Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: cycling

I love to drive and I love to cycle. I understand how hairy it is out there to be a cyclist when drivers are careless. I have the concussions, broken bones and a brain injury to prove it. I’m also driven to distraction by idiotic cyclists that think the rules don’t apply to them and cars have to bow down to them. So this is a list of suggestions for both camps to help everyone get along.

Drivers
1. You don’t own the road. Cyclists aren’t on your road. We all share it and we only need a few feet of consideration.
2. Bike lanes are for bikes only. Stay out of our lane and we’ll stay out of yours.
3. Just because you’re turning right at an intersection, doesn’t mean I am. I’ve been hit three times by cars plowing into me because they thought I had to be going your way.
4. Have an appreciation for the speed of a bike. I average 20mph on a flat road and can reach speed of 40mph going downhill. If I were a car traveling at those speeds, how much consideration would you give me then?
5. Bikes can’t stop on a dime. They have tiny little brake blocks, no abs, no power servos, so a bike stopping at 20mph will need as much distance as a car.
6. Parents, school zones aren’t to be treated like the pit lane at the Indy 500. School zones are the most dangerous strip of road the planet. I’d rather ride blindfold on a freeway than ride through a school zone during pick up or drop off. For some reason, it’s excuse for parents to triple park, lunge across traffic, drive the wrong way on the road and generally forget that any rule of the road applies to them. Parents, get a grip.
7. Drivers, don’t honk your horn to let me know you’re coming up behind me. Trust me, I can hear you well before you catch up with me.
8. Drivers, don’t treat me any differently than any other vehicle. If you arrive at a stop sign first, go. Don’t suddenly give me special treatment and expect me to go. You’re very kind, but it confuses me and everyone around you. Changing your behavior causes accidents.
9. Use your mirrors. I’m quicker and closer than you think.
10. 500,000 cyclists end up in ERs every year. Two die every day. Back off and keep someone else safe.

Cyclists
1. Cyclists, you don’t own the road. You share it with vehicles that are bigger and heavier than you are. Lose the arrogance. You aren’t better than them.
2. The rules of the road apply to you too. Run red lights, cut across traffic, not wear a helmet or not put lights on your bike at your peril. Don’t cry about it if you get a ticket or end up in a wheelchair.
3. Pack riders, safety in numbers. I like it, but pack riders, don’t ride five abreast–you’re a mobile obstruction. You piss off drivers, generate bad feeling and drivers take it out on the lone rider like me.
4. Riders who ride with their iPod playing, are you kidding me? How dumb are you? At least you won’t hear the eighteen wheeler that wipes you out.
5. Hesitant riders, your hesitation is just as bad as someone’s carelessness. It confuses everyone around you because your unpredictability causes everyone react just as unpredictability. Ride like you would drive a car. Everyone understands that.
6. If you’re afraid to make a left turn, get off the bike and use a crosswalk or learn to cross the lanes to get in the left turn pocket. Don’t slow to crawl then try to cross all the lanes at once.
7. Look over your shoulder before crossing in front of traffic. It’s not their job to get out of your way.
8. Use the cycle lanes. A lot of money and effort has gone into having them installed.
9. Being a confident rider doesn’t mean being an aggressive rider. Like it or not, ride defensive. In the rock, paper, scissors game of travel, automobile always beats bicycle.
10. 500,000 cyclists end up in ERs every year. Two die every day. Don’t be a statistic.

I hope that helps… 🙂

Categories: hump day post

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As I’ve mentioned before, I cycle instead of race now. I usually cycling alone, but I do ride with a small group of cycle chums on Thursday nights we resume our rides after the winter hiatus tomorrow.  The thought of this remindes me that, last year, one of our gang was killed on his bike during a training ride. My friend’s death took me back to my racing days. A couple of the drivers I knew died racing. Their deaths, like Paul’s last year, are a little hard to take. It’s easier to accept someone’s death when it due illness because illness is natural and something we don’t have a defense against. We never think the things we do for fun will kill us.

I’ll be honest it was a little weird going out on after Paul’s death, but it didn’t stop me. Naturally the question came up that maybe I should stop, especially after my crash the year before.  I’ve been told that I can’t afford another head injury. The question of stopping was a conversation I had with my mum when one of the drivers I knew was killed at a race. My mum wanted me to stop. I couldn’t then and I can’t now when it comes to my cycling. Racing like cycling is something that makes me happy and I can’t walk away from that regardless of the risks.

When Dan Wheldon died a couple of years ago, my writing and racing buddy, Rick Helms said, “Racing drivers have the most remarkable ability to—on one hand—place themselves into amazingly dangerous situations while—at the same time—engaging in complete denial that this could by their day. Not one driver in the race at Vegas today strapped into the car fearful for his or her life.” And Rick was right. I don’t know if you call it compartmentalization or passion trumping good sense or plain denial, but I never once strapped myself into a racecar fearing for my life and I feel no different riding on roads where careless drivers are in large numbers. I won’t say I’m not scared from time to time, but I’m more frightened of being frightened.

