normal city neighborhood, starts any number of small mountain roads for me to pick from to wind my way up to work and drop down coming home. A car commuter could just take the 4 lane major highway that connects the two cities. What would be the fun in that?

You are not far off with that Mountain Lion statement. We have had a dramatic increase in Mountain Lion sightings all around our mountains in the last number of years.
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Old 04-04-09, 08:10 PM   #4
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Two lane, short sight distance, fast moving cars, and mountains don't add up to a very safe ride. What do you do if two cars are approaching each other head on at high speed with you in the middle on a turn? You realize they're not gonna hit each other, right? I don't mean to be such a dick by my Uncle that lives in an area like yours, and swerves in to oncoming to avoid you, says he's for sure gonna take the bike out when the choice is ravine on the right and head on car collision on the left. Are there no nice paths, fireroads, or roads with shoulders you could get your exercise on?
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Old 04-04-09, 08:50 PM   #5
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Nice view! I also hear that a 'mirror' will help to make you safer in case your ears fail you...

Just sayin!
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Old 04-04-09, 08:52 PM   #6
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I Botts dots, for the same reason. I know the traffic is going around me.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 04-04-09, 09:28 PM   #7
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Two lane, short sight distance, fast moving cars, and mountains don't add up to a very safe ride. What do you do if two cars are approaching each other head on at high speed with you in the middle on a turn? You realize they're not gonna hit each other, right? I don't mean to be such a dick by my Uncle that lives in an area like yours, and swerves in to oncoming to avoid you, says he's for sure gonna take the bike out when the choice is ravine on the right and head on car collision on the left. Are there no nice paths, fireroads, or roads with shoulders you could get your exercise on?
You are 100% correct, there are very real risks.

Here is what I do; of the three vehicles, the car from behind, the car approaching from in front and me on the bike, odds are only I know the position of all three and can see all three early. I have a couple different options and they are not for the timid. One, I take my entire lane for a brief spell. Two, my more popular one, I move into my lane briefly, aggressively point up towards the upcoming car, turn my head back and give a very aggressive stop stay back motion to the the car approaching from behind and move back over to the side of the road. That one almost never fails to slow the approaching car from behind. Third, I adjust my position by speed, I either slow way down to change the 3 vehicle intersect point, or shift up and stand and sprint momentarily to do the same. My last option, I look for where I might bail off the road if necessary, ya, I really do consider that.

This is not something that I take lightly. Years ago I rode 200 + miles a week in these mountains when I raced and in doing that you develop a keen sense of survival skills. Also, I don't cruise in the blind areas, they are like interval training to me, I shift up, and move very quickly through blind turns. This does two things, one, you are in the blind turn for a shorter time and two, the closing speed of the vehicle from behind is reduced and the driver has and extra split second or so to see you and react.

All this being said, if you are going to ride in this part of the world, the risks of these roads comes with the ride.
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Old 04-04-09, 09:32 PM   #8
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Nice view! I also hear that a 'mirror' will help to make you safer in case your ears fail you...

Just sayin!
Ya, years ago I tried that, it did not work for me. I already know the car is there, two to three turns before I can even see it, so the mirror is not a great help on those roads.
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Old 04-04-09, 10:16 PM   #9
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With a commute like that it's like you've already been run over and gone to heaven.
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Old 04-05-09, 12:40 AM   #10
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Traffic or not,That is one SWEET commute!!
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Old 04-05-09, 01:07 AM   #11
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Traffic or not,That is one SWEET commute!!
I think the traffic danger issue is getting over blown a bit. Yes there are risks, but, Santa Cruz is a beach college town, everybody owns a bike and people expect bikes on the roads. Most drivers are pretty darn good at giving you room.
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