Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What I Think About When I Think About Cycling**

**apologies to Haruki Murakami for paraphrasing the title of his wonderful book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Yesterday I got back on the horse, so to speak. My wounds sufficiently healed, I saddled up my road bike and hit the road for a 30 mile ride. Have you heard the expression "just like riding a bike"? It means that once you've mastered a skill, you never forget how to do that again. That's exactly what this ride felt like. I wasn't nervous, but I will admit to being a little tentative at first. After a couple of miles, I relaxed and settled into my ride, even pushing my pace on the straightaways. I do love to go fast!

Once I got off the road and onto the forest preserve bike path, I had plenty of time to think. I heard all the birds singing and enjoyed the beauty of all the nature around me. I was so happy to be back on the bike. I also had some random thoughts about cycling.



Cycling is so much more tolerable in the heat than running. Monday's weather was really uncomfortable. For my early morning ride, it was 82 degrees with 60% humidity. Real feel was 89F. I saw runners on the path and they looked miserable. I was not. While I was hot and sweaty, by riding my bike, I made my own breeze. I had bottles of ice cold water and Tailwind on the bike. Cycling in the summer is a much better plan than a long run.

Why do parents make their kids wear helmets when they themselves don't? I saw a lot of people out riding and many of them were parents with their kids. While I'm glad that most of the kids were wearing helmets, what is it that these parents don't get about wearing a helmet? Maybe their head is extra hard and so they don't need the helmet. My favorite excuse I get from parents is: "we didn't wear helmets growing up and we turned out ok." My internal sarcastic response to that is: "if you think so". To be polite, I just kind nod and smile.

Still my favorite.
Speaking of helmets: I love the excuses I hear from kids in the clinic when I ask about wearing a bike helmet:

  • "I'm a really good bike rider". 
  • "I don't ride far from home". 
  • "I'm too old to wear a helmet" or "Helmets are for babies"
  • "I have a helmet somewhere in the garage"
  • "My helmet doesn't fit me anymore, Mom"
  • "Helmets smash my hair"

What if I inhale a bee? I don't just think about this when I ride, I actually think about this when I'm running too. I breathe with my mouth open and there's always that fear of aspirating a dangerous insect. I've certainly inhaled my share of gnats. While that's just kind of nasty, it isn't harmful. But a bee? One time I was stung when I was running--ok, it wasn't a bee, but a yellow jacket above my eye. It was painful and my eye swelled shut. Mean little suckers. Someone should invent a mouth guard for this purpose.


Walkers and runners wearing headphones need to be aware of their surroundings. I was coming up behind a woman walking in the center of the bike path and called out my usual greeting: "I'm coming up behind you". No response. I called out again. She didn't respond. So I yelled out "HEY!". That got her attention, but I was pretty close to her by then. She jumped out of the way. I get it--I listen to music when I run and sometimes I'm in the zone, but I try to be mindful of my surroundings. 

Fellow cyclists are not friendly like runners. Especially those guys wearing the bike jerseys and riding the expensive bikes. I wave my hand from the handlebars or do "the nod". Runners do the nod. It's how we greet each other. With cyclists, rarely do I get a response. This begs the question: do I send off signals that I'm not worthy of them because I'm not a "cyclist"? How do they know? Or is this how cyclists act towards each other? Are they assholes in real life too?

"I fart in your general direction" from Monty Python and The Holy Grail
giphy.gif

Sometimes I ride on the road instead of the bike path. I think this makes the motorists mad. Some of the bike paths that are adjacent to the road are in such bad shape that it's painful to ride on them. My road bike doesn't take the bumps very well--in fact, my arthritic wrists take the brunt of those rough surfaces. Ouch. Hello, Public Works Department? Could you fix these paths so I can ride on them instead of in traffic?

I try to be a conscientious rider but I don't always stop at stop signs. Here's why: if it's a straight shot and there are no cars at the cross street, I just keep on going. I'm not the only one. In Idaho, a law was passed to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs, known as the "Idaho stop". It's a good rule. 