Occurrences like an untimely deaths acts as a reset. This incident has reminded me yet again that I’m mortal and I should be a little more careful and a little less reckless. An incident like this also reminds me to follow my passions and know that there’s a price that I and my loved ones will pay. This is true for racecar drivers, cyclists and all pursuits of the heart.

Yours at speed,
Simon

Categories: hump day post

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As I’ve mentioned before, I cycle instead of race now. I usually cycling alone, but I do ride with a small group of cycle chums on Thursday nights we resume our rides after the winter hiatus tomorrow.  The thought of this remindes me that, last year, one of our gang was killed on his bike during a training ride. My friend’s death took me back to my racing days. A couple of the drivers I knew died racing. Their deaths, like Paul’s last year, are a little hard to take. It’s easier to accept someone’s death when it due illness because illness is natural and something we don’t have a defense against. We never think the things we do for fun will kill us.

I’ll be honest it was a little weird going out on after Paul’s death, but it didn’t stop me. Naturally the question came up that maybe I should stop, especially after my crash the year before.  I’ve been told that I can’t afford another head injury. The question of stopping was a conversation I had with my mum when one of the drivers I knew was killed at a race. My mum wanted me to stop. I couldn’t then and I can’t now when it comes to my cycling. Racing like cycling is something that makes me happy and I can’t walk away from that regardless of the risks.

When Dan Wheldon died a couple of years ago, my writing and racing buddy, Rick Helms said, “Racing drivers have the most remarkable ability to—on one hand—place themselves into amazingly dangerous situations while—at the same time—engaging in complete denial that this could by their day. Not one driver in the race at Vegas today strapped into the car fearful for his or her life.” And Rick was right. I don’t know if you call it compartmentalization or passion trumping good sense or plain denial, but I never once strapped myself into a racecar fearing for my life and I feel no different riding on roads where careless drivers are in large numbers. I won’t say I’m not scared from time to time, but I’m more frightened of being frightened.

Occurrences like an untimely deaths acts as a reset. This incident has reminded me yet again that I’m mortal and I should be a little more careful and a little less reckless. An incident like this also reminds me to follow my passions and know that there’s a price that I and my loved ones will pay. This is true for racecar drivers, cyclists and all pursuits of the heart.

Yours at speed,
Simon

Categories: hump day post

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As my keener followers know, I’m a road cyclist. And for my not so keen follower, you now know that I am, so consider yourself up to date.

Sunday, I closed out my 2012 cycling season by taking part in the Mount Diablo Challenge, an 11 mile time trial to the summit. All I can say is that I wish Mount Diablo wasn’t so pointy. A flat stretch would have been nice from time to time. Where is environmental erosion when you need it.

I took my cycling seriously this year. Normally it’s something I do for the pleasure, but after my bike crash last year, things got a little complicated. What started out as a broken elbow and a concussion started a chain reaction of health issues from the physical to the neurological with the result that doing things for pleasure might be a problem going forward.

Bugger that, I thought. I don’t like being told I can’t do things. I don’t like being an invalid. I don’t like being a victim. Doesn’t my body know who it’s dealing with? Side note, it does know, but it didn’t much care.

I got very determined to fix things and by sheer will if necessary, but it was obvious that I wasn’t going to bounce back quickly. I was very diligent with my physiotherapy, but I also wanted to get back on my bike and for a couple of reasons. I wanted to ride again, I like it and I like to think when I ride, but I also needed to get back on my bike. Having been dormant for four months after my accident, my fitness had dropped off and that created some additional health issues, so I had to get my pedal on. For once, I wasn’t riding for fun. I was riding for a purpose. I was going to out pedal my ailments.

For me, taking a week off from my usual riding schedule usually takes a month to regain, so four months away from my bike sent me back to the Stone Age, cycle-wise. Up until my accident, I was riding in 100 milers on a regular basis, but by the beginning of the year, I couldn’t ride five miles without stopping. 100 milers were out of the question, not just then, but for the foreseeable future, because recovery was turning out to be a game of inches and not miles.

So I set myself some goals. Ride in 100km rides and finish one in less than four hours, compete in Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo, one of the largest rides in the US and compete in the Mount Diablo Challenge. These two rides took on Grail like significance for me for a few reasons. I was signed up to do both rides in 2011 and it killed me not being in a position to ride. Both these rides are tough yet fun. Who doesn’t want to take part in a ride with over 7,500 people? Who doesn’t want to ride up a mountain with a 1,000 other idiots? I have to admit that the Mount Diablo Challenge took on a special meaning. Mount Diablo dominates the skyline where I live. Riding to the top of it became to represent everything I wanted to achieve: fight my way back to health. I needed to ride to the top to prove to myself that nothing in life will ever hold me back. And completing the Mount Diablo Challenge would be my fuck you to my accident and a reward for a job well done.

