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A 'close' encounter and my (different) mental response

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A 'close' encounter and my (different) mental response

Old 05-24-19, 11:59 AM
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A 'close' encounter and my (different) mental response

Not sure if this is exactly P&I,
and usually don't talk about mental fears,
but Ö...here goes.

Also, not a story of crashing or anything bad.

So house sitting 2 dogs and empty home in Portland suburb. Daughter & family out of town - on my own 200mi from home. No sweat really, done it several times.

But 2 days ago, out on the occasionally busy back roads, I had at least 3 situations where cars/trucks came uncomfortably close or fast&close to my left side (less than 2 feet with a 25+mph speed differential). Red flashing rear light on bike, good visibility and sightlines for traffic, etc.

The point is - it got to me this time. I mean inwardly (mentally?) I couldn't face going out on the bike on the local roads, yesterday. Yes, it's a dangerous sport. That is stuck in my head.
I ran through all the What Ifs in my mind. What if it had been a curve? What if the pavement had 'take you down' cracks in my limited forward path? What if the third-in-line-car-behind-two-trucks didn't see me?
Share the Road is the local slogan, but i'll pass. And I've never been a Take the Lane guy on 45+mph two lane roads with a fair number of cars/trucks, many driving 50+mph.
Hope it does not persist when I get home.
Paranoia or Reasonable Caution are the 2 extremes, want to balance the scale again - the body needs the miles.
Known roads are best for me these days.
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Old 05-24-19, 04:31 PM
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Yeah, I know the feeling. Especially after being hit by a car last year. There are days when I'm too tense to ride and I'll wait until nighttime when the worst roads are practically vacant. I did that last night, after 11 pm. There are a few options here for nighttime rides where the biggest danger is being clobbered by deer crossing rather than motor vehicles.

For a couplafew years I've had a little pre-ride ritual. I don't think of it as meditation, affirmation or anything quite like that. It's more like the scene in Pulp Fiction when Jules and Vince are retrieving the briefcase for Marsellus. After chattering about hamburgers in Europe, foot rubs and tossing guys out windows, Jules says "Let's get into character."

I don't like to think of it as an adversarial relationship, but it's almost unavoidable. Some drivers regard us as competition for scarce resources. It's not that we're hogging the road. We're depriving them of their brain chemical fix that comes from uninterrupted speed. It's addictive. And some addicts do not respond civilly to any interruption in their fix.

Hell, I love the sensation of blasting downhill fast, or a tailwind assist that pushes me faster than I'm physically capable of on flats and climbs. So I get it. But having my speed fix interrupted does not provoke me to murderous rage or the passive-aggressive tricks some drivers pull, such as brush-by passes, unnecessary honking and right/left hooks. OTOH, those stunts do tempt me to grab my U-lock and beat a driver like a pinata until the candy spills out.

And I'm definitely a take-the-lane rider. I've tried every variation on cycling in traffic etiquette. Everything other than taking the lane until it's safe for me to pull to the side has invited drivers to nearly bulldoze me. Let 'em honk. In reality I won't delay them longer than a few seconds.

I've timed my routes to determine my times on the most troublesome segments, where some drivers regard my presence as a provocation. There's one particular short segment on a boulevard with 2 lanes in both directions that seems to draw more than its fair share of road ragers. I take the rightmost lane center because drivers have a whole nuther lane and I ride it only during off-peak times, never rush hour. On a good day when the legs and lungs are strong and I have a tailwind, I can scoot through that segment in 20 seconds. On the worst days when my body is exhausted and there's a headwind, it takes 40 seconds. Either way, nobody is being unreasonably delayed. Yet that short segment is the single most dangerous part of my commute to and from -- ironically -- physical therapy for having been hit by a car last May.

In part it's due to bad design. Like many routes feeding highways and suburbs, it was designed exclusively for motor vehicles. The only bits of sidewalk are cosmetic, those grass-and-tree-lined bits of sidewalk outside shopping malls that nobody actually uses for walking. But the sidewalks vanish at intersections and overpass bridges.

And the rightmost of the two lanes forks right to get on the highway. But the lane fork comes too late and is too short. If a car, motorcycle or bicycle heading straight instead of turning right tries to "be nice" and leave room for vehicles to pass on the right, it'll end up in creased doors and knocked-off mirrors, or worse. There isn't room for two vehicles and I'm sure as hell not going to clear the lane until I'm well past the fork.

