www.kalamazoobicycleclub.org The Newsletter of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club March 2005
As I write the March President's letter, there are freezing temperatures and new snow on the ground. However, spring is not far off and there will undoubtedly be warmer riding weather. In the meantime, in order to get ourselves oriented toward riding on the road with cars again, I thought it might be a good idea to give a brief overview of the law as it applies to bicyclists.
Every bicyclist riding upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle. Bicyclists are required to ride as near to the right of the road as practicable. Bicyclists may ride two abreast.
Bicyclists may be required by local ordinance to ride on a usable and designated path adjacent to a roadway. A bicyclist may pass on the left of traffic moving in his or her direction in the case of a two-way street or on the left or the right of traffic in the case of a one-way street in an unoccupied lane.
Bicyclists are required to operate their bicycles in a safe manner. They may not encumber themselves with packages or bundles which prevent the rider from keeping both hands on the handlebars. Bicycles may not be used to carry more persons at one time than they were designed for. Bicyclists may not attach themselves to other vehicles on the roadway.
are required to use a white light lamp visible at least 500 feet to the front
and have a red reflector visible from 100 to 600 feet to the rear; they may
also use a lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of
500 feet to the rear in addition to the reflector. Bicyclists are not subject to the mandatory helmet law that motorcyclists are subject to (however, all persons riding in Kalamazoo Bicycle Club rides are required to wear
a helmet). Violations of these statutes subject the violator or his or her parent or guardian to a civil infraction.
While all of these requirements are important, in the context of club rides the most important requirement is the requirement not to ride more than two abreast on the right side of the road. We do not want to be pulled over by law enforcement while on rides for violating this statute. Let’s all be safe on the road this year.
Bikes, Money, and the Law
While I am on the subject of bicycling and the law, did you know that a portion of the money that you pay in state and federal gas and fuel taxes is required by law to be spent on bicycling and pedestrian transportation enhancement? Congressman Dick Allen (the DA in DALMAC) wrote a provision in Michigan's road funding law which requires state, county, and local governments to spend not less than 1% of their road money on bicycling and pedestrian projects. In Kalamazoo County, the Kalamazoo County Road Commission had a 2003 budget of $19.6 million; 1% of that is $196,000. There is an equivalent federal law that requires that 10% of Federal road funds be spent on bicycling and pedestrian projects.
There is currently an effort underway to create a county-wide comprehensive transportation plan. This plan is required to reduce air pollution in Kalamazoo County. No new road projects can be proposed unless it can be shown that they would not create new air pollution. There are studies underway to count car and truck traffic. As of yet, there are no studies on bicycle usage.
will soon be a questionnaire on the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club website (www.kalamazoobicycleclub.org) which
will ask you to select a route that you bicycle in the
The fundamental questions being asked are: 1) what, if anything, should be done to improve bicycling in Kalamazoo; and 2) are the county and local governments spending your money appropriately on bicycling.
go to a restaurant and get great food, you go back and you tell your friends;
if you get bad service, you complain to the manager. We are trying to do the
same thing for bicycling in
Mike Boersma, KBC President
For those of you who looked forward to one of the first road bike tours of the year, the annual Kal Haven Trailblazer ride, you’d better schedule something else to do that weekend. The Trailblazer ride has been discontinued.
As most know by now, Van Buren County took over operation and management of the Kal Haven Trail from the State of Michigan in 2004. Due to the success of annual and daily pass sales, they raised about $60,000.00, more than was needed to cover the approximate $50,000.00 in operating expenses. The excess monies will be rolled over into the 2005 operations budget.
With the Trail once again able to support itself, the Friends of the Kal Haven Trail, a group that raised money (much of it through the Trailblazer ride) for building and improvement projects along the trail, decided to discontinue their fund-raising ride.
And speaking of Kal Haven Trail news, passes are once again available by mail. Please send checks or money orders to: Trails, 801A Hazen Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079 Make checks payable to: Van Buren County. Fees remain the same as they were in 2004: $35 for a family pass and $15 for an individual pass.
Active subscriptions in
Cheryl VanDer Meer
March Expiring Memberships:
Michael Birmann Family
Jim Kindle Family
Jeff Newman Family
Cheryl & Mark Olson
Kevin Vichinsky Family
KBC’s regular monthly meeting was held
The February meeting began with Mike Boersma giving the floor to David Sperry and Team KBC. Sperry is working on new KBC Race Team bylaws and states that they will fall in line with and model the existing bylaws of the club. He will report back to the club when he has everything together. Sperry also stated that he has been contacted by at least 20 people who wish to join the team and expects at least 15 people will be signed up by the end of the month. This includes two new members who have joined the club just to be on the team. Sperry also has acquired two major sponsors for the race team, Little Caesars and Central Manufacturing Services. The monies from the sponsors will go toward new race jerseys with “Little Caesars Hot and Ready” and Central Manufacturing Services logos on the race wear. Kathy Kirk informed Sperry that a link on the top menu of the club’s web page can be inserted so as to connect directly to a KBC Race Team information web page.
