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Old Farts and Paying Attention

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Old Farts and Paying Attention

Old 11-29-06, 07:52 PM
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cyclintom
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Old Farts and Paying Attention

Today we did a ride up Alpine Rd past Portola and rode up another mile or so to where there was a side road that cut back to Portola Valley.

The group was a bunch of old retired farts and a couple of slightly younger people who work later in the day.

I was being bothered all the way up on this ride because no one appeared to me to be paying sufficient attention to what they were doing. For instance, we overtook a rider and one of the people in the group started riding right on her wheel despite the fact that you could see that it was really bothering her.

Others in the group ran stop signs even when you could see that there were cars waiting with right-of-way. And in another case there is this narrow gateway leading to a pedestrian overpass of the freeway. Some of the group don't have good enough eyesight to weave between the barriers in order to ride up and over. Yet they got off and stood in the way rather than let those who could ride through do so.

In short, the sort of thoughtless rudeness that you'd like to think that people you're associating with don't do.

Today was one of those days when people were having lots of conversations. I like to talk too but I always keep my eyes plastered on the road. After all, it only takes a stray acorn at just the wrong time to lay you on your butt in the middle of the road with cars coming at 50 mph.

As we went up a steep but short climb the group spread out a bit. I was about 4th I think and as I came down a wet, slippery descent I was taking it very easy but then saw one of the leaders off to the side and so slowed and made the turn onto an abruptly appearing sideroad.

I stopped and waited for the rest to come up. I could hear the conversations and then as I looked back I saw one of the group taken by surprise by the sudden sideroad and he slammed on the brakes and the front end washed out, depositing him on the ground at nearly a stop.

Somehow he dislocated his ring finger so that it was pointing at right angles to his hand. Perhaps he broke his patella as well but I'd tend to doubt that. He walked over to the ambulance when it arrived an hour later with hardly a limp.

Here's a few lessons that I learned:

1) The first responders are generally the fire department. These guys are generally the salt of the earth and they can take your bike with them back to the station house when you're hauled off in the ambulance. So you only have to ask and then you don't have to worry about it.

2) Half the time a cop will also show up because he doesn't have anything better to do and that's a reasonable thing to do. Besides sometimes you might have to have someone directing traffic.

3) Unless you're uninsured go to the hospital even if you don't think that you need it. After even a small fall you're so hyped up on adrenolin that you probably won't know half the things that happened to you for hours. Don't take any chances by going home and then wandering into the emergency room a couple of hours later to discover (like an old friend of mine) that you've broken a couple of ribs and both your lungs are collapsing and you're about to die.

4) HAVE A PLAN. Before you are going to go out on a ride actually know what you'll do in case of an emergency. Have your medical insurance card. Your ID in case you're unconcious. Emergency contact telephone numbers. If you have a plan already you won't be sitting around trying to figure out what you're supposed to do and worrying yourself into even worse condition.

5) PAY ATTENTION. A bicycle has only two wheels. It requires someone with at least one brain to operate properly and lately I've been seeing too many people without that accoutrement. If you're on a back street with a four way stop sign and there's no cars then it's your judgement if you want to break the law or not. When there is other traffic that should be a clue that the vehicle laws are written just for that sort of situation. Respect other road users if you want to be respected.

And while we're at it let's underscore that someone that is out riding alone isn't your pace maker. You don't ride them down, sit on their wheel and then sprint off from them as if you were thinking that you're Marco Pantani with a weight problem. Most people do not like someone else, especially someone they don't know, sitting on their wheel.

Groups rides are often trying in and of themselves as there's always someone in the group who believes that harder, faster and longer should be the byword of any group ride. Personally I would love to go for just a nice pleasant ride sometime soon but I've not seen one in the last six months.

Last edited by cyclintom; 11-29-06 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 11-29-06, 08:00 PM
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- excellent advice... and glad to hear that the rider was OK (other than the dislocation)...

- yep, gotta pay attention... and i know what you're talking about with the wheel riding... have a riding partner (70 years old) who gets a little too close when drafting; although to be honest it's more often that i'm drafting him!

- all i do is say, in a *very* loud voice, "Hey! Drafting is OK, but look, don't touch!"

:-)
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Old 11-29-06, 08:33 PM
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As an update - the gentleman who made that somewhat less than spectacular fall has returned home after Stanford Medical Center looked him over. No knee problems as I suspected - only some bruises and the only problem with his finger was a dislocation which was snapped back in place by the man himself when he couldn't stand to look at it any longer.

He'll have a sore finger for some time but everything looks like it turned out OK.

And I just as soon that no one else has something that dumb happen to them.