The next most dangerous route I face every day is my own residential street. It should be a nice, quiet, safe street. Takes me about 40 seconds either direction to traverse. And it's like riding on eggshells. It's all rental apartments for transients -- people who don't plan to stay there long, so they never develop a sense of community or responsibility. One problem is unnecessary curbside parking. The complexes have plenty of off-street parking, but some folks prefer the convenience of being able to watch for tow trucks hauling off their tote-the-note cars for non-payment. And there are blind driveways, so even pedestrians are at risk.

As soon as I get a mile away into the old single family home neighborhoods the entire vibe changes. It's more relaxed. Home owners walk, jog and bicycle in their own neighborhood. That's the difference a sense of community commitment can make. People who are invested tend not to contaminate their own backyard.
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Old 05-26-19, 09:40 AM
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Do you use a mirror? If so, did you have an escape route you could have taken?

I know I derive a lot of comfort (justified or not) in the ability to see traffic approaching from the rear and to take evasive action if necessary.

PS: I think this is the first post ever that should be moved from Pills and Ills to the basic thread instead of the other way around. lol
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Old 05-27-19, 09:52 PM
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Another example of an otherwise enjoyable ride with one bad apple toward the end.

Rode 27 miles Monday to finish out the long weekend. Good ride until near the end when some jerk decided to harass me. Or maybe he was offering to give me a Memorial Day hamberder, covfefe and cookie. Dunno.

Road was straight and clear for hundreds of yards either way, he had plenty of room to pass safely, but decided to lane split while leaning on his horn. Then he stopped in front of me and tried to cut me off when I tried to pass him.

Maybe it's just a string of bad luck but something like this has happened on almost every ride the past couple of weeks, including on group rides. I blame global stupiding.

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Old 05-28-19, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
.........The point is - it got to me this time. I mean inwardly (mentally?) I couldn't face going out on the bike on the local roads, yesterday. Yes, it's a dangerous sport. That is stuck in my head.
I ran through all the What Ifs in my mind. What if it had been a curve? What if the pavement had 'take you down' cracks in my limited forward path? What if the third-in-line-car-behind-two-trucks didn't see me?...............
An understandable reaction experienced by many.

My simplistic(uncomplicated) view on life is that sometimes I'm the windshield and sometimes I'm the BUG. Having control over everything is impossible so handle your challenges as you see fit to minimize stress while maximizing enjoyment.

Last Tuesday on my 130 miler a couple of vehicles came close when there was no need too. Had to put them in the closet, lock the door then continue on.

On Saturday's 151 miler there were no vehicle issues BUT during a brief LBS paceline segment riders ahead did not point out debris so I just left the group to be on my own.

During yesterday's 101 miler I had a passing car giving plenty of room but 25' after passing one of the hubcaps came off and rolled in front of me into a yard. Had that happened when the car was next to me I might have had another crash resulting in another broken neck.

Next week is another retest to see if my cancer has returned again. Test and results occupy a back burner because life goes on.
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Old 05-28-19, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Another example of an otherwise enjoyable ride with one bad apple toward the end.

Rode 27 miles Monday to finish out the long weekend. Good ride until near the end when some jerk decided to harass me. Or maybe he was offering to give me a Memorial Day hamberder, covfefe and cookie. Dunno.

Road was straight and clear for hundreds of yards either way, he had plenty of room to pass safely, but decided to lane split while leaning on his horn. Then he stopped in front of me and tried to cut me off when I tried to pass him.

Maybe it's just a string of bad luck but something like this has happened on almost every ride the past couple of weeks, including on group rides. I blame global stupiding.

The license plate can clearly be seen. You obviously have this on video. I'd alert the authorities, and possibly a lawyer.
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Old 05-28-19, 07:15 AM
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Nah. Without any clear threat, the driver would just claim it was a misunderstanding. Or he'd claim that I somehow threatened him. Unfortunately my video quit running just a few minutes before this, and all I could do was hastily mash the still photo mode, which captures a photo every 5 seconds. I didn't get a photo of the close-pass.

Another problem that often comes up -- including from cyclists who don't run video -- these ultra wide lenses make everything appear to be so far away that viewers wonder why we're upset. Happened to a friend this week when he showed a clear video of a brush-by pass. I could tell the car was within 1 foot of him. But even other cyclists thought car was at least 3 feet away because they didn't understand the difference in perspective between human vision and wide angle lenses.

I've never been able to get local cops interested in even looking at video of hostile or negligent drivers. They'll say there's nothing they can do unless they witnessed it, or there was a collision. About a year ago I noticed a line of three SUVs behind me. The first two right-hooked me, forcing my to panic brake. The third was a cop. He just kept cruising straight ahead, no warning to the two drivers who cut me off within a few feet of an intersection.