Database Manager Paul Bruneau reports that he still has 50 club member e-mail address confirmations outstanding. KBC needs your e-mail address to let you know where to find the online PedalPress Newsletter. Randy Putt and Kathy Kirk volunteered to help Bruneau in contacting as many people as possible to try to get these addresses confirmed. Bruneau also stated that he is now working to include multiple e-mail addresses for households where the family members each have their own email address for the online PedalPress.
The feedback of the first online PedalPress from club members present was very positive. If you have any suggestions about how to make this newsletter better, please contact the editor or webmaster.
Mike Boersma, KBC President, discussed a road and facility survey as part of an evaluation of how to make the Kalamazoo area more bicycle friendly. This survey can be completed by downloading a Bikeability Checklist. This list is put out by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Possibly by accessing this (an online version) through the club’s website and getting feedback from group rides, then collecting all the data, we as a club can forward our findings to the KATS (Kalamazoo Association Transportation Study) and the Road Commission and hopefully make a difference. The Checklist can be found at http://www.bicyclinginfo.org
Randy Putt, KBC Ride Captain, informed the club that the Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night rides this year will stay the same, and we will also continue the weekly Saturday ride that began last fall starting at St Tim’s Church on BC Ave between Gull Lake and M-43. Putt stated that we still need ride leaders for these rides. Anyone interested please contact Randy Putt.
There will also be a Tuesday ride starting at Pavilion
Township Hall at the corner of
Member Joe Branch asked about starting a group ride on Mondays that incorporated pulling a child behind in a trailer. He suggested this would be a 10 to 15 mph group and asked what safety issues that would entail. After some discussion it was deemed to be feasible if a less traveled route could be worked out. A route on 10th Street from Q Ave. to U Ave. and back to Texas Corners was one option suggested. This would allow members with families more options to ride. Zolton Cohen even gave the ride a name, The K.I.T. Ride, for Kids in Trailers.
Reporting on the FlowerFest, Zolton Cohen noted that several new routes, submitted by FlowerFest volunteer Mike Krischer, are up for review. The route changes had been requested by some riders in recent years. Cohen also noted that we should start to advertise the ride online and in the PedalPress.
Feedback on the Recovery Party on January 22nd at the home of Chris and Marion Barnes was by all accounts a great success. The club extended Chris (Cricket) Howard many thanks for his homebrewed beer and excellent slide show. Thank you notes will be sent out to local bike shops Breakaway Bicycles, Alfred E Bike, and Village Cyclery, all of whom contributed schwag for the party.
On another topic, a discussion of opportunities to educate the public on safe bicycling and with the effort to enhance cycling in the Kalamazoo area, Zolton Cohen, KBC newsletter editor, informed the club that he and Vice President Jim Kindle were contacted by Marsha Meyer, director of the Portage Public Library. Meyer asked if a one hour presentation on Beginning Bicycling could be given some time around June 13th – 15th. It would likely be attended by 15 to 25 people and consist of informing the group on the types of bikes that are available to cyclists, desirable clothing, group riding with KBC, and safety aspects. Kindle and Cohen are now collaborating on putting such a program together.
Cohen has also come up with a concept for a KBC Bike Camp. His ideas include starting a 10-week training season for all ages that would incorporate a seminar on bicycling; how to ride, what type of bike to ride, what to wear, and all safety aspects of bicycling. The rides themselves could be incorporated with regular KBC club rides and the training would get everyone involved working toward the ultimate goal, to ride in the FlowerFest.
Cohen states that this concept comes from the successful collaboration of Gazelle Sports and Borgess Hospital’s Run Camp where 250 to 300 people attend a 13-week program of fitness and fun to get athletes ready for the Big Run, Borgess Run for the Health of It! Discussion on this concept was very positive with members volunteering their help, and with possible additional help from Mark and Cheryl Olson (Pro Trainers) and Paul Wells of Breakaway Bicycles contributing a mechanic to help speak about various items. Cohen stated he would have a proposal worked out to submit to the club at the next meeting.
KBC Vice President Jim Kindle informed the club that on June 5th, 2005 he will be participating in a 100 mile endurance bike ride to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Society has a goal of curing blood cancers through the research it supports. Anyone can make a donation online by going to Jim’s TNT website at www.active.com/donate/tntmi/jimkindle.
Treasurer Tom Keizer reports that we have $9,019.00 in savings and $3,945.00 in checking.
With no further business to attend to, the meeting was adjourned at . Next meeting: Tuesday, March 8, 2005, 7:00 PM, Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street.
