The Fear

There’re two things certain in Cycling: pain, and more pain. How we attain either, each or both of them can present itself in many forms. When you take out your brand new bike for its maiden voyage, lean it against a wall at the pub apres ride and manage to gouge a chunk of paint of the seatstay when you stumble aboard after a pint too many, that hurts. Climbing a 22% cobbled wall, that hurts. The emptiness in your legs after 150km in the heat or cold and the only way home is up, yep that hurts. And crashing. That can hurt more than anything.

It’s not just the physical damage sustained in a bender that can make you cry, or want to. The longer term effects can be more painful than the actual bruises, cuts or broken bones. And when you start to think about crashing before anything has even happened, well that can fuck with your mind and produce stress that isn’t really needed when you’re already dealing with other riders, cars and trucks, or trees, rocks and roots. The Fear of crashing can be your worst enemy, and possibly the catalyst for the result you’re desperate to avoid.

As soon as Keepers Tour 15 was confirmed, two things were apparent: I needed to get into shape for the long days on the cobbles, and I needed to stay uninjured so I’d be able to ride the cobbles and possibly have a chance of injuring myself on them in April. The Fear started eating away at me. Not the fear of getting hit by one of the thousands of angry motorists with a hatred of cyclists that are encountered every week, but a fear of myself and my ability to ride a mountain bike fairly quickly; the fear of steep and technical terrain; the fear of limited traction; and the fear of a competitive nature, as I’d entered a couple of enduro races held on some of the nastiest (but insanely fun) trails in the country. Already I was mentally defeated. I had to confront The Fear head on.

Instead, what I did was give away my entry to the nastier of the races to one of my mates and Spoke mag colleagues… he was gutted at missing out, I had nothing to prove by racing it, and it seemed the noble thing to do. At least that’s how I justified the fear I was experiencing. The other race is on trails I’ve never ridden, and my plan to ‘ride/not race’ it lessens the chances of crashing. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. Being only two weeks before KT15 is a bit of a worry, but there’s still time to pull out!

So for the last four weeks my mountain bike has gone untouched. Not entirely due to The Fear, a little bit of circumstance with weather, work, festivities and building up some endurance on the road bike. Today I hit the dirt. Literally. There wasn’t much Fear involved, the ride was nearing the end and all the sensations were good. Maybe too good. I was riding well, in control and fairly pacy. On a trail I’d ridden hundreds of times before, on an innocuous corner, a small rabbit darted across the track in front of me and instinct dictated that I try and miss it. My front wheel caught the soft edge and before I knew it my KT was flashing before my eyes as I hit the rocky ground with a thud. A fair bit of skin donated to the earth and a decent whack of the head, but nothing to put me out of action for the rest of the ride or the coming weeks. Certainly nothing compared the trauma @ChrisO is going through right now. And then I remember @itburns and perspective really hits home.

As I sit here with blood congealing on my arm and a dull headache and hazy recollections of the moments after the impact, I feel that conceding to The Fear will never be wise. If we let it win, then we’d never step foot out of the house and sling a leg over any top tube, whether it be sloped and fat or svelte and flat. Risk is always there when we ride our bikes, but it’s there in everything we do every minute of every day. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop riding for three months so I can ride in three months.

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66 Replies to “The Fear”

  1. Well thought article. We can’t control the ciclismo universe. We have to remain an integral part of the swirling mass and wait for all else to be aligned with our goals.

  2. Great article! My nickname in college was “crash.” The experiences which earned me that moniker have since forged an uncanny ability to remain upright which has served me well into my latter years. Adopting a “fuck everything and everyone” attitude of staying upright has also proven helpful. It’s the crashes which teach us the most sometimes (being able to asses your tire’s traction through your feet and ass is a learned skill). And I’ll be god damed if I’m not going to not ride today to be ok for a ride tomorrow.

  3. @Ccos

    I’ll be god damed if I’m not going to not ride today to be ok for a ride tomorrow.

    Good and perfect point. It’s the ride today that makes us better equipped for the ride coming up.

  4. Life is what happens while executing our plans is what I was told. Nice write up. All that said, there has been a rash of high profile biking deaths/severe crashes this last month or so. 2015 hopefully brings a fresh start.  HNY!

  5. I’m glad you posted that now Brett. It’s been going through my head and I’m sure my first ride back on the bike will be a nervous time.

    at the moment it looks like being three months away. Getting back will be the first thing and then the next question will be Getting back the nerve to race. TTs are looking good for a while.

