About a year ago, now, when I decided to get back into cycling (as a 54 year old overweight diabetic), the first thing I did was go to the 'net and immerse myself in bicycling information. I quickly found this site, Sheldon Brown's (R.I.P.) site, and many others, and was able to soak up a tremendous amount of information, opinions (some good, some bad), tips, information on gear, riding, etc. Essentially I was able to internalize years of experience - even if vicarious - into a very short time. I absolutely believe that it made me a better rider, and prevented me from making a lot of "newbie" mistakes, and possible even having some painful crashes. Had this same situation occurred, say, 20 years ago, there's no way this much information would have been available to a new rider.
Of course, the same thing is true for almost any endeavor that one would wish to become involved in today.
What brings this to mind was what I observed last evening on my drive home from work.
Just as I started to turn onto a road that descends a fairly steep hill, a gentleman on a bike turned just in front of me. He was riding a road bike, but was dressed in hiking shorts and a tee shirt, and was wearing a helmet. He appeared to be in his 50's, judging from the gray hir peeking from under his helmet. Since the road was steep enough that he would be able to coast at pretty much the legal speed limit, I decided to just hang back a safe distance behind him and just follow him down the hill. The road had several sweeping S-turns, and I noticed, as the rider carved the corners, he always kept his right leg straight with the right pedal at its lowest position. He was easily hitting 35 mph or so. As he rode through the right-hand turns his pedal was so close to scraping the pavement that I actually backed way off so that I would have time to stop when he crashed!
Luckily he made it all the way down with no problem. As we reached the stop sign at the intersection at the bottom of the hill, I thought about rolling my window down and saying something to him about being careful to not drag his pedal, but he pretty much rode through the stop sign and turned left, while my route took me to the right.
This really got me thinking about the information that I gleaned off of the internet, as that was where I read about cornering techniques - probably from Sheldon Brown - and how fortunate we are to have this resource available to us.