Organized rides across the country are getting pushback from communities that are frustrated by riders who flaunt the rules of the road. Besides crashes and fights, some communities have disqualified permits, and insurance companies have denied event coverage. If you’re participating in Cycle Oregon’s Week Ride this month, or really any ride, please be courteous and—above all, be safe.
If you’re gearing up for the Week Ride, you’re about to embark on an epic adventure, one that has the ability to change lives in a positive way. You’re helping raise money for some great causes. You’re getting the chance to meet some amazing people from some of the most awesome communities in the world. And last but not least, you get to spend an entire week with over 2,000 people who have at least one shared passion.
You might not know a lot of your fellow riders today, but that’s about to change. Soon, you’ll be friends who feel like family. One of the very best ways to allow this camaraderie to blossom is to do your part to make sure that everyone is having as much fun as you are. Here’s how:
Maintain road awareness
You’ll be on some pretty rural roads most of the time, but there will always be traffic. You, your fellow riders, Cycle Oregon support vehicles, motorists, and people who live in the area are all going to be sharing the road. Knowing at all times what and who is around you is a great help to you and everyone else. Keep your eyes and ears open, and frequently check your six.
Consider a mirror
From Bike Gallery’s Aaron “Rambo” Harrison: Bicycle mirrors help create awareness of what’s behind you while riding, helping you ride more predictably and safely. Mirrors come in three basic flavors: handlebar-mounted, helmet-mounted, and eyeglass-mounted
Handlebar-mounted mirrors have long been a popular option, especially if you just want a basic idea of what’s going on behind you. Unfortunately, the advent of integrated brake/shift levers have forced handlebar mirrors for road bikes to move from the brake-hood down to the end of the handlebar. While there are some excellent fish-eye mirrors, which provide a fairly large field of view, they’re very affected by the vibration of the bicycle (and the distortion created by the lens’s shape).
Helmet mirrors have become the most popular option among cyclists riding road bikes or recumbents. They are much less affected by road vibration, and since they sit much closer to your eye, they provide a significantly larger field of view.
Eyeglass-mounted mirrors are much like helmet-mounted mirrors, but they mount on one of the temples of your glasses instead of your helmet. Many modern sports glasses don’t have flat enough surfaces to mount them. If you wear prescription eyewear with straight temples, these are a good option.
Position yourself strategically
If you’re a slower rider, keep to the right. If you’re a faster rider, give those you pass a wide berth. If you’re being passed, move to the right. If you’re going to stop, move over to the right before doing so—especially if you’re on a steep climb. If that’s not possible, make sure no one is right behind you before you jump off. If you have no reason to change your position, hold your line.
If you notice a car coming from behind, let your fellow riders know by calling “car back.” If you see a car coming toward you, it’s “car up.” If you’re passing or stopping, let that be known as well. Likewise, if you notice a hazard, point it out. If you want to give a hand signal, point toward the hazard, not in the direction someone needs to go to avoid it.
Before you pass, check behind you and to your left before you make your move. Assume another rider or a support vehicle is passing you at all times. This is something a lot of folks tend to forget. Keep in mind that support vehicles are often driving slowly and quietly until it’s safe to pass riders. Don’t assume you’ll hear them.
If there’s a car behind you or someone is passing you, hang back a few seconds until the coast is clear. Also, when you hear “car back,” wait to initiate your pass until the car goes by. Going for the quick pass when you hear “car back” is dangerous and obnoxious. When you finish your pass, move back to the right when it’s safe to do so (someone might want to pass you, Speed Racer). Don’t pass someone who is in the process of passing someone else.
Remember, this isn’t a race, and your desire to get around slower riders should never put you or them in jeopardy. We never run out of beer, food, or places to pitch your tent.
Obey traffic laws
All of them. It’s amazing how many people do blatantly silly stuff. Blowing off a stop sign isn’t a good idea. Blowing off a stop sign WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING FOR TRAFFIC is just dumb. And it’s something we see frequently. If you’re going to stop along the route, Oregon law dictates that you pull off the road. It also requires riding single-file if there’s traffic behind you. Keep in mind that the motorcycle police who accompany us can and will issue tickets as warranted.
Riding in a paceline is a lot of fun, particularly if you’re a skilled and seasoned rider. (It is never recommended to paceline with people you are not used to pacelining with.) But your fun should not come at the expense of everyone else’s fun—not to mention safety. Please restrict paceline riding to areas where it’s safe. If your whole group can’t safely pass riders, don’t pass. And if you have to drop off your paceline to avoid putting someone else in danger, do it.
Share the road
“Share the road” is not simply a saying to remind motorists that they need to make room for cyclists. It works the other way around, too. On an event like Cycle Oregon, it’s important to leave room for traffic. Riding three (or four or five) abreast while letting cars stack up behind you is not sharing the road. Moreover, it isn’t the way to endear ourselves to the local motorists, many of whom are our hosts. We’re ambassadors of our sport, and the way we conduct ourselves on the road matters.