Riding safety in Texas

Old 08-02-10, 07:06 AM
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cgallagh
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Riding safety in Texas

My wife and I are shipping our tandem bike to Austin and plan to ride from Austin to Shiner then on to Cuero and Victoria then back to Austin. My sister, that lives in Cuero is worried that we will be hit by a car because the roads are narrow, there is a lack of shoulders and "traffic here in Texas does not look out for bikes like they do there."(we live in the California Bay Area) I read this forum and have pulled up numerous "Mapmyride" maps on rides in the same area we plan to ride indicating a fair amount of cycling in this area. I guess I am asking whether the experienced cyclists in Texas feel this planned ride is an unsafe choice. I must point out, my sister is not a cyclist.
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Old 08-02-10, 09:52 AM
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It's true that on the ranch roads that I'm guessing you'll be riding on, there are no shoulders (you can actually use Google Maps' Street View to check out road conditions--I recommend it). And it's true that the typical motorist's typical attitude towards cyclists here is not as accommodating as it might be in the bay area.

As to whether that makes it "unsafe," we all need determine what level of risk we're comfortable with. I ride on the country roads around Austin all the time, and have been hit on them only once. You'll probably be fine.
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Old 08-02-10, 10:09 AM
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Visibility is key. I ride on quite a few roads that are small shouldered (2 feet or less) and about 20 to 30% that have no shoulder. You have to ride defensively and accept your risk level. Most drivers are nice and will give you room. I would recommend a slow traffic sign on the back but you should be fine. If we didn't ride on these roads we wouldn't ride at all.
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Old 08-02-10, 10:49 AM
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The roads you're talking about, you'll be fine. I've done the Austin to Shiner ride and I'd be perfectly comfortable riding those same roads as a solo rider.

And don't let other peoples' prejudices worry you - especially a non-rider - Texas is not as bad as you may fear!
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Old 08-02-10, 12:34 PM
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Thank you everyone for your input. This is more for my family than for me. I never felt threatened by Texas roads and have ridden some very narrow roads out here. I did my homework but thought your experienced input would mean more than my input. All other comments are welcome. Looking forward to the ride.
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Old 08-02-10, 12:37 PM
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Cycling any where is dangerous, but so is driving. Proper selection of routes and like someone mentioned ride defensively and you will not have a problem. Non-cyclist have not idea, so I would not trust her statements. Good luck and have a fun time in Texas.
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Old 08-02-10, 12:56 PM
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You have nothing to be concerned about riding on Texas Roads.

May be The Winds:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=524843
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Old 08-02-10, 03:12 PM
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The death rate, in cyclists killed per population, is lower in Texas than in California- about 3/4 or so- see here: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/811156.pdf

That doesn't necessarily mean Texas is safer, as it could just be more people riding in California that runs the rate up. But doesn't sound like Texas is an especial hazard compared to California, either.

The most dangerous places for cyclists, per the statistics, are urban areas at intersections.
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Old 08-02-10, 06:45 PM
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IMHO the most disparaging differences between cycling in Texas vs. the Bay Area are the heat and Texas' abundant use of chip seal.

You'll have a great time - stay hydrated and let us know how it goes!
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Old 08-03-10, 08:10 AM
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Shelley brings up a good point about the heat. If you can try to get used to riding in the heat. I was riding in 100+ heat yesterday.

