A Step In the Right Direction

| November 1, 2010 | 0 Comments

I have written a lot about the hate/hate relationship between cyclists and drivers.  But I am learning that this hate is not a universal.  There are drivers who hate cyclists and there are cyclists who think every driver is out to get them. But there are also cyclists (I count myself among these) who understand that we make drivers nervous.  That it is not about hating us but being afraid for us.  And there are drivers who get nervous when they are passing us, who realize we are a parent or a spouse of someone who wants to see us get home safely and truly worry about our welfare when they see us on the road.

This past weekend I finally upgraded my bike.  After weeks of looking at different bikes and trying to find a tri-bike that would fit my short legs, I finally ordered one, was fitted for it and brought her home.   She is a beauty and I am thrilled to be out there with her.

But a new bike takes getting used to.  This one is lighter than my last one.  It is a proper tri-bike which means I ride in the aero-position the entire time.  The shifters are different.   And it is faster.  I am a cautious rider.  I promised my children when I took up this sport, that if I have an accident out there it isn’t going to be because I was being careless.  I love them too much to take the dangers of riding lightly.

So, the day after bringing my bike home from the store, I took her out for a spin.  I headed to the B&A Trail, avoiding all roads because I thought it was safer.  I took it slowly, figuring out the shifting and the braking early on.  I noticed the small changes in speed and the big changes in handling.  It was a test drive.  Still, I do have a training schedule and two hours were on the books for the day. As I headed home, I realized I needed to add a little distance to the ride to hit the two hour mark.  To do this I would spill out onto Benfield Road.

Luckily, Benfield is one of those roads where drivers expect to see cyclists.  It is a road where drivers give us a little extra room and don’t play games with out lives. It is a road where I generally feel safe. Unfortunately, accidents still happen and they happen in nanoseconds.  Through a series of unfortunate events that started with a fire engine and ended with my new bike’s front brakes locking up, I ended up taking a dive right over the handle bars.  Fortunately, there was no car involved.  I was okay and my bike had only a minor injury.  But I have learned from experience to sit still for a few minutes after an accident and get a feel for my body and mental state before getting back on the bike.

As I sat there a car pulled over to the shoulder of the road across the street from where I sat.  The driver rolled down his window and asked if I was okay.  When I told him I was, he pulled further off the road and started to get out of his car.  I was honestly okay, but knowing that there are drivers out there who will stop and check on me, even when I say I am okay, makes me feel better about this relationship between drivers and cyclists.  It makes me think there is a chance for a better understanding between the two groups.  There is a long way to go before we solve the problem completely, but for now, I will think of that one concerned driver and give other drivers a little more benefit of the doubt.

Freelance writer, Ann lives in Severna Park with her husband and three children. When not at the gym or running outside, she spends every free minute chasing a four-year-old or running her older children to soccer fields all over two states. Read more by Ann at Ann’s Running Commentary and at Patch.com. Follow her on Twitter as BrennanAnnie She can be contacted at [email protected] .

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