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  1. #1
    Silly Party Member
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    Touring safety comfort words sought!

    I withdraw my query. I found that folks seemed to misunderstand what I was asking, even after clarification.

    I was merely asking for real world reports on the current state of touring on US roads with regards to traffic (w/ distracted cell phone users, etc.) and it seemed to have turned into the Spanish Inquisition.

    Apologies.

    Last edited by EriktheFish; 02-24-10 at 07:12 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Do you usually ride on roads when not on tour? If so why are you more worried about safety on tour. I always figured that I was safer on tour than around town at home traffic wise.

    BTW just my opinion, but I suspect that folks who are greatly worried are more likely to have accidents despite or maybe even because of taking extra measures. I have found that to be true in other pursuits. If it really worries you or her I'd either try real hard to get over it or else not tour. Bicycle touring is a pretty safe activity IMO, but I wouldn't do it if I was worried the whole time. I'd advise doing some riding on similar roads to what you will tour on and if it bothers you/her much I wouldn't tour until it didn't.

  3. #3
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Touring is fun. Enjoy it.

    Night ride to beat the heat:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/lurksmar...23/rNL16aNqOwE
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I apologize if this isn't very helpful. Fear isn't rational, and presenting rational arguments about the safety of touring may not allay your wife's fears. Personally, I have a mild-to-moderate fear of three things. While I know they fill a valuable niche, I am creeped out by bats. Nor do I like confined places. That made for quite the afternoon when we became lost in some caves at Pinnacles National Monument and someone pointed out a group of bats roosting a few inches over my head. The result was my first and only genuine panic attack. I also don't like being high on bridges. Being on top of mountains or in buildings doesn't bother me. It's the notion of air under my feet that seems to make me squirm.

    I KNOW these are unreasonable fears, and I try not to let them stop me from doing things I enjoy, like hiking and cycling. But they stubbornly persist. Your wife may be injured or killed on tour. She may suffer the same riding around town, or climbing a ladder, or dropping a blow dryer into the bath tub. I've ridden Hwy. 1 through Big Sur many times and I think it's one of the most beautiful, rewarding experiences that can be had on a bicycle. My wife's not the least interested in trying it. Maybe someday, but I am loathe to push the issue based on my own admittedly anecdotal experience.

    My mother had acrophobia, but in an attempt to nurture our love of backpacking, she gamely soldiered on. Her fear of heights worsened dramatically as she continued to trek through high places. All of this is to say that if your wife wants to go, she'll go. Please be understanding of her fear and exercise pagtience. Make a small gift of a rearview mirror. Put a reflective triangle on the back of her bike. Wrap her in highly visible clothing. And then go and have fun.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Have to agree with Staehpj1 on all points.

    And I have to ask wheter you worry about your wife or yourself dying a horrible death when you get behind the wheel of a car as I'll bet driving is statistically more dangerous.

  6. #6
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    you get used to the traffic on the coast. Ride early in the day, avoid tourism months. That said, traffic-wise the ride is often great and often quite scary. But after a while you begin the enjoy the passing semis and motor homes that pull you with their vaccuum.

  7. #7
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    Touring seems pretty safe to me. The risk isn't zero, of course, and depends on the routes you are riding. If you follow the ACA maps they take into account safety in a reasonable way.

    I think the exception is the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) which is heavily trafficked and, except for the western part of the Olympic Peninsula (which is a rainy alternative to the way ACA maps take you) there is usually no other way. The PCH is a great experience, especially the "social scene" aspect of it.

    In the summertime it is very, very busy with tourist traffic and the rest of the time it is only busy. Frankly, you might be miserable on this route but many, many do it without incident and have the greatest time. Why not at least consider some alternatives before making a final decision?

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EriktheFish View Post
    To clarify, I'm not worried one bit! It's my wife. I cut my bicycle riding teeth on the streets of SouthernCal, where nobody rides or walks or uses public transport, they all drive (and don't much care about cyclists).

    It would just help her frame of mind for some tourists to post words saying that bike touring is as safe/dangerous as it has ever been.
    OK in that case I will rephrase:
    Does she usually ride on roads when not on tour? If so why is she more worried about safety on tour?

    Seriously, I think that it is a safe endeavor, but a person should be comfortable riding on the roads. If they are, a tour is no different and shouldn't be a concern. If they are not then a tour is still no different and they should be concerned.

    Since you asked... I will say that I don't think that touring is more dangerous now than in the past. The fact that more people ride now is a big help in that drivers are more used to looking for bikes especially on routes like the Pacific Coast which is a popular bicycle touring route.