    But you’re right – there’s no point letting risk put you off when the chances of a serious injury are really quite small.

  6. Brett, it’s like you read my mind – I’m in exactly the same place.  I’ve been dealing with the fear in a big way these last few weeks.  I had a nasty (but manageable) crash, and my body has healed up, but I can feel the wound in my mind still, off the bike or on.  It’s a constant back-of-the-mind sense of “what if I get hit what if I slip in that corner what if what if what if…”

    Like @gaswepass said, it’s not helped by the constant barrage of death reports in the news.

    The only solution is to say FUCK IT.  And to ride, and ride, and ride again.  With every mile we beat back the fear, and V is our weapon.

    I’ve posted this before, and I’ll post it again, because it’s as true as anything I know:

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    –@FrankHerbert

     

  7. Great article- I have “donated” a few layers of my epidermis on Mt. Diablo. However, I’ve become a great descender and bike handler in the process!

     

  8. Oh, The Fear. I know The Fear well, we’re old mates. Fucker kept me off a bike for nearly three years in what should have been my prime years of recklessness.

    See, I’m really a semi-reformed Dirty Mountain Biking Hippie. It’s only in the last year that I’ve ever owned a bike without big knobbly tires. And part of the reason I now have my fake-Italian wunder-bike is The Fear.

    Five or six years ago I loaded my old stumpjumper and a bunch of gear into the back of my truck and headed out of town into the wilderness of Central Texas. You can properly get away from it all out there, if you know where to go. I took food and gear for three days going up and down old railbeds and power rights-of-way and what have you. I’d done this kind of long weekend hundreds of times. Except this time, on day one, a mere ten miles from the truck, ol’ Stumpy and I were bombing down a hill and having a grand old time when the fork decided it had had enough and tore out one side. I don’t remember the mechanics of the crash but when I regained my senses we had bits of gear strewn all over about a hundred yards of hill, an utterly broken bicycle, and I had a fractured left ankle and left shinbone for my trouble. I carried an old flip phone, which broke neatly in half at the hinge.

    Myself being a resourceful redneck, ol’ Stumpy sacrificed its seatstays and a pedal for me, and that and a lot of duct tape made a semi-serviceable boot/splint arrangement. Lashing the saddle, seatpost, and a bit of top tube to a convenient stick made a halfway decent crutch, and I made my way back to the truck in a mere day and a half. I don’t remember much about that walk besides feeling nearly blind for most of it. We eventually got to a hospital, where I got a long and very patronizing lecture from an orthopedic surgeon who apparently thought I could have just wished a helicopter out of thin air. He did a good job fixing my ankle, though.

     

    Even after physical therapy did its thing and I got most of my strength back, I couldn’t even look at a bike for years without thinking about that walk back. The Fear and I know each other well, at this point. I still like to ride in the middle of nowhere, but I take people with me or at least let somebody know where I am. And now I have a fake-Italian wunderbike and I ride in civilization a fair bit. Turns out that when you’re not dodging dogs, little old ladies, confused children, or the drunk, it’s fun to go fast on a lightweight thing. Who knew?

  9. This was a timely article. On a whim I decided to take the MTB out on the local single track for the first time in over a year today. To me, trying to pick my way down a steep, rocky hill is much more scary than riding my road bike on a heavily trafficked urban thoroughfare. Last time I attempted the more advanced trails I took a couple painful spills, so I have been hesitant to give it another shot. It’s like a feedback loop: discomfort comes from lack of practice, lack of practice leads to more discomfort.

    So anyway, I figured it’s a new year so I’ll just go for it and I managed to make it home without hitting the deck. It’s the most satisfied I’ve felt after a ride in a while. More than 99% of my recent riding is road riding, but I think my new year’s resolution will be to work in more trails in 2015 and if it goes well enough maybe upgrade my now obsolete MTB.

  10. @il muro di manayunk

    Nice one, there’s no better feeling of accomplishment than riding some techy trail and cleaning it.

    I ride more tech stuff with more success now than ever, I think due in no small part to the modern bikes… more suspension, better geometry, and dropper posts. They make the best upgrade to any bike, and make riding safer/more fun, because you can actually have your body in the correct position to distribute weight where it needs to be.

    And your road bike handling definitely benefits from riding the dirt, no doubt.

