Monday, May 16, 2011

What's behind you...

What's ahead of you? Mirrors and bicycles. Some folks can't ride without a rear view mirror. I can't drive a car without a rear view mirror. Probably spend as much time looking back as looking forward. Not because I'm worried about being caught speeding, because I keep my speed within that range that doesn't get you ticketed. I spend a lot of time looking back while driving because there is a lot going on on multi-lane roads and I want to make sure if I need to move/turn left or right, I want to do it so I don't upset the balance of traffic.

I don't utilize a mirror on a bike. Why? Don't know. Just don't. I've never felt the need. I sell mirrors and there are a few I like to sell because they seem to work well for folks who like them. But when they ask me what I use or recommend, I simply say I don't use one.

What I do use on the bike are my ears. I ride in a consistent manner, never swerving around or riding all squirrely. I also usually ride solo so I'm not worrying about moving over because I'm riding two abreast.

The main reason I don't use a mirror is my wonder at "what does it really do?" Sure, you can see what's behind you. But what do you do with that information? Move over? I'm already over. Bail off the road because something's coming up? Bail off where? There's no shoulders out here. Some sections, if you bailed off, you'd sail off a cliff or down a ravine or into a thicket of poison oak.

I hear some folks say they move off the road and stop when they see a vehicle coming up behind them. Somehow, I doubt that vehicle would have hit the rider and that could be moving off the road every 30 seconds. Although, I'm sure some folks would swear they would have been hit if they hadn't moved off the road. And for that, I don't doubt their feeling because they say the vehicle went by without moving over after they bailed. And why should it move over after you bailed? It had no reason to move over any more. My hope is that the driver doesn't expect that action of every cyclist they come across because I'm not bailing.

But if you want a mirror, I'm happy to sell you one of the few I stock.






(What's playing: Boston Don't Look Back)

11 comments:

Bug said...

i tried a mirror and stopped because i realized i use my ears same as you.

Doug Idaho said...

mirror is a necessity for stealth ogling on the bike paths if nothing else.

cadencemichael said...

Brad Delp was one of the all-time greats.

I also don't use a mirror. I use my ears just like you and Bug do. I also use my neck to turn my head.

MB

Oli Brooke-White said...

My feelings precisely.

Tim Joe Comstock said...

Oh yeah, eyes front and ears back, hold the line and telegraph...

But what about the Prius Problem?

I've been caught off-guard twice now, and I mean they were RIGHT THERE before I knew I was not alone. Gotta put bells on those buggers...I've never even thought about mirrors. In fact, there's nothing on my bars but tape and brake levers. And my hands.

Anonymous said...

Over the years, I have gone back and forth for long stretches at a time between not using one and using a helmet mount one (Take-A-Look brand).

I have been on a two year jag of using one now after at least a 20 year hiatus..... So, on the first day of using one again, within a half mile of installing it, it probably saved my life.

I was on a pretty long freeway overpass here in Portland. I was looking in the mirror, tweaking it and just getting used to using one again, which takes a few rides. Some guy in a giant 80's era Buick was fully into the 3 foot wide shoulder, almost brushing the curb. I saw him approaching from quite a ways back and expected him to move over but he was within inches of the curb and sidewalk, almost hitting it and just kept coming. He was not going fast, probably about 25. I looked back and tried to wave him off but he still just kept coming. At the last minute I jumped off and dragged my bike up the curb and he just missed me. So, I am not an "ageist" but let's just say this guy should not be on the road anymore.

To make a long story more interesting, about a year later I was rear-ended while in my car as I was stopped at a stop light..... this about a block from the previous incident, but going the opposite direction. I am not positive, but I am pretty sure it was the same guy..... The car looked the same and the guy was, well, clueless. I got a mild case of whiplash that a few acupuncture treatments cured, luckily.

I have to say that if you see a car coming at you, I bet you will take almost any measure to avoid getting hit by it or take a dive if you have to..... It will likely be the lesser of two bad outcomes!

So, I have gotten used to it again and feel naked without it now. It is pretty much indispensible for me..... though I must say I hate the "geek factor". BTW, if you have never tried a helmet mount, which I mount with zip-ties to the visor, you will not realize that it allows a really wide view compared to a bar mounted one because you can turn your neck pretty far in both directions. Anyway, not saying it is for everyone, but I gotta' say it actually makes me feel a LOT safer on the road to know what is back there!

Anonymous said...

to qoute the great philosopher Satchel Paige " ...don't look back, they might be gaining..."

Andy said...

Good advice about how to ride. I never used a mirror until I had to ride a recumbent for a year. You can't look back on one of those. I got so used to it that I put one on my commuter. I use my ears a lot, too, but I like not being surprised. I also ride in the dark a lot here in the NW, and a mirror can let you know a car is coming up from behind earlier than just your ears at night. As far as I'm concerned, the more information the better. I'm too old to care about how it looks.

blackmountaincycles said...

Thanks all for taking the time to post a comment.

TJC - The Tesla roadsters are even more stealth at sneaking up on you than the Prius is.

Anonymous said...

I don't use a mirror either...except for one particularly treachous section of highway 285 across South Park, CO. With only 8" of pavement beyond the white line, plenty of pot holes, and big trucks doing 65mph, I need to stay focused on the road ahead. When one of these trucks comes blasting by, I need to be ready to absorb the draft of these monsters and manage everything else. Being able to glance in a mirror to see what is barreling down on me reduces my anxiety level and keeps me from being startled. Maybe I just shouldn't be out there!

Oh, and I'm deaf in my left ear.

..........................................Utahdog! said...

Gumball Rally is the best car movie ever.

"And now you make jokes about my family, my country!? No more-a jokes!! (pulls out gun)I warned you, but you wouldn't listen!!!"

*Squirt squirt squirt*....