The News-Press, Febuary 14, 2019
by Ken Gooderham
Yes, if you like to ride, run or walk, it’s a great time of year weather-wise to be outdoors. Moderate temperatures and low chances for rain (mostly)… what’s not to love?
The only real obstacles you might face are wind and traffic – and both can be made more bearable with a few simple hacks.
Windy days are more frequent during the SW Florida winter, especially as cool fronts approach or pass through. We’ve had a few days this year where it was wiser to stay home than to brave the 25+ mph winds, but that’s rare. Otherwise, here’s some idea on how to cope:
• Pick your route to lessen your time riding into a headwind, or tackle that stretch of the ride first, when your legs are fresher. If you’re going out and back, that means either going into the wind first and last or adjusting your route to avoid heading directly into the breeze.
• Make yourself a smaller target, at least when it gets gusty. When riding into the wind, get as aerodynamic as you can so the wind has less of you to push against. Bend over your handlebars even if you don’t have a road bike (and use the drop handlebars if you do. Similarly, when the wind is at your back make yourself as big a target as possible to let nature give you a boost.
• Drop down a gear (if you have that option) when headed into the wind, to give your legs a break and keep your pedaling cadence closer to normal. It will also keep you steadier on the bike, which is handy if the winds are pushing you around.
• Dress appropriately. Think layers (to add or subtract depending on the direction) and fabrics (something more wind/water resistant on the outside to help you keep body heat, something wicking closer to your skin to keep moisture under control.
• Know your limits. Wind is the closest things we have to hills here, in terms of making you work to make headway... which means if your legs aren’t used to extra resistance, you may want to work up to a long windy-day ride.
As far as traffic, it’s that time of year for both roadways and pathways. A lot of users, many of whom aren’t familiar with where they are or where they’re going, and a range of skill sets to boot.
That means the smartest thing you can do as a rider, runner or walker is be aware, be patient and be in control.
• Be aware: On the pathways, know what’s going on around you and watch out for other creatures (human and otherwise) who may not know what to do as you approach. On roadways, paying attention is even more crucial in case other vehicle drivers are not watching out for you. Use all your senses (especially hearing, so lose the earphones so you can hear vehicles approach), ride bright (colors and lights) and smart (obey the rules, painful as that can be, when there are other vehicles around).
• Be patient. If there’s a bottleneck on the bike path or construction on the roadway, don’t barrel through and hope for the best but back off and let things sort themselves out. You’re never in such a rush that putting yourself at risk is a smart idea.
• Be in control. If there are dangers on the path ahead – be it inattentive children, wandering dogs or debris on the path – take charge of the situation and take whatever steps necessary to keep you and everyone else safe. That could mean warning people you’re coming through (always a good idea in a crowd, as well as required by law), even dismounting to walk past the problem (or move the problem out of the way if necessary).
On the road with other vehicles? Know your rights and know the rules – but also know that, in an argument between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, the little guy never wins. So if you have to yield even though you have the right-of-way, or if you run into a motorist who’s not altogether happy about sharing the road, you need to do whatever is necessary to keep yourself safe first, not count on everyone else to do the right thing (or anything at all).
Remember, wind and traffic are temporary inconveniences, and a small price to pay for getting to ride, run and walk in paradise.
So put down this newspaper and get outside!
Ready to ride or run?Run? A big running weekend, with the Edison 5K (featuring a new route with a start/finish downtown) Saturday and the Paradise Coast half (and 5K) in Naples Sunday. Back to the 5Ks the next weekend, with Feb. 23 events in Labelle, Naples and Fort Myers. Details at ftmyerstrackclub.com, gcrunner.org, 3dracinginc.com, and runsignup.com.
Ride? Critical Mass ahead… tomorrow in NE Lee, Feb. 22 in Cape Coral and Feb. 23 in downtown Fort Myers for a slow roll. ON Feb. 24, two options: The Tour de Marco with 5-, 51- and 30-mile routes on the island’s roads and lanes, or the Dirty Hamster Hundred in the Babcock/Webb wildlife preserve south of Punta Gorda, with a 10- and 25-mile off-road loop and a 10-mile paved loop where you can ride till you drop, if that’s your thing. (meetup.com)
Both? Upcoming events include:
- Saturday, May 11: Cape Coral Sprint Tri (trifind.com)
- Saturday, May 18: Life’s a Beach Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
- Sunday, June 2: 33rd Annual Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples (trifind.com)
- Sunday, June 9: Heartland Sprint and Olympic Tri, Sebring (trifind.com)
- Sunday, June 23: Sirens Sprint Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
- Willing to drive? Check trifind.com or active.com for tris around the state.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.
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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.