RBR Viewpoints

The Kindness of Strangers

Editor's Note: In last week's RBR Newsletter, we ran an article by Stan Purdum titled Days of Adventure on the Bike, in which Stan detailed a self-guided tour where he had some particularly memorable "mis-adventures" – bad days on the bike. He rightly pointed out that good days on the bike far outweigh any bad days, and fellow reader and RBR Premium Member John Yoder wrote in to share one of his most memorable good days, focusing on the kindness of a stranger. 

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Days of Adventure on the Bike

“Adventure,” said the prolific writer, Louis L’Amour, “is nothing but a romantic name for trouble.” Having spent his young manhood years knocking about the oceans on tramp steamers, hobo-ing the West on freight trains, working as a circus roustabout and once making a desperate flight out of the Mohave Desert on foot, L’Amour was flush with experiences to back up his remark. Of the forced march out of the Mohave, he wrote, “It is better to sit in comfort with a cold drink at hand and read the tale than to actually walk out of the Mohave Desert as I did.” At times, bicycle tourists might argue the point.

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Bicycle Fit Is Not a Fixed Set of Measurements

You may one day head out for a ride only to discover that the bicycle fit that was ideal for you for years may not be so ideal now. This realization may come on suddenly or gradually, but it’s fact of cycling life. And aging is not the only reason. Writing recently in Adventure Cyclist, Nick Legan, that publication’s technical editor, said, “With increased fitness, a bike that was once comfortable can start to feel cramped. Likewise, with more miles under your belt, the more ‘seasoned’ your seated area will be. This may affect your saddle choice.”

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What a Cyclist Should Do If In an Accident

I have been representing injured cyclists for over 20 years. In my experience, cyclists tend to minimize their injuries and handle claims to the insurance company on their own. While I find most cyclists to be educated and accomplished, these qualities can blind them to the realities of personal injury claims. You may be the president of a Silicon Valley start-up, a medical doctor or college professor (all former clients of mine), but the insurance industry knows how the personal injury game is played – and you do not. Representing yourself is a big mistake. Doing things correctly starts immediately after any accident.

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Does an Informal Ride Organizer Have a Duty to Riders?

Editor's Note:  As many RBR articles do, this one arose from correspondence with a reader who posed an interesting question, an answer to which I sought out from another RBR reader with specific expertise in the area. This issue has to do with legal liability in leading rides – both informal and "organized." It's something that almost all of us roadies has been involved in over the course of our regular riding (either being invited on an informal ride with buddies or riding acquaintances, signing up for an organized ride, or going on rides with our clubs, or with friends' clubs). 

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Wrenching at the BEX Pays Myriad Dividends

Want to bump up your bicycle mechanic skills and do some good at the same time? Volunteer at one of the nonprofits that recycle old bikes. I live in New Jersey and volunteer one afternoon each week as a bike mechanic at a nonprofit bicycle shop called the Bike Exchange (BEX). It’s a program of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. At the BEX, we refurbish donated bikes and make them available to the public at low cost. Our inventory is whatever bikes are contributed, but we receive a surprising variety, from big-box store brands to Zebrakenko racers, Peugeot Carbolites and Nishiki Tourers.

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Experience Is a Great Teacher, But ...

When it comes to fixing problems on the bicycle — or in life, in general, for that matter — starting the fix at the right point is a great benefit, but that seems to be a lesson I have to relearn from time to time. My bicycle saddle is a recent case in point. It’s a Brooks B-17, a classic leather model that’s been in production in England since the 1890s. It’s been virtually unchanged over that time, and for good reason: Many riders find that, like a good pair of leather shoes, the saddle is among the most comfortable available once broken in.

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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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‘Bicycles May Use Full Lane’; It's About Time!

A little less than a year ago, I wrote about a study by two bike-commuting professors at North Carolina State University who found that a simple change in the wording of bicycle-related roadside signage can help clarify the rules of the road for motorists and cyclists, and potentially make cycling safer. Just the other day, as my wife and I drove through Decatur, an Atlanta suburb, I saw a Bikes May Use Full Lane sign for the first time. Two days later, a reader sent me an article showing that this movement may be gaining steam.

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Oh, The Mistakes We Make

"Rooke Mistakes" aren't just for rookies. I don't care how experienced a roadie is, he or she is quite capable of making dumb mistakes seemingly forever. I should know. I still make them. And the stupid stuff we've done recently – and over the years of riding together – is a fairly regular topic of conversation on group rides with my buddies. In fact, there are more than enough "rookie mistakes" we've made to fill this article. Some actually were made early in our respective riding days, but others as we were much more "seasoned," shall we say.

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On the Road Again, Reflections on Trainer Time

I knew that the only way I could hope to keep some cycling fitness through the spring as I recovered from surgery – and have any realistic shot at being prepared for the Tour de Wyoming in mid-July (my long-planned big ride for the summer), the trainer was my only option. So I embraced it fully. In doing so, it became somewhere between bearable and something I semi-looked forward to. It's hard to draw meaningful lessons from a forced trainer regimen necessitated by an injury, but in thinking about diligently following Coach Hughes' plan, I did come away with some thoughts I'd like to share.

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My Run-In With the Lawnmower Man

Virtually every road cyclist has had a few encounters with rude or aggressive drivers, but I may be unique in that one of my most memorable incidents of harassment came from a man on a lawnmower. It happened like this: On ride when I lived in Ohio, I had to pedal a short distance on one of the area’s busier roads to get to a low-traffic side street. The busy road was narrow, with no paved shoulder, so though I stayed near the right side of the lane, the couple of cars behind me couldn’t pass because of oncoming traffic in the other lane.

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