There are many aspects to cycling which seem to fly in the face of reason, or at least of common sense. Stopping with your front brake rather than your rear; riding farther to the left of the road than nearer the right edge; riding on smooth, rather than treaded tires, are all counter-intuitive aspects of eye ling which virtually all new cyclists will resist. In fact, many experienced riders resist acceptance of these cycling principles, as well. However, while it is true that these aspects of cycling may be difficult to accept, cycling safety and enjoyment depend upon understanding and accepting these 5 Counter-Intuitive Cycling Tips.
Braking: Stopping your bicycle effectively is best done with the front, rather than the rear, brake. The fear of being tossed over the handlebars of a bicycle while executing an emergency or hard stop is the reason for this fear. However, simple physics shows this fear to be groundless. On the contrary, executing a hard stop with the rear brake on a bicycle creates greater hazards than with the front.
When great power is applied to the rear brake of a bike, the forward momentum of the machine tends to lift the rear of the bike from the pavement, the rear tire to skid, and to leave the bike and its rider out of control. On the other hand, by using greater braking force on the front wheel than the rear, the bike’s momentum and the rider’s weight is forced forward, and downward, improving the traction and stopping-power of the front tire. While it does take some practice to execute this stopping maneuver fluidly, it behooves the cyclist to do so. It will pay off in the long run.
Riding in traffic: Cycling with motor vehicles surrounding you can be intimidating, and frightening. Motorists tend to resent cyclists for using “their” roads. As a result, many motorists will buzz the cyclist, driving closer than is safe – or allowed by law – in an effort to pass without leaving the right lane, and to “teach” the cyclist a lesson. The solution to this dilemma is not to ride farther to the right, allowing the motorist to pass in the same lane. The solution is to ride farther to the left, farther into the traffic lane, forcing the motorist to leave the right lane to pass (when there is no shoulder or bike lane to rely upon).
This cycling practice is commonly referred to as herding traffic, and the term is appropriate and illustrative. By riding nearer the center of the lane rather than nearer the curb, the cyclist herds the passing motorist to the left, forcing them to abandon a lane-sharing maneuver which would put the cyclist at risk. Riding in the right hand tire tracks of motorized traffic is the minimum safe cycling distance from the right edge of the road.
Though it is always difficult to overcome preconceived notions and prejudices, following these 5 Counter-Intuitive Cycling Tips, while difficult at first, will lead to a safer, more enjoyable cycling experience.