Do you ever get sleepy and have to pull over while driving your car, truck or motor cycle on the road? That never happens for cyclists. The act of traveling by cyclist in the Ride the Rockies tour has brought home that sleepiness during the tour never happens!
There are motor bikes, cars, trucks and 18-wheelers passing by constantly – and the larger or faster the vehicle, the bigger their slipstream. The slipstream is just the air turbulence behind each vehicle. We have had numerous occasions, when the slip-stream is so powerful from a passing vehicle that the cyclist gets sucked back and forth during passing. If you couple that with the need to watch 10 to 30 feet ahead of you for every rock, dip, gravel, pothole, umbrella, tire-portion and dish drainer and you get a feel for the total focus required for cyclists. If we take our focus from the road for even an instant to see our speed, mileage or distance or view of the rear, we could end up missing one of those items and getting wiped out. Wiped out means more or less depending on the situation.
A lesser wipeout means getting caught in a crack in the road and pulled sideways so you fall sideways and get a road rash or bruise (experienced by the author, Jessica Benes). Wipeout at higher speeds can mean getting thrown over the handlebars and tumbling end over end with road-rash and/or bruises (experienced by Lloyd Benes) – or as in the case of RtR advocate, David Benson, a broken femur and 8 weeks of recovery before returning to normal activities.
Here is a picture of our friend, David Benson and his wife, Patty–they were our mentors as we prepared for the ride. We could not have done the ride without their support! They helped us buy the right bikes and all the riding gear. David was unable to ride because of his broken femur, so he was our ardent support.
That’s one difference between driving and cycling. Another one is your emotional state during uphill and downhill travel. As a motor-driver, there is not a significant difference between uphill, downhill or flatland driving. For the cyclist, it depends on your weight, height, experience and speed. For example, many of us are inexperienced first-time “Ride the Rockies” people. Uphills can be daunting because of the energy and work required to reach the summit of a peak in the road. Downhills can be petrifying because of the terror felt at significant downhill speeds if there is gravel in the road or crosswinds or headwinds. Inexperienced bikers will be “white-knuckled” during the trip downhill as they try to maintain control and not get wiped out by winds, gravel, motor-vehicles, road-kill, potholes or fellow-more-experienced bikers swooping by. And then it’s hard to call this beginner-cyclist issue “paranoia,” when an experienced cyclist in the Loveland CCBT (Community Cycling Bicycling Tour) wiped out at 48 mph going down the Carter Lake hill and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Us inexperienced bikers may brake our speeds to 20 mph and pray the whole way down “God, don’t let any of us get wiped out or killed, please.” So far in 2 days of the “2013 Ride the Rockies,” the thrills and spills described above have not happened to the author or their family – for which we are very thankful and hopeful for the remaining 5 days of cycling. Stay tuned for follow-up.
Lloyd Benes, used with permission.