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Hazards of 'Road Biking' vs 'Extreme Sports'
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By A.P.T.
From Truckee,Ca
Dec 25, 2006
So nice.
What's your opinion about the dangers of cycling on the road versus Extreme Skiing, Snow Boarding, Ice Climbing etc. I get some mixed opinions, but feel cycling to be pretty dangerous because it's not a controlled environment with vehicles flying past you at high speeds.

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By Ron Olsen
From Boulder, CO
Dec 25, 2006
In the cow pasture below the Tre Cime de Lavaredo, after climbing Spitagoras, a 12-pitch 10a route. <br /> <br />Photo by <a href='/u/bruce-hildenbrand//11057'>Bruce Hildenbrand</a>
Road biking can be very dangerous. Two rock climbers I know, including Richard Rossiter, have been far more seriously injured in accidents on their road bikes than in thirty-plus years of climbing.

I sometimes rock climb without a helmet, but never bike without one.

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By Christopher Jones
From Denver, Colorado
Dec 25, 2006
Climbing So Wild at Thunder Ridge photo by Kevin McLaughlin.
I raced road bikes for years and had several close calls while training. I had two friends when I was a teenager that were killed by cars. One was by a drunk driver and the other was during a race that was not closed to traffic. I also knew of several others that were killed over the years. Another friend was killed by an elderly woman who didn't even know she hit anyone. I think I feel safer soloing the Third Flatiron than riding my road bike.

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By Jimn Seiler
From North Platte, NE
Dec 26, 2006
Disco Superfly
I love road cycling and have done it long before I started climbing. When I started climbing my friends would tell me how crazy I was ( I do not understand this line of thinking ) and my response would inevitably be "you should try riding your bike during rush hour, that's crazy."

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By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From Bend, OR
Dec 26, 2006
Racked and loaded... name that splitter behind me? Hint, its on Supercrack Buttress
I've been nearly killed twice while road biking. I've also been run over from behind by a knee surgeon while riding my bike for ACL therapy! And I've come upon a biking accident where a biker was killed when a driver simply reached down for their coffee cup and swerved.

Rock climbing is, imo, way safer. Outside of the random rock fall event, I can control virtually all the variables. Alpine climbing is different obviously.

The most dangerous variable, other traffic, is out of your control while road biking.

Needless to say, I don't road bike anymore. I do mountain bike often, and feel that I'm likely to maim myself - but not die - mountain biking.

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By Buff Johnson
Dec 26, 2006
smiley face
Talk about a controversy around the southern Dvr foothills (Evergreen/Conifer area). Weeks and weeks of commentary in the local papers; even more entertaining than Wasatch fixed pro. With drivers actually printing their comment so as to intentionally run people off the road. Around there are too many blind curves with flatlander suvies & weekend warriors mixing it up on two-laners. It's beautiful country, but biking seems more dangerous than skiing, and far more than climbing.

I'm surprised the news around here doesn't promote their "helmet law" with road biking like they do with other recreational activities.

"Well, he was hit by a truck at 65mph; but luckily, was only partially killed as he was wearing a helmet. Had he not been wearing one, he might have died two minutes earlier."

Or - better yet - apply the same stupidity-law philosphy toward biking in general.

(I do climb with a helmet; I just don't want to hear it from the news about how I enjoy my recreation; & certainly don't need to hear from big brother. However, I have never skied with a helmet & never plan to.)

What we need is more mama media making us feel warm, fuzzy, & safe.

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By James M Schroeder
From Sauk County, WI
Dec 26, 2006
Coffee outside of JTNP
In the summer I often ride my bike to work during rush hour in downtown Chicago. This is of course a gauntlet of angry cabbies, people ignoring the bike lane, and the omnipresent people who open their doors without looking. The best advice I can give is to swallow your tongue and keep the bird on the handlebars; I've been chased and even intentionally cutoff when failing to heed this advice.

Conclusion: Biking on city streets is way more dangerous than many (but not all) of my climbing experiences.

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By Nate Oakes
Dec 26, 2006
~2000' above Boulder.
I have almost a dozen friends who get around town (downtown Denver) on a bike rather than drive. Most of them ride fixies (fixed-gear bicycles) and are very good at stopping, turning, etc. Nearly all of them have been hit by a car, and several of those have been hit more than once. A couple of these friends have had serious, expensive injuries, requiring physical therapy and extensive chiropractic work from being hit. A couple of these friends were victims of hit-and-run drivers.

I have almost two dozen friends who rock-climb regularly, and are safe enough that I trust them all to climb with. One of them has burned his hand while belaying, and one other has sprained his ankle. A couple of bruised heels. One friend of mine lost his best friend while rock climbing in South America, while they were teenagers.

You could make the argument that my cycling friends have had more injuries because they spend more time biking than my rock-climbing friends spend climbing. But personally, I feel much more safe rock climbing than I would riding around Denver on a bike.

