Yesterday, I prayed for safety on the road. I was taught to pray at an early age, but have never been good at it. I have listened to people who have talked about answers to prayer, and have infrequently thought that I have heard an answer. When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I prayed like I have never prayed before, and when he went into and stayed in remission over 35 years ago, I felt I received an answer.
So a prayer for safety seemed logical. However, this time I felt that I heard an answer; a voice in my head that said: "Then don't do anything stupid!" That response changed how I rode the bicycle yesterday. I'll come back to that in a minute. Those who know me know of my love for speed. That can sometimes lead to involvement in in things like driving a car on the track or going down a hill on a bicycle faster than necessary. Judy will recount several times on the tandem when I exceeded her speed limit, and resulted in an ultimatum that went something like this: "Either I get brakes on the back handlebars of this bike, or I don't ride anymore."
For those who know anything about tandems, it is general knowledge that they are faster down hill than single bikes. When Judy did the cross country bike ride with me from Florida to Oregon in 2001, she had TWO brake levers, and in the mountains, we needed them both. One was a novel idea that I had, to use a ratcheting thumb shifter attached to a disk brake in the back wheel of the tandem. This could be set to the desired level of drag for the long down hills, and didn't heat up the wheels like rim brakes do, potentially causing tire blowups due to pressure increase. The drag could be released simply by pulling back. It really worked well for the trip, but is generally unnecessary in Michigan where there are very few long, long downhills. We also had cantilevered brakes front and back, and a hydraulic brake on the back. We still couldn't lock up the back wheel due to carrying 99.5 pounds of camping weight.
Back to how I changed my riding yesterday based on the response I am sure I heard. I rode downhill more slowly, not the slowly of using brakes frequently, but that of unusual caution while drafting, using my body to slow down the bike by sitting upright, instead of dropping my head down to the handlebars to gain yet more speed. One of the things that I have noticed is that I see less of the scenery on the down side of a hill than the up hill side. That's probably due to the difference between passing something at 30 miles per hour vs. six MPH. It is only logical that one can see five times as much at the slower speed, right?
I think the other factor that made a difference is seeing the damage a fall can cause to a body of a young girl (Kim) who we rode with earlier. She had a serious fall while going too fast on a wet switchback, and her leg was a reminder of the contact between skin and concrete/gravel.
I didn't do anything stupid yesterday and my answer to prayer.
Submitted by Dave G..