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Once again: Health VS Cycling Accidents

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Once again: Health VS Cycling Accidents

Old 11-24-16, 06:00 PM
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BikeArkansas
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Once again: Health VS Cycling Accidents

I know this has been discussed before, but it came home last night. My two sons and their wives were discussing the bicycles my wife and I own as they came through the garage. They also commented on our physical condition, which is pretty good for our age (67 & 69). Not better than other cyclists our age, but much better than the average American. Then the "but" comments started and everything centered on safety on the bicycle. Neither the sons or the daughter-in-laws considered the dangers of road cycling being worth the good physical condition, especially since I have had a couple nasty crashes in the past few years. As vehicles blew past us on the Thanksgiving club ride today I thought about the conversation with the sons, but we kept pedaling and felt good when we finished.
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Old 11-24-16, 06:10 PM
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Fitness Centers, MUP's, and Trainers suck. I like the wind in my face when road riding.
Crashed 2.5 years ago at age 0f 72, on 700 X 23 tires. Brain damage sucks.

Ride with Wide tires and Bright Lights Day and Night.
Three Wheels seem to be much safer now.

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Old 11-24-16, 06:13 PM
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This touches on a very fundamental philosophical issue. Namely how to balance increased short term risk vs. lowered long term risks.

Next time this comes up you might ask you sons if they're taking any medications, most of which can have serious side effects, albeit a low incidence of those.

Like you, I am in excellent health at 67, 100% free of any medications of any kind. Of course, I cant credit bicycling with this, and should also credit genes and luck. But, even if bicycling is only a small factor in my luck, I likewise consider it a small factor in the risk so sudden death or serious injury in the short term.

Actually, based on conversations with older friends, I suspect that the greatest risk of a lifetime of bicycling is the need to attend multiple funerals, including those of your family and closest friends. As one friend notes, when the time comes, there won't be anyone left to attend his.
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Old 11-24-16, 07:08 PM
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Nothing in life is risk-free. There are calculable risks to virtually any life event. I personally don't know where road cycling would fit along the risk continuum of sporting activities, probably somewhere in the middle.

Baseball, football, alpine climbing, parkour, downhill skiing, and golf are all sports where fatalities have occurred, too. So what? Cheerleading is actually one of the most dangerous organized sports in terms of injuries and most parents think nothing of letting their daughters join the cheer squad at school.

North Korea ostensibly, per the official Party propaganda, is a very safe country in terms of crime and motor vehicle traffic fatalities. And it could even be true, since the penalty for even minor crimes is draconian, and roads that do exists are almost traffic-free because very few have access to vehicle ownership. So ... if you worry about crime and traffic, I guess it's the paradise for you - of course it's a real Hell on Earth but hey, you're safe on the streets. Trading your freedom for safety yields you neither.

My personal opinion - life is way too short to worry about risk associated with a normal activity like cycling.

To the OP - if you children were concerned because you have taken up extreme motocross or extreme alpine skiing they might have a legitimate concern.

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Old 11-24-16, 07:15 PM
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Getting out of bed in the morning may be hard sometimes, but who would have thought that it could actually be threatening to your life!? 450 people in the US die from falling out of their beds each year.
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Old 11-24-16, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Getting out of bed in the morning may be hard sometimes, but who would have thought that it could actually be threatening to your life!? 450 people in the US die from falling out of their beds each year.
Please don't take offense where none is intended. But this is the kind of strawman I'd more expect on A&S than here.

Moe to the point, it won't be helpful for the OP to use it in discussion with his sons. These are difficult family discussions, and call for tact, understand and patience. However, they also call for a reminder that we all have to live our own lives.

So the OP will want assuage his' sons' worries with practical info, and failing success there, might gently remind them to mind their own business.
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Old 11-24-16, 07:46 PM
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I think it is such a positive thing that the children have concern, that speaks of a close family connection. It may be that they are not talking about cycling at all, but are expressing their feelings about parental aging. Be careful with their feelings, and grateful that you have people who worry about your well being.

10 Wheels, I had not heard about your crash until now. I'm so sorry it happened to you.
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Old 11-24-16, 08:17 PM
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This is a subject that I think about from time to time. I've made major changes to my riding habits due to several injuries and deaths to cyclists in central NC.
I no longer do solo rides on roads. If I'm riding on the road, it's a group ride or at least more than one bike. This makes us more visable. I've stopped riding on certain roads no matter how many bikes are in the group. Due to heavy truck traffic, one of the roads I used to use is now suicide during daily hours. Not a problem after 5 PM.
I've taken to riding a local MUP when riding solo. I don't want to give up cycling or decline the miles I'm turning. Recently, I turned 70 and have had some minor health issues. The doctors constantly comment what good shape I'm in for my age with an excellent "athlete's" heart. To me, that's very important.
To sum up, it's smart to assess one's riding habits and determine if changes will improve the safety aspects of riding. We'll lose any argument with a car.
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Old 11-24-16, 08:36 PM
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Would your family worry if you took to playing tennis or driving a car around? Well, those are more dangerous than cycling.

