Wednesday, July 2, 2014

American Cyclists Are Soft

Gonna take you right into the danger zone
I have said it before, cycling is not a particularly dangerous activity.  Still, there is some element of danger.  For mountain bikers, the danger is somewhat contrived and largely can be controlled.  For the most part, we go out on trails that have been built by people like us, for people like us.  We ride them at our own pace, and injuries are mostly the result of our own mistakes.

Sure, wrecks happen.  Usually they are the result of operator error or the rider riding beyond their abilities.  That's what mountain bikers call "learning."  

A cheap lesson
This is not to say that people don't get hurt on mountain bikes.  Like skiing or skateboarding, falls and crashes happen, and often at speed.  In fact, most mountain bikers' shins look like hamburger during riding season.  There are serious injuries too, but these are rare.

Drew gets it done
On paper, road biking seems even safer than mountain biking.  All you really have to do is keep your bike upright on a flat surface, and keep pedaling.  Of course, a true roadie won't enjoy the ride unless it's a little too fast paced or a little too long, so they can get some pain and suffering out of it.  Still, riding on well-paved roads in nice weather seems pretty safe.

Trouble is, crashing on the road usually has more serious consequences than in the woods.  Sure, pavement hurts, but at least you won't get run over in the woods.  In my estimation, this makes roadies braver than mountain bikers.

Of course, despite all the complaining, American roads tend to be pretty wide, fairly straight, and in good repair.  We even have some marking warning drivers of cyclists.  And in central Ohio, you can usually find some low-traffic country roads pretty easily.

 Of course, it's not that easy to be a roadie in other parts of the world. 

I'm in Portugal right now, and the roads are mainly clean and well-maintained, but they look something like this:

The Portugese wouldn't know what do do with roads like ours in central Ohio.  They'd probably get lost just trying to cross the street.  (Just kidding, everyone knows that the Portugese are excellent navigators). 

Vasco de Gama, discoverer of the hilliest route through Westerville
But narrow, busy roads don't keep people from riding bikes. And, while Portugal has a lower per-capita traffic fatality rate than the US, their rate of fatalities in relationship to the number of cars is higher.  (Some of these countries are posting some scary numbers).  Thus proving something or other.  Where were we?

Oh yes, people ride bikes.  In fact, I sat on a hill near my house and watched bike after bike go by on Saturday.

My hill:

As you can see, the road is quite narrow, up a hill, and bordered by a stone wall on one side and a hill on the other.  Cars had no choice but to pass close.

Still, the riders kept coming.  It was a constant stream on Sunday morning - just like on many country roads in central Ohio.

Anyhow, I figure that roadies in places like this are the toughest cyclists of all.  They face the steepest consequences for a failure.  But they're still out there having fun.  I'm jealous that I don't have a road bike available.  Next time.

Your beer pairing:
Super Bock.

Because there are basically two beers available here, and this one is better than the other one.

Ser corajoso!

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