Safety Skills

'Letter to Lenny' Provides Safe-Riding Tips

Editor's Note: I love it when I get an email out of the blue from an RBR reader offering to write an article on some aspect of road cycling about which they're an expert. It gets to the heart of our reason for being: Sharing knowledge with each other to make us safer, better riders. The following is from Premium Member Fred Goss, a California attorney, long-time commuter and avid roadie. His “Letter to Lenny” was first written in response to a newbie who wanted to know how to ride safely. —John Marsh

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The RBR Crew's Crashes: Lessons Learned

Editor's Note: As mentioned last week, we'll start the process this week of providing some instruction and ideas on how to prevent crashes by talking in some detail about the crash history of the RBR Crew – along with the Lesson(s) learned from some of those crashes. The idea is to lay out some of what we recognize as our own mistakes or various situations that led to crashes so that RBR readers can avoid those same mistakes or dicey situations. 

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RBR Readers' 'Crash' Commentary

There was a lot of feedback to my article last week, The First Rule of Crashes: It's not a question if IF you crash, but WHEN. I also talked about the fact that there a million and one ways to crash, and described some. And I pointed out that in all of the crashes I described, our helmets worked exactly as intended. Your responses mostly supported each of my three main points. But some of you suggested we provide some "how-to" instruction on avoiding or better handling crashes. We'll start that next week. But first, here's a sampling of some of your incisive commentary:

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The First Rule of Crashes

It may be the first thing I heard on one of my first group rides: It’s not a question of if you will crash, but when. I now call it The First Rule of Crashes. And it’s a maxim that I’ve seen realized numerous times over the years in my own local group, the Domestiques. Thankfully, only one of those crashes involved a car, and we’ve all lived to ride another day.

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The Danger of Distracted Riding

These I believe to be true: Roadies hate – hate! – seeing a driver with their mobile phone glued to their ear or, even worse, holding it in front of them as they text while driving. Roadies love – love! – our bike computers, GPS and other electronic devices. These ever-advancing tools help us measure, gauge performance, map and explore the roads we ride. But are our cycling gadgets becoming a bane to road safety, much like mobile phones? Is distracted riding a danger similar to distracted driving?

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How to Ride in Traffic

This is a complicated subject and the literature contains a wide range of opinions. Some riders never venture into heavy traffic, choosing either to ride on bike paths, drive to "safe" cycling roads or areas, or hang up their wheels. Others get downright surly about their rights to the road, which can lead to driver confrontations, accidents and injury. No cyclist is a match for a 4,000-pound box of metal. Here, I’ll take a middle course. 

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Important Steps to Take Post-Crash

When I finally got around to reviewing the video of my recent crash some three weeks after the fact, it became obvious that there are a number of prudent steps to take if you (or a riding buddy) are ever involved in a crash that results in an injury – and are dealing with the immediate aftermath. Most of this is common-sense stuff, but in the adrenaline-fueled haze of a post-crash period, we sometimes are not at our best or can easily forget something that may be important.

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The Great Helmet Debate - Pros and 'Cons' of Helmet Use

RBR believes in helmets and their usefulness. And we will continue to follow their evolution as a safety tool. We have a long history of being a proponent of helmets and of helping teach road riders the skills and provide the knowledge and tips to help readers learn to ride as safely as possible. If we do nothing else, I’d be fine being known only as a strong advocate of rider safety. (I certainly hope – and believe – we offer much more than that.) So, with that introduction in mind, following is Tom’s article, The Case Against Helmets, and my rebuttal article, The Case For Helmets.

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Identify Yourself

Let's hope you carry your ID when you ride, just as you do at all other times. There are many reasons to carry ID and related important information (health insurance, emergency contact, medical disorders or devices, etc.). And there are numerous ways to carry it, so there's really no excuse not to.

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Distracted Driving Still a Bane to Road Cyclists

Distracted driving of all types is one of the major safety concerns of road cyclists. Phone-glued-to-ear remains a serious enough distraction, but texting while driving (or using apps, email, etc.) can be far more dangerous because it requires a driver to completely take their focus off the road and their surroundings. And, according to a recent AP story, it's only getting worse, even as police resort to novel methods to try to catch texting motorists in the act – from driving in a semi to sit high up with a good view to dressing as a homeless person to patrol at intersections, according to the article.

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‘Super Tuck’ Is Not So Super

One thing that has stood out in both the Tour de France and the US Pro Challenge this year is the extreme descending position adopted by many riders on steep descents. Instead of using the traditional method of sitting on the saddle with the hands next to the stem and pedals horizontal, daring riders have taken to sitting on the top tube. Although several pros have tried this in the past few years, I suspect that because Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan got lots of camera time in the Tour while squatting on the top tube, the technique has gone mainstream. I can't figure out why.

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