The trickiest thing about riding on the road is the left turn. Turning left is what got me into trouble a few weeks ago. I was in the left turn lane with traffic. There was a driver who apparently did not like me in that lane and drove aggressively around me. The left turn always makes me nervous, whether I'm in a busy intersection or at a stop sign on a quiet street. Turning left almost always means turning in front of a car. Even if I'm stopped with my left arm out signaling a turn, drivers don't always give me the right of way. 

When drivers give me the right of way, I acknowledge them with a wave and a smile. It happens more often than you think. In spite of my complaining about aggressive motorists, bottom line, most people are pretty decent. It's just the few jerks that stick in my mind. By being nice when drivers are courteous, I hope to improve the way they see cyclists. 

Riding my bike makes me feel like a kid again. Bottom line, I love riding my bike. I like the feeling of flying. I like to ride on the trails and listen to the sounds of nature. It all reminds me of my childhood. 

What do you think about when you think about cycling? Do you ride because you love it? Do you cycle for crosstraining or are you competitive?

I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patti for Tuesdays on the Run as well as Running Coaches' Corner with Debbie and Lora.






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76 comments :

  1. I bet its much nicer to be riding a bike than to be running in the heat! It's crazy that adults refuse to wear helmets. That's frustrating that the bike paths are so bumpy. It seems like there is nowhere for cyclists to ride safely!

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    1. The trails by me are really nice but getting there can be a challenge.

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  2. Yay for getting back on your bike! I fully agree with you about the helmet thing - parents put your damn helmet on.

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  3. I never ride bike for an activity. I would have a beach cruiser that I would take to happy hour...haha. My extent of bike riding is teaching my spin class.

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    1. Why not? Just curious. I really enjoy cycling as cross training.

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  4. I agree with most of these thoughts. Some cyclists are assholes, but not all of them. My husband likes to wear cycling jerseys, but he will stop and offer to help someone who looks like they may need help with a flat. Summer cycling is much more pleasant than summer running.

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    1. I have encountered nice cyclists--mostly the ones on the road are the jerks. And yes, summer riding is way more pleasurable than running.

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  5. I am not much of a biker. When I ride, I usually go to a rail trail rather than on the road. Dodging traffic on the bike is too scary for me. I really enjoyed this post about biking, though. I also have a fear of inhaling a bee. Mouth guards with little strainers in them to keep out the bugs would be a great idea for runners and bikers! I would buy one! I agree with you - bikers are usually not as friendly as runners. Why is that?

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    1. Maybe we should invent the mouth guard? Hmmmm...

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  6. When I'm running, the cyclists don't wave. When I'm on my bike, that same pack of guys is all friendly. It cracks me up. I'm telling you....triathlon would be perfect for you...just take that swim by the horns...so much easier on the body than the constant pounding of running....

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    1. Swimming is not my jam. And then there's that whole transition thing--talk about stressful! LOL

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  7. Haha - I love this post! And totally agree - biking in the heat is SO much better than running. I enjoyed switching from solely running to triathlon training in the summers for the past few years (although not now given my injuries). But, I do plan to bring out my bike again soon.

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    1. I just love my bike. Even more than ever!

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  8. Even though I don't bike ride (yet!), I enjoyed this post and related to it regardless.
    Yes, to answer your question, they are assholes. I don't get not being friendly. It doesn't mean stopping and having a profound discussion, just a wave and a "Hi." By the way, I always wave to drivers who let me cross (Even at a cross-walk or corner when I have the right of way, rare is the bird,i.e., car driver, who lets me cross). I acknowledge their courtesy.
    Birds singing is my favorite sound in the world. It makes me happy. Yet I always play music when I walk or run because it calms me, even the uptempo selections. But I never play music so loud that I cannot hear traffic, runners, or cyclists. When I hear a car coming from behind, I turn slightly to acknowledge that I know that they are there and I am paying attention.
    Ride on!

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    1. I have those AfterShokz headphones that sit in front of my ears and let in all the ambient noise. They're great. But only for running. After my crash, I'm even more mindful of everything around me.

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  9. I haven't ridden a bike since I was 12. I always wore my helmet too, as did my parents. When we moved to Boston, there were no bike baths, and it was dangerous to be biking on those roads with all the cars.

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    1. Now that you're in Colorado, have you considered getting a bike?

