How do you look behind with falling off your bike

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Brucey
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby Brucey » 16 Mar 2019, 8:15pm

Colin, I don't think anyone's balance improves with age. Have you tried looking over your left shoulder rather than the right? As I noted upthread, this allows you to keep the roadside in view and lessens the chance that you won't hold a good line.

I also noted someone's comments above that 'shorter handlebars make the bike less stable because less movement is required to turn them' (I paraphrase). I'm not at all sure this is correct; IME one is liable to accidentally/deliberately apply a given force to the handlebars, not a displacement, and at all speeds above a (low) critical speed the bike is essentially stable, and you steer (change direction) by temporarily upsetting that stability. This is a lot easier to do -both accidentally or deliberately- if you have long handlebars.

cheers
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drossall
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby drossall » 16 Mar 2019, 9:50pm

I think it was Richard's Bicycle Book that advocated ducking your head down somewhat, as opposed to turning it. That can help. But otherwise it's just practice, practice, practice. Riding in groups, you have to get it quickly, because you can't afford to go off your line.

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NUKe
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby NUKe » 16 Mar 2019, 10:04pm

If your having problems it’s possible, your a bit tense,which won’t help. My hint on technique is make sure your arms are slightly bent, then if you want to look over your right shoulder dip your left shoulder down as you look back.
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mjr
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby mjr » 16 Mar 2019, 11:10pm

Brucey wrote:I also noted someone's comments above that 'shorter handlebars make the bike less stable because less movement is required to turn them' (I paraphrase).

That's not paraphrasing. That's changing the meaning into something about turning handlebars rather than balance.
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Patrickpioneer
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby Patrickpioneer » 17 Mar 2019, 6:46am

As all the others have said its practice but another thing you must watch for is yourself? I used to have a problem when using my left DT shifter, I would wobble, so when it was time to change gear in my mind I would start saying 'oh my god I am going to wobble I'm going to wobble' and wobble I would.
I still practice looking behind on quiet lanes, if you do wobble a little bit it may only make drivers wary of you and give you a tad more space, you never know.
Patrick

brynpoeth
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby brynpoeth » 17 Mar 2019, 7:19am

I think I have quite good peripheral vision, I can somehow sense that a vehicle is there without seeing it (air pressure wave?)
Hearing is useful too, one may hear the engine note rising or falling. Often I can hear something, do not need to look too
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francovendee
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby francovendee » 17 Mar 2019, 7:54am

If there is a way I never found it. I'd not fall off but drift towards the middle of the road. It got worse as I got older and stiffer. No problem after I fitted a handlebar mirror. I keep an eye on whats coming up behind me safely.

Brucey
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby Brucey » 17 Mar 2019, 8:04am

mjr wrote:
Brucey wrote:I also noted someone's comments above that 'shorter handlebars make the bike less stable because less movement is required to turn them' (I paraphrase).

That's not paraphrasing. That's changing the meaning into something about turning handlebars rather than balance.


apologies if I misunderstood what you meant. FWIW I find it easier to ride one-handed when that hand is close to the stem, i.e. the 'handlebar' is as short as possible.

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thirdcrank
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Mar 2019, 8:08am

Brucey wrote:... I find it easier to ride one-handed when that hand is close to the stem, i.e. the 'handlebar' is as short as possible.

cheers


That's what I was trying to say. And riding one-handed fits in with with the question posed by the OP.

De Sisti
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby De Sisti » 17 Mar 2019, 8:16am

foxyrider wrote:I'd also encourage you to practice 'no hands', :shock:

Not always easy with the geometry of some bikes. Not a good idea for someone lacking confidence
and experience on a road bike.

When I look over my right shoulder I find it easier if I place my left hand towards the middle of the
handlebars. That way I feel as if I've got more stability.

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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby simonhill » 17 Mar 2019, 9:42am

Do (can?) cycling glasses make this worse.

Many types of cycling glasses are tight fitting and have opaque edges and sides which act as windshields. This must restrict your peripheral vision and mean you have to turn your head even further.

I use cheapo safety glasses over my normal prescription glasses. These have clear plastic sides/arms and I can see through them.

I'm not suggesting everyone adopts my somewhat nurdish appearance, but you may want to think about your eyewear, particularly when in traffic.

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Audax67
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Re: How do you look behind without falling off your bike

Postby Audax67 » 17 Mar 2019, 9:44am

I use a mirror on the end of the offside drop. The only problem with that is that if for some reason the mirror isn't there I react as if it was there and showed nothing - kinda suboptimal in traffic. I usually catch myself on, though.
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pjclinch
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby pjclinch » 17 Mar 2019, 10:22am

Brucey wrote:I may be almost alone in this, or it may be more common than I suspect, but I usually look twice; once to look at long range and a second look at close range before I make a rightwards manoeuvre. The second look is over my right shoulder and is akin to the 'life saving look' that is commonly taught to motorcyclists.