Respectfully submitted, Mike Berry, KBC Secretary
I get a bit optimistic at this time of year. The worst
of winter is typically behind us, spring is on the horizon, the great annual
holiday party is history, I watched “American Flyers” for probably the 10th
time, and my annual trip to
The Senior Olympics is being held in
If you are thinking about a cycling
trip this summer, start planning now. There are many opportunities. If you like
the mountains check out Pedal the Peaks (
Plan on the usual
rides for 2005 as described in the February newsletter. We are always
open to route changes and new rides. As a matter of fact, KBC is planning a
couple of new rides this year. Look for a 25 – 30 mile ride on Tuesday evenings,
starting at the Pavilion Township Hall at the corner of
Also, we hope to continue a weekly
Saturday Ride that was started last fall starting at St Tim’s Church on BC Ave
We’re not done yet.
Renee Mitchell and Jelania Haile are interested in establishing a morning ride during the week. The day or days of the week and starting times have not yet been established.
Stay tuned for updates on KBC ride schedule.
Also, we plan to continue the special weekend rides in 2005. The rides were once again successful last year. We now have 7 special weekend rides and there is always room for more. Mark your long-range calendars for the special weekend rides this summer.
· The 5th annual W Ave Ride (48 miles) from Vicksburg High School April 30 or May 7 (Yes, Rick Whaley will be back from Ann Arbor to lead the ride he created. Thanks once again, Rick.)
annual Old Car Festival Ride (about 60 miles) from
· The 8th annual ride to South Haven with a stop at the beach (100 miles) on July 9
· The 3rd annual Family Ride from St Tim’s Church near
· The 8th annual Ride Around Kalamazoo County (100 miles) August 6 or 13
· The 34th KBC Anniversary Ride September 17 (~40 miles)
· The 2nd Fall Ride October 1 or 8 (~40 miles)
The dates for some of these rides are not firmly established for 2005 yet. If you have comments about the above-mentioned rides or have suggestions for other rides, contact Randy Putt by phone or e-mail.
March Ride Schedule
The roads are dry, at least today, and the temperature is in the mid-30’s, so I took a short ride. I suspect I wasn’t the only one. It did feel good to be on my bike outside on the road. There is still snow on the ground, so it is interesting to ride with snow along the side of the road. You never know when the next suitable riding day with present itself, so take advantage of it. On a more positive note, your beloved ride captain is planning a trip south soon. A warming trend will be on the way for him. I’m not so sure the local weather will be so cooperative.
It is the time of year to start planning for rides as the weather starts to improve into more spring-like conditions. I guess I’m an optimist so let’s plan some informal rides for March in preparation for the 2005 ride season. There are no official rides scheduled for March, but I know there will be riders ready to ride as soon as the weather improves. When the weather cooperates, impromptu rides will most likely materialize in the next couple of months.
· Meet at on Saturdays in the SW corner of the KVCC parking lot near the tennis courts in March
· Meet at on Sundays in the SW corner of the KVCC parking lot near the tennis courts in March
· Meet at
on Mondays at
· Meet at on Wednesdays at the Kal-Haven Trail parking lot
· Meet at
on Fridays at Billy’s Bike Shop in
The riders who show up at any of these locations can determine the length and pace of the ride. There will no official ride leader or maps provided in March.
Impromptu weekend rides can happen anytime the weather is suitable and someone is willing to organize, especially in March and April. Contact a few friends and spread the word via email and riders will likely come. If anyone would like to lead a weekend ride in March, give me a call and/or send me a description of the ride via e-mail, or send the ride info to the KBC e-mail group. If the roads are dry, there will be riders ready to ride. I have a lengthy e-mail list of riders, so the information can be transferred quickly and on short notice. If any of you would like to be added to the e-mail list, send your e-mail address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. In March these impromptu weekend rides are likely to become more common. KBC plans to offer at least a partial weekly ride schedule in April as the weather permits. Look for details in the April newsletter.
Many of you may recall that in November 2004 the PedalPress reported on the status of a bill proposed by Senator Michelle McManus of Lake Leelanau, bill # 1389, that would have significantly changed the way bicyclists and other non-motorized vehicles could use Michigan’s roadways.
The bill proposed striking from the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code language that currently allows riding no more than two abreast and replacing it with the more restrictive “A person riding a bicycle shall not ride abreast of another person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, motorcycle, or moped, except as otherwise provided by state law or local ordinance.”
If this bill had passed it would have meant great changes – to say the least - in the way bicycle clubs like KBC conduct club rides. It also would have essentially banned bicycle racing in the state.
