Keep all senses on alert

Keep all senses on alertThe minute you back your car out of the driveway onto the street you need to have your wits about you. Any number of things can distract you from the main task of managing that car.

In America it’s estimated that a quarter of crashes reported to police are due to driver distraction or inattention. Australian researchers think it’s probably the same here. You need all senses on full alert to undertake a complex task like driving safely.

It’s the same when you roll out your driveway on two wheels. It’s easy to be distracted on the bike and put ourselves or others at risk. Think about all the senses you use when riding.

Protect your eyes by wearing glasses. Being hit by an insect or a flying stone could inflict permanent damage. But even if it’s not that serious glasses protect you from the sudden shock.

Make sure you can see through your glasses. Sunnies are great when the sun is shining, but they can be too dark on a gloomy day. Many cyclists find that yellow lenses cut down the glare, but not the light. They don’t have to be expensive cycling glasses. A pair of safety glasses does the trick just as well.

Make sure they’re clean and free of scratches too. Peering through smeared or crazed lenses impairs vision and could allow you to wander off the straight path.

Even with peripheral vision you can’t see all around you. Hearing is the sense that gives you “eyes” in the back of your head. Your MP3 player headphones effectively cuts all that out.

Some research suggests that simply listening to radio broadcasts while driving can impair driving performance. It may not be too much of a stretch to suggest that listening to music while cycling can distract you just the same from concentrating.

Now that winter’s setting in, ear covers or beanies can impair your hearing as well. It can also reduce the impact protection of a helmet which may slide on your head.

Of course the cold makes it hard to feel things too. If your feet go numb, you don’t have the same contact with your pedals. Cold reduces the flexibility of your hands as well when you need to pull on the brakes or change gears. It’s a challenge, but keep your hands and feet as warm as possible.

Keep as many senses as possible tuned into the job at hand

See you on the road soon, God willing.

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