  11. A little fear is a good thing. It keeps us from apex-ing inside lanes on fast descents or blasting through red lights during rush hour. I try not to over think these things and enjoy the ride but I have noticed that my downhill speeds have lessened with age and numerous broken bones. :)

  12. When I went down in April, at a time of form and oneness with my steed that I had never reached previously, I was stoked not to break anything or hit my head. A month of bandage changes and I was back on the bike. But fuck me if I can’t descend like I used to, can only explain it as feeling on top of rather than inside the bike, and no amount of positional changes make me feel better about it. The fear has taken hold, and it causes too much over thinking. When I stop thinking on a descent, back in flow again, I know the recovery will be complete. But the snatching brakes and wobbly descending is doing my head in meantime!

  13. The fear is essential, although my Fear is based on my imagination of what could happen rather than any actual knowledge, because as yet (touch wood) I’ve not suffered any injuries from crashing my mountain bike, and have yet to come off my road bike at all (and in the latter cast, I’m much more concerned about damage to the bike!).

    I must admit, I’ve been fortunate when mountain biking. My wife says I ride off road like I’m about to fall off at any second, but somehow don’t. And on those occasions when I’ve been forced into a rapid disembarkation, I’ve usually managed to hit something soft.

    The crashes that stick in my mind (and scar my body), and continue to make me wince have all been commuting. I’ve mentioned the spill on wet leaves which caused a significant shoulder injury here before, but I’ve also come off my bike at approximately 0.5kph, rolling off my drive when my chain snapped. This catapulted me elbow-first onto the tarmac and gouged a hole in my skin so big I had to be stitched with fishing line and have the arm set in plaster so I couldn’t bend it.

    Hilariously, I also once managed to catch one end of my handlebars in the lifting loop of a 1 tonne gravel bag, causing an unexpected and sudden meeting with the tarmac, although on that occasion I wasn’t injured.

  14. Nicely written, and a good read for sure.

    The Fear was made real for our little cycling community when news of a crash took the life one of its members this month.  Riding trails he knew as well as anyone, solo, hikers found him hours later.  Very sad to hear, and somehow made me a bit nervous the next time I tossed a leg over my top bar…..

  15. Odd timing. Two weeks ago today I crashed on the road bike and broke my right pelvis! I can’t say I have fear about getting back on the bike but I haven’t lifted the leg over the top tube yet. I do wonder though what my thought will be as I round that sharp little corner down the street on that first ride back. I guess we’ll find out on about another for or give weeks.

     

    fasthair

  16. @Beers

    When I went down in April, at a time of form and oneness with my steed that I had never reached previously, I was stoked not to break anything or hit my head. A month of bandage changes and I was back on the bike. But fuck me if I can’t descend like I used to, can only explain it as feeling on top of rather than inside the bike, and no amount of positional changes make me feel better about it. The fear has taken hold, and it causes too much over thinking. When I stop thinking on a descent, back in flow again, I know the recovery will be complete. But the snatching brakes and wobbly descending is doing my head in meantime!

    Took me nearly 18 months to get back to that sort of feeling after coming off & at Easter 2012, only started setting descending PB’s again late last year.

  17. @Mikael Liddy

    @Beers

    When I went down in April, at a time of form and oneness with my steed that I had never reached previously, I was stoked not to break anything or hit my head. A month of bandage changes and I was back on the bike. But fuck me if I can’t descend like I used to, can only explain it as feeling on top of rather than inside the bike, and no amount of positional changes make me feel better about it. The fear has taken hold, and it causes too much over thinking. When I stop thinking on a descent, back in flow again, I know the recovery will be complete. But the snatching brakes and wobbly descending is doing my head in meantime!

    Took me nearly 18 months to get back to that sort of feeling after coming off & at Easter 2012, only started setting descending PB’s again late last year.

    I know exactly what you mean – I’ve been descending like my tires are made of glass or something.  I’ll know I’m back in black when I’m KOM on the local hairpin descents again.  Meh.

  18. @antihero

    @Mikael Liddy

    @Beers

    When I went down in April, at a time of form and oneness with my steed that I had never reached previously, I was stoked not to break anything or hit my head. A month of bandage changes and I was back on the bike. But fuck me if I can’t descend like I used to, can only explain it as feeling on top of rather than inside the bike, and no amount of positional changes make me feel better about it. The fear has taken hold, and it causes too much over thinking. When I stop thinking on a descent, back in flow again, I know the recovery will be complete. But the snatching brakes and wobbly descending is doing my head in meantime!

