Saturday, April 6, 2013

On Biking

I've enjoyed riding a bike from time to time, and may yet again, even though I don't own a bike right now.  I have friends who love it, and keep on trying to convince me to take it up and ride centuries with them.  But I just don't know.  One of them badly wanted me to ride the Tour de Chocolate in Hershey, PA with her and her Team in Training group.  "Come on, it will be fun!" she said.  Then, practically in the next breath, she asked "Did you hear about Teresa?"  Teresa in an incredibly fit lady of about 35-40, I would suppose.  She does Ironman triathlons, and all kinds of other challenges.  It turns out that she was out for a easy early morning ride of 30 miles or so and was hit by a car.  The driver didn't see her because she was looking into the sun.  Teresa survived, probably in part because the lady didn't do a hit and run and in part because of her phenomenal level of fitness.  But her spine was fractured in five places and she had a broken leg.  Yup - that sounds like fun!

Drivers do crazy things.  They drive too fast and too impatiently.  They text.  They are inattentive.  They act as if they are the only car on the road.  They feel invincible in their 3,000 - 8,000 pound shell of steel, aluminum, and plastic.  It is tough enough if you are a walker or runner.  Biking would be more appealing to me if there were separate bike paths.  For example, in about another year, the Cap 2 Cap Trail will be completed - 50+ miles each way between the historical capital of Virginia (Williamsburg) and our current capital (Richmond).  Now, that sounds like a lot of fun, especially if there were inns along the way where one could stop for a night, have a good meal, and quaff a cold brown ale!

I also read a detailed article about how biking is not at all good for - how does one put this delicately, gentle reader? - one's "nether regions."  That is male or female, by the way, but most especially male - for obvious reasons.  The pressure put on the blood vessels and nerves by the bike seat from below and one's weight from above can cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women.  When I mentioned that - only a tiny bit in jest - to my friend, she said "Well look at Tim.  He rides a lot and they just had a baby."  Her argument didn't convince me.  I'm not looking for any babies.  By the way, the problem seems to apply more to people who spend a lot of time on bikes - which one must to ride 100 miles.  This article here is not the one I originally read, but summarizes the issue well and talks about mitigation strategies, especially getting away from those narrow seats which maximize the pressure on the perineum.

Then, there is the expense of biking - the bike itself and all the special gear (including that special seat that puts the pressure on the "sit bones" and not on the perineum.)  Compare that to the cost of a pair of good running shoes every few months.  Plus, with running and walking, one does not have to stress over equipment failures.  When you are 50 miles into a ride and have a tire blow out - well, I can't imagine that being a happy time at all.

Hit by cars?  Reduced sex life?  Diminished checking account? Hmm, I think I just might stick to walking (or running if my left knee ever stops hurting).  Seriously, I could see biking as being fun under some circumstances, like maybe as part of a triathlon of sprint or Olympic distance.  The cars still worry me even in that case.  Did I mention that drivers are nuts?

Well, another friend told me that all runners are future bikers, because there comes a time when their joints are too worn out from running.  So I guess I should start saving my pennies.  Maybe the Cap 2 Cap will be ready just in time for me!  Now, about that inn with the ice-cold brown ale....


Happyone said...

I'm going to have to stick up for the drivers here because the bike riders around here think THEY own the road. They ride on the most narrow curvy roads and as a driver you can't see them when you come around the curve.
The bikes don't stay on the side and are always holding up traffic. Lots ride down the middle of the road.
I think it is much too dangerous to ride a bike along the roads. Just my opinion.: ) Hope I don't offend anyone.

Racn4acure said...

I have to agree for the most part, although I see plenty of blame among both drivers and cyclists. That is why I think, without separate bike paths, it is too dangerous to do a lot of cycling. I have seen cyclists do incredibly stupid things that left them lucky to be alive. Cyclists need to remember the same rules that apply to cars apply to them. That means no zipping through red lights or treating them like stop signs, and keeping close to the edge of the road - but away for gravel, which can cause havoc for a bike. Riding abreast or down the center of the road is just plain dumb.

Racn4acure said...

Karen - you gave me the idea for what I wrote today (Sunday)! Thanks! Art