Author Topic: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?  (Read 11107 times)

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Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2017, 01:01:08 pm »
It always puzzled me that folks suddenly start talking about mirrors for a tour.  Whether you do or don't use one at home I really don't get why a tour would be different.  Personally I rely more on my ears to monitor traffic from behind.  The majority of my riding on tour is on the open road with very few in town miles.  On the open road it is easy to hear approaching traffic.  So I figure that if anything I am less likely to use a mirror on tour.

Oh and before someone mentions how quiet electric cars are, I say that it is the tire noise that you hear not the engine so gasoline, electric or hybrid make little difference on the open road.  In a parking lot or other low speed situations that can be different, but those are not typically overtaking situations.
I have really great hearing and there are definitely times... Wind can mask overtaking car noises, or if you're riding through a construction zone

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Offline John Nelson

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2017, 03:39:54 pm »
probably no harm bringing the front light as an extra
The "probably no harm in bringing" argument is a slippery slope. Pretty soon you'll end up with a hundred pounds of gear. Not only does extra stuff add weight, it's extra stuff to keep track of. Only bring essential stuff. Sometimes the decision of what is "essential" is difficult, but it's worth the trouble to figure out.

Offline DaveB

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2017, 05:43:17 pm »
Sometimes the decision of what is "essential" is difficult, but it's worth the trouble to figure out.
Lights and a mirror definitely fall in the "essential" category even for daily rides.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2017, 10:01:12 pm »
I agree with DaveB and use a bar end mirror for all rides. I have been using one for over 30 years and would not ride around the block without it.  I disagree with Russ.  I think the mirror can save your life.  I can ride safely, watch the road and the mirror.  A mirror allows you to actually have some control over the situation when riding.  After a while, you can get an intuition about what a car is going to do, whether they are erratic or not, etc.  A mirror often can tell you when it's best to "take the lane" or even leave the road.  I've done both.  Another thing you can do if you sense a car is not taking you seriously is do a little swerve into the road.  This often makes the car driver wake up.  You can see and hear them slow down and work to go around you. It takes a lot of riding to really get a sense of how to effectively use a mirror. Without one, you're helpless and completely at the mercy of whatever is coming.  I've discussed this with scores of riders.  Those that do not use a mirror always say they don't use one because there's nothing you can do if a car is going to hit you.  This is a fatalistic and wrong view, in my experience.  I want to control the situation, and a mirror gives me way more control. On the Pacific Coast ride, this is esp important, because there are parts of HWY 1 in Calif with no shoulder, narrow and curvy roads. And oblivious, often elderly drivers, sometimes driving wide RV's.  I'd get a mirror and start practicing.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2017, 05:02:40 pm »
As the casual reader can tell, mirrors are one of those religious topics which typically end in two groups shouting past each other.

That said, I'm with Russ, Pete, and John on this issue.  I've never found it necessary to have a mirror to ride safely, whether riding around home or on tour.  Occasionally I'll notice that wind noise is sufficient to block my hearing cars coming up behind me, and on those occasions I'll ride more carefully.  I'll further note that to avoid being hit by a car you see coming from behind you, you must be ready to ride off the road.  I haven't found that necessary yet in my cycling.

Perhaps we could leave this with the admonition, if you need a mirror, make sure you have a mirror.

Offline canalligators

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2017, 08:48:22 am »
I'll make one other statement then leave it.  On a recumbent, you can't turn your head as easily or as far, because of the angle of your neck.  Mirrors are more important on a recumbent.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2017, 12:38:57 pm »
The "probably no harm in bringing" argument is a slippery slope. Pretty soon you'll end up with a hundred pounds of gear. Not only does extra stuff add weight, it's extra stuff to keep track of. Only bring essential stuff. Sometimes the decision of what is "essential" is difficult, but it's worth the trouble to figure out.

I understand what you are trying to say, but how much weight and space does a modern bike headlight take up?

I can think of a couple good reasons for bringing a headlight on tour:
  • Like others have said, you can use it as a flashlight. (And yes, I am aware that most modern cellphones have a flashlight function, but the light isn't as good, and what if your phone is dead?)
  • Even with the long hours of daylight in the middle of summer, and one's best intentions to not ride in low-light conditions, sometimes "things" happen.

I've always brought full lights with me on tour and never regretted it. And since my touring rig has dynamo lighting, I never have to even think about lights anymore!  8)

Offline Bclayden

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2017, 06:17:29 pm »
I live along this route (Santa Cruz, CA) and ride up and down the coast often. Low visibility is a way of life during the summer fog season. I always use both a flashing headlight so cars ahead see me coming and taillight for the texting driver coming up behind. There are no guarantees but I'm one for reducing risk as much as possible.