On the plus side, cops here have a laissez faire attitude toward cyclists. Many of us practice the Idaho Stop for our own safety. The cops ignore it, as long as we're not blasting heedlessly through busy traffic (which *ain't* the Idaho Stop).

But they also don't get involved in spats between cyclists or pedestrians and drivers unless there's a collision and injury or fatality. Whenever there is a fatality it's called an "accident," as if it's an act of god, nothing to be done, thoughts and prayers.

Easiest way to get away with murder in Texas is to run over a pedestrian or cyclist. As long as the driver is sober and recites the magic incantation -- "The cyclist/pedestrian came out of nowhere! I never had time to stop!" -- all is forgiven. Case dismissed. I wish it were an exaggeration but I can't think of a single fatality to a cyclist or pedestrian in which the driver was cited or prosecuted for vehicular homicide, negligence or anything other than a benign offense against administrative process -- "failure to yield" or something similar.
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Old 05-28-19, 07:53 AM
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I like trusting my intuition. it's there for a reason. I've often thought good times to skip riding roads include, holidays weekends beg. Friday mornings & stay off the roads until the following week. getting started again Tuesday or Wednesday. I also get bad feelings about changes in seasons. for example, when schools let out for the summer & the nature of the commuter traffic changes. I can't get hit riding on the road if I'm not riding on the road

as for reporting threats & assaults by motorists, even without "contact" or "evidence". I feel like not reporting it, is a mistake. when I make reports I don't wait for the cop on the phone to say anything like "there's nothing I can do, blah blah blah". the call is recorded. make your statement & repeat it. word for word. it helps to write it down & keep it short. describe the incident, the vehicle & the driver etc. stick to facts. abusive drivers are likely repeat offenders. it's not our job to connect the dots. that's for law enforcement. which they can not do if we neglect our responsibility to report one of those "dots". imagine if, in the same day, this same driver does the same thing to 3 ppl on bikes & none of them report it. now imagine if all 3 reported it. now go back to imagining those 3 ppl not reporting it, but there's a 4th incident, this time with an injury or death. after you make your report, if the cop says "we can't do anything" just repeat your report: "I called to report" & state the same thing. they now have it twice on recordings. we have no control over the police & what they do. we only have control over what we do. it's never a mistake to report a threat or an assault, even when there is no "contact" or "evidence"

anyway, that's the way I feel about it
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Old 05-28-19, 08:59 AM
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Yeah, usually I'd offer the same advice to someone else. But I already have enough stress going on without getting into a he said/he said dispute when I don't have better visual evidence and no other witness. I've already had instances of cops ignoring much more flagrant stuff when I had good video and multiple witnesses.

I've pretty much resigned myself to the reality that my bike videos will only serve as evidence after my death from being hit by a car. That's just how it goes in Texas and many other places. That won't change until we see an entire paradigm shift of the type MADD instigated about drunk driving decades ago.

And I also rely on my instinct, intuition or gut feeling about choosing routes, days and times to ride. I dislike some windy days, particularly hot and dry windy days with strong gusts. Not because I dislike riding in the wind -- I find it an interesting challenge, and we don't have any long climbs so riding into a headwind is the next best thing for a workout.

But I've noticed the superstition that people are more irritable and erratic in certain windy weather seems to have some validity. Decades ago several pop media outlets published articles trying to connection "ion charges" from wind to erratic behavior in people and animals. And for centuries there have been stories about changes in behaviors associated with sirocco and mistral wind conditions.

It's been particularly windy here in north central Texas, more than usual, and I've had more unpleasant encounters with drivers when it was unnecessary: little traffic, plenty of room on the road, including multiple lanes -- but the one driver on the road thinks he needed the lane I was in, or just resented seeing another creature on "his" personal racetrack.

Monday, being a holiday, I chose a route that usually has very little traffic. Sure enough, I was passed by maybe 3 vehicles in 6 miles. But one of 'em had to be a jackass.

Last edited by canklecat; 05-28-19 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 05-28-19, 11:13 AM
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Just a quick follow-up.

I stayed off the bikes for a few days. Skipped planned rides around McMinnville and Molalla.
I'm home now, where the roads are familiar and dedicated non-motorized trails are more numerous.

Upon reflection, I got on some roads where I should not have been biking. Most roads are more crowded than from past years when I rode them with far less auto/truck 'pollution'. There was no harm done, and I got my mind recalculated in regards to what roads I feel safe on - a valuable lesson.



