By now it's pretty obvious that we think traveling by bicycle is the greatest. But there are those who worry about us. And the countless folks we meet who are intrigued with our trip always feel compelled to add “Stay safe” to their farewells. While safety is constantly at the top of that our minds, I will admit that there are certain hazards inherent in this mode of travel.
Rumble Strips – I used to think it was great to have this buffer between me and the cars. But I've changed my mind. I don't think I've ever been spared by a rumble strip. To put it bluntly, I hate them. More than once, I've inadvertently ridden over them, only to be shaken to bits and narrowly avoided losing control of my bike. The ones that really fry me are those that infiltrate the already too-small space on the shoulder. Balancing on the fine line between the rumbles and a drop off turns my knuckles white. It leaves me no choice but to ride in the car lane.
Road Kill – We've seen roadkill on our previous trips, but for some reason this tour tops them all for the frequency of such sightings. Most often the extinguished animals are in the middle of the road but we do get our share to avoid on the shoulder. And the stink pervades the area no matter where they lie. The most common and unique victim by far has been the armadillo. We have yet to see a live one. We're beginning to believe they only exist as roadkill.
Speed Limits – We expect fast traffic on big highways. But on the smaller, 2-lane roads we assume there will be lower speed limits. Not so in Texas. There we commonly found 70 mph speed limits on those small farm roads. The ones with hardly any shoulders. That's unnerving.
Barking Dogs – I do like dogs. Just not when they are chasing me on my bike. For some reason, dog owners in rural areas think it's okay to let them run free. The thing is, when they come charging out of the yard barking at me, I have no way to tell if they are just friendly or about to chomp down on my leg. Or get in my way. Nothing gets my heart racing or my legs pumping faster than the approach of a barking dog.
Cars and Trucks – It goes without saying that cars and trucks are the biggest threat to us on the road. But then again, without them there would be no roads. We are, after all, in their space. And we respect that. Given any quarrel, they win. Every time.
Soon we will leave all this behind. Tomorrow we begin our final leg of the trip which is on the Katy Trail, a dedicated bicycle path that extends 240 miles across Missouri. There we can enjoy carefree cycling on the trail and say farewell to the hazards of the road.