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  10. So happy that you had a good return to riding! I agree that biking is better than running in the heat and humidity; if we had good off-road bike paths, I'd consider it. But we don't and it feels like every driver around here is out to get bikers, so no riding for me.

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    1. We're pretty lucky to have some nice trails!

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  11. I love riding my bike. My husband and I used to ride 60 - 80 miles every Saturday with a group of friends. Having kids changed that as did buying a house with a bigger yard! But I still love to get on my bike. We have great trails so I do less riding on the road than I used to do. But those trail/road intersections are nasty. I ran to my gym on Saturday morning and almost got hit but a woman not paying attention! My aunt did a header over her bike handles when she was 60 (she was wearing a helmet) and spent 4 days in ICU. She still has short term memory problems. Her neurologist told her that it is the adults taht should be wearing helmets as they have less fluid cushioning their brains. I wear mine all of the time. And I agree, biking is so much better in the heat. I did a 70+ mile ride a couple years ago when it was over 100 and had no issues. But I don't think I could have ran 3 miles that day.

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    1. That's so scary about your aunt! Lucky she was wearing a helmet but still. My bike crash really made me more aware of all the dangers--I'm definitely going to be more mindful!

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  12. Glad you got back on your horse! I'll weigh in on the no response thing. I try to wave or smile at others but if I'm turning or braking -- you can forget it. All hands are busy (and apparently my mouth too) as I concentrate on what I'm doing. I always ride in the street. The supposed paved trails around here are too rough for my road bike. And, the streets I choose are pretty quiet. I can't imagine cycling in heavy city traffic.

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    1. Oh no, these bikers are guys who are just riding on the straightaway. Street or trails. We have lots of quiet streets but those intersect with busier streets so riding in traffic is unavoidable.

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  13. I said hi to all the walkers, runners, and cyclists on the path yesterday and they all said hi back. There must be a lot of mean people in AH! Of course my MIL has lived there for 60 years...I'm sure she's leading the pack against you. My husband inhaled some sort of bug on the ride and it was definitely no bueno. Of course I rode on ahead so I would have to hear him wretching ;-) I used to be that mom who didn't wear a helmet and made sure my kids did, but that was two decades ago. I've definitely come to my senses. I love that Idaho Stop law!

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    1. Haha! It's not AH where the trails are...

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  14. I used to love riding my bike as a kid and even as a teenager but man oh man, am I afraid to do it now. There's no way unless I just rode around the streets in my neighborhood. I certainly would not get out on the busy roads. I am always super cautious when I'm driving and I see cyclists because I'm nervous for both of us. lol

    That Idaho stop law sounds like a great idea!

    And I totally agree about the walkers/runners wearing headphones. that's even annoying when you're trying to pass them while out for a run. Don't get mad at me for startling you if you didn't hear me coming. lol

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    1. I rode my bike so much as a kid that it's like second nature for me. But I don't like the aggressive drivers. I try to avoid the busy roads as much as I can.

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  15. As with any group, there are always variations but I ride a ton and most folks (including me) give the wave/nod/wiggle of fingers when we pass. When I don't, it's usually because I was focused and didn't realize someone was there until I was almost past them anyway (I ride on the roads, so not talking about someone right next to me on a bike path but across the street). You come up on each other much faster than when running - sometimes I'm just slow to think, oh I should smile and wave :)

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    1. I usually just acknowledge the other rider with a quick flip of my hand or a nod.

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  16. I just never enjoyed biking even as a kid. I didn't do it much & I don't think I ever biked on a road. I walked a lot (and far). I guess I've always been a walker.

    I never thought about swallowing a bee -- yeah, thanks for that!

    And although I know some friendly bikers, to be sure, some seem to make it their mission to try to run runners down. :(

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  17. Cycling is so much more enjoyable in the heat. Sometimes I feel like I could go forever. The helmets thing-I don't get it at all! Do they not wear seat belts bc they think they are good drivers??

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  18. Kudos to you for getting back in the saddle! I have not been on my bike much in the past 12 months. It wasn't until late last fall that I was able to actually bend my knee enough to pedal, and the "spring" (and now intense "summer") have had me doing other things. And, there is the fear of falling/crashing and splitting that suture seam wide open....

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    1. Your scar should be well healed by now! I doubt you'd split it open but there is the risk of a new injury...

