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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

View Poll Results: How do you handle The Fear?
The Fear? I laugh in its face. 13 15.29%
It creeps me out, to be honest. 16 18.82%
It bothers me a little, but nothing pie and/or beer can't fix. 43 50.59%
I'm old, I've lived a good life, and the ecosphere needs one less human. 13 15.29%
Voters: 85. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-29-07, 02:22 PM   #1
The Weak Link
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Dealing with The Fear

Yesterday a colleague of mine, an Uber-hammer if there ever was one, announced that he had given up on road cycling and was only going to do trail riding from here on out. What influenced him was that he had a fellow bike team member get run over on a road that I occasionally travel, one with no curves or any possible obstruction to the vision of a driver. The cyclist didn't die, but spent quite some time in the hospital recovering from multiple wounds.

This triggered an attack of The Fear, one where I'm convinced that the next time I'm out on the road, some hydrocodone-popping gin-drenched psychotic on a cell phone is going to put me in the cross-hairs and give me my due. I'm going riding tomorrow and as it is too wet to ride the trails I'll be hitting the road, so to speak.

But The Fear remains.

Anyone have this problem?
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Old 06-29-07, 02:24 PM   #2
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Yes. And the fear alone is dangerous, because sometimes I'll panic if a car comes too close and I'll ride too far to the side. Once you've been hit, it does something forever.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:27 PM   #3
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I am a white knuckled flyer and I have a fear of fast descents on the bike; but, I do them. Getting on a plane in a storm- A Sam Adams gives me a little crutch. as to bike fears, I find driving among the crazed motorists more fearful than when on the bike. I like to think that solid line seperating the cycling world from the motoring world in impermeable. I find more rage on the other side of that line than on my side.

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Old 06-29-07, 02:27 PM   #4
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It is unsettling when you hear about one of these instances but the truth is that I have a much greater chance of getting into an accident on my crazed commute than getting hit while on my bike. So I really don't worry about it.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:29 PM   #5
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For me this comes up from time to time. I stopped biking twenty five years ago when I had just gotten a bike, and three times in one ride someone tried to turn right, right in front of me. It scared me enough to say it just wasn't worth it.

Then two years ago I finally returned. I was nervous at first but gained confidence and now am almost fearless in some absolutely ridiculous situations, such as one street which puts the bike lane in the middle of four lanes, because the road is going to make a V up ahead. The cars on this street are going FAST, and I've got 'em on both sides. But I just pray nothing will go wrong, and go on.

Also, I do things and take chances I wouldn't have taken before, such as riding up the right side of a bus toward the light, things like that.

But my fear returns when on this forum a rash (no pun) of posts occurs which all have to do with getting hit, or falling, etc. These posts seem to come in multiples and then go away for a while. When they get posted, I get a little fearful out there on the streets.

I ride almost exclusively in inner-urban streets.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:42 PM   #6
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I always say that there are not many cars up on the trails so it is safer but since road riding- I have realised how dangerous fast downhills can be. I do not worry about being hit by a car on the bike. I can be hit by a car whilst in my car just as much.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:46 PM   #7
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I swore off busy roads long ago. Fumes, dust, idiots, psychotics, dump trucks, and of course the purely distracted. It's back lanes, trails, and off-hours for me for many years now.

Also, I'm not red-hot on calling the feeling expressed here in this thread 'fear'. . .sounds like cowardice and it AIN'T, it's a time-tested* reaction leading to prudent behavior. Coyotes rely on it.

* - What we call 'fear' is a reaction to dangerous phenomena in our environment and is the product of 3 billion years of evolution passed down to us by nature's survivors. It exists for a reason.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:48 PM   #8
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LITANY AGAINST FEAR
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear - From Frank Herbert's Dune Book Series
1965 and 1984 Frank Herbert
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Old 06-29-07, 02:50 PM   #9
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The mother of a friend of mine was hit and killed by a half-blind 85-year-old driver. I've always been a pretty careful cyclist, but after that I decided to always ride wearing a high-vis jersey. I realize this is hardly going to protect me from everything that could go wrong, but it can't hurt.

At the same time, I hold with the superstition (perhaps) that thinking negative thoughts has a way of bringing negative results. I tend to limit my consumption of articles and posts about all the dangers associated with cycling or with life in general. Or as Helen Keller said, "Life is a daring adventure or nothing."
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Old 06-29-07, 02:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote!
I swore off busy roads long ago. Fumes, dust, idiots, psychotics, dump trucks, and of course the purely distracted. It's back lanes, trails, and off-hours for me for many years now.