Thanks for all comments.
Everyone be safe out there.

edit: Next trip to Portland, I will scout my envisioned rides by car before heading out on the bike - and be prepared to drive further to experience the types of roads I enjoy.
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Old 05-28-19, 12:15 PM
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I guess I’m lucky the rural roads I ride no one gives a hoot about me riding a bike. But there is very little through traffic and if you become a jackalope people will know who you are. Was bitten by a dog and the owner wouldn’t take responsibility so the ER called animal control by law and dog went to dog jail for 10 days. He was mad let dog loose on me this time I called the deputy as instructed. The old man got sick of his son and his vicious dogs sent them both packing
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Old 05-28-19, 01:54 PM
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My last serious dog incident was almost 15 yrs ago in Missouri, on a rural-ish road. But avoided many of the dirt 'farm' roads. Pepper spray was only used once and I was never bitten or taken down. Might have tested MaxHR a couple of times, but I was a young man in my early 50s.
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Old 05-28-19, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
My last serious dog incident was almost 15 yrs ago in Missouri, on a rural-ish road. But avoided many of the dirt 'farm' roads. Pepper spray was only used once and I was never bitten or taken down. Might have tested MaxHR a couple of times, but I was a young man in my early 50s.
Here in the backwoods of LittleRock Ar. things have improved in a big way since the early eighties.
One of my favorite stories from back then was about an early summer evening group ride on one of the country roads near
here when a redneck in his truck decided he was the law and started harassing the group.
When he drove off in a macho burst of rubber and oil smoke his transmission seized and the truck ground to a halt
and summary justice was dispensed.
We now have a large river trail with a lot of road spurs leading to and away from it and people are a lot more
used to seeing bikes around, hell even some of the truck drivers are riding.
( Just so there's no bias seen I drive a truck. )
Also round here you have to know your routes, some are never ride, some are sometimes ride some are always ride.
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Old 05-28-19, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
An understandable reaction experienced by many.

My simplistic(uncomplicated) view on life is that sometimes I'm the windshield and sometimes I'm the BUG. Having control over everything is impossible so handle your challenges as you see fit to minimize stress while maximizing enjoyment.

Last Tuesday on my 130 miler a couple of vehicles came close when there was no need too. Had to put them in the closet, lock the door then continue on.

On Saturday's 151 miler there were no vehicle issues BUT during a brief LBS paceline segment riders ahead did not point out debris so I just left the group to be on my own.

During yesterday's 101 miler I had a passing car giving plenty of room but 25' after passing one of the hubcaps came off and rolled in front of me into a yard. Had that happened when the car was next to me I might have had another crash resulting in another broken neck.

Next week is another retest to see if my cancer has returned again. Test and results occupy a back burner because life goes on.
Good perspective. Including bailing out of a group ride when some cyclists are reckless. I've done that a couple of times when I saw people half-wheeling, or being excessively cautious and skittish -- like, riding in the opposite oncoming traffic lane because they were uncomfortable with a group. Seems like it would make better sense to latch onto the back of the train and enjoy the draft. Last time I saw this I think the skittish cyclist was mostly a triathlete, not really comfortable with anything but solo time trials.

Best wishes with the medical checkup. I have a followup with endocrinology in June to check for cancer in the remaining half of my thyroid. I can feel it and the lymph node area swelling, and the levothyroxine doesn't seem to be helping. Gotta admit, it preys on my mind if I'm not careful. Best thing for it is a vigorous bike ride, or a long spin on the indoor trainer while I'm watching a movie. Hard to dwell on bad stuff when I'm busy watching for critters and crazy drivers, or just sweating indoors.
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Old 05-28-19, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
......................Best wishes with the medical checkup. I have a followup with endocrinology in June to check for cancer in the remaining half of my thyroid. I can feel it and the lymph node area swelling, and the levothyroxine doesn't seem to be helping. Gotta admit, it preys on my mind if I'm not careful. Best thing for it is a vigorous bike ride, or a long spin on the indoor trainer while I'm watching a movie. Hard to dwell on bad stuff when I'm busy watching for critters and crazy drivers, or just sweating indoors.
Thanks and Back @ You. As DD sang, "....What Will Be Will Be...."

The half of thyroid I have left only has a few things happening that are stabilized and my Synthroid is doing a fair enough job to keep me just on the other side of the tracks so diet and exercise are paramount for some form of stability as life goes on.
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Old 06-01-19, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Another example of an otherwise enjoyable ride with one bad apple toward the end.

Rode 27 miles Monday to finish out the long weekend. Good ride until near the end when some jerk decided to harass me. Or maybe he was offering to give me a Memorial Day hamberder, covfefe and cookie. Dunno.

