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Friday, July 18, 2008

Roger (Finally) Answers Your Other Questions, Eddie

Answering Eddie, lest he slap me down:

You’ve done some writing about biking, including a really good post a while back with tips and such. As someone very new to biking, I had some additional queries I wanted to bounce off you. I started riding again last year, and currently ride just about every day, usually to work and back, if nothing else. I’ve started doing lots of my errands and running around on the bike as well. Anyway, I’ve had some questions related to things that come up when I ride. So, here goes:

1. Distance-wise, how much do you ride on an average day? What is the most you’ve ever ridden in one day? (Either all in one stretch or in smaller increments with stops in between?) When you ride a lot in one day, how tired are you the next day?

First, less since the child. Used to just go around town. Occasionally, a trek to the neighboring towns (Troy, Delmar, Colonie). I'd start in March or April and get really exhausted, but as I rode more and more, not so much a greater amount, but just the repetitions, it was easier in October/November. Of course, this has been bollocked by the accident. Doubt I ever went more than 20 miles in a day. Well, maybe in rural Jamestown when I was on country roads.

6. Does Carol ride too? Keith and I have a lot of fun riding together.

She did a few times. But she had this big, heavy bike that she hated. When my last bike died (or was stolen; I've had enough in each category, I don't remember), I purloined hers, with her blessing. She keeps threatening to get another bike. Maybe when Lydia starts to ride.

2. Speed-wise, how fast do you go, on average? Do you feel pressured to try and go faster than you are able to or than you feel is safe when you are riding in traffic?

Again, much slower on her old bike than my previous vehicles. I used to go on Albany's bike path and pass about four times the number of bikers that passed me; now the numbers are reversed. No, I don't feel pressured. That's the kind of thinking that would just lead me to road rage. And you know what Bruce Banner says about anger.

3. How do you deal with nerves when you’re riding in traffic? Do you ride on streets that are typically very busy? Do you try to plan routes around heavy traffic areas?

I avoid crossing highway entrances (Everett Road in Albany), though I have walked through there with the bike occasionally. I don't feel nervous unless I don't have a helmet for some reason. Generally, I look for roads with shoulders. From experience, drivers are more aggressive on four-lane roads than two, so, unless they have shoulders, I tend to avoid the latter when possible. (Heading to my house, Western Avenue is generally safer than Washington, for that very reason.) I've been know to zigzag through residential neighborhoods, which tend to be saner.

4. Do you look at weenies like me, who will ride on some streets but not the ones that are really busy, with contempt?

Well, I never could think ill of you, Eddie, but no. The southern end of Lark Street in Albany is narrow, yet has parking on both sides; I work hard to avoid it.

5. I have a hard time keeping a steady course when I have to look over my shoulder to check traffic and sometimes when I signal turns. It’s gotten better the more I ride, but do you have any advice? I’m afraid of drifting into a parked car or into the other lane on narrow streets due to this.

Unless you buy a mirror, which I have never used, you may have to stop pedaling when you look. I seem to have pretty good peripheral vision, so I'm usually only looking at about 20 degrees off center. Someone told me you can "train" your peripheral vision, but I've never done it. You may need to practice this, but I lean ever so slightly to the right when I put out my left hand.

7. Why is it on windy days, that no matter which way I turn, I'm always riding directly into the wind?

God has a sense of humor. At least I think She does.


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