High-Vis. When Being Roadkill Just Isn’t An Option.

I really love the rugged, whimsical designs of those earth-tone and camouflage jerseys favored by mountain bikers. But don’t get one for me, even if it’s my birthday. One small detail keeps them from being the perfect gift:

I Will Not Wear Them.

Call it paranoia if you want; I view it as being “cautious.” It’s all about being seen on the bike.

I’ve been this way ever since the morning in 2005 that I came within inches of being flattened by a pickup whose driver then asked, “But where did you come from?” as I picked bits of asphalt out of my shoulder. My bike had been totaled. Fortunately her bumper had knocked me off the bike, before she ran over it despite her brake-squealing attempts to stop. I just got a little road rash.

I had thought I was pretty visible on that ride, in my abstract royal blue/purple/bright yellow jersey. But a lone cyclist is so small that if we want motorists to see us, our visibility needs an extra boost.

Now, every time I get ready to ride, I look through my selection of jerseys with survival — not fashion — on my mind. Cool retro design in navy and rust? No. I have not put that jersey on since the crash. Solid white? Too bland; too close to the color of the pavement. My favorite red one with the bold Austria-esque “Republic of Anaerobia” emblem? Better, but even red isn’t very eye-catching at a distance. Maybe if I’m riding with a group. And if it’s really sunny. I’ll also wear my gradient blue & white with a bit of intense red-orange on the back, again on a bright day.

What about cloudy days? Ah, then I pull out the big guns: the retina-searing fluorescent tennis-ball yellow, or the sleeveless day-glo orange. Now we’re talking! I also have a bright turquoise that I feel pretty safe in. You wouldn’t expect blue to be especially visible, but Brent wore a shirt that color while we were in the redwood forest in California, and I could easily spot him through the trees from fifty yards away. They aren’t perfect: the turquoise and orange ones have only one pocket, while the fluorescent one is baggy and tends to annoy me by flapping. That’s a small price to pay for reducing the chance of ending up as roadkill, but still. My choices seemed pretty limited and kind of boring.

Brent has a racing jersey from B&B, our local bike shop in Cedar Hill. I admired their design: kelly green with both black and white for contrast. Pretty bold, but… I mostly ride through wooded areas, and just couldn’t bring myself to wear a green that so closely resembled the color of trees. Last Friday, though, Brent came home from work via a side trip to B&B. He had brought me a women’s B&B jersey. Same design in a particularly lurid, disturbing sort of lime green instead of the darker green.

And right there, in front of his visiting mom and sister, I shouted, “Honey — that’s the most obnoxious color I’ve ever seen!” Then I threw myself into his arms and went on, “Thank you SO much! I love it!”

I wonder why Mom and Jennifer seemed “visibly” puzzled.

Thanks for reading!
PS: It’s coffee time with Rachel Anne and the Company Girls. Come over and join us!

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12 Responses to High-Vis. When Being Roadkill Just Isn’t An Option.

  1. Brent Johnson says:

    You don’t want to be a wreckreational rider.


  2. joyceandnorm says:

    Good for you for being safe! I think everyone on the road need to watch out for each other no matter what they’re driving/riding. Roadkill is never good. Yikes!

    Have a lovely weekend!


  3. After seeing the way bikers and cars weave in and out of each other in Chicago, I’m too chicken to bike here. If I did, I’d be just like you: getting the most bright and obnoxious colors I could find to stand out.
    Stay safe!
    P.S. I’m a Company Girl doing the rounds today! 🙂


  4. Wanda says:

    Great point! Keep safe riding, friend!


  5. Diane says:

    As a driver, I can say thank you for being so aware. I think of myself as pretty alert when I’m driving, always checking mirrors as well as looking well ahead, but it is easy to miss a biker. How sweet that Brent was on the lookout for a jersey in a design you liked but a suitably “obnoxious” color! Love shows itself in so many fun ways.


  6. Zoanna says:

    Thank you!!! I wish you could get that message out to everyone on a bike. I have down deep fears of hitting a cyclist. Sometimes they do just blend in with the trees and pavement. Good for your Brent to bless you with obnoxious consideration of you!


  7. Anonymous says:

    Our winding roads around my house are wonderful for bikers – and treacherous! Joe Wilson road….yikes! It’s so narrow and curvy, and yet I always see bikers wearing black or nondescript colors and it is hard to see them. I’m always paranoid….so I love your post today! I think that color would look great on you!


  8. Jan says:

    Thanks for the support, everyone! As we used to say, “Better a live ‘chicken’ than a dead duck.”


  9. Marie says:

    Oh my goodness…it’s been simply YEARS since I was on a bike so I admire your courage to even get on it and ride on the road…with cars and big, big, very big trucks….good for you and I hope you enjoy your ride in your obnoxious jersey! Stay Safe!


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