Road was straight and clear for hundreds of yards either way, he had plenty of room to pass safely, but decided to lane split while leaning on his horn. Then he stopped in front of me and tried to cut me off when I tried to pass him.

Maybe it's just a string of bad luck but something like this has happened on almost every ride the past couple of weeks, including on group rides. I blame global stupiding.

Glad to see you got a photo of his vehicle with license plate. I'd be reporting it to the local cops for sure.

Some years ago I reported a guy to the cops that followed, harassed, and threatened to kill me. The report was written up as a "terroristic threat" even though terrorism had nothing to do with it. I never saw that guy again.

Not that the cops would do anything off that report, but if you ever come up dead in a ditch there'd be someone on record for them to look into.
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Old 07-06-19, 05:32 PM
  #17  
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I don't know what to say to you folks because my riding experience of 9 years and 25.000 miles is totally different. I find motorists here are thoughtful and courteous leaving plenty of space passing and frequently waving me through at intersections. Perhaps they are cyclists themselves.

Several years ago I read an article somewhere relating tests performed by animal behaviorists where animals were placed in situations that caused stress such as crowed conditions and or short food rations. What they found was that in such situations animals become aggressive to each other and even their young, even killing their young. While not a psychologist it seems to me people are nowadays behaving in the same way. I read about parents abusing their own kids which I find bizarre. Is the economy down where you live and ride, are divorce rates higher there? Something is wrong but no one seems to be talking about it.
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Old 07-10-19, 09:58 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Not sure if this is exactly P&I,
and usually don't talk about mental fears,
but Ö...here goes.

Also, not a story of crashing or anything bad.

So house sitting 2 dogs and empty home in Portland suburb. Daughter & family out of town - on my own 200mi from home. No sweat really, done it several times.

But 2 days ago, out on the occasionally busy back roads, I had at least 3 situations where cars/trucks came uncomfortably close or fast&close to my left side (less than 2 feet with a 25+mph speed differential). Red flashing rear light on bike, good visibility and sightlines for traffic, etc.

The point is - it got to me this time. I mean inwardly (mentally?) I couldn't face going out on the bike on the local roads, yesterday. Yes, it's a dangerous sport. That is stuck in my head.
I ran through all the What Ifs in my mind. What if it had been a curve? What if the pavement had 'take you down' cracks in my limited forward path? What if the third-in-line-car-behind-two-trucks didn't see me?
Share the Road is the local slogan, but i'll pass. And I've never been a Take the Lane guy on 45+mph two lane roads with a fair number of cars/trucks, many driving 50+mph.
Hope it does not persist when I get home.
Paranoia or Reasonable Caution are the 2 extremes, want to balance the scale again - the body needs the miles.
Known roads are best for me these days.

Just seeing your post. Obviously youíve been riding a good bit lately so Iím guessing itís not currently a deal breaker, at least for now. I can certainly relate to your experience. Bottom line you just have to trust youíre own judgement. I tell my friends that if youíre not comfortable being out in traffic you probably just donít need to be out there. For me, if I were that uncomfortable it would take away from the fun of riding and Iíd be sitting it out.
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Old 07-10-19, 03:06 PM
  #19  
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I'm with these guys on intuition. Some of my best decisions have been based on intuition. That is what you are thinking about when you are not looking.
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Old 07-10-19, 03:52 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
I'm with these guys on intuition. Some of my best decisions have been based on intuition. That is what you are thinking about when you are not looking.
Close to home now, so familiar roads and my regular 'training trail' keep me rolling. Weather has been too good locally not to ride almost every day, 70s & not very wet.

And I've been rotating through most of the fleet. Always a joy.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:56 PM
  #21  
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25 years ago or more I rode 15-17 miles every night for over a year, then one night I had a car stop at a stop sign in front of me, put the bright lights on gun it, come across my lane and TRY to hit me. I dumped over a curb. A second time something similar happened and I stopped riding the streets. Between homicidal maniacs, drunks, texters and dreamers I now ride sidewalks. It's legal here in So. Flo. and I make no apologies for it.

It's been 25+ years intermittently riding on sidewalks at 12-15 miles daily and the only way I'll ride a roadway is over a closed bridge :-)
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Old 07-15-19, 11:59 AM
  #22  
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A Close Encounter

Although many would consider me a "Fred" I have used a mirror so I know what is coming up behind me for 35 years. I did take it off for crits and road races but used it on TT's as there were cars on the road. Early on I had close calls on mountainous double centuries where I was run off the road by cars so started using mirrors; it has saved me multiple times as I can judge the drivers coming up on me.
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