Cycling Road Safety Tip
This is something I thought I’d grown out of - it’s a bit embarrassed actually.
After I left a comment on Sloan’s Cycling Blog just over a week ago about how I’d got over my ‘Yeeehah I’m IN-DES-TRUC-TABLE!” cycling phase about fifteen years ago . . . I nearly got myself mashed tonight through my own stoopidity.
Riding from Walker Riverside up to Wallsend, there’s a short, but steep hill, which after a hard day at the office, I was taking kinda slow. Half way up, this guy with leg muscles like Popeye’s spinach enhanced arms comes powering past me. Now I’m not the Alpha-Male-Must-Win-at-All-Costs type, but I couldn’t let this just go - even though despite the amount of cycling I do, my legs are more like Olive Oyl’s. . . .
Being as I was in a pretty low gear, it was just a matter of giving it some ooomph to catch up on the hill within a 20 yards or so, and then we were on the level, heading along past Segedunum, Swan Hunter, and Wallsend Metro Station - at a fairly keen pace. I’m not sure if Mr Musckles was just trying to leave me in the gutter, or just a genuine speed monster, but we were really clipping along.
Now I was thinking of what I’d said on Sloan’s blog, and I am training for triathlon racing, in which drafting (slipstreaming) isn’t allowed. But I probably was closer than I should have been - about three or four bike lengths. And as we were in reasonably heavy traffic, I was about a foot out from following his tracks exactly, so that I could see past Musckles.
But for some reason, I didn’t see the lorry and the car waiting to turn right into the garrage, which were between them completely blocking our road. I’m not sure that Musckles did either (or was expecting the obstruction to clear in time to just sail on by), because he dropped the anchors and came to a sudden STOP.
I also stopped, but not without the rear-wheel locking up (and being released and locked again and released again) in one of those
“OMG this is going to make such a mess of my bike . . . oh, and his bike . . . oh and that car too”
moments, that are over and done in a blink of an eye. I’d like to think it was my experience on the bike, and good clear thinking that saved the day. In reality, it was nothing but reflex, bypassing my brain, and just running on muscle memory from when I was stoopid on a regular basis.
By the time I’d got my feet locked back into the pedals (I don’t even remember snapping them out), Mr Musckles was too far ahead for me to catch.
So what’s the lesson in this story kids?
- Don’t act like you’re in a race on the public road (unless you really are in a race)
- Drafting has an effect over more than three bike lengths
- Getting ahead isn’t worth getting mashed!
- With leg muscles like Mr Musckles’, I’d have had him easy. Spin class tomorrow - I will adapt and overcome . . .