July 13, 2016/ Maria Parker
This is week six of a twelve week series to help you train for and successfully complete a century ride. Check out the free 12 Week Couch to Century training plan here.
I’m really fortunate that I can leave my home and ride on quiet country roads for many miles. Most of the motorists we see are incredibly courteous. However, if a cyclist and a car have a collision the cyclist is going to come out at the raw end of the deal. It is imperative to take responsibility for your safety while cycling on the public roads (or bike paths for that matter.)
Here are some tips for riding safely:
- Be visible: Jim and I wear bright reflective clothing. We have highly (3M) reflective tape on our helmets and on every surface of our bike. We ride with flashing lights on the rear and white lights on the front day or night. We recently starting always riding with flags. I got over my reticence to ride with a safety flag when I noticed how the movement of the flag caught my eye when Jim started riding with one. Even if a motorist doesn’t see you, she is evolutionarily programmed to notice motion, even out of the corner of her eye.
- Watch for passing cars. You need a mirror for this (see Equipment post in this series). I glance at my mirror every few seconds. If I see a car coming from the rear, I stay toward the middle right hand part of the lane until the driver indicates she has seen me by slowing, and I can ascertain that there are no oncoming cars and it is safe for her to pass. Then I politely go as far over to the right as I can safely go. If the car does not slow and seems not to see me, I prepare to ride into the ditch.
- Left turns are dangerous. Slow, look, look again. Come to a complete stop if you have the least doubt.
- Be especially careful toward the end of a training ride when you are tired and happy. I have had more close calls making the left turn into my neighborhood at the end of a ride then I care to think about.
- Avoid riding into the low rising or setting sun. If you can’t see because of the sun, the drivers of a car can’t see you – find a different direction to go.
- Wear a helmet (see Equipment post in this series). If your helmet is old or has been in an accident or dropped, get a new one. Make sure it is sitting properly on your head and buckled so that it stays there.
- Consider riding on a trainer for some rides. If the weather is bad or the roads are trafficky, get a trainer, put on your Vikings episode and ride indoors, skip the beer.
- Consider getting forward and rear facing cameras. We don’t have these yet, but we’ll get them soon. When we do have a rude motorist, it will be nice to have evidence to present to law enforcement.
Next up in this series: Nutrition for Training and Racing
Congratulations on taking on your first Century ride! Maria Parker, world record-holding cyclist and Cruzbike CEO, put together this 12 week training guide and blog series to help you successfully complete your first century ride. Share your progress with the Cruzbike Tribe @CRUZBIKE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll cheer you on through your first 100 mile ride.