Author Topic: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?  (Read 4621 times)

KittyFooFoo

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Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« on: June 24, 2013, 09:18:24 PM »
Greetings fine people.

So I'd like to start biking to work.  The decision seems like a slam dunk.  I live 4.5 miles from work, so I will save an estimated $50/month on commuting costs (figuring 25c per mile in my car).  Plus, I've put on a fair amount of weight from lifting over the past year, which has left me much stronger but with crappy stamina.  Now I am trying to focus on that weakness and could use the extra cardio.

However, I don't have any experience biking on the road, and I am afraid of the roads that lead to my work.  Specifically, the final two miles or so are along 50mph country roads that are somewhat narrow with no shoulder.  This scares me.  Am I just a Giant Female Body Part?  You tell me.

Here is a link to a Google street view of the road: http://tinyurl.com/o8bnbd6.  You should even be able to see some cars for perspective.  My commute continues for about two miles to the northeast (you'll probably have to adjust the compass).  Here is the end, which is a windy part which goes slightly downhill with a slightly bumpy road.  I am afraid of it, too: http://tinyurl.com/odmyoft

Would you bike on these roads?  Am I a coward?  All opinions from experienced bicyclists are appreciated.

George_PA

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Re: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2013, 09:29:52 PM »
Wow that road really does suck; the ones with no shoulder or berm in my opinion are the hardest to bike;

One factor is how many cars drive on this road, is it going to have steady traffic the whole way or are you going to see maybe only 3-4 cars for the entire two miles?  If the density is low enough, you could probably get a rear view mirror to see them approaching from behind you.  When they are near, just stay to the rightmost part of the lane and let them pass.  If you see a big semi-tracker trailer coming up behind you in the mirror, in my opinion, you are not a pussy to get off the road entirely and just wait on the grass until it passes.

Also, try it out a couple times, if you start to get a lot of close calls, then your intuition will tell you that should not be on the road.  On the other hand, it may work out perfect.  There is nothing like actually trying it out.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 09:33:58 PM by George_PA »

KittyFooFoo

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Re: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2013, 09:44:21 PM »
There is steady traffic on the road. Along with the nearby interstate, it is the only road leading to the entrance of my major employer's campus. Also, sneaking in from the side is not an option as I must pass through the main security gate to get on campus.

George_PA

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Re: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2013, 09:51:56 PM »
Yeah well maybe your employer could make the fortress a bit more anti-mustachian by putting barbered wires along the shoulder of the road and shoot arrows at you while you are riding your bike.

You still should probably try it out at least a couple times and see how hard it is.  If it is really dangerous, the next most mustachian option would then be to sell the regular car and get a scooter and ride that to work.  They use far less gas and cost a lot less to buy or maintain.


frompa

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Re: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2013, 04:53:55 AM »
I bike roads like this, (and far worse) all the time.  It doesn't look bad, because the auto drivers have plenty of open space to see you.  I know you think you need a shoulder to ride on, but the safest place for you is about a foot or two TO THE LEFT of the white line -- in other words, completely and unmistakably on the road.  This is safest because: A) Drivers are going to see you more easily and will slow down to get around you and B)  you will miss all the broken glass, potholes, and other debris in the shoulder.  Recently my partner and I were cycling in Ireland where the roads were much much narrower, and he pointed out that one ride in particular along a narrow and very busy stretch was complete confirmation of the safety of taking your spot on the road.  When he tried to ride on the teeny itty bitty road edge, car drivers zoomed on past; when he held his spot fully on the road surface, they slowed down and carefully passed.  It works the same way here.  Perhaps you should try this on a weekend, when you know traffic is light?  I see you are in NJ; I'm in equally congested eastern Pa.  Read up on proper road positioning, take your time and gain confidence.  Riding is a BLAST!!

Sparafusile

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Re: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2013, 06:20:45 AM »
I have to agree with frompa. Legally, you are allowed to own the whole lane. Staying on the right makes it easier for cars to pass you and will prevent the occasional "the road is for cars!" prick from getting too worked up. The important thing is to know what you're doing and do it with confidence.

GuitarStv

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Re: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2013, 06:53:26 AM »
It's doable, but probably will be very scary the first few times you try it.

Make sure to hold your line, and don't do ANYTHING unexpected (look well ahead for potholes/debris . . . don't swerve last second, cars won't expect this).  I'd also wear something like this or brighter:



You want to be VISIBLE VISIBLE VISIBLE, so the fast cars see you from a long way back.  A very powerful daytime visible blinking tail light would also be a good idea.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 06:55:07 AM by GuitarStv »

jnik

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Re: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2013, 12:32:39 PM »
It looks like a detour across the turnpike would get you on some nicer roads, but then you'd have to come back across through the interchange, which would be less fun. This is probably a case for trying things out early on a weekend morning.

Assuming you don't work at the country club but at the place across the street, I'm going to hazard a guess someone else there bikes in and has figured out a strategy. See if you can find them :)

sheepstache

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Re: Am I a Big Blubbering Baby?
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2013, 01:11:44 PM »
When you say you don't have any experience biking on the road, what do you mean?  Do you bike on bike trails?  Or not at all?  I think it is more intimidating to bike in traffic if you are not completely confident of your ability to handle the bike with precision.  If this is the case, I would recommend doing some fun weekend rides on trails or roads you are more comfortable on. 

One of the best exercises imo is seeing how slowly you can go while still holding a straight line.  You also want to practice maintaining a straight line while you are looking somewhere else, e.g., looking over your shoulder.  But the main thing is getting hours in the saddle. 

Also it will help you get faster and going faster can help you blend in with traffic more.  For example, you'll still be getting passed, but by fewer cars over the course of the trip.  One caveat is that as you go faster, drivers are more likely to mis-estimate how quickly they will overtake you which can lead to problems when they make a right turn.  I see some turn offs have right turn only lanes, and I personally would ride the white line between those and the left lane.

Honestly I think the road in the first link is nothing to worry about because it's four-lane so drivers have a lane to pass you in.  I can see how the narrower two-lane road could be stressful during rush hour if car drivers are impatient, but the curve is not that bad, no blind curves unless there is some other windy-er part I'm not seeing.  I would generally call you a huge wuss for not trying a couple times :)  But your gut reaction in the situation matters and I can't tap into that.