Stayin’ Safe: Using Hills To Gain A Visual Advantage

The expanded view from this high point of the road provides valuable information about what lies ahead. Even scanning the road over the far hill could reveal a large truck, farm machinery or fast-approaching vehicle.

If only we could see into the future and know firsthand what lies ahead. If we were able to do that, we could be prepared for just about anything the ride throws at us. After all, we’d eliminate the dreaded surprise factor and have abundant time and distance on our approach to plan how we will deal with what we know will be encountered farther up the road.

Fortunately, for those of us who ride in hilly areas we do, in fact, have the distinct ability to see well into the future…provided we take advantage of the terrain.

The same undulating landscape that often limits our sightline can also provide us with a significantly expanded view of the path ahead. Lifting our eyes when at or near the top of a hillcrest can be much the same as climbing an observation tower; the view opens up dramatically, allowing us to see the vast landscape.

Up there, we gain the advantage of a significantly longer and wider view of the scene before us. From that elevated vantage point we are often able to take in a panoramic view of where the road winds its way into the distance.

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Furthermore, we can often identify critical intersections, catch a glimpse of areas where car and pedestrian activity may be high, and maybe even spot any large, oversized vehicles that might be lumbering along in our direction while claiming both lanes.

By deliberately and actively scanning the landscape from high ground, I have personally spotted wide-load trucks, large RVs and enormous farm equipment well in advance of the time and place we would have had a chance meeting at a blind bend or when cresting a blind hill.

On your next ride, seek higher ground as the road rises and falls, get your eyes up and see for yourself just how much valuable information there is available to you up there. A little altitude can improve your attitude when it comes to being in control on winding back roads.

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