    I encourage her to go, but she needs to be comfortable riding and want to go.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    The risk from being run over by a drunk has almost certainly declined in the last 20 years. The risk of being hit by a distracted driver has certainly increased. Nothing you can do about either. Sounds like you're gonna be taking all the precautions one could. With your wife's extensive touring experience, not much any of us could say to reduce her anxiety, other than to remind her we probably risk more crossing a busy street with a signal light than we do pedaling down the highway.

    Touring is suppose to be fun. After the first couple of days on the road, if her anxiety level is high, then she won't be having any fun and it'll be time to go back home.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  10. #10
    Senior Member blaise_f's Avatar
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    I'm sure Russ will read this, and that's fine. I am perfectly fine quoting him on this, because it is spot on and one of the best 'philosophies' of bike touring, life and general living (in my opinion).

    The Great Fear starts in Prudhoe Bay Alaska, is what we are told. It is found in the Northern Territories of Canada, deep in the woods of Oregon, in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, hiding in the low brush of the plains, in the alleys of Los Angeles, at the border in Mexico and in the jungles of South America. It hunts you from the dim corners of your waking mind and like a vampire bat drains your will and constitution before you are even aware of it.

    In the North, the Great Fear takes the form of the grizzly bear. The bike tourists that we met coming down from Alaska were all duly warned that to ride without a shotgun was madness. They would be bear food and nothing would be left of them except for a few Shimano components licked clean.
    None of them saw grizzlies. Some of them saw black bears. All of them survived.
    As you travel south, the Great Fear changes suits and transforms into snakes that hide for you sharpening their fangs in the bushes or mountain lions waiting anxiously on some rock outcropping over the road. As you reach civilization, the Great Fear becomes man. He’s going to run you off the road. He’s waiting for you in dark alleys. He’s going to poison your dinner. He’s going to abduct you and take you for ransom.
    The Great Fear is everywhere and everything and nothing all at once.
    Nils and Caroline were a german couple that was touring from Alaska to Argentina, they were very familiar with the Great Fear and its vociferous choir. Their friends would warn them of bears in Alaska, of logging trucks in Oregon. When we met them in Oregon they laughed most of it off as did the other tourists we met. As they approached the US/Mexico border, the chatter changed from bears to drug lords, ransoms and kidnappings. “There is always something to be afraid of,” they said. “Always.”
    It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be - this is a lesson we’ve learned.
    One morning at camp, there were six of us huddled around an Adventure Cycling map on the picnic table. There was a very ominous road we were going to be riding called Seven Devils road. People were talking about it the night before, they were going to bed early and going to push off at first light. Seven Devils. Seven Devils. The Great Fear hung in the air. When it finally came to ride it, we all braced for the worst, but in the end Seven Devils was one of the most pleasant roads we’ve ridden. There was a sharp spike in the beginning, but once we got to the ridge line it was a series of gentle climbs in a little traveled road.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Having ridden 2500 miles and lived for four months without a permanent address, we are gaining perspective on the Great Fear.
    Yes there are dangers. Yes, terrible and freakish things do happen to people, but that is the exception and not the rule. For us, we’ve been met with more generosity and kindness than hostility. We’ve had maybe two verbal exchanges with drivers throughout the entire west coast. We are not naive. We rely on good sense and instinct.
    The Great Fear is what stops people in their tracks. It is what turns dreams into dust.
    For me, I have what I will call, for lack of a better term, My Greater Fear. It is that I will live a perfectly unexceptional existence with this exceptional chance I have been given. My Greater Fear is that I will rot beneath a matrix of fluorescent lights staring at the carpeted walls of a cubicle, or that I will wake knowing exactly what I will be doing every minute of every day for the rest of my waking life, or that I will wait until I am old and enfeebled to give myself permission to live.
    In the face of My Greater Fear, which I think is far more likely, I choose to jump and embrace the Great Fear.
    We are in Long Beach and we are preparing ourselves for the next leg of our journey. It almost feels like we are starting over again. The first four months has been our training, our long shakedown ride for the rest of the trip. The fears are already starting to emerge. Will we freeze on the side of the road? Be swept away by a tornado? Washed away by a hurricane? Will the Natural Lite drinking drivers of the South finally do us in?
    There is always something to be afraid of. Always.

