From here to there on a bike can feel like life or death.

The county fixed the bumpy, dangerous shoulder on Route 9D. Car-less family rejoice!  We have a smooth ride for miles now. That black tar strip is so beautiful to this anxious cycling mom who can be seen vigorously pedaling to tow her fifty pound kid who is mindlessly spinning his pedals backwards on the trail-a-bike (add 30 more pounds for his attached bike). Death or immense bodily harm is only one unseen pothole away. An unexpected bump can cause a bike to jump and lose control, throwing the rider directly into the oncoming traffic.

breakneck
Breakneck Tunnel on Route 9D between Beacon and Cold Spring. It’s dark. It’s bumpy. It’s scary on a bike. I ride through it. But never with my kid.

This happened to me a few weeks ago when I was riding alone through the Breakneck tunnel. It was dark in the tunnel.  I couldn’t see the road surface very well. I was mostly focused on pedaling as fast I could to get out of the tunnel. I put myself at risk.

Unable to clearly see the road surface, I hit a hole and swerved sharply into the road. Luckily, there were no cars behind me. I was really shaken up.

I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to ride that route again. Ever.  My will to live was having a serious conversation with my gritty no-car identity. My husband, a more seasoned cyclist, offered a few tips after the incident: 1. Wear sunglasses before you approach the tunnel and take them off in the tunnel. Your eyes will more quickly adjust to the darkness. 2. Ride slowly, so you are less likely to lose control of the bike if you hit a hole. 3. And finally, make sure to have your Cygolite 50 rear light attached to your backpack and flashing brightly to alert oncoming drivers. I braved the tunnel the following week with these tips in mind. A slow, cautious pass through the tunnel with my flashing rear light and I overcame my fear.

Onward Zero Car Mom. Onward!

Author: zerocarmom

I am a 50-year-old mom with two kids (ages 7 and 24), a husband who works in our attic, a sneezy old cat, and a full-time job as the co-founder of a Brooklyn-based business. My family lives a mostly idyllic life in a small village in the Hudson Valley, sixty miles north of New York City.

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