KC/DC Cycle

Ride to live... live to ride

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Danger on the road and dealing with age

Pedestrian fatalies on US roads has increased by 50 percent in the last decade according to an article I'm reading (in the Washington Post). In these statistics I believe bicycles are included as pedestrians. That is a significant increase in danger. I was hit once in 1970 and bumped in 2017. Those are my statistics of riding on the road. I take the full lane. It irritates drivers but they see me. That's where I find my safety which seems to work well considering the amount of riding on busy city streets I've done. I also ride all year and often at night. Since moving to Alexandria, VA I've been using their bike trails. I have NEVER liked bike trails so much. I always rode in the street. One reason is that it's illegal in most jurisdictions to ride on sidewalks. There are few trails, so it's hard to find a way to get anywhere. I tend to ride with a purpose to get to a destination. The trails I've used in Northern VA have served this purpose. Not only are they off the road for the most part but when they cross roads it often goes under or over the road so there's no traffic interaction. These trails also follow streams and creeks so the grade is fairly level. I have been very happy to use these trails altho I'd prefer they be a little wider.

The other issue I'm dealing with has to do with age. We returned from Thailand without my bikes. It took two months for our delivery to arrive that contained my bikes. Once the bikes were here I was living in a new very congested urban area with a lot of steep hills. The trail near our house had been destroyed by a flood in July. A good half or three quarters of a mile of the trail is unusable. All of it was the closest part of the trail to our apartment. I explored an area a little north/upstream and the trail was nicer. The problem was that when I rode at night there are four stream crossings. One I would have to dismount and carry my bike across in the dark. There were no lights. Others I could ride across, but in the dark it was precarious. My first adventure up that trail at night it had rained. There was 6 inches of swift flowing water on the pilons I was supposed to walk on. Not going to happen! I had to loop back and go the long way thru a neighborhood. Much later I found out that this area was the only area not repaired. Other than near our place the trail is in great shape.

That two months, plus the stress of acclimating to US culture and jobs and a new area to live took a heavy toll on my health and vitality. I have struggled with depression and lack of motivation. I have never been in worse shape. The last week or so I've really gotten back to riding form. I've ridden 30-40 miles this week, taken some hills, enjoyed the ride. I'm nowhere near the power I was it in Thailand but I'm now 62.

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