This really sounds like a good time and that is a really beautiful part of Texas.
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Old 08-03-10, 08:32 AM
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Not sure if it's still as cold in Northern Cali now as it was a few weeks ago but if so then maybe a pre-Texas trip to Napa or somewhere warmer would be a good idea. Some of the triathletes I know set their HR monitors to beep once every x-minutes to remind them to take a drink. Just one less thing to waste brain power on...
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Old 08-03-10, 01:01 PM
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I like the idea of the beeping reminder. My stoker has assumed that responsibility but I might take that advice so she doesn't have to worry about it. As for the heat, I live in Vacaville. We go over to Napa to cool off. This has been a record cool year so we have not gotten over about 106 yet. We have done our local century in 108 on the end of May. It is more humid there but know to keep hydrated. I grew up in Alice, TX and lived all over the state as well as in Louisiana so the Texas sun is not a stranger. We plan on getting an early start and are only doing 80 miles the first day so it should be fine. If you read about a couple of crazy Californians melting in the heat riding a tandem bike, that will be us. ;^)
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Old 08-03-10, 09:05 PM
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Humidity will be more of a factor than heat, but having grown up in NJ and spent years in TX and LA cycling in those climes I'm not too worried. I tend to nag cgallagh about drinking and will be on my toes, so to speak, while on these TX rides. We'll have a TX flag flying from the tandem so the motorists won't know we defected to CA. Thanks for the tips and reassurances. I hope it's enough for the SIL to relax.
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Old 09-05-10, 06:17 PM
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Just wanted to report that our rides were great, motorists were respectful & friendly, and people we spoke with in Lockhart, McMahan, Shiner, Victoria and Austin were very welcoming and accommodating. A few special folks went out of their way to get us small but meaningful things, like freshly-filtered water, ice, and excellent restaurant recommendations.

There were 2 motorists who were @ssholes but of the hundreds who passed us or crossed paths with us these 2 were mere blips.

Our biggest problem was Google Maps -- it sent us on a couple crazy roads (Hwy. 21 to San Marcos, where we lost a few years of our lives on what was the worst road ever in terms of traffic volume, speed, and make up. It was 80% 18-wheelers, and little-to-no shoulder. And we shouldn't have been on it in the first place). Two county road recommendations ended in dirt (one road we missed but saw where it dumped us onto the road to Gonzales and it was dirt as far as the eye could see).

We ended up riding Austin-Shiner (107 mi.), Shiner to Victoria (48 mi.), Victoria to Cuero (29 mi.). Our pannier rack broke on the Shiner-Victoria leg; we couldn't fix it or replace it, so cgallagh's sister and BIL kindly drove us back to our friends' house in Austin.

Thanks, Texas, for a fun and memorable trip! Looking forward to riding your roads again.

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Old 09-05-10, 06:29 PM
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We have now returned home from our trip to the great state of Texas. We enjoyed lots of miles and lots of smiles. The heat, coupled with the humidity did work on us but we didn't melt or die. My wife posted earlier so I won't go into any great detail other than to thank those offering advice and to thank all the citizens of the Great State of Texas for the hospitality and the memories that will last a long time.
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Old 09-05-10, 06:29 PM
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Red Rider- just saw this thread. Having used this in the oilfields for years, I highly recommend it as a road guide for anyone traveling in Texas who doesn't know the local roads. Maybe next time.

http://www.amazon.com/Roads-Texas-M-.../dp/0940672642
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Old 09-05-10, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by cgallagh View Post
We have now returned home from our trip to the great state of Texas. We enjoyed lots of miles and lots of smiles. The heat, coupled with the humidity did work on us but we didn't melt or die. My wife posted earlier so I won't go into any great detail other than to thank those offering advice and to thank all the citizens of the Great State of Texas for the hospitality and the memories that will last a long time.
Sounds like a great trip but you did manage to hit the hottest part of what has been a mild summer. We managed to out of town during this same period, partially in your neck of the woods as we drove up and back from the Bay Area to Tahoe. I'll take your weather any time!

Out of curiousity...your avatar looks like a hard-core racing tandem but you mentioned panniers. I'm not too familiar with tandems...what's in your avatar? Is that a co-motion? And is that the bike you took?
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Old 09-05-10, 07:17 PM
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If you went up 80 from the Bay Area you went through my home town, Vacaville. We love it here but as I am from Texas and almost all my family lives between Corpus and Victoria we go back as often as we can. The bike is a Co-Motion Roadster. We have raced it. This is the bike we shipped out and back as well. We have a back rack that we can put rear panniers on. When we tour, we make sure there are hostels, hotels or B&B's to stay in. Keeps the packing to a minimum and assures a nice bed with no cooking or cleanup involved.
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