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  19. I don't cycle because I am afraid. Plus, I don't know any of the "rules" but I am sure I can learn them if I really wanted to. I agree that cycling is more tolerable in the heat than running. It is icky out there!

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    1. Falling. I know, I know. Everyone falls. I am also afraid of getting into an accident.

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  20. I could write a whole post in the comments! Everything! And I haven't ridden my bike in way too long. We have great areas out here too, miles of fairly empty roads with very few stop signs and almost no traffic lights. I really need to clean up my bike (and it would make my hubby so happy to have his riding partner back)!

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    1. You should write a post about it! I'd love to hear your (and Alan's) thoughts about cycling!

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  21. Yes, the helmets drives me nuts! We were amazed in Amsterdam where people bike everywhere (with kids in baskets/buckets) that no one wore helmets. I don't understand! And the serious bikers around here are never very friendly either. Why is that?

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    1. While I was researching for this post, I found a LOT of point/counterpoint articles about helmets. I know helmets aren't the be-all and end-all, but I like to think they'll protect my head!

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    2. Yes we don't wear helmets, they are not required. We have our own bike lanes, in fact all over the country there is infrastructure in place so we can go where we need to go without riding in heavy duty traffic (ok, Amsterdam is busy, I admit and I hate riding there). Bikes have the right of way almost always, and... even if I as a cyclist am in the wrong and you hit me, it's still your fault because you are more dangerous with a car. You cannot get through driving lessons and the exam without learning to look out for bikes. So even though it doesn't always make sense and there ARE accidents, it's a VERY friendly country for biking.

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    3. You realize how lucky you are, right?

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  22. Glad to hear you are back up and riding. I don't cycle - in part because I live in an urban area and getting to a trail is a scary adventure. And I'm too lazy to pack up the bike and drive over.

    -MCM Mama

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    1. I thought about porting my bike to the trails but then I'd miss out on about 8 miles each way. Plus what's the glory in that?

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  23. The bikers that don't wave or nod remind me of some of the ones that ride the trail that I like to run on. They always look so serious and when they pass me on the trail, they tend to cut right over in front of me. Jerks! They act like they own the trail!! Oh well....glad that you got back on your bike and had a nice ride!

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    1. I guess they're in "the zone". Which is kind of scary--I hope they're aware that we are there!

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  24. I always think it's cooler on a bike than running when it's hot, so thank you for confirming that. I can't ride a bike as I have one leg longer than the other and just go in circles! But I do find that cyclists often acknowledge me when I'm running - I'm never sure if they're running club people or just the lycra tribe saying hello. Really glad you got back on and enjoyed yourself.

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    1. That's interesting about your leg length discrepancy! Does it affect your running? What if you wore a shoe with a lift?

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    2. Oh, sorry, I do wear a lift in all my shoes, NOW - to be honest, I last tried to ride a bike before I did that. I got properly diagnosed aged 20 and had some therapy on it, then I noticed when I started running a lot that my calves were developing differently so went to the orthopaedic hosp and got properly sorted out and a lift, I buy them in bulk and they go in all shoes and all is good.

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    3. Oh, I replied to this and it disappeared! I use a lift now in all my shoes; I last tried to ride a bike before I'd had it seen to the first time (early 20s, physical therapy, no lift) or the second time (started running seriously, calves developed unevenly, got lift, have lifts in every shoe now).

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  25. I don't cycle much, but did have to laugh at some of your thoughts because I have them when running . . like inhaling bugs and assholes on the 10k+ bikes (which doesn't necessarily mean they are athletic in my neighborhood, but just have too much money). And, honestly, sometimes I think I should RUN with a helmet - haha

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    1. I've had that very thought about wearing a helmet when I run, plus knee pads and wrist guards! LOL

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  26. I never bike because 1. I barely have time for one sport - running and 2. I have a crappy bike and 3. my bike rack broke

    When I did bike, it was because I couldn't run. All I thought about was that I wish I could run!!

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    1. I like cycling--I've always loved it, so I feel lucky to have 2 activities to keep me moving.

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  27. I don't bike because I'm usually running with my husband cycling alongside me. I have a Peloton but that's about it. I did do a social bike ride a while ago and I agree with you. Some motorists are jerks but most tend to be nice. You just never know what you're going to get!