    Took me nearly 18 months to get back to that sort of feeling after coming off & at Easter 2012, only started setting descending PB’s again late last year.

    So the feeling does goes away? Good to hear!

     

    I almost got myself killed last May and while still bound to home, I was very though (“if this is the worst that can happen, then from now on I’m going to fly!”). But the first time on the bike again I was already talking very differently and the first time doing serious mtb was with shaking knees. It’s very strange, all seems to be fine, and then suddenly it hits me again and I immediately reach for the brakes.

    My friends and family constantly reminding me of the accident aren’t really of any help either…

  19. One positive I take out of my crash is that I will never, ever think that training and racing is actually painful, let alone more than I can bear. Discomforting and unpleasant perhaps but intense and intolerable… pah.

    I’m hoping this will make up for my inevitable fear in the bunch or on descents. And perhaps putting my new TT bike to good use for a while.

  20. excellent brett. I am in a similar conundrum. Last May, I managed to set my alter ego riding companion, CRF250X, down hard on some local dirt. JRA! as it were. A solid conk to the head, and larger hit to the hip joint. And later an issue with cracked ribs. I ride the moto like I ride all my bikes, casually deliberate, mostly with better riders, so I am the tourist of the group. And I ride fully protected with body armor, while I imagined what this slow fall would have been like in lycra kit.

    All I could think of during this episode was how would I be on my “real” bike? I have progressively let the time pass, to be back to solid form. ie, my buddies and I working each other over on the local roads. It has taken months and I have been more aware of the sketchy stuff that happens on the roads.

    But I have yet to put myself back on the moto to feel that sensation between the thighs…..but I most likely will. I can’t end that part of my riding career looking back on that one time. There are miles of freedom to cover.

  21. @bea

    @antihero

    @Mikael Liddy

    @Beers

    When I went down in April, at a time of form and oneness with my steed that I had never reached previously, I was stoked not to break anything or hit my head. A month of bandage changes and I was back on the bike. But fuck me if I can’t descend like I used to, can only explain it as feeling on top of rather than inside the bike, and no amount of positional changes make me feel better about it. The fear has taken hold, and it causes too much over thinking. When I stop thinking on a descent, back in flow again, I know the recovery will be complete. But the snatching brakes and wobbly descending is doing my head in meantime!

    Took me nearly 18 months to get back to that sort of feeling after coming off & at Easter 2012, only started setting descending PB’s again late last year.

    So the feeling does goes away? Good to hear!

     

    I almost got myself killed last May and while still bound to home, I was very though (“if this is the worst that can happen, then from now on I’m going to fly!”). But the first time on the bike again I was already talking very differently and the first time doing serious mtb was with shaking knees. It’s very strange, all seems to be fine, and then suddenly it hits me again and I immediately reach for the brakes.

    My friends and family constantly reminding me of the accident aren’t really of any help either…

    @Beers, I TOTALLY see what you mean about feeling like you’re atop the bike, not in it – the exact same thing happens to me.  Thinking too much is totally the cause.

    This discussion actually inspired me to do something about it yesterday.  I suited up, gritted my teeth, and pointed my fixed-gear at a nasty, hilly route that would take me down a high-traffic, high-speed road.  In the rain.  Slippery as hell.  After 3 hours of having soccer moms in SUVs blast by me at 50mph, the fear seemed cauterized somehow – the last 10 miles felt awesome.

    I must not fear, so FUCK IT.  Go.

  22. @antihero

     

    I suited up, gritted my teeth, and pointed my fixed-gear at a nasty, hilly route that would take me down a high-traffic, high-speed road.  In the rain.  Slippery as hell.  After 3 hours of having soccer moms in SUVs blast by me at 50mph, the fear seemed cauterized somehow – the last 10 miles felt awesome.

    I must not fear, so FUCK IT.  Go.

    Watched a video on Friday of a local cyclist that was killed in a simple bike crash last year. The video made it clear that the rider was making a bad move. Came up along the pace line and bulldogged into a gap that hadn’t opened up enough. The rider went down on left side and hit his head — instantly gone. Riders are getting away with making bad decisions and eventually the worst decision will catch up with them. No room on a bike for stupidness.