Relative risk in cycling

Cycling is a very safe activity. Sure, the news likes to play up any and all serious injuries and fatalities, but that's because it is a man-bites-dog story. Okay, it's also because many motorists hate having cyclists on the roads and when one of them harms a cyclist they seem to enjoy blaming the victim.

While we're on relative safety, I trust your younguns are wearing proper motor sport helmets when they are in passenger vehicles. Their risk of traumatic brain injury is 12% higher than that of a cyclist per hour of activity.

Of course none of the data really matter. In my experience, most of us ride because it brings us great joy. That the pleasure comes with some risk is known and accepted by us. People engaging in more dangerous activities (that they don't even enjoy) like habitual driving or walking, don't have any way of knowing the joy we get from cycling any more than we know the joy they get from the activities that please them. Since they don't see the plus side, they think the risk/benefit is all downside. They love you, but they are both ill-informed and lacking in empathy.
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Old 11-24-16, 08:46 PM
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My kids are grown and don't really need me anymore. I enjoy cycling and am planning to keep doing it until I can't.

I watched my father and FIL go through a miserable end of life due to cancer and Alzheimer's. My view is life's too short to sacrifice enjoyable activities while you still can.
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Old 11-24-16, 09:50 PM
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I hear the same things from some older folks. "Why! It's so dangerous!" blah-blah-blah.

I'm tempted to say "So I don't end up like you."

I know folks in their 60s and 70s who are miserable, in chronic pain, too weak to walk far, not because of old age or legitimate medically diagnosed disabilities, but because of too many years of sheer indolence, neglecting even the most moderate exercise. And it only gets harder to come back from so many years of physical laziness and neglect. It looks like an awful way to spend the final 25% or longer of ones life.

I don't see how the relatively small risk of injuries from cycling is worse than spending the final 20 years of life as stiff as a zombie, with terrible balance and risking falls and injuries just from wobbling across the room, unable to enjoy activities that demand more effort than flicking the remote control or swiping the touch screen.

It's bad enough that some genuinely disabled people are forced to endure years of life like that. But choosing to live that way through neglect, indolence, overeating and constantly complaining about being in pain and uncomfortable and feeling confined by self-imposed immobility... yikes. Nope.
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Old 11-24-16, 10:16 PM
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As the OP, I agree with almost all these comments. Some a little over, but OK. I plan to keep riding, but I have noticed I do not take the busy roads much any more. My boys are good athletes and do work out, but they do not like having cars fly buy on the road. Everyone to their own.
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Old 11-25-16, 03:55 AM
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Canklecat - totally agree with you. I've seen that professionally and personally in my own family. A living lingering Hell of epic tragic proportions.

My own personal experiences color my beliefs on this issue (naturally). One thing which made me realize the folly of a belief in "safety" - I had an uncle who was a cop. Naturally, that career brings with it a lot of angst for the family. Of course, he had the personality for it, brave and tough but smart, not cavalier about things. So the inherent risk of death in the line of duty was there but he seemed ok psychologically with it.

Irony - He was killed suddenly and violently, yet lingered long enough to know what happened. Not shot on duty - a terrible head-on with a drunk - .21 blood alcohol- who crossed the center line on a curving lakeside road. He was driving to my grandmother's house, on a road I've been on thousands of times, about 4 miles from where I live, to take her an Easter lily. Lingered 10 days in ICU. Life turned on a dime for him and his family in a completely unpredictable way that had nothing to do with the risk everyone but he feared could take him out. Instead something much more common. 38 years old, wife and 6 kids ages 15-2. And yes, there is irony using a drunk-driving fatality to make a point about the relative risk of cycling. You can't alleviate risk, only minimize it, hope for the best and deal with the worst if it happens. While the family worries about a cyclist taken out by a car, statistically the cyclist is a lot more likely to die as the result of a fall in the home.