Fortunately, according to Lucinda Means, Executive Director of the League of Michigan Bicyclists, “We’ve had one meeting with Senator McManus and are having another one tomorrow. She appears to be supportive of some bike-friendly legislation and her staff has drafted some language that is much more bike-friendly than her previous bill. I think the first bill was to satisfy a peeved constituent and I know that she was extremely surprised by the number and tenor of the negative responses she got from bicyclists from Michigan and across the country. Her chief of staff told me that in 10 years of legislative work she’d never seen anything like it, including the mourning dove bill. However, as my grandmother used to say, “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip” so until some actual bike friendly legislation is actually passed, we will continue to work very closely with Senator McManus and her colleagues on this issue.”
When queried further about the meaning
of “bike-friendly” legislation, Means had this to say, “The Senator's staff is
working with us to draft legislation concerning Michigan's "vehicle
Code" (Michigan Compiled Laws dealing with traffic) that will
incorporate language that is more bike specific and bike friendly from the
current Uniform Vehicle Code, on which states including Michigan base their
vehicle codes. (This description is VERY simplistic, to avoid lapsing into
jargon.) The version of the UVC Michigan used is older than the current UVC and
Michigan hasn't made any changes to the bicycle language in recent memory other
than removing the mandatory sidepath rule for riders older than 16 and removing
the handlebar bell requirement.”
“One example that we are pursuing would be to list conditions under which bicyclists can legally move left and not stay as far right as practicable, such as avoiding road hazards, parked cars etc. Other states around us list those conditions explicitly, Michigan doesn't.”
“It is going to be critical that all cyclists in Michigan support us, WHEN THE TIME COMES, by expressing their support for bike friendly laws. We may need to ask the clubs to disseminate email calls to action to their club members a little later this year to contact their legislators. If so, we want to time this to some extent so that the constituent calls don't happen prematurely, before the proposed legislation is actually in process.”
“I would like KBC to invite me to a club meeting soon to talk about this.” Stay tuned…
KBC Vice President Jim Kindle is tackling the peaks around
Jim writes, “I am training to participate in an endurance event as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. All of us on Team in Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I’m completing this ride in honor of all individuals who are battling blood cancers. These people are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line - a cure!”
“The ride will be 100 miles (known as a century ride)
“I decided to get involved in this for a few reasons. My daughter did a tri last year as a part of this program, and I helped her with her fund raising. My wife and I then went to the event to support her effort, and were tremendously impressed with the Organization (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society), and the organization that they exhibited in putting these teams together. I think I mentioned at the KBC meeting the other night that there were just over 600 TNT members at this tri and they raised over $6.1 million for patient/family support, treatment, and research.”
“Each team has what is called an Honored Hero that we dedicate our efforts to. This Honored Hero is a patient in the area who is fighting for his life or may be in remission, but still requiring treatments and testing. Each participant may also have another person they wish to dedicate their effort to that has been touched by the disease. There are some fairly emotional times when you learn, what for the most part are children, these patients and families have and are going through.”
“I do not know anyone closely who is currently suffering from Leukemia, but a hockey teammate of my son Tyler died from the disease back when he was about 12. It was a pretty rough time. A member of our church just had a 2 year niece pass away from Leukemia, and that child’s mother was recently diagnosed with the disease also. It seems to touch a lot of people.”
“And finally, I decided that since I would be riding my bike anyway, why not use it to help others? I would like to do 4-5 charity rides this season. I currently have 3 planned. Those being this TNT ride, the WAM ride to benefit the Michigan Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the DAL-MAC to benefit bicycling.”
“Please make a donation to support my participation in Team in Training and help advance the Society’s mission. Each donation of $25 or more will receive a TEAM IN TRAINING wristband similar to Lance Armstrong’s. I hope you’ll visit my web site often. Be sure to check back frequently to see my progress. Thanks for your support!”
KBC’s 2004 Most Improved Time Trialer, Victor Van Fleet, suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm in January and is at home recovering from emergency surgery to correct the condition.
His wife, Judy, reports that Vic is sore from the surgery and bears a foot-long scar down his abdomen, but is in good spirits and expects to be back on the bike by April to begin training to defend his title. At this time he cannot receive visitors, but well-wishers can write him a note or a card at:
Victor Van Fleet
5934 Wood Valley Road
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009
According to the March/April issue of AARP Magazine, “biking clubs” are a great place to meet men. Sallie Foley, a marital and sex therapist in Ann Arbor, answered a female reader’s question about the wisdom of signing up with an online dating service with this advice, “Forgive me for playing to stereotypes, but think of interests you have that men are likely to share. For example, political groups, biking clubs, and land preservation organizations are all male magnets. Knitting clubs will probably not be fertile ground for you.”