  23. @antihero

    [ Kirk Lazarus voice ] “Like the dumbest mother fucker that ever lived. Everybody knows you never go full on mother fucker.”

    “Never go full mother fucker.”

  24. I go down hard on the mtb at least once a month, last one separated my shoulder. When you want to ride at speed it comes with the territory. Took me  more than a few tides to get back into it again. But now I have become a little sick of the mtb and have been hitting the road more and more. Now I want to start riding the road bike at night but it is not my fear of crashing, it us my Wife’s fear if me crashing and or getting hit.

    How does one handle that one, I can’t sit on a trainer, I need to be outside.

  25. @Demetra Darrow

    The best way to road ride at night is with others… the more flashing lights the better. We ride through winter in our small group, straight after work so at peak hour. There are always commuters out at that time, so I suppose drivers are aware of cyclists at that time of day (night).

    One thing that shits me (as a driver too) is flashing front lights, especially really hi-powered ones. It’s more distracting than a solid front light and doesn’t give a good indication of distance. they should be illegal.

  26. @universio

    Do spare me.  If I want this kind of talk I’ll call my mother.

    Seriously.  Have you never ridden on a busy road in the rain?  If you haven’t, and if you don’t do it regularly, you obviously either live in the desert or aren’t riding enough.

    If you want to see Full Motherfucker, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8e1jVY006g

  27. @antihero

    Facing your fears like that may be reckless, but it can be liberating. I do live in the desert, so it doesn’t rain often – but when it rains it pours, and I’ve been trying my best to avoid riding in those conditions, when visibility is nonexistent, floods and oilslicks are plentiful and drivers barely notice where they’re going. I’ve raced in those conditions on closed roads, and ridden with my team with a trailing car for protection, but I had a deep, inner fear of heading out there on my own which I knew I had to confront (especially with plans of a postgrad in England floating around).

    So when the forecast last weekend called for storm, I decided to raid my carefully curated Rule #9 cabinet and head out no matter what. After three hours of pouring rain, without a single cyclist in sight, I pulled up at the end with a grin reserved only for the stupid and the utterly happy. Next time it rains I won’t be so hesitant to head out again. I might remember to pack a windproof and kneewarmers, though.

    [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Next time I’ll refill my bidons straight from the glove[/caption]

  28. @brett

    Two years ago, my coach and I were discussing his own ambitions for the coming season: Qualifying for, and racing, the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. Later, when discussing my own plans, he suggested I take up MTBing to sharpen up my handling and “add an arrow to the quiver”, so to speak. As luck would have it, our plans matched: “Take my MTB away from me, I can’t afford to crash. Just use it.”

    And so a Lefty-forked ‘Dale found a place in my stable. Way too much bike for me to handle, but I enjoyed tackling the trails with my girlfriend’s dad and, indeed, improve my technical riding. He (and the GF’s teenage brother) still drop me on some technical sections just because they don’t fear it as much as I do. Some of my most magical moments came when I blindly followed wheels down descents, with the mantra “If they can, so can I” proving that the grip is there, just the confidence is lacking.

    The coach? He qualified, and went to Hawaii. Meanwhile, a sponsor change meant his entire stable was replaced, and the ‘Dale was no longer needed. He since managed to crash hard twice, once breaking a wrist and once a collarbone. In both cases he was back on a turbo within a week or two. Too bad I can’t take the new Superfly away from him as well, “too keep him safe”.

  29. @RobSandy

    @tessar

    It’s only water.

    Like I said, I don’t fear the water itself. In fact, I probably spend more time in it than is appropriate for a Velominatus. It’s the zero-visibility downpours that do me in, and because it’s a very dry country, there’s lots of oil buildup on the roads and drivers who haven’t got a clue.

  30. @antihero

    O, brother, I do know first hand what I’m talking about. Can’t imaging telling your family or friends “I must not fear, so FUCK IT. Go.” It sounds thoughtless to me. Poor form to use the “not riding enough” tactic as well.

  31. @tessar

    @RobSandy

    @tessar

    It’s only water.

    Like I said, I don’t fear the water itself. In fact, I probably spend more time in it than is appropriate for a Velominatus.

    I know, I know. I was just being facetious. I rode in freezing rain on Boxing Day and no matter how much I meditated on The V, after an hour or so I just wanted to be back home.

