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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
a few weeks ago, i took the plunge into road riding and got myself an '06 Trek 2100. i've ridden around my neighborhood quite a bit (gets old fast), and even used it in a sprint tri last weekend on a closed course and i was totally comfortable riding it. so i went out to ride at lunch today. there's an office park close to my work w/ about a 4 mile loop that i thought i'd go ride a few laps. i was kind of nervous b/c this was my first experience on public roads, but i drive through this office park on occasion and never see many cars. plus it has nice, wide 2 lane roads and i see other cyclists there a lot. so off i go and i just can't help but feeling anxiety about the traffic (as light as it was). i kept looking behind me and worrying about whether or not i was too far out in the lane, or otherwise inconveniencing the motorists in any way. i tried to stay as far right as possible, but i couldn't believe how hard it was to hold a straight line when you are really trying to do so. i kept swerving involuntarily. the kicker was that about 25 minutes into the ride, i hit a rock and of course get a flat in the front. it was one of those deals where i was saying "don't hit the rock, don't hit the rock, don't hit the rock..." and bang, right over the rock. so i decided to pack it in for the day. i guess my first question is, is there something specific i can do to improve holding my line. i'd like to ride in a group too, but i'd hate to do so if i'm swerving all over the place. second, what to do about the traffic anxiety? is this just something you get used to? is it considered taboo to get a little rear view mirror for the bike? sorry for the long post, i'm just kind of bummed that my ride didn't go a little better. but i'll be back out in a day or so and hopefully improve a little bit each time. .:thumbsup:
 

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Still On Steel
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Holding Your Line: Practice, basically. Try putting your wheels a given distance from the white line ... say 6" ... and holding it there. Don't stare at the front wheel; instead, look a little ways up the road and make your adjustments almost subconsciously. You probably did the same thing when you were learning to drive a car. It's a new skill; it'll take a little time.

A lot of the county backroads on which I ride have double yellow centerlines. I sometimes see how long I can keep my wheels between them, without touching yellow. Something you will only want to do where there's little traffic and excellent visibility, obviously.

Anxiety In Traffic: This can be tough to overcome. Start on lightly-trafficked roads and work up from there. Perhaps the best thing you can do is adopt the correct attitude. You're a vehicle; you have a legal right to be on the road. Against this you must balance the fact that in a collision between a car and a cyclist, the cyclist is always going to lose. Stay out of motorists' way as much as you can, but when you need the lane -- take it. If you ride in a predictable manner and signal your intentions clearly, most motorists will understand that you'll soon be out of their way and will cut you the necessary slack.

John Forester's "Effective Cycling" covers this topic in detail and is a worthwhile addition to any cyclist's library.

Mirrors: Many find that helmet- or eyeglass-mount mirrors are better than ones that mount on the bike itself. The view is usually clearer (less vibration) and you don't have to change your line of sight nearly as much. Although I'm not using one now, I used a helmet mirror for many years. In addition to the obvious advantage of letting you know when traffic is coming up behind, perhaps the best thing about them is that they allow you to relax and enjoy the ride when there's nothing going on back there.
 

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1) Always look to where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. Your bike will inevitable head for the rock if you are staring at it.

2) Don't look at the road immediately in front of you. That is a major cause of wavering for beginning riders. Always look at least 5-10 yards down the road, possibly further if you are riding in a pack.
 

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Got good advice already--a couple of suggestions more...

Not much I can add to what's already been said, but that never stopped me before...
I began riding in the early '70s with a couple of neighbors, brothers who were Air Force brats and had grown up riding in Europe. Not many people rode seriously in the U.S. in those days, and they were SO good it was just weird. I didn't know anyone who'd ridden even 25 miles, and they did twice that for fun after school.
Among the things they told me that have worked:
For something like that rock, look where you WANT the wheel to go, not where you're afraid it will go. And don't forget the rear wheel follows a separate path, so you need to miss it with BOTH. You can practice putting the front wheel on one side and the rear on the other of a paint spot or pebble on the pavement, just for fun (that's an old mountain bike drill).
As others have said, look down the road several yards (farther as you go faster) and sort of aim the bike there, rather than concentrating on the six inches in front of you. Keep that aim point well in front of you.
The secret to riding in a straight line is just practice, practice, practice. It will come pretty quickly, I think, as your skill and confidence improve. Ride along paint stripes, pavement divisions (don't hook a wheel), shadows on the asphalt, anything. I'm pretty lame at that, actually, but I have friends who can keep the wheel six inches from the shoulder for hours at a time. I just try not to wobble out into traffic...
 

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Relax your upper body. As a new rider, you are probably tensing up quite a bit. Keep your elbows slightly bent and relax your grip on the bars. Look far up the road, not right in front of you. It's a lot easier to go straight if you are relaxed and looking ahead.
 

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gazing from the shadows
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tobu said:
1) Always look to where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. Your bike will inevitable head for the rock if you are staring at it.
Very true. Also, be aware that looking to the right or left will tend to cause you to drift that way. This is especially important when looking over your shoulder. Looking should be practiced.

Definitely look further down the road, that will help keep things straight and smooth.

You should also not ride as far to the right as possible, but give yourself a bit of space in case you need to avoid something. Better to have to swerve AWAY from traffic than towards it when a split second decision is made. You also stay clear of the junk near the curb that way.

And comfort comes with time, it really does.
 

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Still On Steel
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dr hoo said:
You should also not ride as far to the right as possible, but give yourself a bit of space in case you need to avoid something. Better to have to swerve AWAY from traffic than towards it when a split second decision is made.
Excellent point. I usually ride about 15" to 18" off the white line. This not only gives me that little bit of bail-out room, it also helps force overtaking cars to commit to crossing the centerline. If there's oncoming traffic, they'll be more apt to wait until it's clear rather than trying to squeeze by me when there's not really time or room.

One other thing: if you ever hear squealing tires close behind you, eat ditch IMMEDIATELY. A car doing a panic stop off your six is a case when you want to save yourself first and ask questions later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks for the responses! being an mtb'r as well, i should've been better about "looking further ahead" and "looking where i wanted to go". i just couldn't keep my eyes off of the front wheel. it was mesmerizing :eek: - so thin and delicate looking, yet so fast. but, like you guys said, it will just take some saddle time to find my groove. :D
 

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Don't get "doored"

If you are riding by parked cars look for people in their cars getting ready to open the door. Ride several feet from the side of the cars so you are not caught by the initial door opening.
 

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Bianchi Nuovo Alloro, Lemond Etape
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practice the look-back

practice the look-back-over-the-left-shoulder a lot.
when you are at work, etc., look as far as you can left and right and your neck will get more flexible so you can look back at traffic quickly and smoothly. plus it will loosen up the tight muscles from riding.
practice the look-back a lot when riding - and focus on not loosing your line while looking back.
 
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