This is by-the-book National Standards for Cycle Training stuff, with the exception that the "lifesaver" (these days sometimes called "final check" to de-dangerise things a bit) is in the direction of your manoeuvre, rather than always the right shoulder/rightwards move (i.e., check left before turning left in case some muppet is undertaking you).

As someone that teaches cycling to beginners this is often a Problem Point so anyone having problems should rest assured that it isn't just them. A particular issue is that in looking around you tend to twist your body which in turn tends to mean a force on the bars which means goodbye to straight lines. A good way around this is to look around one-handed, the hand opposite the direction of look remaining in place. That way it's easier to sit up straighter and twist your trunk and neck without influencing the steering, because you can move the free shoulder right back.
Since most beginners have problems looking behind and also riding one-handed it's certainly not intuitively obvious that it's actually easier to look behind and ride straight if you are riding one-handed, but it is. Since you need to be able to signal and look behind at the same time when negotiating moves in traffic with following vehicles it is something you should be able to do anyway, so well worth practising. And when you try it turns out it's easier than holding on to both bars.

Peripheral vision being enough? I'm not convinced. I think you should be able to properly describe what you've seen after a look around. Too many pupils have a quick half-look to tick a box, but can't actually say what they've seen when quizzed. And eye contact with following traffic is very important communicating with following traffic to negotiate moves. This won't work with peripheral vision.

Other tips: take advantage of bends and corners to look behind as the bend makes it easier (so on a left bend, looking over your left gives an easier view of the road behind).
Mirrors are good for monitoring traffic, but beware false negatives. If your mirror says there's a bus there then there is a bus there. If your mirror says it's clear, still do a direct check before you move.
The more upright you are the easier it is to have a good look around without affecting the steering.

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531colin
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby 531colin » 17 Mar 2019, 5:50pm

De Sisti wrote:
foxyrider wrote:I'd also encourage you to practice 'no hands', :shock:

Not always easy with the geometry of some bikes. Not a good idea for someone lacking confidence
and experience on a road bike......

I had it in mind to touch on this in my first post, and then forgot.
Road bikes are designed with quick steering, which is useful for people who actually ride in massed start races. Its not quite so useful for anybody who just wants to go for a nice ride in the country.
A bike with quick steering is designed that way so it responds quickly to deliberate inputs; unfortunately, it will also respond quickly to accidental inputs, including inputs from road surface, wind, and the rider randomly moving about.
Touring and mountain bikes are designed with more stable steering just so they are more resistant to accidental inputs, eg from the surface in mountain bikes and from luggage in touring bikes.
Tandems are a special case, I would rather have a tandem which didn't respond to the stoker shifting around than a tandem I could ride no hands.
Riding no hands on a race bike its very easy to make the bike divert from "straight ahead"....for example in order to slalom the cats' eyes.
A touring bike is very different; ridden no hands reasonably quickly they will be quite difficult to divert from "straight ahead".
I can't think of a better way for somebody to gain confidence than being able to ride their machine no hands...even better if they can ride a range of machines no hands....even better still if they can slalom the cats' eyes.

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531colin
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Re: How do you look behind with falling off your bike

Postby 531colin » 17 Mar 2019, 6:14pm

Its funny really, we all expect our hearing to deteriorate with age, but not our balance.
….and its the same cells.....the "hair cells" in the cochlea pick up vibration of the membrane which we hear as sound
….the hair cells in the semi-circular canals pick up movement of the fluid inside.
I suppose they are the equivalent of the rods and cones in the retina or the pressure/pain/heat etc sensors in the skin etc.
Once one of these cells dies, they are not replaced, so hearing and balance are forced to deteriorate.
I did try looking over my left shoulder today; it should work better for me because I'm left eye dominant.....but the best I can say is that it needs practise.
Our brains are wired up differently to deal with peripheral and central vision. Central vision is for detailed vision. In your peripheral vision, your brain is wired to flag up movement. In the wild, an animal needs to know if there is another animal in the vicinity.....either to avoid being eaten, or so that they may catch and eat it. In modern human society, its often a nuisance....I will be looking at a bird, only to be distracted by movement elsewhere that my brain has (un)helpfully flagged up.
There was an old balance test for aircrew, which was to stand on one leg with your arms folded and your eyes shut for I think two minutes.
As recently as maybe 15 years ago, I didn't understand what the difficulty was....now I can no more do it than fly about in the air.
I used to work with a lass who needed to wear her glasses in the shower, otherwise she fell over, and its certainly true that (sighted) people get visual clues which help with balance. (the aircrew test is easier with your eyes open)
I wonder if all that is going on when you look round and wobble is that the act of looking round means that you lose the visual input to your balance just for the time it takes to turn your head.
Then people who rely more on visual input for their balance would have more difficulty than somebody who doesn't.