Malaysian cyclists, do not ride faster than you can brake

A video making the rounds of Malaysian social media shows a cyclist descending a steep hill at a fair pace. Unfortunately for the cyclist, there is a T-junction at the bottom of the hill and it so happened a big MPV turned into the intersection right in front of him.

To compound matters, the cyclist was recording his descent, with a camera located at a low angle at the intersection, capturing the collision in full HD. An additional camera angle is supplied by his buddy behind him, recording proceedings on a helmet cam.

As can be expected, lycra and carbon-fiber, no matter how expensive it is, does not afford much protection against impact and road rash. Let’s not talk about broken and fractured bones plus scraping gravel and other road debris out of your wounds for the next few weeks.

No doubt, there is a thrill to descending on a bicycle, your reward for getting up the hill in the first place, as it were. But, it must be remembered bicycles tend to have a lack of brakes and tire contact patch, making emergency maneuvers and more pointedly, emergency stops, something requiring equal amounts of luck, skill and faith.

The cyclist had right of way, certainly, and aside from the excessive speed descending the hill, did not do anything that could be construed as breaking the law. However, he did encounter that one thing all motorcyclists know all too well, SMIDSY, or “sorry, mate, I did not see you.”

Across some forty years, four decades, of riding two-wheels, both engine and human powered, the author has found many drivers severely underestimate the speed of an approaching vehicle, especially if they are at a standstill. If I had one Ringgit for every such encounter I had during my riding career, I’d have enough to buy a… well, maybe a Lightweight Meilenstein wheelset.

So, for all you cyclists out there, even though it is not your fault, do ride defensively and keep a lot of braking in reserve, especially on the road (You nutcases doing technical downhills excepted. Are you reading this Nan Bully?).

Bicycles, disc brake equipped or not, do not exactly have the stopping power of Brembo and coupled with the 700 by 23c tire size roadies use, does not afford a lot of performance when things get sketchy. Ride safely and more importantly, do not ride beyond the performance of the bicycle or your own ability.

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