A group of Tuesday night regulars gathered at a local high school for a brisk ride this morning. 40 degrees (F) but sunny as a day gets (there still isn’t a cloud in the sky 21 hours later). The temp was supposed to rise fairly quickly so I started out under-dressed in just a jersey, arm warmers and a light long-sleeved jersey. It was a cold start.
Not two miles into the ride, heading out of town on a busy but unavoidable road (that local cyclists frequent several days a week), an old man (85+, you know, one of those old-timers who no longer belongs behind the wheel of a car, who can barely stutter out an intelligible sentence let alone drive a car) clipped one of the last riders in our group on the left arm with his mirror. The cyclist went down instantly, hard. Fortunately he was up and walking right away. It could have turned out a lot worse. As I understand it, the guy wasn’t the last in line either, so it was amazing that the other(s) avoided him. I was just two riders from the front off the front so I saw nothing.
We all dismounted and I called the police (I could hear the sirens before I got off the phone with 911, maybe five minutes). One of the more level-headed guys went over and talked to the old man who’d hit our friend. Before the police showed up, as the old man was ambling over to check on the cyclist he’d hit, he looked at me and said (this is a quote) “But there was a car coming the other way”. I saw red and walked away without a word. Let me finish the sentence: There was a car coming the other way so I hit a guy riding his bike on the side of the road instead of waiting for a few seconds for opposing traffic to clear. The casing of his mirror was laying on the ground.
From that point the rest of us just stayed out of the way. We had two or three police cars, an ambulance and the freaking Fire Department show up with a pumper truck within ten minutes of the accident. One of the other guys and I checked out his bike to make sure it was at least rideable (we checked the wheel alignment, shifting mechanisms etc.) and the rest gathered on the sidewalk.
Our friend was checked out and released by the paramedics, the cops took his statement and talked to the old man (I could hear him say, “but there was a car coming the other way” again, and it looked to me like the cop lit into him pretty good).
That was the end of the ride for our buddy. He’d had enough so he got on his bike and rode the two miles back to his car. We went on.
We got in a pretty good 100k but fought the wind most of the day and we had a tough time… The group was shaky all day. And it was such a great day for a ride.
The well-known Velominati list of “The Rules” contains an interesting one: Don’t shave (the face, ladies – this is a guy only rule) the day of a race.
Now their reasoning I tongue-in-cheek and I don’t race but I’ve applied that rule to “long rides” and found that I prefer not shaving the morning of – technically, I’ve gone both ways on this and simply put, sweating is much less irritating if I haven’t shaved.
With that said, here are a few other special rules I stick to concerning long rides (we’re – my two best riding friends and I – going 75 miles in a few hours):
1. Never one drop more than two cups of coffee before the ride – and coffee consumption must be cut off a minimum of two hours before lift-off. Nothing worse than having to pull over to pee ten miles into a 75 mile ride.
2. Mom’s Best Blue-Pom Wheat-Fulls cereal is a must. Best pre-ride fuel I’ve ever consumed.
3. Shower before the ride. Nothing worse than drafting behind someone who stinks so bad that you can smell them at 25 mph.
Where do you come down on shaving before a big day on the bike?
I would add to the types of rides, the “Everybody gets dropped” ride. Everybody gets dropped, leave your pull-ups at home because nobody cares that you got dropped. That’s the point. Some of this guy’s rules are really funny….