Also, I'm not red-hot on calling the feeling expressed here in this thread 'fear'. . .sounds like cowardice and it AIN'T, it's a time-tested* reaction leading to prudent behavior. Coyotes rely on it.

* - What we call 'fear' is a reaction to dangerous phenomena in our environment and is the product of 3 billion years of evolution passed down to us by nature's survivors. It exists for a reason.
The Fear is a technical term coined by Hunter S. Thompson in The Curse of Lono. I just plagarized it, like I do with everything else I submit.

I must admit, though, I found your discussion of evolutionary psychology really interesting
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Old 06-29-07, 02:53 PM   #11
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By choice more than 75% of my riding is off road because of the fear. When I do bring the road bike out it is usually in vacation areas like Cape Cod or Martha's Vinyard or Block Island where bikes and walkers are so common that drivers are forced to be careful or slow down.

On the routine high speed commuter routes near my home your life is in danger even crossing the roads at the trail crossing points. Drivers who slow or stop to let you cross either are about to get rearended or passed by the hurried.
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Old 06-29-07, 03:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote!
Also, I'm not red-hot on calling the feeling expressed here in this thread 'fear'. . .sounds like cowardice and it AIN'T, it's a time-tested* reaction leading to prudent behavior. Coyotes rely on it.

* - What we call 'fear' is a reaction to dangerous phenomena in our environment and is the product of 3 billion years of evolution passed down to us by nature's survivors. It exists for a reason.

I don't feel overly secure on the road either and take steps to limit my exposure. I ride the road bike mainly on early weekend mornings when there is virtually NO traffic. On the weekdays i ride my mountain bikes out onto country roads where there is no traffic at all, except for cows and a rare car.

But still, to address this FEAR issue...there are different types of fear. Some fear is rational and some is irrational. In fact some people have their entire lives stolen from them because of irrational fears. YOu apparently think that road cycling is dangerous enough to be a rational fear. I tend to agree, but I also feel that it exists with many other rational fears that we simply live with.

HOw many times do you go to bed at night worrying about the house burning down? It is a rational fear, because it can and does happen. Also, fearing injury from a traffic accident is rational as well because people are killed and maimed ever day.

So the question now becomes....do you give up something because of a rational fear or do you just take steps to minimize the risks, and enjoy your life? THat is my perspective right now. I love riding, more than a lot of things, and to have to give it up because of fear, is not a possiblity for me right now.

Some may regard me as a fool, if i am hit and killed on the road, but it isn't their place to judge. We all have personal decisions about what rational fears we will live with and which ones we won't. We have to live, and yes sometimes die, with those choices.
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Old 06-29-07, 03:06 PM   #13
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My biggest fear is the new Ford pick ups and their electric extendable side view mirrors. No one seems to retract them after they detach the trailer, so they just keep driving around with them fully extended. I'm betting one of them is gonna get me good right in the back of my head. But hey, if someone see's it happen, the driver will get a ticket so thats' fair right?
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Old 06-29-07, 03:39 PM   #14
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I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that, while more accidents happen on MUPS, they are almost universally relatively non-serious. However, while less accidents occur on roads, they are frequently serious or deadly.

We have had only one person killed on a MUP in the past 10 years, to my knowledge, in this heavily biked city. Yet, each year we have several bicyclists killed.

My conclusion is to ride almost exclusively on the MUPS, taking the easy and appropriate cautions necessary for a MUP. Fortunately, we are well endowed with excellent MUPS around here.
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Old 06-29-07, 03:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet Travis
Or as Helen Keller said, "Life is a daring adventure or nothing."
She's my hero... I can't imagine overcoming what she did. Given a choice, I'd prefer to lose my limbs over losing just my eyes, and she overcame blindness, deafness, and the inability to speak to become an amazing, successful inspiration.

But back to fear....

Reports of others' accidents makes the hairs on my neck stand up and I start to question if this is something I really want to do. It points out a harsh reality of something I'm finding to be an absolute a blast. And being a new rider I face my fears every time I set out on my bike. Fortunately I live in a neighborhood with lots of streets of different grades - up, down, and flat - so I can get a lot of practice in a whole hour's riding. Getting out on the busy streets makes me nervous, but I am working on overcoming that by "just doing it". Sometimes I'm just afraid of making a fool of myself while crossing the street or trying to start when the light changes from red to green, and getting up to speed quickly enough to not annoy drivers waiting behind me, since I am still learning how to do everything right on the bike.