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By Buff Johnson
Dec 26, 2006
smiley face
A biker, skier, or climber - who is most apt to be shot at and/or arrested?

SWAT Team: "Sir, put down the rope and step away from the rock!"

So which really is the most hazardous of sports??

Oh yeah, I forgot:

SWAT Team: "Sir, leave your helmet ON! We don't want you to fall and hurt yourself as we slam you to the ground. He's got a cam; Open Fire!!!"

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By George Bell
From Boulder, CO
Dec 26, 2006
Hip trouble ...
Per hour of participation, I'd guess the most dangerous sport is ... BASE jumping. An hour of actual BASE jumps is probably a couple hundred jumps. Of course, this isn't really fair, if you are just sitting around on a belay ledge for an hour does this count as climbing time? What about sleeping in a tent before an alpine ascent?

I'd agree that road biking seems dangerous, but it's easy to do a lot of biking. With crazy drivers it's almost more like objective hazards in the mountains than something you can control. Remember Hans Gmoser who put up hundreds of first ascents in the Canadian Rockies and then is killed on a bike (granted at age 73). Motorcycles are even more dangerous, remember Wolfgang Gullich (or was it a car crash?) ...

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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Dec 26, 2006
Stabby
Wolfgang died in a car on the Autobahn.

I kinda think its all really a "times up!" thing. Doesn't matter where you are or what your'e doing. Everything is in the dice. Thinking that this activity is safer than that is a statistical illusion.

But I'd have to vote for Yugoslavian Spire Jumping as the most dangerous.

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By Hank Caylor
Administrator
From Golden, CO
Dec 26, 2006
Yoda
Agreed on the "Czec, German, Yugoslavian Spire Jumping" sport. That really seems like my vote as well. And what a heinous, eyes wide open and shrieking way to go, sheeeesh, yuck......

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By A.P.T.
From Truckee,Ca
Dec 26, 2006
So nice.
Yes, not much room for error at all "Spire Jumping".. Life in general is "Inherently Dangerous." Back in 91' seven of us were tree skiing at "Kirkwood Ski Resort Ca." One of my friends was a bit slow and he urged us to keep going and wait for him at the bottom, but he never showed up! He was found about an hour later flipped upside down in a tree well and suffocated. If he had ski's on he most likely would have gotten out, but with the Snow Board Binding he was unable to kick himself free. All sports carry a risk, but according to the replies "Road riding" has it's own element of risk.

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By Jimn Seiler
From North Platte, NE
Dec 27, 2006
Disco Superfly
Mike Lane wrote: I kinda think its all really a "times up!" thing. Doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing. Everything is in the dice. Thinking that this activity is safer than that is a statistical illusion.

So hypothetically speaking if I move to let's say the summit of Longs Peak and live in a tent with steel poles I am in fact not increasing my chance of dying in a lightning storm because "everything is in the dice". It seems logical to me that if moving to Longs in a steel poled tent was say the Powerball I just bought 98% of the tickets.

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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Dec 27, 2006
Stabby
Most of us make every attempt to mitigate risks. Even free-soloing comes from a conviction of one's abilities and confidence in decision making. If your decision making process is defective, that will certainly hasten things.

But just look at almost every non-illness death or injury of someone you knew or knew of. I would bet the tear on Todd Skinners belay loop wasn't very evident. A guy on one of my crews was zapped by lightning on the middle floor of a building. Emily Keyes just went to school...

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By Jaaron Mankins
From Bayfield, CO
Dec 27, 2006
San Juans.
I would agree with the generalization that biking is more dangerous than climbing! Every time I see a biker on local southwestern Colorado highways I shudder. There is no shoulder, and many rednecks with large trucks and bumpers actually try to "smoke out" bikers with their diesel trucks as they pass extremely close. My father in-law once ran into a men working sign as he rode at full speed-ouch! During the recent Ride the Rockies, a biker was instantlly killed as he made a U-turn to help someone with a flat tire. A car struck him at full speed. The only place ice climbing that reminds me of highway driving is the Ouray Ice Park. Tons of new drivers, and lots of traffic. An accident waiting to happen. I'll stick with the dangers of ice climbing any day over biking.

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By Tom Hanson
Dec 27, 2006
Climber Drawing
I have given up road biking.
For twenty years I used bicycle and in-line skates as my method of transportation. In those twenty years I must have been hit by motorists at least a dozen times.
If the motorist who hit me had the conscience to stop, invariably, the first thing they said was, "I didn't even see you." As if saying this exonerated them from any responsibility. That statement did nothing to incur my forgiveness, quite the contrary, it scared the hell out of me that I was on the road in front of them, in broad daylight, and they did not see me. Where were they looking?
I have had motorists hit me intentionally, throw lit cigarettes, firecrackers and beverages at me, and even lean out the window to hit me across my back with a board!
I have been struck by hit and run drivers who left me for dead.
One such episode ended with a trip to the emergency room after I regained consciousness, where the doctors had to sew my upper lip back on to my face, from where my front teeth went through prior to breaking off on the pavement.
The last straw was when I was at a crosswalk within sight of my home after my fifteen mile skating commute home from work.
This lady in a BMW crossed over into the oncoming lane while looking right and turning left. She ran right into my legs, with her bumper hitting one shin and the front left quarter panel hitting my other shin. Nothing was broken, but I had two softball sized lumps on my shins and she had dented bumper and quarter panel.
I have since given up sharing the road with motorists while cycling or skating.
I gave away my road bike and now only ride my mountain bike, off road and stick to non-motorized bike paths when in-line skating.
These days when I see a cyclist on the road I give them a wide berth, as I always have, only I think to myself, you idiot, right of way doesn't make you any less dead.

