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Old 06-03-03, 05:46 AM   #1
mkwdrs
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First Road Ride w/ traffic

Well, I finally did it. I ventured out onto the road finally after mostly riding in and around a high school which has little to no traffic.

Left from my church and headed toward a small park which was between 4 to 5 miles away. Made it with no dog chases and traffic was respectful. I never got my mirror set just right though. I started back and it started sprinkling of course just to make it interesting. I was so hot that it felt pretty good, so I continued on.

So, I have a couple of vehicles heading toward me and one coming from behind . Of course they would arrive at me at the same time. The road didn't have much extra space outside of the line, but I was hugging it the best I could. The car behind me didn't slow down at all and missed me by like a foot. "Hello reality" from riding on the road. That got my attention pretty quick. The car stopped just ahead of me to turn into their house, they backed their car so that I couldn't get their license plate (as if I would have done something - plus I had it before they turned into their house anyway) and just stood there.

I didn't exactly appreciate what they did. If their house was that close, just slow enough to let the oncoming vehicle pass and then go on. I then realized that I have one kid (3-1/2 years old) and just how important is riding on the roads anyway? I realize this is no big deal to the roadies (who have my ultimate respect now). I'm in no hurry to get back onto the roads as of yet. One dumb teenager or one drunk and off to heaven I go. I'm sure I'll get over it.

By the way, my pace seemed to be alot faster on the road than when I ride in a controlled environment. Nothing like a little motivation of traffic. I'll accept any recommendation for mirrors for a road bike. Mine wasn't big enough and I couldn't get it adjusted right.
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Old 06-03-03, 06:05 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally posted by mkwdrs
The road didn't have much extra space outside of the line, but I was hugging it the best I could. The car behind me didn't slow down at all and missed me by like a foot.
If you'll pardon me saying so, there's your mistake. One thing I've experienced for myself, and pretty much everyone here agrees--cars give you as much room as you give yourself. When you hug the edge, they barely budge over. If, on the other hand, you were driving about a foot to the left of the line, they'd have been forced to slow down until it was safe, and probably would pass you further over. (Assuming they wouldn't just roll over you! ) The busier the road, the more aggressive you have to be to secure a safe chunk of it.

Congrats on your first ride in traffic!!

If you happen to wear glasses, the Third-eye eyeglass mounted mirror is excellent...otherwise you may want to try a helmet-mounted mirror.
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Old 06-03-03, 06:13 AM   #3
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Thanks. That makes sense. I guess that shows that I'm a rookie when it comes to road riding. I hope to take an effective cycling class when they start being offered again.

I do wear glasses concerning the mirror.
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Old 06-03-03, 06:19 AM   #4
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Take the lane (or a reasonable portion of it, anyway), smile and wave if they honk.
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Old 06-03-03, 06:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by mkwdrs

I do wear glasses concerning the mirror.
The Third Eye is sweet. You barely have to turn your head to see what's behind you. I sometimes find myself trying to check my mirror when I'm walking. You should be able to find it at your LBS, pretty inexpensive, too.

http://www.3rd-eye.com/(05).htm
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Old 06-03-03, 06:56 AM   #6
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I agree about taking the lane when necessary. By doing so, you accomplish two things: First, you force drivers to move over to pass. This usually prevents cars approaching from both directions passing you at the same time. Second, when you take some of the lane, you give yourself some escape room if a driver buzzes you. This is especially important on overpasses where you have nowhere to go but off the edge. Take part of the lane even if the overpass has shoulders.

Before you decide that riding on the roads is too hairy, remember that drivers do not want to run into you. You will be safer if you ride predictably and use some common sense when deciding where and how to ride. Be comfortable with your speed and adjust it based on riding conditions. Remember that, if a road is pleasant to drive, it will probably be pleasant to cycle. On the other hand, if a road is miserable to drive, expect it will also be miserable to cycle.

My absolutely favorite time to ride is early weekend mornings. Set out as soon as it's light enough and you'll have little traffic, cooler temperatures, cleaner air, and a wonderful ride.
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Old 06-03-03, 08:19 AM   #7
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Another advantage of the 3rd eye mirror is that it allows you to maintain a watch for traffic behind you even when the road is curved. A handle bar mirror is only good for straight roads.
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Old 06-03-03, 09:19 AM   #8
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mkwdrs: Hang in there you'll get used to it, with time. A couple of additional tips that may help.

When taking your fare share of the lane give a little signal with your left hand. Usually a simple act of removing your hand from the bar and pointing to the ground towards your left gives the driver behind you an indication you're moving left. I do this whenever I need space or am coming up to a stop light where I have to stop.

Also, to get some more experience out on the road consider doing some organized rides. You can opt for the shorter 15, 25, 25 mile routes until you get more confidence. A lot of the time the first portion of the ride will have police escorts and/or busy intersections blocked off for you.

