Every day we do little things that become habits. Maybe it is the way we pour our coffee or the order we wash our bits in the shower, but eventually whatever it is, we do it without thinking. In normal life this is not a problem but when riding a bike those little habits we fall into can end up with big and sometimes painful consequences. Familiarity breeds contempt and that that applies to us all and so here are few things I found myself doing on the way into work this morning that I would wince at if I saw someone else doing them.
Over taking before the crest of a hill. I know where the road goes after the hill, it is dead straight for about a mile and so I know I can wind the bike open overtake the line of vehicles in front of me and not have to worry about braking for a corner. That is alright in theory, but what happens if there is some slow moving traffic just over the crest? At this time of year, out here in the French countryside, it is harvesting time. Tractors, harvesters and escorting vehicles are everywhere and can do a really good job of blocking the road. Luckily enough for me there was nothing there but I should have thought about the time of year and the increased farm traffic.
If only all tractors looked like this
Next up is not being paranoid when overtaking. I know when I pull out to overtake I look behind, it is not known as “the life saver” for nothing. However, many car drivers on the way to work, listening to music or on their phones don’t do this simple check. They don’t expect someone to be overtaking them and the tractor in front and just indicate, sometimes, and pull out. I noticed that I was not giving cars enough room to avoid them when they do this. I should be as far over the other side of the road as possible, so when or if they pull out there is plenty of space to accelerate through. Instead I was taking up a position only a yard or so over the white line. Fine in theory but not paranoid enough!
Then there is filtering, lane splitting, call it what you want, but I was horrified when I happened to look at my speed while I was going down between two lanes of traffic. Put it like this, if the road had been clear and there had been a cop with a radar gun I would have been ticketed. Basically I was going far too fast to react to anything a driver did in either lane and they do some very strange things, from lane changing without indicating, opening doors to empty ashtrays or just deciding to block you off. Filtering is great, but keep the speed sensible, it is not a video game where you have three lives even if at times it feels like it.
My route to work
Those are just three of the stupid things I do every day because I have done them every day. Three things that now I am aware of them I will try not to do again, and that might just save me a lot of “ouch” in the future.