Upcoming rides I'm leading:
Nothing on the schedule.

Show blog entries about: Upcoming rides | Ride reports | My own training

Ride report: South Bay/Peninsula early-bird ride #6

Go, riders!

As I promised, every trip across the Dumbarton Bridge can be different, and today's chilly ride with 16 riders (plus one unofficial rider) was no exception. In all of my years of riding the bridge, never before had I encountered what I saw today. As I was descending the bridge into Fremont, a golf cart pulled into the bike lane and started coming right toward me! Turns out the cart was actually a Caltrans maintenance cart, but it certainly made for a tight squeeze on the narrow path. And then on the return, descending back into Menlo Park, one of the service hatches was open and wasn't marked or blocked off -- leaving a giant hole in the middle of the path, a hole that would have promptly deposited an unwary rider right into the bay! So I have something new to warn riders about on future rides across the bridge.

Congratulations to those riders for whom this 35-mile ride was their longest ever. A little birdie pointed out something to me during the ride: Some of you might be wearing underwear while you're riding. Bike shorts aren't meant to be worn with underwear, and on longer rides, the underwear can cause painful chafing of your tender manly and/or womanly bits -- painful enough that it can take you out of action during the ride. True, there are some folks who ride all the way to Los Angeles without bike shorts, but they're certainly a small minority. Even if you're doing fine on mostly-flat 35-mile rides, you might want to consider what you're wearing between your butt and your bike seat. And if you're worried about being seen in those tight-fitting shorts, you can buy mountain-bike shorts that still have the tight-fitting inner part but have more traditional-looking shorts on the outside.

One of our ride leaders had a very close call with a truck on the way back while crossing Highway 101. Freeway interchanges are some of the most tricky places we ride, and they're usually unavoidable on nearly all rides around here. Our safety rules say that we should "stay out of right-turn lanes," but freeway interchanges can pose a dilemma: Turn lanes can appear and disappear with little or no warning, and what we think is a turn lane might actually become a through-traffic lane.

In today's incident, a truck pulled up behind our rider and straddled both the through lane and the exit lane -- presumably a nice gesture to let the rider pass safely over the bridge. But another vehicle behind the truck was going way too fast for conditions (the speed limit there is 35 mph), and the driver of that vehicle slammed hard on the brakes to avoid hitting the truck. In theory, the truck could have been pushed into our rider, so even though the rider was doing nothing wrong, when it's vehicle vs. rider, the rider almost always loses.

After you've been on a few rides, you'll get to know many of the common interchanges we pass through, and how traffic lanes flow through these interchanges. The key in all of these situations is to ride predictably, doing what a driver would probably expect you to do. This usually means not switching lanes unless necessary or required, and perhaps riding in a group if possible. But remember: Even if you do everything right, a driver might not, so try to think defensively and have an escape strategy if one is needed.

And a few words about temperatures. It was chilly today! Instead of warming up, the clouds thickened up, and it didn't get any warmer than the mid-50s. At such temperatures, it's all too easy to catch a cold (as my sniffles this afternoon can attest), and it's extremely important that you dress in layers. Don't forget to cover your knees: Cold temperatures can lead to knee injuries on long or hilly rides. A windbreaker helps keep your torso and arms warm. Full-finger gloves help the hands. And when it's really cold, some folks even use shoe booties. We keep riding all winter as long as it doesn't rain, so be prepared for any temperature. If you need gear, take advantage of your participant discount at many area bike shops.

What's next? Next Sunday, Dec. 14, we're scheduled to ride a hilly 40-mile ride up to Woodside. There's a storm moving into the area sometime around then, but the latest forecasts don't show it getting here until the next day, so right now it looks like we're in good shape to be riding. This will be a challenging ride for this early in the season, with nearly 2,000 feet of climbing (about three times what we had today), but none of the hills are especially long. (You can always walk them.) Details and RSVP are here.

Thanks for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle, and see you next Sunday.

No comments: