With spring finally making an appearance here in the DC area, and more people getting off their trainers couches and out the front door, the paths and streets are going to get much more crowded in weeks to come. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to take some time to present my fellow multisport competitors of a few safety and common sense tips to keep them rubber-side-down during their training rides this spring and summer.
- Assume every driver is out to get you
It is my personal opinion that most drivers around here are reasonable people; some may even be cyclists themselves. There are those, however, that for some reason have an axe to grind with whatever cyclist they come across out on the road as if the scent of spandex sends them in to a frenzy.
The best advice I can give is to use common sense while out on the road. While I should say that I come to a full stop at every stop sign and never run a read light that would make me a liar. I can say that I use common sense (saving those activities for when there is no oncoming or cross traffic) and try to ride as defensively as possible.
- Assume every pedestrian is out to get you
The guy with the ear buds in doesn’t know you are there. That two year old will jump out in front of you and stop dead. And the twenty-something young women walking three abreast on the path will not move over even when they do see you coming. If you are not comfortable riding in the street and choose to ride on the many multiuse paths in the area remember that it is your job to yield to pedestrians just as cars should yield to bikes out on the street. You just have to live with it.
- Assume the weather is out to get you
Spring can be a tricky time of year in terms of weather. All of the April showers and May flowers can cause roads to be slippery. Also, the variability in temperature can make it tricky to choose the proper workout attire. So take it easy in the corners if the ground is not clear, dress in layers, and make sure to bring extra water on longer rides.
For those seasoned triathletes who actually read past the first paragraph, you probably know all of this already. But you also probably know someone who is just getting into the sport. Share your knowledge with them. The best part about the triathlon community is the willingness to educate newcomers and inclusiveness that is not found in other sports (ahem, I’m looking at you cycling). For those newbies just getting the bike out of the garage from its long winters hibernation first get your bike tuned up and then find one afore mentioned seasoned triathlete and tag along with them on some training rides. Most bike shops in the area have weekend group rides geared towards beginners or experienced athletes. I ride with The Bike Rack on Sundays but there are many others outs there. Plus you get the safety of numbers. Now go out there and have fun!