Let’s be honest as cyclists we all have had the ‘fear’ at some point or other. The fear could be a stretch of road or a junction, a gyratory or a roundabout. It could even be a bad area. It is something you do not relish and one that can conjure up bad thoughts and if you are not careful spoil your ride.
You can do two things to combat the fear, embrace it or deny it. By embracing it you are taking the optimistic approach but it is also a gamble. Will this be the time when a driver takes his eyes off the road for a second? Will they get just a little too close? How can I limit the effects of this? That youth just called me numb-nuts. How should I react?
To deny the fear you simply choose another route which takes you away from the traffic or out of a certain area. It may be longer or not as pretty but the fear will be assuaged.
I have two fears on my commute. One is the awful Wandsworth gyratory at Armoury Way. When I first started commuting I attempted it. It was a cause of great stress. I didn’t know the lane I was supposed to be in and crossed lines of busy traffic to get to where I thought I needed to go. In the end I bailed at the pelican crossing and walked the bike. After this experience the fear got the better of me and I worked out another more pleasant route that took me along the back roads and across the charming Delta Creek. It is slightly longer and slower but preferable to the gyratory.
My second fear is on the way home along Bedfont Road near Feltham. This is a long, straight and narrow road. Cars bomb along way in excess of the 40 mph limit. To overtake safely a car driver must ensure that the other side of the road is clear. To compound this, halfway along the road it narrows even further and goes over an old humpback railway bridge. Here drivers sometimes try and accelerate past me and over the blind summit before ducking back in. I have this vision of someone trying this manoeuvre and realising too late that a car is coming the other way. Do they smash into the car or smash into me? Thankfully it has never happened and I hope never will. This second fear has been growing on me so I worked out a different route. The first time I tried it my happiness was short-lived when a car containing a group of lads started hurling abuse at me for no valid reason.
So has the fear got to me? No way José. I still commute in and I still enjoy it. I change my route as my mood sees fit. Sometimes when the fear creeps in I simply put it to the back of my mind and handle it the best way I can. By riding and by losing myself in the journey.