On the Road….. for HOURS!

A week on the road….

It was a week of driving… some weeks are like that.

I drove up to Albany — theoretically a 2 1/2 hour drive each way. Of course, it was longer.  It’s always longer than you think it will be.

Well, my first trip up to Albany was solo — to pick up a friend. I spent the three hour ride listening to a training program on funnel building.  Always generates new ideas, thoughts, improvements in what I am doing and how I am doing it.  There are times when you have to re-energize and listening to podcasts, training etc. can be a great way to do it.

The ride home was filled with catching up and story telling.

On the return trip, we got stuck in two traffic jams.  One for over two hours.  Not moving at all and watching ambulances, fire trucks etc go by…. helicopters fly in… people walking the highway trying to see what was happening etc.  No one got angry, although we were all hot and some of us needed a bathroom, I just hoped that everyone involved in the accident ahead had survived. It sure didn’t look like it from the response. And when we finally drove past it, it didn’t look like it either. BUT, according to a local news article, everyone did survive.  We were grateful to be safe sitting on the road and not involved.

We ended up meeting not in Albany but in Saugerties and they had painted sailboats all through town!  Really cute town and fun painted boats.

There were so many and actually, I thought I took more pictures, but this was it.

I loved that everyone in the traffic jam was patient and concerned.  That we didn’t see frustrated angry lot of people. Everyone just went with the flow…. (metaphor here, I think;)

We explored new roads and took out time even though we were on the road WAY too long! I love new roads, new adventures.  Possible new routes for our upcoming bike trip.

And then there was the conversations.  Always interesting and thoughtful.

The Rules of the Road, Bikes and Cars

Bikes are out on the road again! Its spring and the roads are beautiful.  Cyclists have pumped up their tires and dusted off their helmets and taken to the roads.  For drivers it means more to watch out for on the roads.

The reality is that both drivers and cyclists have an important part to play in keeping each other safe!  As a driver and a cyclist I see challenges and responsibilities on both sides!

We ride as a family, with kids on the back of our tandems.  We have had great experiences with our kids, touring.  We ride defensively, always looking at what other vehicles are doing and trying to anticipate what they might do to keep us safe.  We use hand signals, talk to each other and try to be predictable.  We all wear helmets because head injuries happen to adults just like kids.

As a cyclist I believe in riding predictably, communicating my intentions as clearly as possible.  I ride inside the white line whenever possible!  But on the narrow country roads of New Jersey, it is not always possible.  Not all roads here have shoulders that can accommodate a bike.  It means that cars have to pass with caution.  As a driver, it’s important to wait for the right time to pass a cyclist.  Wait until you have a clear view of oncoming traffic and give the cyclist room. Legally in many states cyclists can ride two abreast, but when there is traffic on back country roads it puts the car in danger and the cyclist when riders refuse to move to single file.  I know that I have been frustrated with side by side riders on curvy back country roads.  I get frustrated that other cyclists ride stupidly and end up putting us all in danger.

Cyclists need to be clear what they are doing using hand signals and riding predictably.

At the same time, I have been out riding and as I approached a street I have had drivers look at me and then cut me off. Bikes follow the same rules of the road that cars do and that means that cars have to yield the right of way to a bike just as they would a car. Cars making left turns do not typically cut oncoming traffic off.  This remains true if the oncoming traffic is a bike.

I know as both a driver and a cyclist I want to be safe.  I want my children safe in either situation.  I also know that the lifelong impact of hitting a cyclist will be devastating.

After cycling across the country from Maine to Oregon, I got home and was driving on the highway.  I became frustrated when I got stuck behind a truck doing 50 instead of 65.  In my frustration,  I remembered that I had just spent 90 days traveling an average of 15 miles per hour, and that there really wasn’t any where I had to be quickly.  That lesson stays with me.  It is more important to arrive safely than to rush and not arrive!

7 Ways to Practice Safety

When you ride a bike you want to be safe. Bicycle riders are a part of the traffic stream since more people ride bikes as a form of transportation. Here are seven ways to stay safe when you set out on your ride.