It’s no secret that KBC rides are attended in large part by men (or boys pretending to be men, as one acerbic female wit once described the weekly club riding scene). But if KBC rides and events are not “fertile” enough ground for you, Foley concludes, “If you have a tomboy streak and love model rockets or railroad trains, you’re set.” We forgive her, barely, for playing to stereotypes…
The Michigan Senior Olympics will be
The Senior Olympics are held for the benefit of participants 50 years of age and older. Age groupings are incremented; 50-54 years, 55-59 years, and so on up into the 90’s for some athletes. And make no mistake, there are some very tough competitors even up into the upper age ranges. State cycling records for the 50-54 age group time trial races are often exceeded by times from athletes ten or more years older.
Cycling events are held in accordance to USCF rules; of course everyone must wear a helmet.
Other Olympic events, for instance running and track and field, will be held at the track at WMU. The time trial and road race courses are yet to be determined.
For more information on these games, please visit http://michiganseniorolympics.com
[Editor’s note: In the April 2004 issue of the KBC Pedal Press, we printed the section of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code that pertained to bicycling on roadways. The idea was to give readers a frame of reference for that issue’s President’s Letter, which addressed cyclists’ rights. Since then, we’ve been wondering what – if anything – new drivers actually are taught about sharing the road with Michigan bicyclists. KBC’s Mary Cohen offered to put that question to a couple of driver’s education representatives and here’s what she learned.]
Driver’s Ed Pros Talk about “Sharing the Road”
By Mary B. Cohen
Every time my cycling spouse heads out for a ride, he rolls away to a volley of my standard sendoffs. “Have a great ride!” “Say ‘hi’ to your biker pals.” “What time will you be home?” “I love you!” The sequence of well wishes changes, but I’m predictable. Even if he’s in a hurry, I will run down the driveway waving and calling after him.
And the last of my cries is always the most important: “Have a safe ride!”
That’s because while cycling is his joy, it is not without hazards. Road conditions, weather, state of alertness, the condition of his or her trusty two-wheel steed – a responsible cyclist prepares as much as possible. But no matter how savvy and sensible, a rider cannot anticipate all the variables. And as any regular cyclist will tell you, the most unpredictable factor is the other folks on the road.
That’s why a group of KBC cyclists out for an early spring ride last year were astonished to be pulled over by a Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department deputy in Texas Township. The officer said his department received angry calls and complaints about cyclists – no doubt some of the same people who roar past bikers hugging the right edge of the pavement, and sometimes shake their fists (or fingers, or whatever’s handy) to punctuate the point.
The truth is that bicycle riders have every right to
Now anyone who has ever tried to get a teenager to clean her room or pick up his soccer equipment probably cringes at the thought of all those newcomers getting behind the wheel. Makes you wonder: What could driver’s education instructors possibly do or say that would drum “sharing the road” into new drivers? To answer that question, I talked with representatives of two respected driving schools in our area. Here’s what they had to say.
The “Eyes” Have It
Van Dyke, director of education for Sears Authorized Driving School based
“Our instructors explain what to do when encountering cyclists,” he says. “And the process is illustrated very well in the films we show.” In fact, “sharing the road” is part of the curriculum covered in course materials, discussion, and instruction. The hard part is giving new drivers the chance to practice doing it.
“There’s not a cyclist every mile down the road even in good weather,” Van Dyke acknowledges. So the key to safety in his mind is observation skills. “If you develop observation skills, it’s safer for the driver and the cyclist,” he says.
Did you ever see somebody make a wide right turn, tailgate the guy in front of him, or brake suddenly and cause a flurry of little skids as a result? Van Dyke says those are signs of poor observation skills. “The driver is looking through the lower portion of the windshield instead of looking up into the lane ahead,” he says. Van Dyke calls that “low-aim steering” – keeping the eyes pegged a few notches below where they need to be. “The eyes need to stay up high; I say they should be roughly one city block ahead of the path of travel,” says Van Dyke. “That gives the driver a bigger picture.”
And it’s not just a matter of road perspective or ability to anticipate upcoming hazards. Honing observational skills by keeping the eyes high is a preventative strategy for road safety.
“The car will go where the driver looks,” Van Dyke explains. “If the driver’s eyes are on the cyclist, the car will drift toward the cyclist.” So a driver nervously eying a pack of riders will unwittingly edge closer to them. Van Dyke suggests the same principle holds true for cycling. Head down and eyes focused on the pothole you’re trying to avoid will aim you right for it. Eyes up a little higher with a search pattern that moves “sidewalk to sidewalk” helps both drivers and cyclists navigate safely.
Since driver’s ed can only provide students with experience based on time of year and local road conditions, Van Dyke says Sears instructors emphasize the eyes. “If our students are learning good observation skills, they will take the proper and safe action necessary,” he says.
“All the Rights and Duties of a Vehicle”
might see Dave Hybels
in the passenger seat of a “Student Driver” vehicle headed down
“I love you guys,” Hybels says genially when I mention the KBC. “Most of the time,” he adds, with a laugh.
