How slow is too slow for the road?
So I'm crazy out of shape. Over the winter, I had these grand plans of commuting, so I was hitting the stationary bike 3 times a week until I was averaging 30 mph for 30 minutes. Figured that was pretty good. Did that from November until the end of Feb or so. Then one morning it was too hard to get out of bed. So was the next. Then a week went by. Then a month. And now it's May and I'm just trying to get out on the road when I have time to get back into shape and have found some things.
1. Either I've gotten into a lot worse shape than I was 3 months ago or, even without the hills I've been riding recently (and there are some of those that are rough - that'll be part 2), the stationary bike was very, very inaccurate in the distances it said I was riding. Sure my steel mountain bike with drop bars, slicks, rack, fenders, lock, and bag is not the most efficient of road bikes, but they must be expecting me to be riding on some sort of 2 lb superbike down a hill or something.
2. Hills are tough. And the curvy hills are scary as hell. Cars come whipping around these blind curves on a hill with double yellow lines and where the speed limit is 35 and pass me when they can't see what's coming (means passing me awful close sometimes). And, since I'm fat and slow (and out of shape), I'm only going like 8 mph, so they really don't want to wait to pass me as I trudge up this half mile or longer hill.
And that really leads to my question. Next to the road, there's a sidewalk. Well, I'm assuming it's a sidewalk. First there's a curb, then a strip of grass, and then a poorly maintained 2-3 ft wide strip of asphalt (not marked as a bike path and there is a bike lane on the road for part of the way where this asphalt exists, but then the bike lane just goes away after a while) with low tree branches hanging over it. Is there a speed that's too slow for the road when I should just go over to this sidewalk/path thingy? Whenever I've been on this road, I've had both the planet bike superflash under my saddle and the one ziptied to my helmet flashing away so I'm visible, but I know I'm just slow and afraid I'm a road hazard. Not sure I'd be any safer on this sidewalk because of the sidestreets and driveways (not to mention big ruts and lowhanging branches). Plus, in general, I just don't like riding on the sidewalks out of principle, but I wonder if this is one time in which I should make an exception. I haven't ever seen anyone walking on this particular sidewalk if it helps.
I've attached google.maps satelite and street views of the road and sidewalk (though the sidewalk does get narrower at parts than is shown there due to tree growth.