Anxious about getting myself off the paved bike trails and into the "real" world

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by lifeonbicycles, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. lifeonbicycles

    lifeonbicycles New Member

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    I have been biking on the local paved bike trails for about 2 years now. There are many miles of them but I am insanely bored of them now. I feel like I have gained a decent amount of skills about how to deal with cars because I practice on the road in a 6 mile loop at my local park. Even with all of this I am very anxious/nervous to go onto real roads; I am wondering how scary the shoulder would be with drivers whizzing by you at 40 M.P.H and going through intersections. They would not be urban roads but average-traffic ural roads.Any suggestions to a newb road rider?
     
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  2. ambal

    ambal Active Member

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    stick with quiet roads, wear bight coloured clothing, maybe use a rear flasher and don't make the mistake of riding in the gutter.
     
  3. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    +1, just get out there and ride.

    Be smart and choose your routes (Google Maps or Mapmyride can help there) but also assert yourself once out on the roads. That does not mean intentionally blocking traffic and riding right down the center of the lane but ride a reasonable and safe distance from the curb so that you can avoid the road hazards like downed branches or broken bottles that sometimes accumulate on the edge of roads. Also don't swerve in and around parked cars if you come across sections with cars parked on the roadside, choose a straight line that avoids those cars and keeps you visible to cars approaching from behind and also gives you a bit of margin if someone opens a car door without looking.

    Cyclists newer to riding on roads often worry excessively about being run down from behind. That is generally not your biggest hazard. Ride in straight and predictable lines, ride within a couple of feet of the road edge when safe to do so and use lights and or wear bright colors and the risk of getting run down from your blind side is minimal. The bigger risks are paying very close attention to intersections, driveways and cars turning in front of you that may not see you or may not look before turning. Learn to be very aware as you approach intersections for cars coming in from side streets or for approaching cars that turn across your lane onto those side streets or into alleys and driveways. Motorists often pull right through a stop sign and cross the shoulder or bike lane before slowing or stopping to scan for traffic, expect this and again ride with enough margin to the edge of the road in such situations to have a chance to avoid them.

    If possible find a shop that runs rides for newer riders and get out with a group that can teach you good road safety skills and give you some strength in numbers. But either way, road riding isn't that big a deal. You're just another legal user of the roads. Sure you'll annoy some folks who are in a hurry and don't want any slow drivers or slow cyclists interrupting their trip but learn to ignore them and realize you've got a right to be there. No reason to go out of your way to slow folks down but assert yourself and do not put yourself at risk in an attempt to be too nice to motorists. For instance don't hug tight to the road edge around blind curves on narrow roads, it only encourages motorists to squeeze by you unsafely and if there happens to be an oncoming car around that tight bend you may very well be squeezed into the ditch. Better to move out a bit and send the message that the car shouldn't pass until they can actually see around the bend. They may not like it but it's your safety you need to focus on. Similarly I'll always take the lane, right down the middle on faster and especially twisty fast descents where I need room for cornering at speed. If I'm rolling down a hill at 30 mph or more I'm not going to be on the shoulder dodging debris but in the lane with room to move around potholes and room to set up for corners.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
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  4. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Ride with a group.
     
  5. ambal

    ambal Active Member

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    +1

    For the social aspect and also to learn some valuable bunch riding skills.
     
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