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Audax Australia
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Bikejournal
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Cycling Adventurer
The Cycling Adventurer has tossed in the structured life of an urbanite to explore the world by bicycle. A well-written site detailing how he came to cycling, and what he learned along the way.

Crazy Guy on a Bike

Bicycle touring journals from all over the world, including a couple of my own.

Johns Cycles

This is my LBS on the Gold Coast. While they cater more to the racing market, their service, advice and workmanship is the best on the coast.

St Kilda Cycles

Importers of all manner of things hard to find in Australia, including the legendary Schmidt hub dynamo & E6 lights.

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Aussie Writer and Cycletourist
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The Kin Chronicles
Taking mediocrity to a new level of ordinary.

Allez
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London Cycling Diary
Pedalling across the capital since August 2005.

CouchPilot-2-BikePilot (Zin's cycling blog)
Living an adventurous life with Type-2-Diabetes.

The adventures of Crazy Biker Chick
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Redneck Espanol
The two wheeled Spanish redneck.

Treadly and me
"Work is something I do between riding my bicycle".

Crowlie
Womanist philosophy and theology. Cycling, climbing, art, single-motherhood and fire-twirling.

Adrian Fitch's random rambling.
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Geo's big adventure
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It's about the bike
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Spinopsys
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Industry Outsider
A blog about bikes and stuff.

Tweed Coast Treadly
An old man's bicycle riding diary.

A cyclist's life in Tenerife
(Canary Islands).

Bike to work to live to bike
It's never too late to get back on the bike

Stupid Hurts
Just the random scribblings of a guy with a bicycle

I'm not drunk enough for this
Really, I'm not.

BikeHacks
What can I say? Just read it.

Mozam's cycling adventures
A random collection of the things I like to do most, and mostly that is to ride my bikes, bicycles that is... My musings from competitive riding, long distance endurance to puttering around the neighborhood..

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Familiarity and contempt

So as I recover from yet another crash close to home on yet another road that I had previously ridden hundreds (possibly thousands) of times over without a problem previously, I am left to ponder on just why I seem to have so many problems on what is very much my own territory. It would seem that I am not the only one -- indeed one of my co-workers once quoted statistics suggesting that 75% of all car "accidents" happen within 5 miles of home.

So why is this? Why do people have problems in situations that should be familiar to them? It was as recently as September that I negotiated the notorious Peacock Creek Road between Bonalbo and Kyogle in NSW. Indeed, I did so relatively comfortably, even hauling the full touring load on the back of the bike. Why should I then fall on a relatively flat, smooth and familiar road? Forget the debris, I was dodging much bigger rocks on Urliup Road 10 days ago, so why is this suddenly a problem? The answer would seem to be one of concentration.

Peacock Creek road has a fearsome reputation -- and one that I was reminded of just before leaving Bonalbo. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to maintain the appropriate level of focus required for such an assignment. On the other hand, Cheltenham Drive at Robina is just another suburban arterial. The fact that it also happens to be a relatively new one probably indicates it has other safety aspects considered within it's design (for whatever good they actually do). While consciously I was aware of the need to concentrate, subconsciously I had the thought that I had done this so many times I really should be able to do it blindfolded.

The problem is, of course, that I can't do it blindfolded. While we may make this joke about areas with which we are familiar, I'm sure that if we were invited to ride our "familiar" roads blindfolded, we would refuse. So why do we allow ourselves to be "blinded" by false confidence? Even if only on a subconscious level? More importantly, what can be done about it?

The more crashes I have, the more I am of the opinion that maybe there is some good that comes from it. While the school of hard knocks can be a painful place at times, the lessons learned there are not ones that are easily forgotten. The pain of reopening an old scar, the combination of frustration and humiliation that comes from hitting the ground, the pain in my back muscles over the last couple of days -- these are all things that will stay in my mind for at least a little while. Now it's up to me to take advantage of this, to learn from this situation and consequently become a safer cyclist in the future.

In this case, the lesson is simply to treat the familiar roads with respect. The lesson is that the mere fact I've "done this a thousand times" is no guarantee that I'm going to make it to 1,001. The lesson is to WAKE UP! The other lesson, of course, is not to ride through construction sites on rainy nights, but I probably should have known that anyway. Familiarity, it seems, breeds contempt. It's clear (at least from my experience) that this contempt is the single biggest threat to our own personal safety not only in cycling, but in all other aspects of life. Perhaps crashing occasionally is one way of dealing with it, perhaps losing some skin now might save us from bigger problems later on, after all.

That said, I really have no plans to do it again next week.

2 Comments:

Blogger Aussie Writer & Cycle Tourist said...

Chris- you're a worry mate- another ding!! :( At least it sounds like you are on the mend. Maybe I don't ding because I creep along so slowly very little could happen!

Again love your pics- particularly horses on the road to O'Reillys. Have very fond memories of that place. My parents had their honeymoon 1948 in the old original timber guest house where guests sat around the kitchen stove at night with the O'Reilly family (I DON'T remember the honeymoon- but I heard them talk about it often). Hiked up there on day trips several times- Easter 1992 we hiked Binna Burra to O'Reillys (with plenty of side tracks) and bush-camped 3 nights.
Look after yourself Chris
Dave

4:54 am  
Blogger Chris L said...

I figure I'm alright with these crashes as long as I learn from them while I'm still young enough to bounce. :^)

9:19 pm  

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