    I live in Wales so if I wasn’t prepared to ride in the rain, I wouldn’t ride.

     

     

  32. @brett

    @Demetra Darrow

    The best way to road ride at night is with others… the more flashing lights the better. We ride through winter in our small group, straight after work so at peak hour. There are always commuters out at that time, so I suppose drivers are aware of cyclists at that time of day (night).

    One thing that shits me (as a driver too) is flashing front lights, especially really hi-powered ones. It’s more distracting than a solid front light and doesn’t give a good indication of distance. they should be illegal.

    Hmm, never thought about the flashing lights being distracting. Would like to discuss and read a study or two on these. I run a front flasher at most times on road rides, both during light and of course when dark. On commutes I run one on steady, one on flash.

  33. @Ron

    My thoughts on flashing lights: i hate them! And those superbright 2 million lumen light in city trafic? Hate them too! On desolate roads or for mtb, they are however perfect!

    I ride a lot in the dark (this being belgium the sun only comes up for working hours), on parts through the city a use a reasonable bright light, once outside traffic I use a very bright light. Since the road I mostly take is not lit it’s just me and my cone of light. I like it!

    Untill it’s raining and cold and dark and I have a flat….

    But bottom line, no flashing lights!

  34. Safe to say that I’m doing something wrong… Sorry for that very empty message… Let’s try again…

    @Ron
    My thoughts on flashing lights: I hate them! And those superbright million-lumen lights used in the city or traffic? I hate them too! What’s the use in blinding everybody around you? You want light to be seen, but you don’t need your light to see. On silent roads or mtb however, they are great! Oh, and while I’m at it, those tiny lights you get for free: ban them too!

    These days I regularly ride in the dark (this being Belgium, the sun only shines during working hours). In the city I use a decent, clearly visible light, once I’m outside of trafic I use a very bright light. The road I usually take is not lit and it’s only my lightcone and me, the rest just disappears. I like it!
    Until it’s dark and cold and raining and I have a flat… ;)

    But bottom line, no flashing lights! It’s like @brett says they are just more difficult to assess. The same goes for lights mounted on helmets, it takes me twice as long to identify that lone flying light as a cyclist with a light mounted on his helmet.

  35. Hmm, now I’m sorely confused. Frank has suggested a helmet-mounted light is a good idea to identify yourself as a non-motorcyclist.

    I’ve been using one on steady, plus a bar-mounted light, for winter (dark) commutes. The helmet light is great because it’s disoriented when you look left or right and can’t see anything.

    And yes, helmet lights are GREAT if you have a flat. If you’ve ever tried fixing a puncture in the country with no street or city lights and only bar-mounted lights you’ll know why.

    And lights being too bright…do you really think a cycling light, no matter how bright, is brighter than the new fancy headlights on BMWs and Audis? Seems hard to believe.

  36. I’d also like to read some studies about flashing vs. steady lights. When I’m in a car I definitely pick up on bright flashing lights, both front and rear, very quickly. Then again, I’m a cyclist so might be more attuned to catching them.

  37. @antihero

    @universio

    Do spare me.  If I want this kind of talk I’ll call my mother.

    Seriously.  Have you never ridden on a busy road in the rain?  If you haven’t, and if you don’t do it regularly, you obviously either live in the desert or aren’t riding enough.

    If you want to see Full Motherfucker, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8e1jVY006g

    I’ve got plenty of Motorex Wet Lube if you need me to send you some. Rain is not an issue. Going against high-speed, high-traffic, slippery as hell with soccer moms is the part I don’t understand. Perhaps you exaggerated some — like American Flyers (1985).

  38. @Ron

    They grab attention, yes – but it’s harder to judge the distance if the object is flashing. That’s my experience as both a rider and an occasional driver, that there’s no frame of reference to help locate the cyclist.

    Point is that some bike lights are approaching floodlight territory in both power and spread. Once you’re past the first few hundred lumens, the light can blind – and a decent MTB light, directed straight ahead, can be as bad as a car light. It’s not the brightness itself, it’s the direction.

    I have a rear flasher that put out more light than my old car’s rear used to. Turned it off whenever I rode with a bunch, but I love the multi-flash mode when I’m in desolated areas without cyclist awareness. Two LEDs flash while another two are steady, then they switch – combination of obnoxious flashing to get you noticed and steady light to provide a frame of reference.

