Tuesday 1 September 2009


Two of the perils of the trip into work - the rising sun blatting in your face, which obscures rat running cars pulling out of side streets, and worse, makes it harder for sleepy, inattentive, texting drivers to see bikes in front of them. The other peril are cars cutting into the left lane directly in front of you in order to turn at the lights.

I always find myself in two minds on Lilyfield Rd when there are other cyclists in front of me. Half the time, I blast past the slower ones, only to find that they overtake me on the hill a kilometre or so down the road (I am such a slug on hills). I find it terminally embarassing to flog past at enormous speed on the downhill, only to be taken out on the next climb.

However, the other half of the time, I stick behind someone, even if it means braking when going uphill, and then find that when we get to the hill in question, they slow down to a crawl and I blast past them on the ascent. Aaarrrgh! It's just so much easier to pass, pass, pass regardless of whether I think they will catch me later on or not.

Here we have a demonstration of how to end up lying on the ground under the spoiler of a car. In order to get onto the bridge that crosses Victoria Rd (voted one of the 10 worst cycling blackspots in Sydney recently), you have to turn right at the end of Lilyfield Rd and go up a pram ramp and across the footpath. That means crossing in front of cars that may be turning left off Victoria Rd. I always go right to the end of the road and do a sharp right (the dotted line), which allows me to see cars coming up Victoria Rd so I know whether to stop or go. This guy has no visibility of cars that may be about to turn left. He got away with it, but this morning, another bloke did the same, and came within a foot of becoming a hood ornament. He was bloody lucky the driver braked.

Rush hour on the bridge. One thing I've noticed is the impact that bike tyres have on speed. I am always overtaking people who have fat, lumpy tyres on their bikes. They're not doing themselves any favours, towing around an enormous amount of extra drag and friction - and weight. I sometimes find myself overtaking a whole line of mountain bikes or hybrids with fat tyres at this point as they struggle up the slope in a very low gear. What's the fun in that? We're climbing a bridge on a concrete path, not a mud track on a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

Overtaking on a bike is no different to overtaking in a car - you have to watch for oncoming traffic, and have the herbs to pull out and blast past. No point in overtaking unless you can get past the bike in front in a few seconds of spurt.

Another corner of peril, this time in Pyrmont. Because this is not a proper T-junction, bikes have a tendency to just blast through the cross walk without looking at cars coming from the right. Most of the time, there are no cars in the outside lane - but most of the time is not the same as all the time. Plenty of cyclists also ignore the cross walk, and cut in front of pedestrians that have right of way. Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies. I expect that I am going to ride up this way one morning, and see a nasty prang.

1 comment:

Richard_H said...

There's a reason I have (semi) slicks on my MTB. Enables you to keep up a fair clip. Roadies still go straight past me like I'm sitting still. You roadies also have higher gearing too..... Hopefully I'll be able to do decent speed when I get a road bike in a couple of months.

Then of course, there's the shame when guys *with* off road tyres go straight past you......