One of the hardest races on earth just finished in Maryland. The Race Across America is a bicycle race that starts in Oceanside, CA and ends in Annapolis 12 days later. This grueling journey pushes cyclists to the very limits of their endurance, requiring that they ride for 20 hours a day — or more — as they cover 3,100 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Most of these miles are spent on rural highways, where motorists often aren’t expecting to see them. While most people won’t replicate their amazing feat, cyclists who frequent rural areas would do well to follow the same safety guidelines.
Assume That Motorists Won’t See You
Drivers are already notorious for not seeing bicyclists, and that goes double for rural roads. Drivers can easily slip into a false sense of safety by the absence of other cars, which dramatically increases the risk if you’re on a bike. While being aggressive might help you avoid bike accidents in urban areas, it can work against you when you’re far away from cities. Don’t rely on anyone recognizing your right of way.
Look Behind You
Whenever you come to an intersection, driveway or other obstruction, always glance back to make sure that motorists aren’t coming up behind you. If they’re not looking, they could easily pass you, slow down and make a turn right across your path.
Don’t Ride Into The Sunset
Riding west at sunset will make you invisible to drivers traveling the same way. If they’re looking into the sun, the odds that they’ll see a slender bicycle silhouette verge on zero. Sometimes you can’t avoid commuting home at these times, but if you do, try to at least take a meandering path without long stretches of westward exposure.
Stay Alert For Oncoming Vehicles
Drivers often pass other cars without consideration for cyclists in the opposite lane. Watch for this. It could save your life.
Only Stop Where You’re Visible
Most long-distance cyclists are used to not stopping on their excursions. If you have to, though, be sure to do it somewhere that you’re clearly visible. Avoid hills, blind intersections and other features that could obscure you to drivers.
Riding outside of the city is exhilarating, but it comes with its own set of challenges. However, if you match your riding style to the environment, you could cross the whole country without incident.