We all learn by our mistakes but it is better to learn by someone else's mistakes. On wet leaves, muddy roads or anything else that effects traction, don't be too quick on the brakes or trying to turn. You can always go past the place you wanted to turn and come back at a more reasonable speed.
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Old 11-29-06, 11:01 PM
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After a few of the kind of rides CT described, I stopped riding with anyone but myself. Being alone presents it's own risks out on the road, but overall, I think it's a LOT safer.

Last edited by Big Paulie; 11-29-06 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 11-29-06, 11:22 PM
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"Personally I would love to go for just a nice pleasant ride sometime soon but I've not seen one in the last six months."

Of course, you could always lead a ride yourself. Also, don't pass out a cue sheet, just give a general idea of where you're going. That way no one can charge off ahead of the pack for fear they'll miss the route.
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Old 11-29-06, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Paulie
After a few of the kind of rides you described, I stopped riding with anyone but myself. Being alone presents it's own risks out on the road, but overall, I think it's a LOT safer.
In 1996 I did the same thing for some of the the same reasons. These last few years have found me short of motivation and long on "screw it, I'll ride tomorrow". It's a trap I thought I would never fall into because of my love of cycling and bicycles, but here I am at the end of my worst season ever. I've got to figure out how to find some riding partners for "07.
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Old 11-30-06, 07:07 AM
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Perhaps the ride leaders should have a talk with the group before each ride about safety, courtesy and paying attention.
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Old 11-30-06, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Big Paulie
After a few of the kind of rides CT described, I stopped riding with anyone but myself. Being alone presents it's own risks out on the road, but overall, I think it's a LOT safer.
+1

However, I don't mind riding with one other person, provided we have a good understanding about each other's riding habits.

I always tell folks that I will likely ride at a different speed than they do (usually slower), and that we should regroup periodically. This works out fine.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:14 AM
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I'm fortunate to have found a group of about 12 regular riders who are very skilled and safe to be around. These people add to the enjoyment of the ride, especially when they wait for me. We are members of a large club, however, and frequently less skilled riders will join our rides. It's bad enough out there with the cars, I don't like having to worry about crappy riders. The worst are the ones who think it's a race, but they don't know how to race.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:24 AM
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You gotta have rules and follow them. The club I ride with is very tough about this. We stop at all lights, we wait if the group gets broken up if you are in the lead you slow or stop and stop signs then call clear and let everyone through. Everyone stays pretty much in place and rotates through the front to the back. And this is the A ride, they have very few accidents, I think one in two years. I have ridden in with other clubs and it is a free for all, I do it sometimes for a short period but I would never ride with them regularly, I think its too dangerous.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:40 AM
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Maybe the next time a group like that gets together to ride one of you could give a little speech at the start exhorting the troops to ride responsibly.

Oops...repeating cc_rider's comments.

Last edited by cooker; 11-30-06 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 11-30-06, 10:08 AM
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I usually ride alone, nor because I don't like groups, but I have not yet found a group that rides consistently and at a pace I can tolerate. I am working hard to get into better and faster condition this winter. That being said, if a group I am riding with is riding dangerously, I get the hell away from them. I'll slow down or speed up, or make my excuses and take a different route. I have no desire to get caught up in a crash or traffic accident because some fools are too wrapped up in other things to ride safely. After all, at 50 I do heal slower.
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Old 11-30-06, 11:37 AM
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I ride solo much of the time, because there is no one else around. I like group rides, though. Out here in rural California we have less worry about traffic and things coming up suddenly (except squirrels) than more suburban or urban areas. With vigilance, we can often ride 2 - 4 abreast safely.
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Old 11-30-06, 12:17 PM
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Within our group we have one nightmare rider. It's the fit one and I can see why he wants to ride on his own up front. When he runs out of energy he drops back to the rest of us and he is a nightmare. The number of times he has run into the back of another rider is getting beyond a joke now. He seems to have one pace and that is his. It's always our fault for slowing down or stopping , but at least he doesn't hit the tandem very often. If he does he bounces off it and later on he gets bounced again to remind him to keep awake.
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Old 11-30-06, 02:05 PM
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Another endorsement of Blessed Solitude and little groups. . .like one other trusted buddy with the Good Sense God Gave Geese. Good to pay attention, too.
 
Old 11-30-06, 03:36 PM
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I've ridden the vast majority of my miles solo but I really enjoy riding in a good group. It doesn't take long to figure out who the squirrels are and then I just keep my distance from them. I just follow one rule, I ride my own bike and don't let somebody else call the shots where my safety is concerned.
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Old 11-30-06, 05:34 PM
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How are you supposed to pay attention when you're focused on breaking a little wind? You want too much. bk
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