  39. In the past I had a fall at speed that ended up with me visiting the hospital. I learned to respect the fear by not taking stupid chances and paying attention, but not to submit to it. Its working out so far.

    A good example of this principle is in the link below which has been doing the rounds. The rider is OK, the bike it toast, he limped away and will ride another day. He seems philosophical about what happened. This is not “no fear”, just respecting the fear.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV9_i9MEnMg

    As for the rain, here’s some footage from a recent ride. To be fair we abandoned a climb yesterday owing to rain but this was to avoid what would have been a treacherous descent. The group went and climbed somewhere less dangerous instead. Respect the fear.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oI0OUy6DBN4

     

  40. I don’t believe anyone has mentioned Rule #6 which is an oversight… or maybe I miss-apply the rule. “set your mind free”… don’t even think about what might happen because it will if you do. Where you look, you go and so too what you think you do.

  41. @tessar

    @antihero

    Facing your fears like that may be reckless, but it can be liberating. I do live in the desert, so it doesn’t rain often – but when it rains it pours, and I’ve been trying my best to avoid riding in those conditions, when visibility is nonexistent, floods and oilslicks are plentiful and drivers barely notice where they’re going. I’ve raced in those conditions on closed roads, and ridden with my team with a trailing car for protection, but I had a deep, inner fear of heading out there on my own which I knew I had to confront (especially with plans of a postgrad in England floating around).

    So when the forecast last weekend called for storm, I decided to raid my carefully curated Rule #9 cabinet and head out no matter what. After three hours of pouring rain, without a single cyclist in sight, I pulled up at the end with a grin reserved only for the stupid and the utterly happy. Next time it rains I won’t be so hesitant to head out again. I might remember to pack a windproof and kneewarmers, though.

    Next time I’ll refill my bidons straight from the glove

     

    That’s how we roll.  Sweet.

    Being able to ride in awful weather and love it can give you a huge advantage over your opponents.  While they’re wasting mental CPU cycles dealing with the psychological effects of the weather, you’re able to plan and think and execute.

  42. @unversio

    @antihero

    O, brother, I do know first hand what I’m talking about. Can’t imaging telling your family or friends “I must not fear, so FUCK IT. Go.” It sounds thoughtless to me. Poor form to use the “not riding enough” tactic as well.

    This is precisely what I tell them, my wife, daughter, parents, and all.  In my family, suiting up and attacking a problem, even at some risk, is considered thoughtful and appropriate behavior.

    Re: not riding enough, I stand corrected – a low blow.  However, you might consider that calling someone stupid without giving full consideration to the motivations and qualities of their actions is also very poor form.  I am many things, but stupid is not a quality that I possess in any measure.

  43. @unversio

    @antihero

    @universio

    Do spare me.  If I want this kind of talk I’ll call my mother.

    Seriously.  Have you never ridden on a busy road in the rain?  If you haven’t, and if you don’t do it regularly, you obviously either live in the desert or aren’t riding enough.

    If you want to see Full Motherfucker, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8e1jVY006g

    I’ve got plenty of Motorex Wet Lube if you need me to send you some. Rain is not an issue. Going against high-speed, high-traffic, slippery as hell with soccer moms is the part I don’t understand. Perhaps you exaggerated some “” like American Flyers (1985).

    Exaggeration is lying’s slippery cousin, and is not a form I engage.  It may give you some comfort to know that said road does in fact have marked (if narrow) bike lanes, and is a regular commuter route around here.  Here in Nashville, TN, if you want to take a long ride, you’ve got little choice but to use roads like this, anyway.

    Thanks for the offer, but I’m a Tenacious Oil man, myself.

  44. @antihero

    @unversio

    @antihero

    O, brother, I do know first hand what I’m talking about. Can’t imaging telling your family or friends “I must not fear, so FUCK IT. Go.” It sounds thoughtless to me. Poor form to use the “not riding enough” tactic as well.

    This is precisely what I tell them, my wife, daughter, parents, and all.  In my family, suiting up and attacking a problem, even at some risk, is considered thoughtful and appropriate behavior.

    Re: not riding enough, I stand corrected – a low blow.  However, you might consider that calling someone stupid without giving full consideration to the motivations and qualities of their actions is also very poor form.  I am many things, but stupid is not a quality that I possess in any measure.

    Buttons were pushed, I apologize, and call for cease-fire and year long treaty. I understand completely and could’ve called myself down first of all.

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