Author Topic: General Question  (Read 8821 times)

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Offline curdog

General Question
« on: May 06, 2010, 04:33:53 pm »
I am a 62 year old guy who has done quite a bit of riding, both single, groups and organized rides. I am getting to the point in life where I would really like to try touring.
The main restraint is fear. I don't mind riding in moderate, fairly slow moving traffic; but avoid 55mph, no shoulder, heavy traffic situations. i'm the type that never challenges cars. They get every bit of respect that I can throw their way.
This being said, is it my best bet to stick with organized tours such as those presented by ACA? I'm making an assumption that these tours go in areas with limited traffic. If I wanted to do some single bike trips, are there any methods to determine routes where traffic will be minimal?
I realize that these concerns coming from a guy who put in 4000 miles last year seems a bit weird, but it is what it is. Thanks in advance for your direction and ideas.

Offline DU

Re: General Question
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2010, 05:56:04 pm »
I've done two ACA self contained tours and the Transam and part of the Northern Tier solo. It always seemed to me that ACA's number one concern was to keep riders out of heavy traffic if possible, sometimes to a fault. I don't like ride in heavy traffic, just too stressful. On the Transam the only places I noticed the traffic being real heavy was in Yellowstone, where most of the route did not have a shoulder, and a short stretch north of Richmond ,VA. I never had a problem with either, it was just heavier traffic than I like.

I really think that if you choose to tour with ACA, or use their maps, you will be very comfortable with the routes. If you want to plan your own route a lot of states have bike maps or routes which are usually color coded as to traffic density. Some also have shoulder maps which can be helpful. These can both be found on those states DOT website.

Offline justbarb

Re: General Question
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2010, 06:21:42 pm »
As with you, I don't like the stress of heavy traffic but I also don't like the constant isolation of Rails-to-Trails.  So I research all the routes I can find for the state in which I want to travel on the internet.  Between ACA and the internet, you will have overchoice of great places to travel on your bike.  So many routes, so little time.  <sigh> 

Offline Rep

Re: General Question
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2010, 11:23:57 pm »
Check with your states Dept of Transportation or ask at your LBS for bike maps for your state.  These maps may provide you color coded routes based on traffic volume and other factors.
Bicycling, Brewing & Backgammon...What a life.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: General Question
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2010, 11:47:42 pm »
I've ridden a lot more alone or with friends than on organized tours.  I think you're safer on the group rides because they choose them to be and because the large number of riders alerts the drivers frequently to the fact that we're out there.  However, I think general experience on the bike (4000 miles certainly qualifies), combined with a mirror, are the key.  For me, the mirror is one of the most important parts of the bike.  I couldn't ride w/o one.  It allows you to see what's there and even control the traffic.  You can know how much of the road you need to take on a constant basis.  You have the right to do this for safety reasons.  I refuse to be blindly at the mercy of drivers.  Many are terrible at paying attention, etc. But, with lots of years on the bike behind me (50+), and a mirror, I'm almost never uncomfortable.  Alert, yes, constantly, checking the road ahead and behind, and even the sides (cars pulling out).  I ride all seasons, night and day, urban, rural, in just about any weather.  Please get a mirror and practice using it until it's largely second nature. 
May the wind be at your back!

Offline whittierider

Re: General Question
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2010, 03:48:06 am »
+1 for johnsondasw's post about mirrors above!!  It cannot be stressed enough.  Knowing the safest way to avoid or evade even situations developing ahead of you depends on knowing what's behind as well.  It is not possible to turn around and look anywhere near enough to compensate for the lack of a mirror.  Even if it were, it still wouldn't allow you to use peripheral vision to look both forward and back at the same time.

One of the very worst things is when pick-up truck drivers pulling a boat trailer forget that the right trailer fender sticks out much farther than the pick-up itself does.  They have killed many riders who didn't have mirrors to see it coming and ask for more room or motion for them not to pass until they get around the bend to a wider part of the road for example.  The same as johnsondasw says, with the glasses mirror, there is almost no situation where I feel uncomfortable safetywise on a bike.  Almost every situation becomes manageable with the mirror.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: General Question
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2010, 11:51:16 am »
So how about some mirror specifics?  I agree that a mirror is a great first line of defence.

I have barcon shifters, so I cannot mount a mirror there.  My brake levers are new enough that nothing MirrCycle makes will mount there.  There is also not enough material on top for me to drill and tap a hole for a MirrCycle mirror.  A PanaVue mirror is interesting, but if you have room on your front fork over the panniers for it, you get an excellent view of the rear panniers.

I am currently experimenting with mounting a PanaVue mirror http://www.panaviewfmm.com/index.html, out on the hoop part of Tubus Tara front rack.  Alas I am an engineer and not a machinist, so anything I fabricate will probably look like hell.

