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!

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
This entry was posted in Thoughts on Two Wheels. Bookmark the permalink.

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!


Your Turn: comments welcome here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.