Fear of Traffic

[NOTE] I’ve resolved to blog more often about biking. The Trans-Ohio trip is still a go but first I have to complete a four day trial run down the Great Allegheny Passage (Pittsburgh to Cumberland and Back). Mostly though I’ll blog about my daily commutes (4.5 miles one-way) and thoughts there of.

At the ripe old age of 50-something I’ve just learned that I’ve been battling anxiety (and NOT depression) for most of my adult life. That is a story for another day but what this means is that I need to be more conscious of situations that increase my anxiety which will then permit me to employ beneficial coping strategies so that I can better deal with the situation at hand.

Enter my new-found love of bicycling. A little over a year I began commuting to work. My fear of traffic had me retreating to the “safety” of the sidewalk. For a while I was OK with dodging the occasional pedestrian but I quickly learned that I was all but invisible to drivers and the near-misses were becoming too frequent. I’m talking mostly about near-misses with drivers pulling out of parking lots or side streets.

So now I’m out in traffic and far more visible AND my anxiety levels are through the roof. I’m trying to focus on the benefits I’m receiving by commuting but I’m constantly checking my mirror for unobservant drivers. Most of my route is on four lane (two in each direction) road but road that is moderately busy during rush hour. Essentially though I’m waiting to be hit and I wonder how long I’ll be able to deal with this level of anxiety before I give up.

In celebration of Bike Month, I wanted to ride to my daughter’s soccer game but the route there takes me through some very busy streets in the teeth of rush hour. In the end, I’ve asked my wife to pick me up en route to the game. I feel sad for the opportunity of cycling on a new route being lost due to my fears. I don’t want my worries to become a self-fulfilling prophecy but I believe the safest assumption as a bike commuter remains that everyone is trying to kill you all the time and you must be hyper-vigilant in order to survive which reminds me of a goal I once read, “my intention is to live forever; so far so good!”

My new ride, a custom built 2010 Cannondale CAAD9 4.

The CAAD9 will be my weekend ride for endurance training. My ‘99 Schwinn Frontier will continue to serve as my daily commuter and touring ride.

Abandoned farm house atop a hill along the Little Miami Bike Trail south of Morrow, OH.

Merry Christmas to Me!

Well, it took a while but they’re on there, the SKS P65 Chromoplastic fender set​. All told, I think it took about 2-3 hours to test fit, measure, measure again and again, cut, re-fit, remeasure, cut again, and install. I’m pleased with the results if their installation left something to be desired.

Also pictured is the Ibera PakRak IB-RA4 rear rack. The rack was a snap to install. I haven’t load tested it yet with overstuffed panniers but I like the look and can’t wait to give them a workout.

Finally, those with a sharp eye will notice the addition of a second bottle holder, mounted on the seat tube. That about sums up the hardware presents from Christmas. I received plenty of apparel to help me get back in the saddle during chillier Winter months. So far so good.

Front Fender Mod

The other day I made reference to the difficulty I had mounting the front fender for an SKS P65 Chromoplastic fender set.

The photos above should amply illustrate the issue, basically that the supplied stays were about 1-1/4 inch too long. It took quite a bit of trial and error test fitting and measuring before I had the courage to lop off the 1-1/4 inch from each stay, figuring that ordering replacements if I goofed would be time consuming and frustrating.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the fender set but ease of installation has not thus far proven to be one of it’s pros, and I haven’t even gotten to the rear fender yet.

REI Purchases

Much like my visits to the Apple Store, I’m unable to leave the newly opened local REI store without putting a dent in my checking account! Pictured in the foreground is my Schwinn Frontier undergoing installation of an SKS P65 Chromoplastic fender set on a new Feedback Sports Pro Ultralight Repair Stand. In the background is my wife’s Schwinn Frontier and my daughter’s Specialized Hotrock in a Topeak B2 bike stand.

I’ve been a bit quiet lately but I haven’t been completely inactive. The weather, well mostly the sub-30°F temperatures have kept me off the bike, but I’ve made some purchases in preparation for my first trial ride this weekend, weather permitting. I’ve purchased way too much clothing to list here, including my first spandex. Fearnaught, I’ll always be wearing a shell or baggy shorts over my bike shorts. I’ve also purchased, but have not yet begun to read “Bike Touring Survival Guide.” Finally, along with the aforementioned fender set, I’ve also purchased an Ibera PakRak IB-RA4 rear rack. It will go on as soon as I’ve completed the fender set installation. More to come about the difficult fender set installation in a future post.

Temporarily Sidelined!

Two weeks ago I hyperextended my left index finger playing volleyball in the house with my daughter (after having twice been warned not to do so by my wife!). I have an avulsion fracture as a result of the hyper-extension. It is safe to say that I did not fully appreciate the joy of healthy fingers until now.

Oddly enough, I rode my bike to work the day after I broke my finger, likely since I hadn’t yet had it examined. Likewise I rode to urgent care and from there home. Halfway to work I knew it would be a short day at the office since I felt every bump.

I’ve only been on the bike once since, nine days after the injury, to and from work. It wasn’t terribly painful but the morning temperature has been hovering around 20°F. I’d have to take my finger out of the splint to get my glove on and without the splint my finger involuntarily moves with every grab of the handlebar or brake lever and with very painful results.

Today it was 60°F and I promised to drive my wife to Columbus to pick up her Christmas present. You remember my wife; the one who will never let me forget that I broke my finger playing volleyball in the house. I decided I needed the marital karma more than I needed a ride. If I sound conflicted about that statement… Well… No comment.

I haven’t been totally unproductive. Still doing plenty of reading about bicycle touring and ride preparation. I’ve also invested in a lot of bike apparel to help deal with the increasingly cold (except for today!) weather. That’s all for now. Oh, the splint may come off this Friday but even the slightest movement triggers pain on occasion. So I’m not optimistic about a splint-free Christmas. Ugh.

My 1999 Schwinn Frontier

It’s stock, for now. I’ve got big plans for it though. I plan to add front and rear racks, both with separate sets of panniers. I found a post that seems to indicate that at least one (rather diminutive) cyclist has found the Frontier an ideal mount for touring. Here are the current specs (with some Amazon referral links!):

Rails Links to Explore

NOTE!

This post has been replicated on Coach Brinkmann’s blog. You should go there immediately!

This post is for Coach Brinkmann’s students at Little Miami High School and anyone else with an interest in becoming a Web developer. That said, here are some links to explore (in no particular order):

That should get you started. If you complete them all, you’ll have no problem locating other resources yourself.

Happy Programming!