This morning while driving on North Allen Road in Peoria:
- Melissa: This is a bike route?
- Rob: I’ve ridden on this road before.
- Melissa: Was it scary as hell?
- Rob: Well, not the scariest as hell.
- Melissa: What was the scariest as hell? Tell me your scariest moment on a bike for each of 3 different categories: traffic, weather, and terrain.
That was a rather elaborate question to be made up on the spot, but here goes…
Scariest traffic related moment. This took a bit of thought and I even surprised myself with the answer. It took place neither in San Fransisco nor in Chicago, but very close to home in Champaign. Mattis Ave north of I-74 is a zoo. The roads are narrow and people drive like maniacs. One particular ride on that section of road I think holds the record for the rate at which idiot drivers passed within inches of hitting me for no apparent reason.
Scariest weather related moment. Spring weather in central Illinois is fairly ridiculous. One Wednesday evening during a ride a tornado rapidly approached my group as we were riding between Sadorus and Ivesdale. We were warned by some motorists and we hastily took shelter at the first house we saw. An older couple was nice enough to let our entire group stay in their garage until the worst part passed over, at which point it was dark and still a little nasty so we all had to call for rides home.
Scariest terrain related moment. This was the last mile to the visitor center at Mauna Kea, on the big island of Hawaii. After having ridden almost 40 miles of steep uphill from sea level I was at 8000 ft of elevation looking up a 17% grade on a rented road bike with relatively high gearing. I really struggled that last mile, but I finally made it to the end of the paved road on the highest mountain in Hawaii. Then I turned around. It had started to rain at this point and at 9000 ft it was much colder than it was at sea level. Looking down this incredibly steep hill, scared shitless, I wondered to myself how I was ever going to make it back down. I had very little confidence in the soft brakes on the rented bike. In the end I declined to descend Mauna Kea and put the bike in the car Melissa was driving behind me.