Do you have an exit plan, Ladies?

This was recently passed on to me via a female cycling friend:

Today I went for a long bike ride by myself. This is one of my favorite things to do for so many reasons that I rarely, if ever, think about things that could potentially go wrong. So I was blissfully descending down a long canyon (hwy 74/Bear Creek Rd) and I noticed a guy in a pick-up truck pass me slowly, then pull over to the side of the road. He repeated this several times to the point I thought it was odd. A few minutes later, a guy on a motorcycle pulled up beside me as I was riding and told me he noticed it too. He told me to keep an eye out and said he was going to go up to the next corner and wait. He did this several times until the guy in the pick-up seemingly gave up, turned around, and left. I had no idea of the intent of the guy in the pick-up, but it still felt good to know someone was looking after me out there. There's nothing as refreshing as a stranger having the awareness to notice something potentially bad for someone else, then taking time out of their day to prevent it from happening. Thank you, motorcycle man and humanity in general! Pedal on.

This brings up an important topic, ladies. What would you have done in this situation? As much as I am loathe to admit it, any time we head out on our bikes by ourselves we are assuming some risk regarding "the crazies" (as I like to call them). Most of the time things are fine. And like the cyclist who posted this said, we "rarely, if ever, think about things that could potentially go wrong". But this should always be in the back of our minds. We all need to have an "Exit Plan" on our rides.

Last Fall on a ride I was followed up Lookout mtn in Golden by a random crazy guy. No matter what my pace, no matter what I did, said or didn't do/say he rode side by side with me. For 20 minutes. It started with a polite wave as I went by. That’s it. What I do to everyone. He jumped on my wheel and never left. At 1.5 minutes, I realized that he was insane. Completely. I hadn't had a situation like this on the bike in...well, ever. As luck would have it, that day I happened to be really under the weather. I wasn't riding well, I wasn't thinking clearly, etc. You know the feeling--how you feel right before you get slammed with the flu.

In retrospect, (and as my husband pointed out later) there were many things I COULD have done. I could have just stopped. I could have turned around and simply ridden down. I could have told him to go take a hike (or a variation of those words). I could have even called the cops, and told them I was being harassed. But instead? I did nothing. I rode my bike. I seethed. By the time we reached the top, I was feverish and...pissed. The more I thought about it, the more angry I became. ESPECIALLY when I discussed this with my husband later.

“You engaged him.”
“By waving as I went past?”
“By continuing to ride with him. By not just turning around and riding down Lookout. Or simply dropping him.”
“But why should I have to completely change MY ride plan, and MY pace due to some...crazy...GUY WHO WASN’T EVEN WEARING A HELMET?!?!?”
“I guess because...you’re a woman.”

Ouch. That hurt. I was almost insulted. I was furious that I wasn't strong enough that day to drop this guy who was obviously fueled on insanity (as well as the half dozen donuts he proudly told me he’d eaten that morning). I was irritated that I had been intimidated and I was really angry at my husband for seemingly not taking my side.

“A reversal of this situation would never have happened,” I pointed out.
“True. I would have dropped him. ”
“That’s not what I mean. A man would never have to worry about his safety on the bike because a woman was making him uncomfortable. Changed his ride plan, wondered if he’d been sending the wrong signals, etc.”
“...You're right.”


Photo: courtesy of Amanda Cyr

When I read the post from the cyclist coming down Bear Creek, it left a bad taste in my mouth. As well it should. When your panic instincts are on full alert, it's hard to think clearly. What would I have done? Probably stopped and called the cops. Probably. But cell-phone service is a gamble in this Canyon (as with many of the solo rides I do).

I guess I would have pretended to use my phone and took a picture of the parked vehicle. Or maybe flagged down a motorist. But in reality, those solutions make me cringe. How many times have you thought, "I'm probably over-reacting."? Ladies, I'd like to suggest that we don't worry so much about "over-reacting" and worry more about our safety. And if that doesn't do it for you, let's sprinkle in a little Catholic guilt. Think of the future safety of OTHER WOMEN.

I guarantee this wasn't the first time the Bear Creek Canyon Creep did this to a female cyclist. And it certainly won't be the last. Same with the guy on Lookout. I put it out on twitter and actually got a response from a female cyclist in Ft. Collins: “My sister rode with the SAME guy up Lookout about a month ago. It had to be him. He did the exact same thing to her.”

I'm not saying that I won't stop riding solo (although I did neglect Lookout Mtn for several days after that unpleasant experience), but I'm trying to remind myself to ride smart. On EVERY solo ride we do, let's have a "what would I do if..." plan in place. For you, your loved ones and the other female cyclists out there. Let's take a stand against the creeps out there. Call the cops. Call a friend. Flag a motorist down. Whatever you have to do to feel safe. And then as the woman said in her post, "Pedal on".



Photo: courtesy of @calverphoto
Women's Tour of Britain
via GirlBikeLove

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Here you go Aussie:

Here you go Aussie:

From: Ed Chenel, a police officer in Australia.

Hi Yanks,

I thought you all would like to see the real figures from Down Under.

It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by a new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by our own government, a program costing Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars.

The first year results are now in: Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2 percent, Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6 percent; Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent!). In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent. (Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not and criminals still possess their guns!)

While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since the criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.

There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the elderly. Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort and expense was expended in "successfully ridding Australian society of guns."

You won't see this data on the American evening news or hear your governor or members of the state Assembly disseminating this information.

The Australian experience proves it. Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws affect only the law-abiding citizens.
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp#TMgqkttqQOsjhd2s.99

You really think it's

You really think it's unlikely that criminals have guns?

Can you explain how gun ownership has gone up exponentially while crime, especially gun-related crime, has gone down over the last decade in the US, and how this is especially true in those cities and states with permissive concealed carry laws?

I don't know about this

I don't know about this article. But I would like to know why so many commuter/recreational cyclists feel the need to grab your wheel whenever you pass them. It's like they are personally offended that someone in a matching kit happens to be riding faster than they are.

When someone passes me, I never do that.

Haha, ok after I've gone up

Haha, ok after I've gone up superflag a few times, then tried to drop the bus stop ride for two hours, I'm casually riding home at 19mph and Mr. Supercommuter with a helmet mirror and triple bypass jersey thinks we are racing. If I slow down to 15 to let him get away, he just slows down more. It's a weird phenomenon.

10 years ago I was riding

10 years ago I was riding solo when a young, good looking guy waved to me from the side of the road. I smiled and waved back, thinking "cute guy on a run." A few minutes later, I saw him again, this time in my path on the road shoulder. My dumb brain thought "wow, how did he jog ahead of me?" as I swerved to avoid hitting him and his hand reaching for me. I kept going. Yet again, around another bend there he was, this time leaning on a car. It was then I realized "oh sh**t" he's following me. Once that clicked, fear surged into my legs. I sped up, crossed into the other lane assuming he couldn't get me there. A moment later, he sped up alongside me in his car facing the oncoming traffic and and gave my rear a smack before quickly moving back into his lane. I became panicked, pulled into a business and asked a family getting into their car to follow me to the nearest store so I could call my mom to pick me up. I ended up pressing charges against him (I'd gotten his license plate and make of car) and he turned out to have 3 prior rape charges against him. Plus, he had his two pre-schooler children in the car. I got lucky that day. Afterwards, I asked myself if I had somehow encouraged him by waving, smiling, wearing spandex, all stupid questions. For awhile I was afraid to ride alone. But, it lead me to join the local group rides, where I met people who became some of my closest friends. So again, I got real lucky that day.

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