Did I mention I have problem with drive? I can’t not be driven by something. It’s a pain, I know, but it’s the way I am. Just thought I’d mention it though. :-/

Well, to get there, this journey would be more than a thousand miles and needed to begin with a single pedal stroke. For milestones, I signed up for a bunch of 100km rides throughout the year. I started with the Pedaling Paths to Independence in February, which is a benefit ride for the blind. It’s not a hard taxing ride, so it was a good place to start. I finished the ride okay, but I was slow and more than a little saddle sore. As much as I thought this was a good start, I stagnated. For all the miles I was putting in, I was finding my form and I wasn’t getting better for it. By summertime, I was struggling to complete my training rides and worse, I had to face facts I wasn’t in good shape and it wasn’t safe to compete in some rides. I learned this during the Back Roads Challenge where my blood pressure crashed at the finish line and I struggled to stay conscious for about ninety minutes. That kind of scared me and I dropped out of the Death Ride. A high altitude ride over the Sierras was just the thing an ER trip called for. I also dropped out of the Best of the Bay after fifty miles when the temperatures climbed into triple digits and my stamina nosedived. But losing my gung-ho-iness seemed to kick start something. By the end of the summer, I was riding well, not pre-crash well, but better that I’d felt in a while. And at the Tour De Fuzz (a benefit ride for cops) I cracked the four hour mark for a 100km ride. I had a feeling I could so I pushed myself. I didn’t want the distraction of my bike computer ticking off the minutes, so I rode with it covered because I wanted the surprise when I crossed the line. And I was quite shocked to see 3hrs37mins staring back at me. I’ll be honest and say I was a little emotional to the extent where I got a little sand in my eye (if you catch my drift). I knew I was over the hump. More than that, I felt I was over the hump. I felt different, on the road to recovery different. Riding well in Levi’s Gran Fondo and the Mt. Diablo Challenge was a foregone conclusion. And they were, I broke the 4hr barrier again at the Gran Fondo in what is a much tougher ride the Fuzz one and I made it to the top Mount Diablo in my own time and in my own way. It wasn’t pretty and I would have liked to have been quicker, but there’s always next year for that.

Oh, yes, that drive thing has kicked in again. I have new goals for 2013: 3hrs for a 100km and 60minutes for Mt Diablo. Look at that. Bloody ambition always getting in the way, but I have to be reaching for something. It’s just the way I am.

So it’s been a long 2012 and I’m satisfied, but not happy. I’m still not the cyclist I was 18months ago, but I know I can be. It’s going to take work, but it’s work I can do and work I’m looking forward to it.

I know this is a sappy piece, but it was important for me to share. I hope you understand.

Categories: hump day post

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I’ve been a keen follower of Morgan Spurlock’s Failure Club project, where individual give themselves a do or die goal. I set myself a goal. After I came off my bike last year, my health took a hit and I had to re-examine a number of things. I didn’t want to accept the possible outcomes. I wanted to bounce back. So one of the goals I set myself to regain my my cycling mojo. It was something I wasn’t sure was possible. To prove that, I set myself the goal of finishing a 100km ride in under 4hrs (which I did at the Tour de Fuzz), compete in the Mount Diablo Hill Climb Challenge (which I’m signed up to do next month) and finally, compete in a big, timed ride, which is now upon me. A week on Saturday, I’m taking part in Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo. It’s a picturesque but tough ride that starts in Santa Rosa and runs through wine country and out to the ocean. Gran fondo is Italian for big ride and this is a big ride. Around 7,500 people are taking part. I rode in this event a couple of years and it’s a wild ride, so I’m looking forward to it, even if it does have some chest busting, knee breaking climbs.

This year, not only am I taking part, I’m riding for a cause. Seeing as I’m riding for me, I decided to ride for others. I’m riding on behalf of VeloStreet’s Cycling Initiatives Program, LiveStrong, Forget Me Not Farm and local school programs. VeloStreet’s Cycling Initiatives Program and LiveStrong are particularly important to me. VeloStreet endeavors to improve road safety for cyclists and as someone who has been injured in car-bike crashes, any improvement is a good one. Prostate cancer is something that runs in my family so LiveStrong is an important cause. So far, I’ve set myself a target of $1,000. So far, I’ve raised $700 and with your help I can make it a little more. I’ll even sweeten the deal by promising to send any contributor a copy of one of my upcoming titles.

You can donate here.

Remember, I’ll put in the miles if you’ll put up the cash. 🙂

Categories: hump day post

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