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Old 11-25-16, 05:08 AM
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I ride, because - it feels good and makes me happy (a drug?). Any potential health benefits are nice. Just about ecerything we do has some associated risk, the longer you do something higher possibility one will encounter these risks. Including getting squashed by an SUV while cycling - a risk I take, as the alternative is not a viable option for me.
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Old 11-25-16, 05:48 AM
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Back when I was in college the most common causes of death were (in order) heart disease, cancer, strokes and accidents. Everybody is going to go someway. I'm kind of holding out for cancer.
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Old 11-25-16, 05:52 AM
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I was out riding the neighborhood on Thanksgiving morning with my winter bike taking in the peacefulness. I deeply deplore the trainer and will ride the snowstorms at night on our streets. Safe? If I wanted to be safe I would watch TdF reruns. I rather like being the only guy out there at night. In heavy snow. On a REAL bike.
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Old 11-25-16, 08:01 AM
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As others mentioned, you choose your routes carefully, you make yourself as visible as possible, you use wider tires, and you ride defensively. For almost 20 years I have found a rear view mirror (helmet mounted in my case, but others prefer a handlebar or eyeglass mount) indispensable.
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Old 11-25-16, 08:12 AM
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Yes, finding the balance of risks is worth some thought.

But when I"m out on the road, I'm not only balancing the risk of accidents with the physical health benefits. Cycling is absolutely crucial to my mental health. It gives me unbounded joy.

We need to have reasons for our lives.
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Old 11-25-16, 08:20 AM
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Perception of risk is unreliable. We, as humans, tend to mentally reduce risk for things that we are familiar with (driving), or are fun (skiing) , while mentally enhancing risk of activities that we don't do, or where injuries are newsy. I'm sure your family is more impressed by your activity than appalled by it. Lifestyle behaviors are an individual choice and hard to discuss objectively with others. Nothing wrong with mulling over other points of view though.
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Old 11-25-16, 09:40 AM
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About 30 years ago, the wife rode our custom tandem about 3X because, "What would happen to the kids if...?" Never been on a bike since, has 2 in the garage. Although 6 years my junior, she is plagued with weight, joint, foot problems, and other issues.

I ride for many reasons too good to give up. I have made some concessions due to age. YMMV.

edit: If the kids have concerns, but you are standing on your own 2 feet, mentally competent = politely tell 'em to worry about something else.

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Old 11-25-16, 10:15 AM
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A big benefit I see over and over is the rather incredible healing powers my body has (compared to the typical couch potato), from cycling injuries, non-cycling injuries and sickness. Not magic. I have a past that means that allergies, immune issues and infections will always be close. But being in good condition with a strong heart and healthy circulation system helps a lot. Something I get riminded of every time I lose conditioning. (There are drawbacks. Inhaling far more air of varying quality often keeps my allergy issues high. A medication free life would be private hell for me.)

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Old 11-25-16, 10:25 AM
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I understand them and bicycling (road) risk does seriously concern me as well. Also of course, the health vs bicycling thing is NOT mutual exclusive - if you're the type of person that loves the outdoors, then there's plenty of other healthy outdoor sports and activities.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a relatively big risk taker - I'm a life long downhill skier and street motorcyclist, and in my mid 50's I still solo backpack/kayak, skateboard, rollerblade, and play a little ice hockey. But for me, the HUGE difference in risk between all the above sports, and road cycling, is simply that I am in control of the VAST majority of risks with the former, and I am just a sitting duck with the latter.

With a little speed, skill, and experience, most of the risks of the other sports are laid out in front you, and you choose what to do - if you fall or get hurt, you can really only blame yourself. But in road cycling, your greatest risks are behind you - you can really only watch your rear view mirror, cross your fingers that soccer mom/new teen driver is not playing with their smartphone, and maybe you are quick enough to bail out into a ditch if they are.

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Old 11-25-16, 11:21 AM
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Life has its risks--no risks no life!
Enjoy cycling!
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Old 11-25-16, 12:38 PM
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Still recovering from a nasty fall and broken pelvis due to an accident I couldn't have averted. It hurts, I'll recover, and I will get back on the bike.

If I didn't cycle, I'd be 40 lbs heavier, no doubt. So yes, I will get back on once healed.
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Old 11-25-16, 03:20 PM
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I know a couple of people suffering from traumatic brain injuries sustained in bike crashes. In both cases, it isn't clear that they'll ever be the same again.

It's given me reason to pause and reflect about the risks I take, and what it would mean to my family if I suffered a similar incident.

But as the existentialists say, you are what you do, and I wouldn't be the same person if I weren't riding a bike.

So I keep going. And try to remember that it's better to risk disaster than to accept a slow decline. And after all ... The average risk of riding a bike is about the same, per unit time, as diving a car.

Last edited by Biker395; 11-25-16 at 07:25 PM.
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