    From: http://pathlesspedaled.com/?p=892
    http://bygonebicyclist.com
    Penny-farthing adventures, touring & collecting

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by EriktheFish View Post
    It would just help her frame of mind for some tourists to post words saying that bike touring is as safe/dangerous as it has ever been.
    Car handling/braking abilities have improved greatly, and so has the road quality for cyclists. Heading south on the pacific coast is relatively shouldered and comfortable. That combined with increased traffic should mean that they kinda equal out.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    You can never rule out all risk, but driving to work every day in your car involves risk too.

    For what it's worth, despite our worst fears of cycling in America (thinking it would be a slightly hostile country in terms of driver attitudes), we had few scary encounters on the road there. Actually, I struggle to think of any. Drivers were generally courteous and we found plenty of back roads.

    Do you have mirrors? I find being able to see what's coming up behind you and seeing if the car is moving over or not helps soothe the fear factor a lot.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  13. #13
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    No, what Staehpj1 meant is "ask her!" If she rides safely at home, what is so terrifying about being 30 miles from home rather than 3? Don't judge her fears as silly. Listen and take her seriously. It might be she's like my mother-outlaw, and sees murderous car drivers around every corner. Rational fear, but why would a driver be more likely to hit me 30 miles from home? Statistically, my risk of being hit is much higher within two miles of home, because I spend so much time there. (and in fact every single car accident my parents have had took place within two miles of home.)

    Or it could be some other fear. Most of the time, our fears are pretty rational, just excessive compared to the actual risk. The nice thing about a rational fear is that you can address it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EriktheFish View Post
    Why? Well, unless you are married to a woman that anxiously worries about things in life that you think are ridiculous to worry about (as I do, but I love her and support her nonetheless), then there is no way I can explain it.
    Obviously, you don't need to answer me on any of this, but asking her that may help you better understand what her concerns are. Take the following as rhetorical if you want.

    Does you comment imply that, yes she does ride on the roads around home with less worry? If so what does she say worries her more about touring than riding around home. Is it just touring in general? The specific route? Protective feelings toward her child? Something else?

    On other possibility to consider. Maybe she just doesn't want to tour. Could it be that her anxiety is rooted in the fact that she just doesn't want to do this tour? If that is the case I would definitely not pressure her.

    Good luck, and I hope that this works out well for all of you.

    Edit: I hadn't seen Torillin's post when I sent this, but yes that is what I meant.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 02-23-10 at 12:21 PM.

  15. #15
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    couple of years back i fell on blackice broke my collorbone layed up for 3 month's.since then im a nervous wreck on slippery roads ,so i can kinda see where your good wife is comming from.rideing in a strange place can un nerve you,when your cycling at home your familar with the roads you know what traffic condition's are like,but away from home you have no idea how the dreded car drivers are going to threat us cyclist's.best bet is to be seen yellow been proberly the best colour ,add a few flashing red light's and everything should be fine.very best of luck hope she can get over her fear and enjoy her cycling again... cheers antokelly.

  16. #16
    40 yrs bike touring
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    One possible solution for a touring couple with different experience and strength levels is to ride a tandem bike on tour. It is not for everyone but my own experience has been very positive.

    Once the stoker learns to trust the captain sufficiently then the person can relax and enjoy the ride without worry about judging traffic, gear change and braking decisions. My stoker actually prefers the tandem to her single bike due to less to think about except maybe navigation on the map pinned on my back.

  17. #17
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    Every time I ride, whether for a day or a week, I ride as careful as I can and try not to worry. If I have to worry about every place I go I might as well stay home. I plan for emergencies, keep in daily touch with my family and keep a positive outlook. I plan my route, check for campgrounds,bike shops & look for WS hosts. I have had close calls and trips with no problems at all. Get out and have a good time.

    ed

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by EriktheFish View Post
    Gosh, ain't the internet a funny place. Sometimes you post something and folks just get what you are saying and other times it seems like you are talking to someone from a different planet. This post has seemed like the latter, so I'm giving up.

    This forum does not allow you to delete a post, so I'll say: Have a nice day!
    WHAT did i miss out on something here please explain .?

  19. #19
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antokelly View Post
    WHAT did i miss out on something here please explain .?
    The answers were not to the OP's liking so he edited his original and subsequent post, deleting the relevant content. The result of which makes the responses look disjointed, and of course, the information is no longer there to help anyone else either.

  20. #20
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Well I missed the original post but why not try again? Maybe wording the question in a different way? It's hard at times to read between the lines of sarcasm and serious posts at times.

    Nothing gained if you don't try.