1. Check out your bike. When you roll your bike out of the garage or wherever you have it stored, take a quick look at your bike. Are the brake pads making contact with the rim and not the rubber of the wheel? Are the gears moving easily? Is any part of the frame rusty or bent? Any problem with your bike can make you a danger on the road to yourself and others.

2. Attach reflectors/lights to your bike. Many bike accidents occur at dusk or at night because riders are not easily visible to car drivers. With reflectors, a cars headlights can spot them and keep you from being the next casualty. Place them on the front and back wheels attached to the spokes and on the front and back of the frame.

3. Wear a helmet. This point cant be stressed enough. Broken bones can be fixed but a broken brain is another matter entirely. Head injuries are nearly always fatal when talking about bike and motorcycle accidents. All bike riders need a properly fitting helmet to protect their head.

4. Wear light colored clothing or a reflective vest. What if you happen to encounter issues and need to repair your bike? Even car drivers are hard to see at night when changing a flat tire. Lighter colors reflect light and are easier to see. It keeps you out of danger when riding at night.

5. Follow the same traffic laws as cars. At one point, bike riders were riding against the flow of traffic. People were afraid of being hit from behind so they wanted to see what was coming at them. The problem with that is turning around corners or riding on roads without a paved shoulder can cause the rider to swerve into traffic and become a part of a head-on collision with a car. Bike riders are supposed to ride with traffic and to ride in the lane enough to prevent cars from trying to ride next to them.

6. Use hand signals. Even if you are in a turning lane, it is helpful to use bike hand signals to let car drivers know your intentions. A left turn is signaled by holding your left arm straight out. A right turn is signaled with your left arm bent upwards at a ninety degree angle. To let drivers know that you are stopping, bend your left arm downwards at a ninety degree angle.

7. Carry a tool kit with you. Many bikes come with basic tool kits. You might need to add a few things but your tool kit needs to contain items to get you going again to reach an area where you can get help. Become familiar with the tools and how to use them before your first ride.

Remember to be safe when you set out on your bike ride. You want to have an enjoyable time away from danger.

Bike Maintenance

Taking Care of Your Bike: Bike Maintenance

You know how to ride a bike but do you know how to diagnose a problem with one? Be sure that your bike is well tuned before you set off on your day of fun or exercise. It can prevent problems later.

Before you leave the store with your new bike, purchase a tool kit. Many bike shop owners will suggest this but you need to know so you can be prepared if they do not. Regular maintenance checks will keep your bike operating in perfect condition for years to come. It starts with purchasing a sturdy reputable bike but ends with you doing your part before and after each bike ride.

Some bikes require more maintenance than others. A mountain bike stands to have more potential for maintenance needs than a bike that you ride for recreation through the neighborhood. Still, making a quick check of your bike parts cant hurt even for an occasional rider.

What to Check on Your Bike

What do you check on your car? Unless you have a Flintstone car from the Stone Age, you’ll need to maintain the brakes. On a bike, the brake pads connect with the metal frame of the wheel when you push the brake levers on the handlebars. It doesn’t let you stop on a dime, but good brake pads slow you down so you can put your feet down and stop. Brake pads that connect with the tire ruin the pads and the rubber on the tire not to mention the fact that you could be in for one nasty accident because you have the potential then to actually stop on a dime.

Don’t forget to check your wheels. Tire pressure is important especially if you carry extra weight like books or a child. Improperly inflated tires can lead to traffic accidents. Don’t forget the tread. A worn tire needs to be replaced immediately.

Check your seat. Make sure it is tightened and at the right height for your ride. A pair of wrenches can be sued to quickly tighten a wobbly seat.

Avoid a thick layer of grime on your bike chain. Chains that have trouble gripping the gears can slip and leave you in a pickle. Prop the back wheel up on a stand and spin it as you change gears to be sure there is no problem here. Clean your bike chain after every ride.

Don’t neglect the bike frame. If it is rusty there is a chance of a weak spot forming there. One way to avoid problems with the frame is to keep your bike indoors when not in use or covered with a tarp if you house it outside.

You wouldn’t ride around in an unsafe car would you? Take care of your bike just the same so protect you and others when you are bike riding.