Most of your route is rural of course but you will be spending time in congested areas with some heavy traffic during commute times of day.  Lots of lights are a good thing.

For years I've used the drop down handlebar mirror mentioned. It eventually becomes part of your scan and gives you good situational awareness but not much for detail. You can't really spend time staring at it because you must take your eyes off the road. Only a quick glance. It's an I--see-something-big-coming-but-can't-identify-it-exactly sort of thing. Also, if you sweat a lot, as I do, it will require a regular wipe-down. And like any mirror is only effective if you're looking at it.

Offline Daveymac

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2017, 03:34:31 pm »
Hi! Thank you for the replies!
My owleye lights only weigh 32 grams each so I can afford to bring them...
Another thing i am thinking I will buy, is a high visibility cycling top..

The mirror is definitely a useful item..i will have a think and decide...


To be honest...I have been worrying the last few days... I think after the passing of Mike Hall, the ultra endurance cyclist in Australia..
I don't want to stereotype Americans or the US...but I am a bit worried about potentially getting hit by a vehicle on the West Coast...I know this can happen anywhere...anytime...but I am just worried about the States, being such a car-dominated society...again....i don't mean any disrespect to US citizens...
Maybe this fear is irrational..


How would you guys rate the West Coast in terms of bike safety and bike friendly compared to other places in the US and in the world?

Thanks so much..


Dublin Dave.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2017, 04:55:28 pm »
How would you guys rate the West Coast in terms of bike safety and bike friendly compared to other places in the US and in the world?

I find that the more used to seeing cyclists the local drivers are the safer it is.  By that metric the Pacific Coast is pretty safe.

Personally I always figured that you safer riding on tour than riding around home as long as you live in either a city or a suburb.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2017, 05:11:58 pm »
How would you guys rate the West Coast in terms of bike safety and bike friendly compared to other places in the US and in the world?
There's a lot of diversity of the roads along the West Coast, just as there is a lot of diversity of roads on any route. The northern 2/3 of the Pacific Coast route are mostly very safe. From Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, there are more difficult sections. I found the 27 miles through Malibu to be the worst. I did feel nervous a few times in northern California when the fog was thick.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2017, 05:17:14 pm by John Nelson »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2017, 07:14:06 pm »
Bright clothes are a good idea.  They're often visible before lights, depending on the orientation of the bike and lights and the car.

Cagers are better on the parts of the Pacific coast I've driven than most other parts of the country.  As John notes, the stretch from Malibu down to LA is an exception.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2017, 12:37:41 am »
I agree with others that the traffic on the Pacific Coast is generally pretty good. However, the exception would be RVs. Many people driving these "big as a city bus" vehicles aren't always exactly aware they're driving something as big as a city bus. When I have gotten passed too close on 101, nine times out of ten it was an RV. And many of them are also towing a vehicle...

Offline Daveymac

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2017, 07:27:18 am »
Hi! Thank you for your feedback...
I have heard about those RV's.... kinda scary...

Do you still think it is overall, worth giving this trip a go...
I will have 2 pannier bags on my bike which will make it slightly wider...

Here in Dublin, there has been an increase in the number of cyclist fatalities in recent months... unfortunately often, artic-truck vs cyclist....
I suppose this is why I am feeling a bit nervous about my trip to the West Coast...


Dave.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Do i need lights and a handlebar mirror for Pacific Coast in July?
« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2017, 09:01:37 am »
Hi! Thank you for your feedback...
I have heard about those RV's.... kinda scary...

Do you still think it is overall, worth giving this trip a go...
I will have 2 pannier bags on my bike which will make it slightly wider...

Here in Dublin, there has been an increase in the number of cyclist fatalities in recent months... unfortunately often, artic-truck vs cyclist....
I suppose this is why I am feeling a bit nervous about my trip to the West Coast...


Dave.
Yes, do it!
People like to build up drama over minutia, just like with the lights and mirrors. I've ridden half of my life without either lights, mirrors, helmet, bright clothing, or even wheel reflectors and never even had any close calls. Since I've been riding WITH all of those things, I've had several close calls, partly because I do things that I wouldn't have done without them, but mostly its just chance. Se La Vie, YOLO, or whatever.

Most people driving that route will be doing what you'll be doing: enjoying the views.
Being cautious is one thing, but letting fear of what you can't possibly know ahead of time stop you from experiencing something amazing would be a shame.

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