A couple of weeks ago Matt de Neef, aka @climbingcyclist tweeted:
That feeling when a truck barrels past at more than twice your speed, less than 50cm to your right.
— Matt de Neef (@climbingcyclist) January 17, 2014
My immediate thought was that where we ride, it would be lucky if it was only twice our speed. Living regionally, we are mostly riding on roads with a 100km/hr speed limit, and often they have little or no shoulder, a different riding experience to the bike paths and roads of Wollongong that I road before returning to Armidale.
I’m not going to suggest that overall riding urban roads with lots of cars is better or worse than rural roads with fewer vehicles travelling faster, both are hazardous in their own way. A cattle truck skimming by you at 100km/hr is really no more or less scary than a car at 60km/hr. Both are quite dangerous. And it hardly matters that I can’t see them when they come from behind.
Today, though, we encountered one of the more unique obsticles to riding on rural roads: cattle.Graziers do have the right to graze their livestock on the side of the road, however road users do have the right to unimpeded access to the road too. It can be a bit of a conflict, but most people are used to it, particularly in times of drought when there’s not so much grass around.
Some cows get quite used to grazing on the side of roads, and pay cyclists, cars and trucks little attention. Today these cattle were a bit more nervous. And nervous cattle are less predictable.
Some calves were quite unnerved by the sight of Dave and I on the tandem, plus Ash who was riding his single bike with us. Rather than running away, they ran out into the road, forcing us onto the other side. As we passed, I could head one of them fall over onto the road, which Dave confirmed.
While a calm calf is quite nice, and some will gladly be petted, a scared calf is rather a lot of animal. An animal best avoided.
Just one of the additional things to think about when riding around Armidale.
Of course there is the story of the cow and cyclist on Mt Kembla in Wollongong last October… but that’s someone else’s story to tell.