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    1. I would love the Peloton for winter training!

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  28. UM I am PETRIFIED of bees and have never even thought about inhaling one....now that is all I am going to think about lol. Probably more likely on a bike, right? As you were saying how much more tolerable the heat is on a bike I was thinking "hmmm I need a bike" then you mentioned the bees and I was like "NOPE. NOPE. NOPE." hahaha

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    1. Hahaha! I didn't think that I'd be inducing anxiety in people with sharing my fear of inhaling a bee! Idk if it's more likely on a bike. I've inhaled many more insects while running. That's all I know..

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  29. I haven't had a bike since I was a teenager but the thought always seems so fun to me! Someday I'll get a bike again. I'd love biking with my kids I think (Think is the key word, that could actually turn out to be a disaster)

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    1. As soon as my oldest could sit up well, I put him in the bike seat on the back of my bike and we rode! I loved it.

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  30. Cycling is big at our house. Les is the competitive one of the family, but I enjoy it, too. I usually get a nod from cyclists in California. Our mountain bikers are friendlier than many road cyclists.

    Glad you got back on to ride!

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    1. I actually got a nod today while I was running, so I felt pretty happy about that!

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  31. I love it :) I'm so glad you got back on the horse! i really had to smile a lot reading this post. I have to say, I do get where you are coming from on the helmet perspective but I see parents all the time without helmets but their kid with a helmet. The fact is, we don't ride with helmets here unless you are one of those unfriendly jerks taking in race jerseys with expensive bikes taking up the bike paths on a Sunday afternoon crowding out the rest of us who are just trying to run ro ride casually.

    Never thought about bees, definitely think about that when there are gnats around though. Got some extra protein a few times now.

    Other things I think about : I wonder how many people I'll have to yell at this morning who are riding in my lane from a single track? I wonder if I'll get smashed by a car this morning coming around that blind corner again (I even complained to the city about the reckless driver, to no avail). I love riding my bike. Biking is so awesome. What an amazing freedom! How did I survive my life in the US without a bike? I hope I don't get a flat, I *really* need to learn how to change a flat! I wonder how many people crash per day because they are riding without hands and texting. Gah! put the phone down for just a freaking second! Ah, that mom is so cute with her baby in the front and her older one on the back. Ugh why do teenagers always have to ride 5 abreast, I need to get to work! And finally... in the winter/ dark months: FIX YOUR FRONT LIGHT, DO YOU HAVE A DEATH WISH?!

    I don't say much out loud, just the morning yelling to get out of my liane :)

    I can't live without my bike, it's my main transportation and a source of a lot of pleasure!

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    1. I love my bike too--always have loved to ride. I really need to learn to fix a flat too--I usually just call my husband or son to come get me when I go flat. It's not the ideal situation!

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  32. The only cycling I do is in spin class! I used to ride a mountain bike but at a very slow speeds. The cars on the roads make me nervous so you'd never see me riding on the road.

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    1. I just try to stay really aware when I'm on the roads. It's tough with all the distracted drivers these days.

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  33. I agree about the helmets - I wish police could write a ticket for it, just like they can for seat belts.

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    1. We don't even have mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists here in Illinois--I totally don't get that.

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  34. I don't really find biking more tolerable in the heat, but I mainly just bike commute and all the bike paths/lanes I ride are in full sun. Nothing can really help that. When I'm making a turn on my bike I always wonder if the drivers nearby even know what the biking hand signals mean...I only learned them as a kid and I'm sure I would have forgotten them long ago if I wasn't biking.

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    1. I don't bother with the biking hand signals--I just stick my arm out in the direction I'm turning. I think it's so much less confusing to drivers that way.

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  35. While I understand why it can be frustrating for motorists when they find themselves sharing the road with a cyclist, it’s important to remember that cyclists have just as much of a right to be on the road as drivers. A little common courtesy from everybody certainly goes a long way.

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  36. YOU ARE SO RIGHT AND I DID NOT EVEN REALLY THINK ABOUT THAT - biking during the heat = SOOO MUCH BETTER THAN RUNNING. You can cruise down a hill and get an awesome breeze!!!

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