Sunday, 19 July 2009

Never the right thing

There are a mixture of things that I like, which include bicycles/cyling, lighting/illumination styles, safety and creativity. When these are mixed together, you will get the modification of a bicycle to make it 'safer'. By safer, what I mean is, safer to ride along roads where vehicles may not see you, by improving the lighting and overall visibility of the bicycle.
As of now, I have fitted a bottle cage, the pump bracket, two rearward facing 5x LED lights, one forward facing 5x Ultrabright LED headlight, one forward facing 3x LED blue strobe, one forward facing 1x LED lamp, a CATEYE performance computer (giving current speed in either m/ph or k/ph, current time (24hour), time spent in motion (HH-MM-SS), average speed, maximum speed, calories used and overall distance travelled. I usually reset the computer after each day, this resets all of those settings above except the clock and overall distance. Unfortunatley it doesn't like the rain, and sometimes I forget to turn it on, but the overall mileage at the moment is showing just over 250 miles. Official mileage is 250, although actual mileage is about 280 I would guess. Also, I've fitted a plate, front and rear mudguards (mountain bike) for both on-road and off-road, and DayGlo/Reflective yellow stripes to the front forks.
This makes bring more peace-of-mind when in transit from A to B on it, as I know that I'll be seen earlier (hopefully), and this gives more reaction time for the vehicles. In the past I've had vehicles pass on the opposite side of the road, as far over as possible, other times I've had cars trying to pass me when we're going through and island, so there's no saying how close a vehicle might pass you. I just hope what I've got actually helps.
One of the things when cycling which scares me is not knowing what is happening behind me. You can see everything infront, but behind you have to physically look over your shoulder, which can cause you to swerve into the road or verge. I bought a handlebar-mounted convex rearview mirror the other day, which mounts into the end of the handlebars. This is all very good, but it's not a universal system and doesn't fit my particular bicycle, so I still look over my shoulder. Sometimes when vehicles pass me, I don't know they're even there until they start over taking, then I can hear them. This worries me, as a few days ago I wasn't even aware I had an HGV on my tail waiting to turn into the turning that I was going past.
A few days I bought 50 amber 3mm LEDs off eBay for £2.20 inc. P&P. This is exceptional value, and every single LED is going on the bicycle. 30 are going on the rear, 15 each side, 20 on the front, 10 each side. Yep, you guessed it, they're going to act as hazards and indicators. Call me sad, I've heard it before anyway, but I find I don't have enough arms to indicate around a roundabout or junction, use the brakes, change down or up gears (24 of them, 3:8) and actually steer, so I intend to use an indicator system similar to motorcycles which will a) mean that I can use my hands to ride the bicycle, not stick them out into a hedge and b) improve the visibility of the bike, 15 LEDs flashing will be seen sooner than an arm. Also with this arrangement, I shall be able to set them to a hazard mode whilst I cycle very slowly up the side of a long hill. It's all in the name of safety and ergonomics.
Those of you who've read this far, may realise that the indicators can be separated on the front, across the width of the handlebars, but not on the rear. Because of this, I intend to fix a tubular bar across the top of the rear mudguard, which will hopefully give me the width required. Also though, I could really do with another tubular bar across the front, as I'm now limited to space on the handlebars, with gears/brakes each side, headlight, computer plus cables, blue light etc. To be honest, I don't know when I'll be finished modifying my bicycle, I guess when I'm happy that the daytime and nighttime visibility for the front, rear and sides is as good as possible.
Of course, looking around home to try and find a suitable tubular bar, I couldn't find anything even close. Which, in fairness, is typical of looking around trying to find something at home.


250 miles on, I've had only one cycling accident, let's hope that with the following additions over the summer, that by 500 miles I won't have had another crash, ey?

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