It's often difficult to start something new and overcome fears as we get older and wiser. That's a normal, common reaction to new situations. But, I don't want to be overcome by these fears as I age .... I am having the time of my life on my bike and I don't see it as an unreasonable risk to ride in traffic as long as I am sensible, obey the bike laws, wear my helmet, and don't take unnecessary chances.

IMO bungie jumping is an unreasonable risk. What's the point of it??? Cycling itself is not an unreasonable risk... it's how/where we do it that makes it so.
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Old 06-29-07, 03:52 PM   #16
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My biggest fear is the person who is driving a Chevy Subdivision while eating an Egg McMuffin, drinking a cup of coffee and talking on a cell phone jammed under their ear. The road is the last thing that gets their attention. A bicyclist is just a bump in the road.

I stopped riding on the street when a friend's Dad was killed in an accident with a motorcycle at the end of a 35 mile bike ride one mile from home.

Of course on the trail you have to contend with people walking 4 abreast and failing to yield the trail. At least the grass is softer.
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Old 06-29-07, 03:53 PM   #17
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Gear spake. . .

>>> We all have personal decisions about what rational fears we will live with and which ones we won't

Absolutely agree. Each and every one of us looks out on a universe of hazard and does his/her own personal 'risk analysis'. There's no right or wrong here and it's a sliding scale. Case in point. . .In Alaska I once caught sight of a very large omnivorous predator [you know, the ones that can do 30 mph through an aspen-covered stone garden] and chose to make a dubious stream crossing to avoid her. Having crossed the stream [and increaded distance to the griz], I looked back with horror at the drowning hazard that I took without thinking once about it. S'pose it was the relative fear of being tumbled silly by rocks and drowned versus evisceration by the 'dread of my genetic nightmares'. I know [and knew] that more folks drown than are killed by grizzlies. . .they say more folks die from dog attacks in Alaska than do from griz, brown, and kodiak combined.
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Old 06-29-07, 03:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snavebob
My biggest fear is the person who is driving a Chevy Subdivision while eating an Egg McMuffin, drinking a cup of coffee and talking on a cell phone jammed under their ear.
I totally agree and I might add - not just talking on a cell phone . . . texting on a cell phone.
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Old 06-29-07, 04:08 PM   #19
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I read only on:

A) Bike Trails (90% of my riding)
B) Roads with marked bike lanes and with speed limits no higher than 40 mph (maybe 2% of my riding)
C) Roads with no bike lanes but with a speed limit of 25 mph (maybe 7-8%)

I don't think anyone is going to purposefully injure me. I'm just not comfortable sharing a high-speed road. So since I don't enjoy riding a bike under those circumstances, I don't do it.
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Old 06-29-07, 04:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I totally agree and I might add - not just talking on a cell phone . . . texting on a cell phone.
You mean while putting on eye liner?
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Old 06-29-07, 04:09 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snavebob
My biggest fear is the person who is driving a Chevy Subdivision
They are big, but not quite that big.
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Old 06-29-07, 04:09 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDawg
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
Which is exactly what a SUV will do!
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Old 06-29-07, 04:10 PM   #23
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Fear lurks, but if I let it consume me, I'd never get on the bike. And my riding is my outlet, my restoration, my exercise, my fun, and more. I can't not ride. So I pay the fear no mind.
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Old 06-29-07, 04:16 PM   #24
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I've lived many, many years with PTSD. Sometimes a road cycling situation will cause it to kick in and almost make me come unglued. My "attacks" always involve loud, sudden noises which are frequent on the road. There have been times when I've had to pull my bike off the road and try to re-boot my brain.

A few days ago I was about to begin a ride when a huge landscaping truck pulling a trailer sped down my road hitting all the bumps, causing one hell of a crashing noise. That was it for me...freaked me out. No ride.

I've been getting treatment. Understanding the beast has helped a lot, but it will never be cured.
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Old 06-29-07, 04:20 PM   #25
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It's a road bike, right? I ride on the road.

I do keep my head on a swivel and my rear view mirror is my best friend but I figure if I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die no matter how or when. Might as well be doing something I enjoy.

Fortunately, Pacifica's not a horribly busy town (getting to be, though) and as a rule driver really -I mean literally- go out of their way to avoid me. Ridiculously so, at times.

It does get a little nerve wracking at times, though
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