Day -23: Safety

I know this is a risky trip; I’m not cavalier about this.

I’ve had five bad accidents in my life.   My earliest was falling off of a tractor (there really is an Ormiston Farm) and cracking my skull (or so I was told).   The second was a hit and run accident in Mexico that left me with a badly fractured femur and in a wheelchair/crutches for half a year.   The third was a broken wrist when a police car hit me on a training ride.  The fourth was a shattered patella horsing around at Dartmouth College after winning “Mr. Choate.”   The fifth was a ski accident in Banff where I suffered a pretty bad concussion.

The biggest problem with biking on the road is how many bad things can happen out of your control — the motorist that turns in front of you, the pothole that appears out of nowhere, the truck that passes too close and pulls you into their wheel, the slippery roads after a light rain, riding into the sun when cars can’t see you, being fatigued at the end of the day and losing good judgement.   I actually think most auto drivers are very friendly and give way, but if 1/1000 are either oblivious or jerks, and I get passed by 5000 cars in a day, well that is 5 problems waiting to happen.

I get up most days at 4:30 am to ride; every day I remind myself:   if you aren’t careful today, you could get killed.

I have a close call almost every week; last week the tricky situation was on Nicoll Highway.   There were two lanes turning right onto Middle Road, so I was riding to the left of the two turning lanes, but also to the right of three lanes of traffic.   Suddenly this White Porsche Cayenne (yes, some people actually drive SUV’s in Singapore, go figure) thought they saw an opening and they gunned out of the turning lane back into traffic (they would be going into the fast lane).   I happened to be that opening.  I still don’t know how I not only avoided getting knocked over but getting knocked into the speeding traffic.   I know I used my right arm to literally push off of his car while I skidded into him.   He apologized afterwards; gratefully accepted.

So what do I try to do:

  • I always wear a helmet.   You know, I’ve had at least 10,000 rides where I didn’t need it.   But once I hit it so hard it split in two (I flipped over my handlebars; minor accident).   I’ll be happy to have 100,000 rides where I don’t use it again.
  • I ride really early.
  • Wherever possible, I use bike lanes or bike paths
  • I have blinking lights in front (white) and in back (red)
  • I don’t try to rush things when there is traffic.   I no longer even creep up on the left side; it just means more cars are going to have to pass me later.   I just pull in behind the cars and behave
  • I am going to experiment with a little rearview mirror on my glasses.   Sometimes it is hard to stay on the edge of the road and check for cars coming up.   Or a car sneaks up on you and completely spooks you

I know it doesn’t always turn out well.   Sean Maloney was a client of mine in Beijing and has worked really hard to raise funds for stroke victims.    https://www.mercurynews.com/2015/04/17/former-intel-exec-sean-maloney-injured-in-bike-crash/   Anyway, this blog entry is a reminder to myself; you better be careful tomorrow; you could get killed.

Thursday 10 May 2018 Training:   Rode same route as Tuesday, but it took 8 more minutes.   Tried to maintain a 90+ cadence, no free-wheeling.   Quite a few lights, so the unadjusted cadence was about 84.   I was actually more tired than Tuesday, even though power and speed were lower.   Also did 60 minutes of deep stretching / yoga with Yun, my yogi

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