Hybels and his colleagues at E-Z Way teach their clients that “the bicyclist is entitled to his space,” he explains. “We insist that kids share the road, slow down, and give riders plenty of room.” At an intersection, students are taught to check for a cyclist, and signal so that cyclist knows where the car is headed. “A cyclist has all the rights and duties of a vehicle,” Hybels says E-Z Way tells its 1,500 students each year. But not all cyclists illustrate that point every time they strap on a helmet.
“You see cyclists in the middle of the road, who don’t stop at the traffic light, who don’t signal,” says Hybels. From the passenger seat as an instructor, he’s seen the rider who tries to make it through a yellow light meet up with the car trying to make a left-hand turn in the opposite direction. Oftentimes it’s a well-outfitted rider with all the gear who should know better. And that’s the kind of thing that catches a new driver’s attention. “A student will say, ‘He didn’t stop! Why should I follow the rules if they don’t?’” Hybels explains.
“For young drivers, it takes some practice to share the road,” he says. That’s why Hybels says he’d welcome a little help teaching by example. “We’re trying hard to educate kids to do it and do it right – to operate their vehicles safely,” he says frankly. “We’d like you guys to do it, too.”
Signs of the Times
Both Van Dyke and Hybels
are sympathetic to cyclists who experience “road rage” on
“You also get that in a regular car with a student driver at the wheel,” says Van Dyke. Hybels agrees, and points to the number of cars on the road, pavement conditions, and limited law enforcement as related factors. “In the 1950s, most families had one car; now some have four,” he says. “We’re not making roads any bigger and there’s even less money in city budgets for repair and maintenance.” On top of that, budget constraints limit the ability of local police departments to enforce speed limits and other safety laws.
“If the 25 or 30 mile per hour speed limit was enforced on Oakland Drive, wouldn’t you feel safer on a bike?” Hybels asks. “I’d feel safer teaching kids to drive, too.”
Until that happens, it sounds as if both driver’s ed professionals and cyclists each have a role to play in educating new drivers and seasoned ones about how to share the road with those of us on a bicycle.
By Chris Kostman, contributing editor to UltraCycling magazine
For more information on endurance cycling go to www.ultracycling.com. Can you ride a century every month – including two makeup rides for winter? Sign up for the Year-Rounder Century Challenge at www.ultracycling.com/standings/year-rounder.html
Centuries, double centuries, and brevets are the bread and butter of most endurance cyclists. They provide a good challenge, great training, an opportunity to test the efficacy of training and nutrition, and a nice day (or more) on the bike with fellow riders. But they’re not easy and are not to be taken for granted. Here are five mistakes to avoid as you train for, and ride, endurance events.
Mistake #1: Not Using Speedwork
One common endurance training mistake is just “putting in the miles.” The mentality is that if you put enough miles in the bank in your training, you can withdraw them later as endurance, maybe even miraculously fast endurance. But this approach is boring, a waste of time, and you won’t get substantially faster!
Many cyclists overlook the fact that the majority of the top RAAM racers over the past twenty years were, or are, also competitive cyclists in the traditional sense (i.e., USCF racing). Pete Penseyres, Michael Secrest, Rob Templin, Danny Chew, George Thomas, and Franz Spilauer are just some of the top RAAMers who raced at a national level (and were competitive there, too). Others, like Michael Shermer and Seana Hogan, train with a racing club at least once a week. High intensity training is an important, or even critical, part of endurance training.
You only get faster by riding faster! In practical terms, you need one or two days a week focused on high intensity speed training. Though hill repeats, interval training against the clock, or even a spinning class can be effective speed training, the best way to increase your speed is to ride with those who are much faster than you are. Joining a weekly racer club workout or weekly crit series is the ticket here. Get out and hammer with the big boys and girls in the pacelines, sprint for the city limit signs, and do your best not to get dropped. Be forewarned, though: it can be humbling for a while, if not for a long while. But you’ll get faster for the long haul.
Another bonus is that, on event day, you won’t get dropped right from the get-go when the lead pack of riders takes off like they’re doing a 40km road race, as they inevitably do. You want to hang with them in the first hours so that you’re not breaking your own wind, and setting your own pace, all day. It’s a shame to get dropped: don’t let it happen to you!
