Monday, January 16, 2006

Monday Musette...

Riding to work was a slog today. I felt slow and tired. The mild headwind didn't help, either. I've been feeling slow since Friday and I don't know why.

I cross a valley on the commute, and it's often 10 degrees colder down there. That's welcome on a hot summer day, but on a chilly winter morning, it only adds to the discomfort. I'm speaking figuratively here, because it was a balmy 48F when I left the house, but it was noticeably colder in the valley, and I was happy to have a light sweater along.

I was thinking about fatigue - actually, I was trying to think about ANYTHING except how lousy I felt! - and I recalled that fatigued drivers react about the same as slightly inebriated ones. Fatigue impairs judgment too. Cold also induces fatigue, so I presume that some cycling crashes must be due to its effect.

It happened to me once. I was caught by a weather change on a long ride. A front arrived sooner than expected, and I fought a headwind and dropping temperatures all the way home. As I turned left at a corner, thoroughly chilled and teeth chattering, I rode straight into the curb! I'd seen it coming, yet it just suddenly appeared in my field of vision. I didn't even try to avoid it. I toppled over onto the concrete, receiving extensive road rash on my right arm and leg. It wouldn't have been so bad if the surface had a smooth finish. But I'd landed on a traffic island, and in building it, the road department merely ran a street broom across the wet concrete. This yielded a good surface for traction, and was probably lots cheaper than putting a smooth finish down, but it had roughly the same effect as a cheese grater on my flesh.

So I try to be aware of the effect of cold and fatigue. It can be difficult here in Oklahoma since the weather is almost instantly changeable. Headwinds can be chilling, even in moderate conditions. I've found that my legs cramp whenever the ride requires a long slog into the wind. Staying warm helps, so my pack always has leg and arm warmers. The leg warmers are useful whenever the road is wet too. They help alleviate the grime factor. A skullcap is in there as well, because the head is such an effective radiator. Wearing a hat keeps the rest of me warmer.

I'm thinking about all this simply because it may be raining on the way home today. I'm not a big fan of riding in the rain, but at least it's fairly warm. Today's high should be about 60F. That's a big, big difference from riding in the wet when it's 40!

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Jordan and I were watching "Underworld" over the weekend. It's a vampire flick. The main female character wore a skin-tight cat suit through most of the movie. "Why do they make the girls wear stuff like that?" he asked.

"'Cause, in her case, she looks really good in it!" I replied. But then I got thinking about it. A good, working brain is a dangerous thing to have just lying around. Why would someone wear clothing like that? It has to be supremely uncomfortable since it's mostly plastic and probably can't breathe much. Worse, our femme fatale had to do a bunch of stunts wearing high-heeled boots. My daughter said that all the running probably ruined her knees, though to be fair, despite all the fistfights, knives, guns, and explosions, her hair and makeup remained intact.

All in all, it was a fairly bad movie with nary a bicycle to be seen.

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There's an article in the USAToday about PETA opposing the use of horse drawn carriages in New York City due to a recent collision between a carriage and a motor vehicle that resulted in the horse getting euthanized. Never mind the thousands of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists who die on our roads each year. Let's protect those horses by getting them off the street.

Sound familiar?

Let's protect all those cyclists by getting them off the street, too. It's for their own good.

Where I lived in Pennsylvania, some fool would drive into an Amish buggy now and then. The argument was similar - let's get those buggies off the roads for their own safety. Rarely did anyone seriously advocate getting the fools out from behind the wheel.

I'll have some respect for the PETA folks when they walk into a biker bar (the Harley kind, not the Masi kind!) and start throwing red paint around. That increased respect would most likely be earned posthumously.

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From the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis 400 Seventh St., SW., Washington, DC 20590


"Pedalcyclist fatalities occurred more frequently in urban areas (66%), at nonintersection locations (67%), between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. (30%), and during the months of June, July, and August (36%)."

I can see the relatively greater number of fatalities in urban areas because of simply greater numbers of road users, and the months and hours make sense too, since more cyclists are about at those times. But that 66% of fatalities occurred at 'nonintersection locations' is contrary to Forester's assertion that 85% of car-bike collisions involve crossing movements. And despite the fact that simple falls account for about two-thirds of all cycling injuries, it's the car-bike collisions that produce those fatalities. I'd expect that fatality numbers would be congruent with that 85% figure.

There's something missing here. Everything I've learned would indicate that the most dangerous part of the road is an intersection because that's where the crashes occur. But the NHTSA data contradicts that.

4 Comments:

Blogger Fritz said...

Regarding fatalities: Most collisions are indeed because of crossing movements as Forester asserts, but they often don't result in death because the automobile has slowed to make a turn. While hit-from-behind is the rarest type of collision, they result in the most deaths for cyclists.

I've been hit in intersections twice. While the bikes sustained significant damage both times, I went away unscathed. If somebody plows into me from behind at 60 mph, I expect I'll be hurt pretty badly.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Coelecanth said...

"Riding to work was a slog today. I felt slow and tired." Same thing happened to me on Monday. I couldn't believe how much effort it was and figured my lazy weekend was to blame.
Then I got 3/4 of the way to work before I realized I had a piece of glass in my rear tyre. Doh!

12:52 PM  
Blogger the old bag said...

Your kids are asking the right questions! Shows they have some common sense regarding female characters...hopefully they'll hold onto that as they get older.

3:40 PM  
Blogger pipst*r said...

hey cycledog! i thought you might appreciate this article amount the link between car commuting and obesity from the Sydney Morning Herald.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/fat-chance-of-losing-weight-for-commuting-drivers/2006/01/18/1137553651219.htmlr

9:56 PM  

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