Dicing with death
By JENI FAULKNER
RODNEY Harding gambles with his life five days out of seven.
Battling B-doubles, buses and cars, Mr Harding dices with death each weekday as he cycles along the Pacific Highway from Mylestom through Bonville to his place of study ? the School of Natural Medicine.
And, although everyone thinks he's mad to ride along a deadly stretch of road that even motorists say is no easy feat, Mr Harding has no choice.
Petrol prices have risen rapidly in recent months and, because he is a student, he can't afford the luxury of making the 25km journey by car.
Mr Harding is also training to be a professional cyclist for when he completes his remedial massage course and what better way to learn balance technique than on our busiest stretch of road ? the Pacific Highway.
"I am hoping to get overseas to cycle and because I am studying I just can't afford the petrol costs so by riding I train and save money on petrol," Mr Harding said.
Since moving to Mylestom, Mr Harding has passed many car accidents and he said recently he was reassured by speed reduction and the increased police presence around the Bonville area.
"In the past month I have seen about four police cars at Bonville which makes traffic slow down but, as a rider, you still need to have great concentration when a vehicle passes you at high speed," he said.
Since the speed change Mr Harding has noticed improvements in bus and truck speed but he still warns that school buses, in his opinion, take up too much of the road.
Travelling the highway anywhere from early morning to mid and late afternoon, Mr Harding said it was important to focus when riding although most of the time he was still amazed at how many drivers showed little respect for cyclists.
The force from a heavy vehicle pushes a cyclist forward and then sucks them back in a wind tunnel and Mr Harding said it was important to relax with the pressure and concentrate.
"The road at Bonville is not very wide but there is always room for traffic to slow down," Mr Harding said.
"It is when a big truck or bus goes flying past you that you really have to struggle."
Mr Harding has cycled all over the world and even though he admits it can get too-close-for-comfort on the highway all roads were dangerous.
"You get used to riding a bicycle on the road, you just have to stand your ground and relax as the wind tunnel takes you, I just wish the drivers would have more consideration and get used to sharing.
"Cycleways always help because they take you off the road but a lot of the time people don't care at all about bike riders."
Mr Harding said cyclists have to put faith, and their life, in the hands of the motorist.
He agrees that both should concentrate on the road but he warns that slowing down and giving that extra inch makes all the difference.