Be cool…

As a cyclist, I think you learn to react quickly to changing situations. Whether its winds causing echelons, suddenly finding yourself in a good breakaway move or dodging crashes, we get our brain put to the test very often. Especially in Singapore where cars have yet to fully accept cyclists as fellow road users, we are constantly slamming on the brakes, swerving to go around buses that “chop” your line, and riding in scarily narrow straight lines when cars squeeze you into the curb. When i see incidents on the road, i often think about how I would react if i were in that situation. Yesterday, that wondering came to very good use.

latvia-bike-protest

I was on another two-wheeled mode of transport (one with an engine, ie. free speed) when a car turned across my path. Out of instinct I slammed on the stoppers and tried to aim for the clearest piece of tarmac. With cars coming at me in the opposite direction, I had a small window to get off scot-free and squeeze between the errant car and the oncoming traffic. I hit the car. Or the car hit me. Or whichever way you want to see it.

I’d like to think that my bike handling skills are awesome and thats why i kept it upright, but in reality the big man up there threw me a bone. Split second of additional reaction time and I would have been doing gymnastics like Jackie Chan in a Hollywood movie.

Now fuming that I had been hit, I admit I didn’t use the calmest tone of voice to confront the driver and his passenger. They immediately asked if i was OK, which i said i was, but i was still venting my anger with harsh tones. Was it necessary? Absolutely not. These were reasonable human beings who wanted to know if i was OK, and must have also been traumatised by the loud thud as my bike crashed into the side of their car. If you read this, I apologise for not being calmer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoAiX9Wm3cA

Slightly different context but same thinking applies.

The takeaway from my experience is that no matter how angry you may feel, try as best as you can (we all think irrationally sometimes) to stay calm and as cool as a cucumber. It will help resolve the situation a lot faster and your blood pressure won’t send veins bulging in your neck. Safe riding everyone.

 

P.S. practice anticipating vehicles actions. Just like how in a group you look at riders shoulders to anticipate their movements (you’re doing this already right???), look at brake lights, tyres turning and drivers view points.

 

 

Don’t look!

Cycling is a harsh sport and crashing is just part and parcel of it. Ride enough and you will hit the deck eventually.

Sometimes it’s notĀ even through a fault of your own! I remember racing in Australia early in my career and to say I was excited would be a scant understatement. So we get underway on a chilly (to me at least!) morning and once the neutral flag is dropped, the pace goes warp speed. 5km in and a rider moving up the bunch decides to slot in in-front of me. Normally this isn’t an issue and you gradually move over, smoothly entering the string of riders. This day, big issue. In his haste to get out of the wind he chops my front wheel and I go down instantly, grinding down the heavy sandpaper that are Victorian roads. Thats bike racing.

Other times you do something silly or just plain lose control and you do the same to others. When i was a junior I did a race in Thailand and also on the first stage came to grief. Hit a cateye, which threw my hands off the bars and sent me top-tube surfing eventually into the ground. My bad.

Hopefully you will see more crashes than you’re a part of. There have been more and more groups of cyclists tearing up the road here and that also unfortunately increases the probability of crashes happening. Now, my advice to all of you out there: don’t look. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that i’m uncompassionate. I just see too many secondary crashes and close calls because of people gawking at crashes. For those of you who drive or ride motorcycles, same thing applies when you’re sans lycra. Just the other week i saw a car go over a traffic island, all passengers safe but car perched like a see-saw. Then on the other side of the road whilst all the other drivers slow down and stare intently, another car rear ends the car in front. Unnecessary. For us on bikes, the risks are even greater. When we crash, we bleed red, sometimes see thousands of dollarsĀ in a heap of metal, rubber and carbon. Is it really worth the 5 seconds of curiosity?