What I Fear When Cycling

I’ve been riding bikes since my high school years on my first ten-speed bike (SEARS), then up in the Dallas area when I moved up there, again here in the Valley and any city that I went to go cycle at (Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio). I’ve cycled on long country roads, neighborhood streets and mixed in with the cars on busy city streets and I do consider myself and experienced cyclist. But, that doesn’t lead to complacency, in fact my experience tells me to heighten my sense of surroundings. Does that make me fearless? No, not at all. I have fears just like any one out there. What I fear the most when I’m out cycling is not the car behind me, but the car behind the car.

You may thinking that all wrong, I should be afraid of the car that is immediately behind me, even if I’m on a shoulder or bike lane. True that vehicle poses the most immediate threat to my safety, but it’s really the car behind it. Why? Simple, most of the time they can’t see you! It’s even worse if the second car is behind a van or other large vehicle, they are really blind beyond the rear of the van. Especially those tailgater’s!

How many times have you been driving down the road and have that one car storm up behind your ass and tailgate, looking for that time to pass you up? You know the kind, they stay inches from your ass and then punch it the first chance they get to pass you. How about those guys who thinks the road is their personal Daytona 500 and they are out to win. I’ve personally seen them do that in front of me, tailgate the person, switching lanes frequently and when they can’t pass legally, they suddenly swerve into the shoulder and pass the car. If there was a cyclist riding on the shoulder they would be dead. Anyone for that matter.

What are the chances of that happening? I don’t have the computing power to answer that, but I can tell you it’s one of those things that is constantly in the back of my head when I’m out riding on a shoulder-less road and a car wants to pass me. I see the car in my mirror (yes I use a mirror), but I can’t see if there is another car behind that truck. If I can’t see that second car, then they can’t see me. Are they paying attention to the vehicle in front of them? Do they notice that they moved over to the left lane to pass me? Are they distracted with something? Are they in a bad mood? Are they in a hurry? During those times I’m not concentrating on riding, but on the cars. I don’t breathe a sigh of relief until they pass me and have me in their rear view mirror.

I look for other dangers while I’m out and about. You have to because becoming complacent will get you in trouble. There is plenty to look out for, blind spots, door opening, squeeze plays, debris on the road, etc. Don’t worry, I am having fun out there too! So, yes, the car behind the car is what fear the most when I’m out cycling getting my exercise in.

Have fun, but be safe.

What am I to do?

Seems like this month a lot of accessories, that I use while cycling, have come out with new models. For example iBikeSports with their Newton+ and iPhone 5 case upgrade, GoPro with their Hero 3 (looks awesome) and not to mention Apple with their iPhone 5. What am I to do? Do I upgrade or stay?

I’ve already upgrade to the iPhone 5 but I still have the iPhone 4. Version 4 is still being used with the iBikeSports products (Dash+Power and the Powerhouse app). My sister eventually wants my old iPhone so I guess I’ll start with the new case to hold the iPhone 5.

I like the Hero 3 but I guess that would have to wait for a bit. I still got my Hero 1 that I am using. Hmm, a camera in front of the bike and one in the back, nice! Oh well, I guess I’m dreaming too much and need to come down to reality!

Other items of interest to me is the KICKR Power Trainer from Wahoo Fitness that is not out yet (I hope it’s not super expensive), a Bluetooth speed and cadence sensors to replace the ANT+ versions. Seems like Wahoo Fitness has a lot of great cycling accessories for your cycling adventures.

Well those are just a few of the new items to look forward to. Some I need and some just a wish list, but really want! What am I to do?

Mapping Bicycle Routes in the Rio Grande Valley

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog is to share bicycle routes here in the Rio Grande Valley, specifically the Mission-McAllen-Edinburg metroplex area. I started out with individual routes of rides I have taken and those can be found in the Routes tab at the top. Initially, I thought I would just add a whole bunch of rides of me going to various places in the area and just build up a collection. But after some thought and laziness I came up with a better idea, Google maps!

Google Maps Overlays

If you don’t know already, Google maps has what is known as overlays (or layers) that you can choose to display on the map. They range from traffic congestion to terrain to bicycle routes. If you open it up and select Bicycles all the bike routes will be displayed for the area you have open. It also gives a small legend to describe to color scheme used to display the various bike routes. It is divided into three parts, Trails, Dedicated lanes and Bicycle friendly roads.

Now, with the Bicycling layer turned on, you can see all the routes in the area. This should make it easier to plan your route to your destination. Many of these routes I entered myself (and cycled on) with a little help of my friends. In the months to come, I’ll be adding more routes and hopefully get most if not all roads that are safe to ride on. Keep in mind that I don’t plan on adding neighborhood roads, but I will be adding major arteries that help you get from one town to another.


Texas and the Rio Grande Valley

For those that don’t know where the Rio Grande Valley is, we are located at the bottom of Texas. It comprises of four counties, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy and Camron county. The area I live in is in central Hidalgo county near the county seat of Edinburg, Texas. The terrain is flat with overpasses and wind providing the hills. Temperatures typically exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months and in the 50’s during a cold front in the winter months. Riding is pretty much an all year in this area. Wohoo!!

Help me out, if you see a section of the road that is not marked let me know and I’ll work on getting it added to Google Maps. There is also another source for cycling routes and that is through the Hidalgo County MPO. Contact them for details and consider joining their Bike-Pedistrian Task Force and get involved.

Have fun exploring the bicycle routes in the Rio Grande Valley!