Finally, if there's no rides near by try to find an area where the road is divided into 4 lanes. Donna and I did this when she first started riding with me. She would ride on my right side close to the curb and I'd ride on the left closer to the other lane. Here in GA you can legally ride side by side so we occupied the right lane and forced drivers to pass us in the left lane. We've done this for quite some time now and not once have we had any problems. Of course it goes without saying that you shouldn't do this during rush hour

Hang in there, it does get better.

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Old 06-03-03, 09:44 AM   #9
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Congratulations on your first mix with cagers.

Let me just reiterate what the others have said. Hugging that white line is an invitation for the cars to squeeze by you.

It seems to be a corollary to Murphy's law that when two cars travelling opposite directions share the road with a bicycle, the cars will pass one another at the same moment that they pass the bike.

Hang tough and keep riding.
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Old 06-03-03, 09:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by RegularGuy
It seems to be a corollary to Murphy's law that when two cars travelling opposite directions share the road with a bicycle, the cars will pass one another at the same moment that they pass the bike.
This is true. You can ride an hour w/out seeing a car, but when one comes, there will be another traveling in the opposite direction, and they will pass each other exactly where you are.
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Old 06-03-03, 10:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by mkwdrs
I then realized that I have one kid (3-1/2 years old) and just how important is riding on the roads anyway? I realize this is no big deal to the roadies (who have my ultimate respect now). I'm in no hurry to get back onto the roads as of yet. One dumb teenager or one drunk and off to heaven I go. I'm sure I'll get over it.
Congratulations on your first road ride. But did you ever wonder why traffic cycling is no big deal to roadies?

It's mainly a matter of experience, or better still, education (which is just experience on steroids -- you don't have to learn the hard way what to do or not to do if you're taught these things).

Unfortunately, most cyclists' education in the USA stops when they're about 12 and they're told, "You'll get killed if you ride in the road!". Following that mistaken advice pretty much precludes ever using a bike for transportation. And it's also largely not so.

My recommendation is twofold, therefore:

1) Read John Allen's Bicycling Street Smarts. It's available on-line at http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/index.htm , and it's been adopted as the Bicycle Driver's Manuals for Pennsylvania and Ohio. Chapter 2 ("Where to ride in the road") has an illustration that deals with the situation you've described, showing a cyclist riding a safe, more-than-a-door's-width distance from parked cars with a motorist behind him or her. The caption on this illustation reads,

"By riding a safe distance from roadside hazards, you increase your safety. When you ride correctly, the motorist in the driveway (a) sees you; the motorist overtaking you (b) will not take the easy way out and skim by your elbow; and the car door (c) is no threat."

The pamphlet is filled with useful information. I highly recommend it.

2) Take a Bicycle Driver Training class. These are courses established by (either) the League of American Bicyclists or the Bicycle Transportation Institute that will teach you practical skills for traffic cycling through a pedals-on approach, thereby increasing your safety, confidence and enjoyment of road cycling.

You can find out where such a course might be offered in your area through a couple means. The Georgia Bicycle Federation's website offers contact information and a mailing list, at
http://www.bicyclegeorgia.com/ . And this page --
http://www.serve.com/bike/georgia/gaadvorg.html -- lists many other bicycle organizations in Georgia, one or more of which might be local to you.

I ride 22 miles every day in Boston, a town fulla damnyankees that's legendary for its rude drivers, congested traffic, narrow roads and bad weather -- and most of the time, I love it. I got rid of a car six years ago, and I don't miss it.

Quote:
By the way, my pace seemed to be alot faster on the road than when I ride in a controlled environment.
Actually, I'm not surprised, because if your "controlled environment" is an off-road path, it's probably not as controlled as you'd like to think. Paths that are shared with pedestrians, dogs, playing children (some as young as a year old that should be better supervised), cyclists of all levels of abilities, and that tend not to be paved, swept or designed to road standards shouldn't be assumed to be safe just because there aren't motor vehicles on them.

The way I explain it to people is this: path riding is its own vocation, and it can be pleasant. But when you're on one, yours is the biggest, heaviest, fastest, and most dangerous device on the path. Fair or not, this means that you're the one who's going to be held most responsible if you crash into anyone. So take it slow and safe and enjoy the scenery, and if you really have to get somewhere in a hurry -- use the road.

Quote:
I'll accept any recommendation for mirrors for a road bike. Mine wasn't big enough and I couldn't get it adjusted right.
Well ... I don't use one. I tried a helmet-mounted mirror, and I liked it, until it fell off. Then I didn't miss it.

A mirror is fine as a back-up system to alert you in advance to traffic that might prevent you from merging left. But that's all it is -- a back-up. It doesn't replace turning your head and checking that there's a safe gap to move into before merging because a mirror won't show you all you need to know.

So I recommend learning to ride safely without one, and then using one if you want to. Others might disagree, and that's fine. The aforementioned John Allen wears one on his eyeglass frame every time he rides. (But he still uses a shoulder-check before merging left or right -- and that's what's important!)

