8.12.2016

That Dorky Mirror Saved My Life

OK, I admit that this is a misleading headline.  I was skimming through some news articles and started reading one where the headline had little to do with the article’s contents.  I thought I would try the eye drawing trick…

Jonathan and Jim Just Before Iowa Hill
I have been cycling with a rear-view mirror for several years and I believe it is one of the best safety enhancements I use while cycling.  The other day, another rider and I had fallen off the back of the main group by a few hundred meters.  I was doing everything I could to catch back up and was on a slight descent that let me carry some good speed.  A left turn was approaching and I was fixated on the approach because I would be going fast and I was looking out for debris in the turn.

While I was absorbed with making the turn and catching back up with the main group, I hadn’t realized a car was approaching from behind (I didn’t hear it) and it was about to pass me.  As I was about to start the turn I did a routine check by glancing in my rear-view mirror and spotted the car. Fortunately, I have developed a habit of checking my mirror when turning.

If I had not had that mirror, I doubt I would have looked over my shoulder and noticed the car.   The result would have been a bad crash and it would have been my fault.  So yeah, that dorky mirror helped me avoid an accident.

Many riders use a mirror.  There are ones that mount on sunglasses (what I use), helmet mounted and even ones that mount on the end of your handlebars.  I prefer the first two as I can move my head left to right and scan a wide area behind me.

The mirror provides a major boost to situational awareness.  The 180 degrees of view behind you is now available and can provide a greater insight to your ride environment..  You can see cars approaching, evaluate how tight the riders behind you are aligned and maybe even gain a little satisfaction in watching a few riders drop behind you on a climb. On the rare times I forget my mirror, I feel awkward and partially blind.

I had the opportunity to talk to Chris Mumma, one of the most prolific riders in Cycle Folsom, about his experience with a mirror. Chris says, "a mirror has become an integral part of my cycling and I feel naked without it."  After a review of our shared experiences with a mirror, he talked of an instance where the mirror was invaluable in preventing a accident.  Chris added, "I was riding a performance ride and we were overtaking a slower rider (not a Cycle Folsom rider) and a rider behind me neglected to follow the paceline, attempting to pass on the left into traffic. Fortunately, I was able to spot him before we collided. "

Give a mirror a try.  It might not "look pro", but it will open up your range of views and increase your situational awareness.

4 comments:

  1. For me riding without my mirror is like swimming with your clothes on. It can be done but just feels wrong.

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  2. Dave, I agree. You miss all that extra visibility and awareness the mirror provides when you forget to wear it.

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