Saturday, October 24, 2015

Road Hogs making life miserable for all cyclists

The following post appeared on my bike club's Facebook page. One rider complaining about other riders from our club.

from the post......For the 4 riders on ABC Mill Road this morning at about 11:00am, when you coast down the middle of the road at 15mph, 2 wide, having a chat and poking each other, with a line of 4-5 cars behind you, those drivers get upset. When those drivers get upset with you, they get upset with all of us the next time we are out there. Respect goes both ways.

(disclaimer, don't know who these guys are)

Somebody please tell me what motivates group riders to ride oblivious to everyone else on the road. I don't want to follow these guys, do you?? How in blazes name can a car pass these morons? Then if a car buzzes them they are the first to raise the middle finger.

Riders like this make my beyond angry. They make me vulnerable on the road. I ride solo and I do all i can to make it easy for cars to pass me. I move over, I slow down, whatever it takes to help the car get safely past me. My apologies to this pig, but this is what I think of you large group riders when you blast down the road with this motto on your breath... me, myself and I.

sorry pig, you probably know better

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

hey buddy learn how to shift gears

This past Sunday I was following a fellow biker on a long flat road, he passed me and then I caught up to him. I noticed he was pedaling very fast. I wondered how he accomplished this in his higher gears which would have been appropriate for the road we were on. I just assumed he was pedaling along in the big chain ring upfront (50-52) and a middle cog in back. But I pedaled up close and saw he was using his largest chain ring upfront and his largest cog in the back. Probably the worst gear to bike in. Chain stretched across the cog in back.

This fellow needed to drop his back gear for the betterment of his chain.  Or else if he finds the big chain ring and middle cog in back is just too hard,  I would suggest he try the triple crank. The fellow was an older cyclist like myself and would be greatly served if he had some more options with his chain rings and cog.

We spend a lot of money on bikes with many gear options, if yours does not suit you, change it. Make your cycling more fun by having gears appropriate for your skill level and or age or both.

Biking is a great sport but consider finding a bike with the gearing that matches your skill and age. Many folks prefer the compact crank and this is a good option but if you find this crank is not meeting your needs do some research and talk to your bike mechanic.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

to helmet or not to helmet and other pet peeves

Biggest pet peeve

for me, seeing a family of mother, sometimes father and kids on the road biking and parents have no helmet and kids' helmets are so far back on their heads that they might as well not be wearing them. Don't people have ANY common sense anymore? The helmet has to worn correctly or you might as well not wear it. Here is a good checklist for helmet fit. There are lots of You Tube videos if you want to spend some time, Remember, 3 minutes watching a video may save you or your child's life.

Second pet peeve

for me,  cyclists passing another cyclist not in their group. I often ride solo and I go slow. Often times large groups of Lance wannabes pass me at break neck pace and way too close. When you bike slow, especially up a hill, maintaining a perfectly straight line is hard to do plus I have to  look at passing cyclists making my journey not so safe.  The passing cyclists often do not announce that the are coming, particularly true of a lone fast cyclist. They just buzz by scaring me. Not sure why cyclists whine and complain when a car buzzes them but have no idea that a cyclist can buzz another cyclist. Hey slow down Mr Speedy, so  you lose 10 seconds off of  your ride, where are you going anyhow that your time and speed actually matters? Sometimes I feel I need an engine when getting passed.

Third pet peeve

for me is when a car passes me. What can possibly be going through the motorist's head when he or she passes me when I am going up a hill and there is a huge curve in the road. Ya'd think the car might slow down and wait. No the cars blast past, I know I will witness a head on crash someday.
Today a car squeezed by me when oncoming cars were actually passing opposite me. I could not believe it. I don't get the need for speed when most of the motorists passing me probably waste hours a day checking email and Facebook. But losing 10 seconds behind me is an impossibilty.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Old folks should buy bikes

I am very lucky to live in an area with relatively flat biking available. Chester County, PA is home to the Brandywine River Valley. We have many roads that hug the long and winding creek. There is a west branch and east branch and they meet up in a little place called Northbrook. So there are lots of nice tree covered basically flat or easy hill roads for me to ride on.

Today I did a very easy 24 miles with the biggest hills being my ascent back into the West Chester boro where I live. I ride a nice bike and I have great equipment as well. I hear so many folks complain to me, I cannot afford to buy a bike or I am afraid to ride on the roads with the cars.

Both of these issues are valid but let me try and convince you otherwise. I purchased my bike 5 years ago. It is a custom bike mainly because I am tall for a woman and not able to buy off the rack so to speak. I have a few good cycling clothes, a helmet and very good bike lights.

I have studied the maps of my area and have driven many of the roads scouting out a good ride. Lots of preparation goes into taking up the sport of biking but so worth it. I have learned how to change a tire and I have learned how to clean and maintain my bike. I make the time to learn these things. As an older female cyclist, I believe in being prepared and knowledgeable on the road.

my custom Spectrum, titanium frame, Shimano ultegra

Pictured above is my bike and below that is the mighty Brandywine with a home way in the background rumored to be home to an Andrew Wyeth relative. 

OK you are still asking why bike????