Good luck to you!
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Old 06-03-03, 11:04 AM   #12
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I like the Blackburn mirror that mounts on the brake hoods. The the third eye mirror took my eyes to far off the road and I personally had more close calls the days I used it than other days when I didn't. It is a personal thing I guess as some people love them and some don't. I really like my brake hood mirror though, reminds my of the old motorcycle I used to have.
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Old 06-03-03, 04:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by mkwdrs
The road didn't have much extra space outside of the line, but I was hugging it the best I could. The car behind me didn't slow down at all and missed me by like a foot.
I hate to say it but you will have to get used to drivers like this and the closer you get the the curb, the closer the cars will come to you. I have found that riding about 3 feet from the curb pretty much keeps the drivers away from me and I rarely get honked at because I am part of the traffic stream. If they see that you are cycling a consistent, straight line and that you know what you're doing, you are predictable and they are more easily able to pass you when they can instead of trying to force you over.

Having said this, I prefer to cycle in the evening as the cars are allowed to park on the main road I cycle on and I get 2-3 feet from the left side of the car to cycle in without having to worry about the drivers as they are now beside me instead of coming up behind me.

Anyway, congratulations on your first road ride. You will soon develop nerves of steel and quick reactions to drivers and pedestrians making stupid moves.

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Old 06-03-03, 04:56 PM   #14
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Good job!! Remember, that one teenager or drunk can take you out just as easily if you are in your car as on your bike. So don't be discouraged.

Do you have a local bicycle club? You should ask around and see if there is one (or more). Join and ride on the road with them. You will meet some like minded roadies and have a good time. But, more importantly, there will be more of you and my guess is that you will feel more comfortable riding in a group. Even if there are only two or three of you. And you will learn some good tactics from riding with other, more experienced riders. Have fun!!
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Old 06-03-03, 06:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Inkwolf
I sometimes find myself trying to check my mirror when I'm walking.
I was walking downtown just today with a co-worker who asked me about my "nervous twitch." It took me a moment to figure out that she was referring to my "check-six" head move.

BTW, I use the "Take-a-Look" eyeglass mount, which has a rectangular mirror and a very adjustable brass stem. I like it because it's relatively large, yet light, and adjusts easily to the varying thicknesses of different eyeglass stems.

http://www.pacelineproducts.com/menu...s/tkealook.htm

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Old 06-04-03, 03:10 AM   #16
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I'd like to add my recommendation to what people have said so far. If you hug too closely to the edge of the kerb you're inviting drivers to get way too close to you. Additionally, you're also riding on the section of the road that has the most uneven surface, hence increasing your chances of a mishap.

I take the view that you should ride on the section of the road that's the most even with the least potholes and bumps (within reason). Think about this, if you're moving along at 30km/h and a car comes up behind you, they've got time to see you and slow down if necessary. On the other hand, if you're hugging the kerb, the driver won't perceive any need to slow down. If you hit one of the potholes or bumps that I mentioned above while hugging the kerb, you could give yourself some real problems.

So my recommendation is to ride on the better surfaced part of the lane and avoid them.

Mass Biker largely covered my views about riding on a path, but I will add another. You need to be extremely careful of road/path intersections when using the path. Cars are less likely to see you when you leave the path to cross the road. Let's face it, paths don't go everywhere we need to go. It's useful to develop the skills for dealing with traffic in any event.

Re: mirrors. I tried a handlebar mounted mirror a few years ago and found it the next best thing to useless. I found myself spending way too much time adjusting it to get a better view, then looking over my shoulder anyway. About the only time I noticed it was when I was blinded by the sun behind me. It wasn't a good experience. It broke of near Glen Innes on a tour - and I haven't bothered to replace it.
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Old 06-04-03, 06:33 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by mkwdrs
Well, I finally did it. I ventured out onto the road finally after mostly riding in and around a high school which has little to no traffic.

So, I have a couple of vehicles heading toward me and one coming from behind . Of course they would arrive at me at the same time. The road didn't have much extra space outside of the line, but I was hugging it the best I could. The car behind me didn't slow down at all and missed me by like a foot.
Danny, it sounds to me like you need to take an Effective Cycling course. I took the course in Oct 2000. It helped me a lot in dealing with traffic and gave me the "courage" to commute to work by bike.
You have to "take the lane" when the road is too narrow for a car to safely pass or there is no shoulder. I know it's hard but don't let cars intimidate you.


Last month I completed and graduated from the League Cycling Instructors Training Seminar and now I'm a League Cycling Instructor and would be happy to have you in my first class. This doesn't make me an expert, it means I read and understand John Forester's book (Effective Cycling ~ 600 pages), got the training videos, and the instructor's manual (15 chapters) and I understand the League's policies. That's the disclaimer.

We could get together for a ride and some "training" whenever you're ready, either in your neighborhood or on the SC Trail.
I'm still unemployed so I'm ready any weekday or weekend.

Last edited by RonH; 06-04-03 at 06:39 AM.
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