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Where I ride [Dec. 16th, 2014|10:41 am]
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Last week (Monday the 7th)  I was riding the bike on the land, checking the wildlife waterers and doing some trail maintenance  while R- was digging postholes along the south fenceline where he's building fence.   As I came around one narrow, snug turn (around a big juniper and between others on the outside) on the way back, I miscalculated my speed, tried to brake too hard, and lost control--and fell hard enough to lie there several minutes thinking "That was stupid...It really hurts...and this bike lying on me is not helping."    Yesterday, I rode the same trail, but walked it on the way out to see if I could spot exactly what I'd done wrong where, and realized that I had failed to compensate for the place where the slope changes (and speeds you up on the way back.)   It's not a huge change, but it was enough to get me going too fast to make the turn since I couldn't swing wider there.


The first picture is taken from "above" that area, on the way back.   First I come off a little bank on a right turn (picture taken from the end of the right turn, while walking the turn yesterday--parked above it, walked back to take pictures.  You can see the track starting to turn left.

North-trail-diff-turn2-12-15-14            North-trail-diff-turn3-12-15-14

L: At this point I had realized I was going too fast and braked too hard.  Back end of bike came off the ground, basket hit me in the back, hard, and though I stopped I was off balance and leaning left--couldn't get me and the bike both back up. Turned over into tree on the left.

R: This is the continuing curve beyond the picture on the right.


As soon as you stop turning left, you're turning right (and there's another S-curve after that, but shallower).   The tracks are made by a lawn tractor that we use to haul tools and supplies around (it has a little trailer) for building fence, servicing the water pumps at the wildlife waterer, carrying supplemental feed for the winter-resident birds, etc.  It's not nearly as wide as a car, which means we are leaving more habitat undisturbed.   These maintenance trails are, except on the open grassland part, very twisty,  often following old cattle trails from when this was leased land with cattle on it.

Riding any of the woods/brush sections successfully in both directions on the same ride feels like an accomplishment.  It's just scary enough and has some of the same challenges as riding a horse over fences (though this bicycle is not rated for any jumping!) in that how you come into a sharp turn matters, and so does setting up for a sequence of turns.  There are places (in the open) where you can let the bike "gallop on" and places where it's necessary to change direction, speed, "collection" (gears) frequently and rapidly without error--or else.

Riding on pavement (even rough pavement)  is very different.  I enjoy both and particularly enjoy that I can go places and accomplish things without driving.  Like picking up mail, going to the bank, going to the convenience store, the larger grocery store downtown, the old city park or the new one (the new one's trickier and involves a difficult highway crossing at one point, but...it's doable--all pavement riding.   Or going out on the land to do the trail maintenance and the water checks and documentation (by photography) of wildlife at the waterers and feeders more quickly than I can walking it.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-12-16 06:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah...I think a helmet-cam (which I don't have...yet...) would make an interesting video--for me, anyway, to learn how to ride it all better.
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[User Picture]From: cdozo
2014-12-16 08:01 pm (UTC)
Sometimes, on rough terrain, it's a good idea to to lift your butt off of the seat just a little and shift your weight backward or forward a bit to keep the center of mass of the bike/human combo centered so the bike stays stable. I learned to do it with a friend who took me out riding on a trail off of Loop 360 long ago. She would yell "forward!" or "backward!" as we rode up and down and around the hills and gullies. After a few days of that, I started to catch on to the system. It really helps.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-12-19 05:12 am (UTC)
That would've been a good idea, yes. So would using only the rear brake have been a good idea. However, I made several classic mistakes. I hadn't eaten lunch, and had done a fair bit of trail work--had only five crackers with me. Though I ate them and rested at Owl before starting back, I knew I was tired and a little shaky...and instead of slowing down, was thinking "When I get home and eat something I'll feel better" so had been riding a little faster than usual on the more level (though twisty) part of the west-end trail...partly because it was easier to keep my balance on the straights and the less than 90 degree turns a little faster than slower, when I was wobbling a little. And I going faster as I started down the north fenceline trail, knowing it was all down-slope (except for a couple of very short up-turns) all the way to the dry creek. Less effort, easier, was in my head. I had cut back the section where I fell, and had also been riding it (in its slightly overgrown state) safely both ways. So my tired & hungry (and thus less accurate) thinking grabbed hold of "feel better once I'm home" and "easier now it's all down-slope" and "fixed that problem with the tight more than U turn around that tree". I did anticipate some problem once across the creekbed (where it's all up-slope to the dry woods) but the down-slope, with encroaching limbs having been pruned back, was going to be OK.

So I wasn't thinking as clearly and instead of forcing myself to more focus every single pedal stroke, let my focus blur and instead thought ahead of where I was. It's like a rider ignoring the next several jumps and instead thinking of finally jumping the last one...imagining the round over. I sped up to "get there faster" when I felt shaky, instead of slowing down or even getting off and walking the bike. (But I'd walked the bike, and stopped the bike, repeatedly on the way out, so I could trim back branches and check sightlines. I was tired of that, impatient. Impatience is not a good thing if you want to avoid crashes.)

Technically, I should have shifted my weight back--more on the saddle--and instead of using both brakes equally, used the back one more and the front one less. The sitting back is also a good way to bring back a horse going too flat, too much on the forehand, but the rest of my riding experience (both horse--the dominant--and childhood bike riding when I had coaster brakes) sent old wrong signals to the muscles. Horses have four legs; bikes have only two wheels and do not respond to "leg aids" at all--and the handlebars and hand brakes are not reins. I know that intellectually, but my muscle memory has many more hours of horse-communication in it than bike riding.
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From: sheff_dogs
2014-12-16 09:00 pm (UTC)
I hope you aren't too sore or stiff today. Coming off like that is a shock to the system.

If the back end of the bike came up you may have been braking too hard with the front brake and going down hill would have exacerbated the effect. Way back in the sixties when I did my Cycle Proficiency course (run in schools by the Local Authority)braking with the back brake first and hardest was one of the things they really drummed into us. I've been very grateful they did over the years, especially on one occasion when on an unfamiliar road I came down hill round a corner to find the road meeting a bigger road at a t-junction. Differential use of the brakes is one of the ways trick cyclists manage to do things like getting on one wheel. Probably not what you want to be doing.
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[User Picture]From: thewayne
2014-12-17 01:10 pm (UTC)
My wife brought my bike down to my work place the other day and took the poodle for a ride, which is to say that the poodle did an awful lot of the work. Which is good, because there's a bit of a grade from my parking lot to the street.

I wish I had a GoCam, it was really interesting riding up here and watching my wife going up hill and not peddling. It's amazing how much energy Dante has, she thinks that he's sufficiently used to riding with bikes that we can use a standard leash and stop using the Walkie Dog thingie that mounts to the seat post and holds the dog about 2' off the side of the bike.
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