Cycling safety is a topic touched on from time to time. I know of some cyclists that have had accidents. Some I know have passed on. There are others that carry the scares. I had a few close calls on my first Trans Afrika and that made me rethink of what I was doing. Think we should look at a few topic.
- The bicycle it self. I thought it would be good to have a bike with as little as possible reflectors, so that I could stealth camp along the road. This is not a good idea. I noticed a big difference the moment I put on yellow reflective tape on to my fork, peddles and on the back fork. Some people spray their rims with reflective paint. I think this is a good idea as it gives the other road users a better idea of what they are going to encounter. I have had truck drivers thank me for making my bike more visible.
- Moving parts. When reflective parts are moving it catches the attention of other road users. Good places to do this is on the peddles and spokes. Then strips around the ankles and wrists. Clothing with reflective stripes on the thighs.
- Clothing. Once I got a reflective vest and added a high visibility Gillet to it, I became a light post. Far to many cyclist where black. Yes, most bibs come in black. However a high visibility shirt or jacket in a colour like yellow and green or even white can make you more visible in the day.
- Tail lights. A good bright red flashing tail light catches a lot of attention. There are some countries that do not allow this. Then try using a solid red light. I have had my batteries go flat and not get the right batteries in small towns far away from the maddening crowds. Carry spares or use batteries that are more readily available. The other option would be to link them up to your dynamo. To make sure that there are no failures. I think it is good to have two red tail lights on the back of your bike. I have also seen people wearing red tail lights on the back of their helmet.
- Front head lights. I good front light lets the on coming traffic know you are there. However this can blind them if to strong. Try to get a light that has a dim function, same as cars have. Remember you need to see where you are going or that could mean the end for you. There have been many a cyclist that have ridden into things and off things in the dark. A head lamp can also help to see around corners and check what is going on with the bike.
- When doing enduro racing. The lack of sleep can become very dangerous. I have had times when I fell asleep going down a hill. Lucky I did not ramp off the side of the road. You can also wobble in front of traffic. Your time to react is also very slow. Best solution is to make sure you have at least 4 to 6 hours sleep depending on what your body tells you. If you are feeling drowsy get off and go have a cat nap. Do not fool your self that you have had a good sleep when camping out on top of rocky lumpy pieces of ground.
- Risk of been attacked. I recommend not showing off your high end bike. Do not load to many expensive looking gadget on the handle bars. Do not flash money around. Rather have a few small notes in a pocket which are easy to pull out. Then hide the other money in a safe place and fill up the pocket when nobody is around. If camping out wait until the sun has set and find a well hidden site. Best in a bush thicket or behind a hill or dirt bump so lights do not find you from the road. If you are unsure of the safety in a area head for a camp ground.
Hope these few pointers will help you keep safe.
Did some training for the Trans-Afrika race this last weekend. Left home just before 5am. Saw sunrise near the T junction of Settlers and Marble Hall road (R33). Just before lunch took this picture unfortunately they ran away. As they were right next to the road looking at me. Stopping for an early lunch at Vaalwaters new shopping mall. Actually this town has had a little face lift. It was a dusty African frontier town. Now it has something more modern buildings with some paint. Laid bicycle down to get right angle to let solar panels charge phone and gps as I eat lunch. No luxury of dynamo yet.
Using the R33 continued on to Lephalale (Ellisras). Was a good day for game viewing. Started early just before sunrise with a Sable just 15 m from me, behind a game fence. To many Kudu sightings to count. Warthog,giraffe, fisheagle,vultures, impala and not to mention the common cow and horse.
At Lephalale got to stop at KFC just as sun was setting. Relaxed had a good meal and rehydrated. It had been a very hot sunny afternoon which had dried me out. Did find one roadside shop along that road and purchased a nice cold Poweraide. Other wise it was high game fences on both sides of the road. No water in river beds or open farm gates to ask for water. Many signs saying poachers will be shot. So would not recommend trespassing to look for water or stealth camping.
Rode into the night looking for a nice place to stealth camp. Much to my disappointment the game fences did not give way until 60km from Marken. There was a rural area with some Sukelbos. Took some scratches and a thorn puncture one of my water bladders to find a nice resting place. Tested out some camping equipment. Will not go into detail as you will probably laugh at me. Put it this way. I did not use a tent and did use a sleeping bag with some kind of covering sheet. Landed falling asleep looking up at a full moon and waking up a few times just to fall asleep just as fast again. Easier to pack up camp with less belongings.
Set out on the road again before 5 am. Stopping at Marken for some nice toasted cheese and ham sandwiches. Refill water and energy drink and on the road again. On my route plan it looked like it would be mostly down hill. Did not feel like it. However there is a very nice decent passing through a pass that sets you down on the same elevation as Potgitersrus.At bottom of pass there is a hill that looks like a castle. With some breeding sites most likely for vultures. There is a village at the base. This must have been a sight of some meaning for past generations. There was church music from the village that was echoing through the bush. Giving the feeling as if the mountain was alive and calling out to you. Sure if you pass with a car you would not know of this. Gave some kind of spiritual undertone to the area. Some way down the road found a nice river and cooled off in it. Washed some of the sweat off. Then almost across the road was a small shop. Here I refilled water by getting a bag of ice to put in my bladders
Traffic was heavy on all the roads but as I got closer to Potgitersrus the traffic picked up. At Potgitersrus I had KFC again. Hit the old main road to Naboomspruit . This was very busy road. Landed peddling into Naboomspruit at just after sunset around 6pm. Had arranged to be picked up by Righardt as I knew there was not enough time to get home to have a good sleep before work the next day.
Was really nice to get out to see if can do the Trans-Afrika race. To be quite honest I think I have bitten off a big chunk. Have to replan target towns to be at to make sure reach Cape town at a given time. Looks so easy on paper but get down on the saddle. It is going to be some long days in the saddle.