    Sorry you got bummed out.

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  21. #21
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EriktheFish View Post
    Gosh, ain't the internet a funny place. Sometimes you post something and folks just get what you are saying and other times it seems like you are talking to someone from a different planet. This post has seemed like the latter, so I'm giving up.

    This forum does not allow you to delete a post, so I'll say: Have a nice day!
    Click on your edit button and delete it.
    Or ask your wife to do it for you.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  22. #22
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    I missed the OP as well, and I'm sorry I did. The responses don't look to be disrespectful, and irrelevant responses are to be expected, this is an internet forum, after all!

    OP, not having read your post... you could quote her some FDR - "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!"

    blaise_f, thanks for posting that excellent comment from pathlesspedaled.

    Sometimes I do stuff *because* it's scary, to prove to myself I can do it.
    Other times I do stuff I really *want* to do, in spite of the fact that it's scary, because I really want to do it. Usually this turns out well. Not always.
    Other times, I don't do stuff because it's scary and not worth it.

    The only regrets I have are when I don't do stuff that is scary, and I regret letting my fear prevent me because I think it would have been worth it.

    Every once in a great while I do something in spite of it being scary, and then wish I hadn't because being scared ruins it.
    ...

  23. #23
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
    The answers were not to the OP's liking so he edited his original and subsequent post, deleting the relevant content. The result of which makes the responses look disjointed, and of course, the information is no longer there to help anyone else either.
    Exactly why Neil put a short time limit on one's ability to edit a post that had a response.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  24. #24
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    "For me, I have what I will call, for lack of a better term, My Greater Fear. It is that I will live a perfectly unexceptional existence with this exceptional chance I have been given. My Greater Fear is that I will rot beneath a matrix of fluorescent lights staring at the carpeted walls of a cubicle, or that I will wake knowing exactly what I will be doing every minute of every day for the rest of my waking life, or that I will wait until I am old and enfeebled to give myself permission to live."

    Damn... That sounds like me recently That's exactly what I worry about these days, that I'm wasting away my life away under fluorescent lights, one daily routine to another. It's turning into a real fear. I wake up every day and, even though I like my job, I'm scared that I'll be doing this for the rest of my life, I won't see much, I won't experience much, like a hamster in a treadmill. So I've been brainstorming ideas but I woke up to it a bit late. I wish this had occurred to me a decade earlier when I was in my thirties. Still, I'm only 43 so I hope I'll manage to live my life more fully. Wow, that was a profoundly powerful post. For most people who live normal lives fear is baseless and irrational and it keeps them from experiencing great things in life.

    I'm actually thinking that if I die from a hart attack while in front my computer in the office or in a boring meeting, it'll be a really sad way to go. But if I get killed by a landslide, lightning or a wild animal while hiking or touring it'll be a much better way to go. Which reminds of that Ranger who died somewhere in USA a few years ago. He fell from a rock to his death. But according to his colleagues he used to say something like: "If I die in a car accident then cry for me, but if I die while out there in the wild, don't cry for me because I died doing what I love". Long uneventful life scares me now. I gotta do something.

    Adam

  25. #25
    Senior Member mattbicycle's Avatar
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    It's a shame this thread looks a mess to read because the advice given appears genuine and helpful. It's a mess because the OP's contributions have been changed.

    AdamDZ - this story reminds me of a German tourist who died in New Zealand in the last week of a round-the-world tour. I can't remember his name. Was reading it on CGOAB a while back. Thank you for your words about sitting aimlessly in a cubicle. It reminds me of the call centre I worked in for too many years. I'm not sure anything you wrote will help the OP's wife very much, but I enjoyed reading it.

    It's perfectly normal and OK to be concerned, but if you let it stop you doing what you want, then it becomes a problem. Now I am getting off-track as well.

    To the OP: I would point out that the skills you've developed to allow you to ride your bicycle and finish your ride in one piece in your home city carry-over perfectly to whatever town/city/state/province you visit on your tour. It's not like spending a year learning French and then going on a holiday to Brazil and expecting everything to be great. You manage your safety well now. The same skills are applied to other places. I feel safer touring because I find there's less cars on the road; and I am more alert for danger than when I am riding at home in familiar territory, I often find myself only half paying attention because the surroundings are familiar.

    Also, people begin and finish tours ever day. Some of them of long duration through exotic places (Central Asia, for instance). Almost all of them finish their trips safely.

    I hope some of my latter remarks in this post help your wife in some respect.

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