Mistake #2: Doing Long Slow Miles
Don’t confuse “steady” and “slow” and just put in the long miles at an easy intensity. This is a waste of time because the only thing accomplished physiologically by riding slowly is learning how to ride slowly. “LSD” doesn’t stand for “Long Slow Distance,” it stands for “Long Steady Distance.” Some endurance riding is necessary to train for endurance events, but while you’re putting in those miles, do so at a good, steady intensity and keep these additional goals and benefits in mind:
- “Keep it steady and keep it moving” should be the mantra while riding LSD: Don’t dilly-dally while refueling, fixing a flat, or reading the route sheet. Don’t bog down while riding, either, whether on the hills or flats. Use your bike computer to push yourself to maintain an average speed; use your heart rate monitor to see how low you can keep your heart rate while maintaining a challenging average speed. When quicker riders pass you, pick up the pace; riding steadily doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push it sometimes, too.
- Base Fitness Training: LSD rides will allow you to slowly but surely rebuild your body from the inside out. You’ll increase the efficiency of your cardiovascular system and get in touch with your heartrate and breathing patterns. This is particularly important in the early season, when you’re laying the foundation for the year.
- Equipment Testing: If you’re not comfortable on your bike, you won’t ride far. Use your LSD rides, not events, to test saddles, shoes, pedals, aerobars, and such, plus variations on their position. What seems comfortable for 30-50 miles will not necessarily be so after 100 or 200 miles.
- Nutrition Testing: Food and drink choices also won’t reveal their effectiveness until you get way out there. Use your long rides to see which fuel and hydration systems work for you. Whatever you eat and drink, it should be portable, go down well, provide consistent energy (no highs and lows), and keep you hydrated. If you don’t want to carry 100 or 200 miles’ worth of food and drink during your events, find out what the event promoters will serve and train on that. Then when you do the event you won’t need to carry all your own fuel. (But if the event is going to serve Danishes and hot dogs, as some do, you’ll want to carry your own fuel.) By the way, essentially all top distance cyclists use a primarily, or exclusively, liquid-based (or liquid-, pill- and gel-based) fueling system.
Mistake #3: Doing the same thing all the time
The third common mistake is doing the same workout on the same day, week after week. This is boring and unnecessary, so lose those crazy “Tuesdays are for speed work, Wednesday are for hill-climbing” kinds of rules or club ride schedules. As long as you get in the variety and intensity of training necessary, it really doesn’t matter which workout you do on any given day, as long as you recover in time for the next workout or event. Finally, don’t skip training days during the week with the intention of making up for it on the weekends. Use your lunch hour, bike commuting, and even night training so that you are training, on the bike, four or five days a week, no matter what.
Many riders put in their big miles every weekend, because more time is available then. But it’s also important to mix your weekends up and avoid ruts there, too. Some weekends should be back-to-back long rides. Some should be a long ride one day and either a recovery ride or speed work on the other. And some weekends you should just relax with your family after doing a fast club ride on one of the mornings.
Mistake #4: Not allowing recovery
Hey man, give it a rest! The complimentary ideas of “rest days” and “recovery rides” are lost on most athletes. In training, you’re either improving by pushing yourself or recovering by resting or going easily so that you’re ready to push yourself again. Training at a mid-level intensity is only useful during LSD rides. The rest of the time, either hammer or go very, very easy (or don’t ride at all). Each week should include one true recovery ride and one day of complete inactivity except perhaps a walk after dinner (a good habit every day).
If you’re not recovered, your resting heart rate will be elevated and/or you’ll feel listless on the bike. If that’s you, park the bike and rest another day; training on tired legs is a waste of time. Make your training time count, but also make your recovery time count. The point is to keep building, ever higher!
Mistake #5: Staying on the bike all the time
Common mistake number five is never getting off the bike to work out. All cyclists can improve their cycling comfort, endurance, and speed by training off the bike, as well as improve their overall health and fitness.
I’m amazed at the number of overweight endurance riders I see. Either the extra weight is a result of poor dietary habits (fast food for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner?) or these riders are stuck on a plateau, no matter how many miles they train, or how many long events they finish. They need to incorporate more intensity into their training and they need some cross-training to shock their bodies into pushing itself to a higher level. So do the rest of us!
As discussed on other occasions in Ultra Cycling magazine and my website, off-the-bike training should include yoga, Pilates, and/or strength training (i.e., weight lifting). Think of it as filling in the blanks that are left by the huge volume of sports-specific training done on the bike. Swimming and running are two other great compliments to cycling that will not only increase your overall health, but also your cycling ability through increased muscular endurance, strength, and overall joint, muscle, and connective tissue health.
On-the-bike cross-training variations are great, too: mountain biking and spinning classes can do wonders for your road riding. I cross-train in all of these manners regularly and they pay off for me, not only when doing an Ironman Triathlon, but also as I ride doubles, and even as I sit at my desk writing this article.
Avoid the five mistakes outlined above and you should be able to say “make mine another century or double” with a smile and confidence. Enjoy!
Copyright 2004 by the UltraMarathon Cycling Association. Reprinted with permission.