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By KevinCO
From Loveland, CO
Dec 27, 2006
I agree. With increased population, road biking, a sport I love, is one I hesitate to participate in. Bicycling could be a great way to cut down on fossil fuel consumption if it weren't so dangerous.

Joe Jabaily, a neurologist, city commissioner, peace and environmental activist and father of a large family, was killed in a bicycle race. At a highway crossing, the police traffic controller waved him across into oncoming traffic.

I have never broken bones in climbing but have on a bike.

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By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 2, 2007
Andrew Gram
Road biking seems like a really physical way of playing Russian Roulette. Its dangerous enough being on the road in a car - on a bike is just madness. Way too many bad, chemically altered, and distracted drivers out there these days.

Not all of it is just the driver's fault though. An awful lot of road bikers appear to want to be killed. Riding side by side on windy roads with 50 mph speed limits is a very stupid idea. As is doing that or weaving out away from the shoulder on a 2 lane road where a car may not have many options to avoid hitting an erratic cyclist. I've had to stand on the brakes and nearly had to make a choice about who to hit when an asshat cyclist suddenly swerved about 4 feet into my lane passing someone without looking.

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By handtruck
From Boulder, CO
Jan 2, 2007
a handtruck...
I live in "bike friendly" Boulder and while the people here love their cyclists, you still have idiots that aren't paying attention.

My first collision occurred with a woman in an SUV making an illegal left turn across a double yellow line into a gas station. Luckily I saw her out of the corner of my eye and hit the brakes pronto. I slammed into her car so hard that I cracked my helmet on the passenger side of the hood. She sheepishly got out of the car, offered to call 911, and then proceeded to tell me about how much of a hurry she was in and that this was a wake up call for her to slow down in life. Gald I could be there for her lesson.

The second time I got hit...16 year old kid making an ILLEGAL LEFT TURN!! He T-boned me square, my rear spokes ripped off his license plate, I flew onto his hood, up onto the windshield, and then down onto the pavement when he slammed on the brakes. He got out of the car crying. No, balling his fucking eyes out. He was quivering and going into some kind of spasmatic shock. I pulled myself over to the side of the road and told this kid to keep his eyes open. I am a firm believer that he learned his lesson. Shitty thing is that my crank was bent, I had no cell phone on me, so I had to walk my bike to the bar. My left elbow and left knee hurt for months.

I am sick of helping people learn a lesson...one day it is going to kill me!!

Outside of a few pulled off finger pads, a couple of blisters on my heels, and some damage to my ego, climbing has left me relatively unscathed. Now I have really totalled myself skiing, but that is another story.

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By rockdude
Jan 3, 2007
Go road biking in the Dallas area. People hate bikers. Almost every time I biked there people would yell, honk , shoot a finger etc, at me on the road. No respect, they don't believe bikers have rights on the roads. Many Dallas riders go to the small country roads outside of Dallas to ride. Before I left Dallas several county/cities were trying to ban biker on these roads. Thank God I live in Boulder, what a difference.

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By Dave Budge
From Trashcanistan
Apr 4, 2007
I often say that bike commuting is an extreme sport. Lots of objective hazards. However, some roadies tend to increase their risk by riding aggressively in traffic and wearing clothing that decreases visibility. Riding with flashing red lights and in brighter clothing increases your visibility and widens your margin of safety.

I'm not sure how it compares to other sports. But like so many other sports, I'm not going to quit, so might as well make it as safe as possible.

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By Jeff Barnow
From Boulder Co
Apr 4, 2007
What goes up must come down
Drive around Boulder for a day and see how many bikers you almost hit due to their lack of concern for cars. Your question will quickly be answered.

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By Steve Kahn
Apr 4, 2007
What a weird question. Of course road biking, and driving (for that matter) are more dangerous.

Are you trying to give yourself an ego boost by how noting how extreme you are?

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By Jonny Vermin
Apr 4, 2007
It does seem that drivers that watch NASCAR and eat fried food are predisposed to dislike cyclists. To them bikers are people on Harleys. They think they own the road. They are not alone. there are plenty of cyclists riding two abreast and impeding traffic. It makes it tough of the rest of the riders.

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