Yesterday, I returned from a 240-mile ride that took me across northern South Carolina and into southeastern North Carolina (read about it here and here). It was a physically demanding solo ride. I was glad to get home but even happier to be alive.
Returning to Greenville Sunday evening, I was sitting down to catch up on things I may have missed while cycling. I happened upon a news report of a Michael Roberts who died while riding his bicycle in northern Greenville county. Having just spent so many hours covering all those miles across two states, this really hit home.
I can assume that Michael was riding recreationally judging by his bike brand and the fact he was riding north of Travelers Rest when his home was in Greer. I do not know much about him, but I do wonder if he has children. At 55 he’s not that much older than I. Maybe he has a highschooler or maybe a college student like I do.
It brought one specific instance to mind from the ride. It was one that shook me. It was the first thought as I read the report about Michael.
Now, don’t get me wrong. During that 240-mile trip, I was passed by many, many drivers. The vast majority of them gave me plenty of room and treated me well. I received some thumbs up and some friendly “toot-toots”.
One instance comes to mind was as I approached a narrow bridge on a two lane road. I could hear the exhaust modulation from a semi as I heard him let off the accelerator as he approached me down a hill. I pulled off to the shoulder so he would not have to come to a complete stop. He passed blinking his lights in thanks. Then a jeep driver was next. I looked at him and waved him on. He blinked his lights back at me and I could see him motioning for me to go first.
There are good people in the world. In all my years of cycling, I’ve found that for the most part when cyclists and other vehicle drivers take notice of each other and work together, we get along fine. Really, on this weekend’s ride, I could count on one hand the number of drivers who expressed displeasure with me.
Those don’t really scare me. They annoy me, yes. Sometimes they make me angry, but they are aware of me. Their expressions of annoyance toward me are evidence of it. The guy who gives me plenty of room, but holds his horn down as he passes me is not a threat. The redneck in his pickup truck who accelerates to blow diesel smoke in my direction is merely an annoyance to me.
The one moment that struck fear in my heart was one instance on Highway 9 in South Carolina. It was four lanes at that time. I was nearing a town and had only a mile before I would make a turn onto a parallel road that was less traveled cialis livraison rapide canada. For the most part, drivers were giving me the entire right lane as they used the left.
Then I felt a car go by me. The wind ruffled my tight-fitting cycling jersey. I held my line and watched the car move away from me. When it did, I saw it wobble a bit. I could see the driver’s head jerk.
I am guessing, but I would be willing to put good money on the fact that this is how it went down. This driver was following along with traffic. Pretty much it was the flow of traffic guiding this individual as the driver was looking down at a cell phone while keeping track of the road with peripheral vision.
The fact that I was on the road did not register until the car was pretty much beside and then beyond me. Most likely, the driver had the same feeling of panic I had as the realization sank in that we were both nearly involved in a tragedy. The wobble was caused by a too late reaction to what could have happened.
This person was not out looking for cyclists to annoy. The problem was that this driver wasn’t looking for cyclists — or anyone else for that matter. This is the great danger of our roads today… for cyclists, for pedestrians… for everyone.
I love to ride my bicycle. I ride for the opportunity to get outdoors and feel the freedom of the road. I also ride for the exercise. I’m not getting any younger and I know that staying in shape becomes more important if I want to live a quality life in my older years. On the other hand, I want to live long enough to enjoy my fitness!
That is one of the reasons why I find myself riding indoors using the computer cycling simulation called Zwift. It minimizes my time spent on the road while helping to maintain my fitness. The vast majority of my riding in preparation for this weekend’s long ride was done in my basement.
Still, I will be back on the road. I choose my routes carefully. I have a follow car when I can. I operate aware of the vehicles around me and contrary to many opinions, I give way to the cars. I do not seek to “own my space.”
This approach, along with Zwift, has served me well. I know that when it is my time to go, I’ll go. At the same time, I’m not into taking unnecessary risks. But that goes for everyone else on the road…
Ride aware. Drive aware. Ride to be noticed. Drive with expectation. Give room.
We can get along.