Monday, November 24, 2014

Can You See Me Now?

I know with a post title like that, most of you might be thinking this is about hi-vis gear or bike lighting.  Not so, but it is about assessing your risk and being seen.

Life itself is full of risk assessment.  Conscious or subconscious, we are continually assessing our risk and making decisions accordingly.  

Whether on a bike or walking across the street.  We assess the situation, determine the risks, and decide how much risk we are willing to take.


I am just heading to the store should I wear ATGATT? Do I really need those riding pants? Should I wear the armored jacket or just a t-shirt?  Assess the risk.

It is raining and I need new tires, should I go on that 200 mile ride anyway?  Assess the risk.

There is a dog on the side of the road, should I slow down and prepare for evasive maneuvers or should I just assume he'll stay put?  Assess the risk.


I need to cross the street - should I walk to the crosswalk or dart across?  Assess the risk.

I am in a hurry.  There is no traffic, but the speed limit is only 45 mph, should I speed to get there faster?  Assess the risk.

I want to go walking at night - should I wear my black jacket and pants and not take a flashlight?  Assess the risk.

*          *          *          *

We live in a college town and Oregon State University's colors are black and orange.  For some reason the students usually just wear the black..... especially at night..... when darting across the street in traffic.  For the most part they are very hard to see. Although it is a risk they obviously have chosen to take, it is dangerous.

While Troubadour has been commuting by Subaru these last few months I have been taking the city bus.  Before the one-hour time change, that meant standing at the bus stop in the dark at 7am.  I realized I was wearing my black jacket and when it was raining, my umbrella was also black.  I assessed my risk and determined I was not making any better choices than the college students.

Luckily Troubadour found a pretty cool umbrella online and ordered it for me.  He first saw the umbrella in a Gizmodo article.  LINK.  And is made by SUCK UK.  The perfect umbrella for a motorcyclist that wants to be seen off the bike - the canopy is completely retro-reflective.  He ordered it from Hammacher Schlemmer and it arrived within a few days.

(Hi Reflective Umbrella by SuckUK)

(Umbrella with no flash or bright light - looks grey)

(Umbrella with camera flash mimicking headlights)

I have used it twice now and have noticed the following:

1.  People will actually turn down their high-beams since light reflects so brightly back to them.
2.  The handle isn't nearly long enough for me. I have to hold my hand by my chin.
3.  The canopy does not feel quite wide enough, but it does pack small for travel.
4.  It is an awesome idea for anyone walking in the dark in the rain.

$28 including shipping is a small price to pay for added safety.

Our goal as motorcyclists is to reduce our risks while maintaining the fun factor of riding on two-wheels.

What else do you do in your everyday life to assess and reduce risk?

- Au Revoir

"Take calculated risks.  That is quite different from being rash." - George S. Patton

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Wee MB Ride last Friday

I was fortunate to have last Friday off.  After getting some chores done we went for a short mountain bike ride.  It was a little later than we anticipated so it was quite short.

Some background for that ride.......

Just over two weeks ago Troubadour found a great deal on a dedicated mountain bike for me (so I don't have to use the hybrid on single track) and we ordered it from REI.  40% off a 2014 Novara Madrona, we figured we couldn't go wrong.  A week ago last Friday we drove to Eugene to pick it up. It was as nice as we'd hoped.  27 speeds, 29 inch wheels, hydraulic disk brakes, and it is backed by REI's one year 'love it or return it' guarantee.

I think hubby got it figured out I'd need something besides the hybrid to willingly follow him down the primrose path single track trails without maiming myself.

Last Friday happened to be our first chance to take it out for a shake down ride.  Raise the seat further, adjust the grips a bit, and off we go. 

We chose the Vineyard Mountain Loop at the Lewisburg Saddle north of town.  We've previously ridden out there so we knew what we were getting into.  Just a gravel road to start off.  Bluekat has been out there recently too.  

Because of our late start and encroaching darkness, we didn't have time for the full loop.  We figured to ride for an hour and turn around and head back to the car.  It was all uphill until the turn around point.

We did stop for a few pictures along the way.  The sun even came out for a short spell.

(A look behind us at what we climbed)

(A look forward at the climb ahead)
Further up the road we spotted a bit of sunshine coming through the trees and stopped for a bit.

The sun through the trees made the leaves look bright.

(Artsy pic by Troubadour)

A little further up the hill we stopped at a fork in the road.

And a little further up we climbed.

We rode almost to the end of a spur road.  There were buildings ahead and we decided not to get too close - not knowing if they were private or research related.

But.... we found more sunshine.

(Troubadour's Trek X-Caliber)

(Me laughing at something Troubadour said)

(Arsty photo by Troubadour)

(Me checking out the cool looking fungus)

(Close up of fungus)

(An even closer look at the fungus)

(Last quick photo of Troubadour's bike)
We used this as our turn around point and it was all downhill back to the car.  While pedaling uphill kept us warm, the downhill ride was a wee bit chilly.  Even with gloves on my hands were cold by the time we got to the car. The thermometer in the car indicated 47˚F (8.3˚C)

We arrived home about 4:30 pm with about 30 minutes to spare before dark.

The main difference between the new bike and my hybrid is that the seat on the new bike is a little smaller and not quite as soft.  The brakes however, are much better for a controlled descent.  I did find it odd that there are no gear indicators on the new bike, but it didn't seem to matter much.  Is it too hard to pedal - shift.  Are you pedaling too fast without getting anywhere - shift.

Did I mention that uphill seems to be easier too?  More riding and less walking, hooray!

Saturday we drove to coffee in the heavy fog, then went home to get ready for the Team Oregon annual banquet in Salem.  It was a late night for us.

Sunday, was at one time, forecast to be dry and sunny.  Somehow that changed (as it usually does in Oregon) and the day dawned grey and drizzly.  Instead of taking the bicycles or motorcycles out we stayed in and did some honey-do projects.  Troubadour finished the back gate and also made a bike rack for the spare room to house the bicycles. He's crafty that way.  I tidied the house and baked some yummy squares - it's what I do. (recipe on the food blog next Thursday)

- Au Revoir

" Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." - Albert Einstein