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Bicycling Magazine Logo

Pest control

These five skills will help you overcome the most unexpected or unusual obstacles.

By Brian Fiske
Bicycling Magazine

We've all had to endure a riding friend's tale of his horrific encounter with a madcap chipmunk or his brush with killer bees. And while these stories are usually exaggerated, they aren't completely untrue. Because cyclists sometimes run into (or are run into by) some outrageous things, we offer these bike-handling skills to help you avoid an unfortunate encounter of your own.

DEER VISION

This nickname for peripheral vision comes from a rider who was blindsided by a deer while paying attention only to what was in front of him. In a pack of riders, deer vision helps you monitor your surroundings and keep your eyes on the road.

The basics: To develop awareness of objects on the edge of your field of vision, practice: Focus on something beside you--your riding partner, the TV-- while looking straight ahead.

PEDESTRIAN PONDER

People do crazy things--step off sidewalks without looking, open car doors suddenly--so be prepared to fight crazy with crazy. (This type of thinking works well in large packs of riders, too.) You don't want to be dangerous, but you do need to save people from their own lapses.

The basics: Unusual actions may be called for in extenuating circumstances: Hop onto the sidewalk (but don't ride there); ride into a ditch; swerve like a madman. Sometimes, you have to break the rules to save your neck.

DOGGIE DASH

Enthusiastic barking is often not the hallmark of a dangerous dog. Instead, cyclists should be prepared for the last-minute snarl that bite-happy mutts utter once they've raced to within a few feet of your calves. That growl is a signal that it's time to jump.

The basics: Stand and go. Don't shift to a harder gear until you've spun out the one you're in, and keep working your way through the gears. (If you're stuck in the small ring, use other means of escape: If there's no traffic, zigzag through your lane to make the canine work.)

BEAR BRAKE

We wouldn't have believed a mountain biker's story about overcooking a blind corner and running into a bear's backside had it not been for the fact that he told us while shopping for new shorts. Bear braking (a. k. a. panic stopping) is a do-or-die skill.

The basics: Get your weight low and behind the saddle as you make a serious grab on the brakes. The front brake is powerful, so your weight shift will counteract the forces working to pitch you over the bar.

BUNNY HOP

The ability to execute a bunny hop at a moment's notice can be the difference between a successful ride and a fateful meeting of fork and furry friend.

The basics: A cheater's bunny hop is simple: Stand centered on the bike, cranks level; crouch low, then extend upward sharply and pull with your arms and legs to lift both wheels off the ground. Noncheater bunny hops are for those riding flat pedals. Instead of pulling with your arms and legs, you pull up the front wheel, then push the handlebar forward and pull your legs back and up to get the rear wheel off the ground. This takes practice.

Unusual actions may be called for in extenuating circumstances. Sometimes, you have to break the rules to save your neck.