You almost can’t ride anywhere in North Carolina without having to cross a railroad track. The condition of these tracks varies widely. Therefore, you have to approach each one cautiously.
Recently, I almost went down after hitting some difficult tracks and a couple of our teammates did go down. Although I know how to cross safely, I failed one important step.
Please make sure you follow the following rules when crossing railroad tracks:
- Check that no trains are approaching. Not all crossings have signals or barriers.
- Signal the riders behind you that tracks are ahead by putting your arm behind you, forming a peace sign with your fingers, and moving your arm up and down.
- If you are at the front, announce which way the group will cross. “Left to Right!” means the group will start from the left to cross the tracks at a 90-degree angle.
- Slow down. If the tracks are wet, really slow down.
- Signal that you’re slowing by putting your arm down with your palm facing backward.
- Stand up to absorb the bumps easier
- Place your pedals at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions
- Coast as you go over the tracks
- Try to find the smoothest section
- Grip your handlebars tightly and stay focused
I followed all these rules except for #2. The tracks were crossing the road at almost a 45-degree angle and I did not approach it at a 90-degree angle. When I hit the wet tracks, my front wheel went sideways. At first, I thought, “If I’m going down, I’m heading for the grass.” Fortunately, I was able to muscle it back straight and stay upright.
Here is an article from bicycling.com that demonstrates the proper way the cross.