Monday, April 30

Student Advice

Student Objective - ALSO Student Advice!
One aspect I like about the LAB program, despite its other warts, is the organized feedback it offers. Case in point: last weekend, a student inadvertently offered me some advice without realizing it. You can see that advice above. Yes, campers, teachers have bad habits every bit as much as any student. And, if Gail Spann is reading this, it isn't what she thinks. Even Warren would admit I was VERY well behaved about avoiding cyclocross mounts and dismounts. My recent fixie purchase should help further, but I have to drag THAT story out a while. For reasons that will become gradually clear in future posts.

It all started with Quick Stops and Instant Turns. For those not practiced in the bike handling drills common to LAB and Cycling Savvy, Quick Stops are the theory and practice of stopping a bike as quickly as possible in an emergency. You will NOT do a Quick Stop or Instant Turn every day. In fact, I cannot say I have EVER had to do a life or death Quick Stop. With luck, I never will. Still, should that day come, I hope I will be around to tell y'all how the three or four feet quicker I stopped, or the three feet quicker I turned, made a real difference. That is why we practice. Similar motives lead me to practice emergency motoring maneuvers. As in SCCA Solo Racing. What can I say, I'm an engineer?

But, bike ed has its possible downside. Today, I had one incident in which I considered initiating a Quick Stop. I also had a second incident in which I considered how ineffective the "back brake only" version of the Quick Stop truly is - and where you want to be wearing helmets the very most. Was this coincidence? I hope so. I'd rather not think that practice creates the need for the actions we practice.

Bedford Road. Scofflaw Motorist Was Off to the Right. No Cones Today...
First off, I was going down a slight incline on Bedford Road - IN Bedford, on the way home; headed towards a major coffee chain that creates a "most days" major homebound delay, when I saw a motorist and her vehicle off to the right at a stop sign. Following my usual policy, I watched the car's wheels. When they moved forward prematurely, my hands applied pressure on the brake levers and I considered potential Quick Stop options. An Instant Turn also was momentarily considered, but at close to 30MPH, was considered only as an adjunct to a Quick Stop after speed got scrubbed off. Then, the motorist recognized - or registered me - and waited. Recollections of last weekend flooded through. Once again, I didn't have to actually put any of that bike ed stuff to REAL use. Whew. The cycling equivalent of a reduction in the "DEFCON" level. Still, it was nice to know the recent practice was ready if needed.

The Offending Parking Lot. On a Day a Little More Slipperier Than Today
Before long, I was pulling into the coffee chain parking lot and exposing a BAD habit. Namely, I took off my helmet as I pulled in, which I often do to let my head cool down a smidge before I go inside. I do NOT want to start any helmet wars here, but in my experience, parking lots are one of the four situations in which helmets are the most useful. The other ones are: regular walking around or riding on slick ice, and crowded bike paths. All three situations have a lot of potential conflict and the helmet wearer is going slow. Simply said, if you wear a helmet on the road, do not take it off until you stop. That parking lot is a hotbed of potential conflict. Rantwick's mom is right.

My Dear, Departed Helmet. Killed in a Texas Summer. Still, Illustrative of Today's BAD Habit. The Helmet in the Photo Got ZINGED in Texas Heat
To make the story move forward, I took off the helmet, and held it in my left hand, leaving me with only rear braking. A car pulled out. Good thing I wasn't going fast, or I'd have made a good dent in the motorist's fender and we'd have had to argue why it was OK for him to run that stop sign when I didn't have one. I'd really rather not argue. BOTH HANDS available for braking. That's good practice. The premature helmet removal is a bad habit, and doubly so when it compromises one's ability to use the strong (front) brake. Nuff sed.

Those students learn. They also teach.

Warren Casteel Illustrates a Point in Parking Lot Drills

Renee Jordan Explains Instant Turns to TS101 Students

Captain Picard Contemplates Steve's Habits...


Chandra said...

I just got back from R&R and I have a lot of catching up to do, here and elsewhere. Great to hear about the addition!

Paz :)

RANTWICK said...

My Mom thanks you, as always. Good memoery there, dude.

Fred said...

I'll try the trick to watch the tires of cars. Nice.

Usually, if I fear that someone will not stop, I yield or walk my bike across the cross walk. I feel that this is safest, and it makes me happier everyday as my patience muscle grows.

I really don't think that taking your helmet off was a big deal, though, you are so hard on yourself.

We need more forgiving roads as the Dutch say "Sustainable Safety".


Steve A said...

A parking lot is the third best place to wear a helmet while riding a bike. Bike paths and icy streets are the remainder of the "top three." we can debate the very worst, but I wore my bike helmet the last time I drove to work in order to walk in through the icy parking lot. I REFUSE to wear a helmet in the shower.

My biggest regret in taking my helmet off while riding through the parking lot was that I held it in the hand that operates the strong front brake rather than the hand that operates the weaker rear brake. Yes, I'm a helmet agnostic.

And, yes, watch those wheels. Motorists have lyin' eyes, but their wheels tell the truth.

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