Friday, March 25, 2016

Dilemma

Yesterday afternoon I was riding Mariner [my electric bike] to an appointment with Tina, the lady who cuts my hair. There was a very small irregularity in the road pavement. The joint between the right turn lane and the adjacent lane was not smooth. The adjacent lane was slightly higher.

I was looking right at the road as Mariner's front tire went over that joint. The tire skidded a little, because there was white lane paint on the joint. For just a moment, the bike was out of control as the tire skidded on the slippery painted place.

To ride, or not to ride
In a flash my mind asked if this was a sign that I should not be riding a bicycle anymore. Was this skid/control thing age related? Or was it simply something that happens when riding a bike?

For a senior like myself, this is not a simple question. Because once a decision is made to stop bike riding, it is a slippery slope ever after. I understand that the endgame is a mysterious place, not revealed to me. I have to play it, to find out how it goes.

29 comments:

  1. Would a three wheeler type bike or recombinant work for you so you can not worry about road irregularities?

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  2. I know that as we get older, we have poorer balance. I find that when I ride my bike, I avoid gravel and like really smooth flat pavement because I am afraid of falling. I also sometimes stop when I have a sharp turn to make, so I understand your concern.

    Have you seen the electric bike Miss Mermaid has? It is lower to the ground, so harder to fall off of. In any case, take your time in making this decision.

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  3. I have had this same thing happen to me on bikes all through me life.

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  4. Yep Paint stripes are to be considered the same as ice when riding a bike. They will get you in trouble. I work diligently to stay off the paint stripes.
    For those who have never ridden a two wheel recumbent, they are great above about 10 mph and miserable for going slower My shoulder scar is evidence of this.

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  5. I now ride a three wheel bike but I still run into situations where I feel I could not control the bike if the road has a slight bow to it i.e. curb is lower than side or middle of road. The bike will have a tendency to veer to the lower area rather than stay stay straight....only solution is to ride in middle of road which is not advisable.

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  6. After re-reading your post a couple of times, I realized I failed to answer your question. Riding is still well within your ability as is evidenced that you were able to easily recover from the upset. The incident you describe would cause any rider to have a moment of concern. The fact that you recovered and paid attention means you are a better rider than many.

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  7. Ride on George! I do like the idea of a three wheel bike just for safety reasons for any age.

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  8. Even highly experienced riders can have trouble on certain terrain.What happened was a reminder to always take riding seriously.Not time to quit yet .I have a Sirloin Steak to tend too .Someone here made me hungry for steak .
    Dave

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  9. A couple thoughts, George. First - I love that you are making this a learning experience. Your faculties are still A-1. The fact that you wobbled and did not fall says you handled the situation admirably.

    Like others have said, road paint is slicker than the proverbial snot on a doorknob. Don't even begin to think an encounter with it is any indicator of a problem. You responded better than some of the younger whippersnappers out there. Good on ya!!!

    Second - I really like the idea of a recumbent trike. One would be much more comfortable and easy to manage. Now, getting it into your aprartment could be a challenge. I don't recall, is you unit on the ground floor?

    Check around. I bet there is a reputable recumbent dealer out your way.

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  10. Dear George,
    I believe that you have received some great advice in the above comments. The best being those who complimented you on your recovery skills. The bike stays upright because it is essentially a big gyroscope - as long as it spins freely it try's to stay up. Where people often get into trouble (this is true of motorcyclist, too) is at low or slowing speeds. The bike wobbles more and can upset more easily.
    The rider can make things worse by grabbing the brake when surprised or has a quick fright. Particularly if the brakes are applied to the front wheel first, things happen fast!
    Ask me, I know. I tossed myself down to the ground on my Harley twice before I realized that my back brakes had completely failed. I thought I was applying the brakes evenly when actually I was over braking the front. I had no problems when going straight but slowing the front tire in a slight curve or, in my case, while trying to slowly go around a corner made the front feel like it slipped out from under me. Down I went and it happened in a snap.
    As you get out and about again ask yourself if this may have been a factor for you. I would have sworn it was not in my case. If you think it may have been part of a reflex action, then focus and practice using the back brake (almost) exclusively. That way, in a pinch, you will not reflexively grab the front by accident.
    My advice, for what it's worth.
    Oh, and ride on, George! Ride on!

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  11. Better having a bike accident than tripping on a bathroom rug. They both present a risk but one is so much more exciting and healthier. I think you'll be fine. Maybe reduce the confidence level a bit when riding.

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  12. I vote for keep on riding

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  13. George, 3 or 4 wheels are better than 2. How many older folks do you know who have broken a hip or shoulder and were simply not ever to get back to where they were before the fall? Go to 3 wheels if you must bike, or just stick to 4. Take good care of yourself.

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  14. Motorcyclist are taught to:
    Try to cross the uneven surface at an 45º-90ºangle.

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  15. Let's not forget that Mariner is electric and one of the reasons George loves it so much. I do not know if anyone makes an electric 3 wheeler but that would certainly be great if he could do that. It would get 2 birds.

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  16. One of the problems with an electric bike is that the motor sometimes continues powering the wheels even when you are skidding. I have one, so I know the dangers. On a positive note, an electric bike is wonderful if you have bad knees or get tired easily, so it is still a good option for older people like me.

    However, I agree with the comments about tripping on a bathroom rug.

    George, only you can evaluate your personal situation and weight the risks against the convenience and pleasure of riding a bike. Good luck in your decision.

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  17. Geoge - I know the traffic you ride in. Wouldn't let my worst enemy ride in it, if I had a say.

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  18. Hello George

    Road surface irregularities are an issue with two wheeled travel. Cracks, paving surface height differences, cross walk and lane paint is slick. tar snakes used to fix cracks are hell on a bike tire, especially in corners or when turning. Put a little water on crosswalk or lane divider paint and wooohaaaa, it is slicker then owl poop. Then there are railroad and trolly tracks to be aware of. Grated bridge decking is a hoot, especially when wet and of course grooved pavement either to funnel water off the roads surface or when they grind down a road surface for resufacing which also leaves an edge on each side.

    All can cause a two wheeler to go skidding down the roadway without ones bike.

    As for your decision to stop or keep riding. Keep all the above in mind all the time when riding and be prepared for anything when riding.

    Lastly, wear a helmet! A busted arm or colar bone will eventually heal. A busted melon, not so much...

    George

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