Chris Kostman began riding doubles in 1983. Besides producing the Furnace Creek 508 each October since 1990, he also organizes the Death Valley Century and Double Century in March and October each year. Visit www.adventurecorps.com for all the info.
By Axel Kleat
I read an interview long ago with some wizened old pro. He was doling out pearls of wisdom acquired from his umpteen-bazillion kilometers of racing and riding. The tidbit that really stuck with me was to avoid puddles if at all possible. His reason was a good one—you never know what’s at the bottom. There might just be the mother of all potholes lurking down there.
This afternoon I found myself pondering a man-made puddle and wishing I could avoid it for entirely different reasons—my own nasty sweat accumulating under the trainer as I slogged away getting no place fast. Riding outside on the few rideable days (which lately means at least 30 degrees and reasonably dry roads) that came our way in February has made the return to indoor riding occasioned by this latest blast of winter more insufferable than usual.
I spun the rollers yesterday till I felt my sanity beginning to waver; so today the plan was some low-RPM, high-gear cranking to work on leg strength and power. I suited up in some of my finest too-lousy-to wear-outside-anymore shorts, plugged in an old Tour video, and hoisted a thigh over the crummy old beater strapped to the trainer—all the while vaguely hoping that the corrosion growing like rare mushroom spores from that old steel frame would finally cause something in the general area of the bottom bracket to break, providing the perfect way out.
No luck. Before long, Lance was looking calm, cool, and collected on the TV putting the hurt on the peloton in the Alps, his hundred RPM cadence doing serious damage. On the trainer, I was panting and cranking hard at 60 RPMs, trying to keep things smooth and controlled when I happened to look down to find my own personal salt-water puddle growing beneath the downtube. The low winter light caught the surface of my briny puddle of sweat just so—and I was surprised to see my own reflection, cloudy and vaguely misshapen, looking back up at me.
Well, it doesn’t take much to break my concentration on the trainer, and seeing my visage underneath my bobbing knees was more than enough to do the trick. My cadence dropped off and I was all over the bike as I began thinking about the silliness of the situation. A bicycle is such a beautiful thing, the most efficient mode of transportation devised by man. And there I sat, clamped upright and unmoving to a bicycle’s dreariest attachment, rear wheel an inch off the ground, churning some high-tech fluid inside the trainer clamped on the back.
Looking at my own reflection has long been a starting point for introspection, though generally this takes place in the bathroom mirror for a few seconds at a time. What is it to be alive? Who am I really? What am I doing here on this planet at this time? Do I like whoever it is that I am? Should I try to grow a beard?
But this time I was firmly strapped to the trainer by the remnants of my off-season training resolve, and I still had half an hour to go. Possibly due to the fact that my heart is no longer capable of sending sufficient blood to my brain when my thighs are churning, a different batch of philosophical questions coursed into my frontal lobes. What am I doing here? Why in the world am I engaged in so singularly unrewarding an activity as this? If I’m pedaling my bike but remain stationary, am I actually riding? Wouldn’t it be nice to be riding somewhere nice and warm right now?
The face below reflected back discouraging answers. “You’re suffering, you fool, paying penance for the fun of riding outside in nice weather…For every yin, there’s a yang, and this one is the price of middling fitness come spring…Riding? Of course this isn’t really riding, that’s why they call it the trainer…Don’t you realize that clever entrepreneurs make millions of dollars selling videos and DVDs so you can engage in enough self-distraction to remain sane while subjecting yourself to this torture and tedium? If you really wanted to get tough, you’d be out there riding anyway…yes, a trip to Arizona or even Mexico is sounding really good just now.”
That guy staring back at me…he can be pretty cruel. Only another 25 minutes.
2005 KBC Executive Committee:
President: Mike Boersma Phone: 269-720-1409
Vice President: Jim Kindle Phone: 269-382-8053
Secretary: Mike Berry Phone: 269-427-7204
Treasurer: Tom Keizer Phone: 269-382-4737
Other Important KBC Folks:
Database Manager: Paul Bruneau Phone: 343-6016
Newsletter Editor: Zolton Cohen Phone: 344-0200
Ride Captain: Randy Putt Phone: 649-1814
Social Director: Michele Intermont Phone: 373-8929
Webmaster: Kathy Kirk Phone: 388-5045
Monthly club meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month (except January), at the YMCA on Maple Street in Kalamazoo. Time is 7:00 PM. All members are encouraged to attend.
Membership fees for the
Yearly Adult Membership-----------------------------$15.00
3 Year Adult Membership-----------------------------$40.00
Yearly Family Membership---------------------------$17.00
3 Year Family Membership---------------------------$45.00
Yearly Senior (60+) Membership--------------------$13.00
3 Year Senior (60+) Membership--------------------$35.00
Please go to our website at www.kalamazoobicycleclub.org
to sign up for membership and for more information about KBC.