So what are you guys using for mirrors.  Anyone else have my problem?
Danno

Offline Tourista829

Re: General Question
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2010, 02:05:32 pm »
We use the Ortleib mirrors and really like them. We mount them in front of the barcons. I like the way it is shaped, it is almost like having a near and far mirror in one. As to the original question, we are both close to 60 and would suggest, if you haven't toured, just doing an ACO tour will give you confidence, knowledge from participants and tour leader(s), and it is a lot of fun.

Offline rvklassen

Re: General Question
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2010, 02:09:15 pm »
So how about some mirror specifics?  I agree that a mirror is a great first line of defence.
I've used a helmet-mount mirror for years.  Wouldn't ride without it.  In fact, in the winter, I caught myself forgetting my helmet (hat felt right...), when I went to adjust the mirror and it wasn't there.   If looking for a helmet mirror you want one with a long arm (you don't need it far enough from your eye to focus on - you focus on the image, not the mirror itself), and the larger mirror the better.


Offline whittierider

Re: General Question
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2010, 02:34:39 pm »
Quote
So what are you guys using for mirrors.  Anyone else have my problem?



As you might tell from the rust and corrosion, the mirror and my glasses have both given many (11?) years of service.  That's a Coke-bottle cap, but you can't tell anymore.  This mirror is made by Dick Bird, a retired man in Irvine, CA.  See http://www.marketingcounsel.com/beerview_mirrors.html .

His info:
Richard Bird
26 Spinnaker
Irvine, CA 92614
(949)551-6353

I know there's someone else also making mirrors almost exactly the same way, but I don't know who.

At the last contact I had with him, I don't think he had a website, but if you E-mail him, he'll reply with some pictures of his mirrors and the bottle cap choices.  They're mostly beer, since soft drinks aren't really using capped glass bottles anymore.

The mirrors are $15 postpaid.  (Tax is not extra).  They have a lifetime warranty, although I suppose it's his lifetime since he has been retired for quite a few years.  I paid for ours with a check.  I don't know if he takes credit cards.

Going with this particular type of mirror has several advantages.  The first glasses mirror I had had rubber parts and kind of a ball joint, but the rubber rotted and soon was no good.  Dick Bird's on the other hand, are made of the cap, epoxy, the glass mirror, and a spoke or other such wire-- all durable.  It takes awhile to bend it to work perfectly with a particular pair of glasses and aim it right, but then as long as you don't sit on it or something like that, it shouldn't need adjustment again as long as you have the same glasses.

The glasses don't shift around like your helmet, and don't vibrate like a handlebar mirror.  You can pan a very wide range behind you by turning your head a little.

To anticipate safety objections that have come up before--  There is no way it can go into your eye.  Any blow to it will either make it rotate off the glasses, or take the glasses off.  Also, the glass is so well embedded in the epoxy in the bottle cap, and it's so small, that I think a car could run over it and not break the glass.  Breaking your glasses would be more of a safety concern, yet no one doubts the safety of wearing glasses.  Of course the whole reason to use the mirror is to avoid accidents in the first place.

Offline Tourista829

Re: General Question
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2010, 02:54:37 pm »
Whittierider, great idea! I would use your bottle cap mirror, in a pinch.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: General Question
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2010, 09:57:16 pm »
I have useed a bar end mirror for years, but it can't be used if you have bar end shifters.  I like it a lot. 
The helmet types gave me a headache, and I couldn't get them to stop vibrating, bet that was a long time ago.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline MrBent

Re: General Question
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2010, 09:32:47 am »
This Blackburn mirror mounts to the hoods or bars wrapped under the tape--nice!  Highly recommended.


Offline rvklassen

Re: General Question
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2010, 09:56:44 am »

The glasses don't shift around like your helmet, and don't vibrate like a handlebar mirror.  You can pan a very wide range behind you by turning your head a little.


Your helmet shifts around?  My glasses shift around more than my helmet.  Perhaps you don't have the helmet adjusted/fastened right?

Offline bicyclerider

Re: General Question
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2010, 10:28:16 am »
that word fear is normal however forget about designing the tour. Just get out there and ride.
I left El Centro , Ca three weeks ago and I'm still having a great time. Regardless if I'm stuck alongside a freeway in the shade or stuck on a two lane road. It's all the same. There are cars and trucks. Enjoy the scenery the people or sell your bicycle and ride the bus. Fear, it is what it is! I'm still sitting in Phoenix trying to deciding to go to Tombstone or Globe
Jean Andre Vallery
www.2453.net
Jean Andre Vallery
Jacumba, California