1. to see great scenery and your own area up close, until I got a bike I had no idea the roads I am now biking on even existed

2. I am 65 years old in a few weeks, the knees are going along with other things but I can still bike and enjoy life

3. I bike slow, real slow, no cars have any issues getting past me, I rarely run into the nasty drivers I hear others complain about but I make every effort to assist in helping cars pass me

4. Get off  your tuff and try a new hobby, I took up biking at age 55 and now 10 years later I am still doing it

5. And most important, getting a bike.................

Go to a good bike store. You have several options, do your homework before you go.

1. buy a good hybrid bike, if you cannot see yourself on a road bike, consider a good hybrid with a TRIPLE CRANK, the triple crank is often referred to as the granny gear!!! well we are grannies

2. if you can see yourself on a road bike you can spend from approximately $1000 to $3000 depending on equipment

3. there are several good brands - TREK, SPECIALIZED, CANNONDALE to name a few. You do not need top of the line components but I do recommend  you get a triple crank

4. Check out my past posts on the right side of this blog on buying a bike, I have done many

Overall I have invested  a lot in this hobby. My custom bike was pricy, $5000 but five years later it is still like new and rides like a dream. For my 60th birthday and all future birthdays, my bike is my gift. Don't need any fancy cruise or a big party. I will ride hopefully for at least another 5 -10 years. So over a 10 year period my investment is now $500 per year. Hardly a steep price for health and exercise. You probably waste $500 a year on eating out and driving your car way too much. 

Your bike will not cost $5000 and can be had for way less. I have biked with lots of ladies over the last 10 years and most have upgraded their bikes. They started with low priced road bikes and after a few years realized the waste of money it was and upgraded to a better road bike.

Nonetheless, I often hear folks say I will buy a cheap bike and see if I like it. Well I can guarantee you will hate biking on your heavy, difficult bike and after a few rides you will discard the bike and complain you wasted your money.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

we are all guests on the roads

My gorgeous view today on the bike!!!

I finally have what looks like a full summer ahead of me on my bike. After a broken ankle and two rotator cuff surgeries I am fully healed and raring to go on my bike. I am very fortunate to own a custom Spectrum Bike with a triple crank making my biking relatively easy even with the hills in Chester County, PA

Today was 78 degrees and spring is bursting out all over my county. Flowering trees and daffodils were everywhere. I am a Medicare card carrying woman and today I had no trouble peddling away for 30 miles. How fortunate I am to have the health to do this!

As I was climbing slowly up a hill, a huge group of cyclists sped past, heads down with speed as their only goal. How fast, what's my mph, am I leading the group and the list goes on and on. I wonder do they take the time to smell the roses.

I rode by myself today and like the blog title says, I consider myself a guest on the roads. If I was driving a car I would feel the same way. We are all guests on these roads. Sharing the pavement with each other is what we should all do. Just like if you were a guest in someone's home,  don't make a fool of yourself on the roads be it in on a bike or in a car. Don't fight with cars, don't fight with other cyclists or anyone on the roads. I often hear members of my bike club refer to drivers as "dickheads", 'fuckwads" etc. Why such crude and useless descriptions when confronted with a driver?? What purpose does it serve?

We are all guests on the roads and if you are on the road and on a good road bike consider yourself one lucky person!! You are healthy, you can afford a good bike and you are in good shape. So stop whining and spread a little cheer when out biking. Move over and help a car get by on a narrow road, avoid cycling in such large groups that no one could possibly pass.  Every car you let by is one less angry driver. I don't feel like I have a right to be on the roads but I do feel it a privilege to be on the roads.

Try adjusting your attitude next time when on the roads. In the Philadelphia area where I live, folks carry guns and will shoot. We just had a young girl get shot in her car on a highway by an angry motorist.

So be a good road guest and do your part to help make everyone safe. Some friends I met along my ride pictured below.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

two recent bike deaths in my area

Two cyclists have been hit and killed in my local area of West Chester, PA. I do not know what these cyclists were wearing or the worthiness of their bike lights. I see many cyclists during the day wearing the new cool color for bikes - black. Why manufacturers make black bikes and black cycling hear is anybody's guess?  The two cyclists were both biking at night. If you commute to work on a bike, take some of the money you are saving on gas and buy top quaility 400 lumen lights for the front and back of bike. If you own nothing but black cycling gear get a reflector vest at Home Depot. The type the construction guys wear.

Mount your lights and put on as much reflective gear as possible. Keep your lights well charged. Get a good rear view mirror and use it.  Bike cautiously at night. Remember, NO ONE is paying attention anymore to the road. Constantly check rear view mirror for idiots behind you.

Always assume each and every car out there is aiming for you. Bike defensively at night. There is no margin for error.

Texting has changed everything for cyclists as it takes a blink of an eye for a car to swerve when involved in this activity. If the road has no shoulder, find another route. My son used to bike 30 or more into Philadelphia from the suburbs, he rode on my 4 lane highway with a huge shoulder. He had 10 feet between him and the cars. No a pleasant ride but a safe one. He now commutes in NYC and in the dark. He has 400 lumen lights and a reflective back pack. He bikes defensively.