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.