In the course of a conversation after dinner last night with my wife and friends it was suggested to blog to first time bike riders or timid individuals that want to start riding. So the thought was that I could offer some kind of primer that would be the first step towards successful bike riding. Well the saying goes you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make ’em drink. That goes for humans too who want some program or book or incentive to do something. If you don’t have the desire there is no will.
What can I say to those timid creatures is to embrace bike riding for what it is or has become. Bike riding is now percieved as transportation in this writers view. Remember this is my opinion and I want you to be successful so do as I say. Bike riding is a normal state of being when used for a purpose. Said. The purpose is riding as much as you can. Ride in all seasons. Ride to work and to the store and wherever you possibly can. Learn as much about your body as it relates to bike riding. The number one issue for every outing is to be aware of how your body temperature regulates. The more you bike ride the more expert you become choosing the right clothing for each weather condition. Learn as much about the simple mechanical adjustments on your bike. This includes replacing a flat inner tube if you have to. Think about what you see when bike riding that you normally miss when riding in a car. Lot’s of bike riders carry digital cameras or camera phones to capture all this stuff that is cool and unique to their experiences. Take the time to find meaning in your bike ride. Yeah, this is a big one because when it’s you out there all by your lonesome there’s going to be many ahha moments that inspire. Whatever! Observe the changes that are coming over you as you spend months getting stronger and your bike riding skills begin to improve. It’s for instance, while blogging here for the past 9 months, I have become a better typist. I can find the period now about 50% of the time. Make that about 1/3. Oops! So there we have the post that my lovely wanted. Hopefully, she is reading this and yes, I will have your bike ready for you for your office move and will encourage you to ride. I will do this for your daily organic motion.
The situation we encounter for bike riding in traffic is one that scares the $hit out of most people. There is some basic stuff I can pass on to alleviate your fears. To get over your timidity it’s important to know what is behind you, in front of you and what you are going to do about it. So use all of your senses when bike riding. Listening for traffic behind you is essential for your safety. Craming your ears with tunes from your I-pod is an accident waiting to happen. So listen for approaching cars. Keep your head turned towards traffic to us your peripheral vision. See that you have enough space between you, passing traffic and parked cars. If it looks like it will be tight then you have either two options. My first choice is to signal the cars behind me that I am moving into the lane and as I take the lane this forces the drivers behind me to change lanes or move around into oncoming traffic to pass or they are left out to dry forced to slow down to safely stay behind while I negotiate whatever the situation is that forces me to take the lane. Then the 2nd option in traffic is when the situation is unsafe. What makes traffic unsafe? For starters, heavy oncoming and heavy passing traffic is unsafe because car drivers can’t pass you without taking up critical space in the lane that you are sharing with them. For the record, this national campaign to Share the Road with Bikes is Bull$shit that will get you killed if you think about it. So, when in doubt where cars are passing you in the lane, it is in your interest to move off your route and find another way. If that means riding on a sidewalk, JUST DO IT! Your safety depends on it. I hope this will help clarify two things. Bike riding is safe when the bike rider is 100% aware and bike riding skills are built on experience in many situations. Get on your bike and ride and leave your car behind.