April 2012 President’s Letter

Is everyone sick of summer yet? Those mid-March mid-80 degree days can throw one off one's game by coming on too quickly. Most of us prefer a more gradual ramp-up to the riding season, allowing incremental increases in speed and distance. That isn't happening this year.

And we're all the poorer for it. The regular Monday and Wednesday rides I've attended thus far have featured average speeds and rider numbers usually associated with mid-July. I'm just not ready for that and must muster the discipline to dial it back a bit until my fitness and riding skills catch up to the calendar.

On the other hand, the pace at which some of the rides are being conducted would seem to give testimony to the concept of participating in spinning classes and riding the trainer during the winter. I must try that sometime.

My traditional approach has been to treat cycling like the baseball season; take some time off in the winter to do other things, like eating and sloth. And then use "spring training" to gradually lose a few pounds and get back into shape. Others, evidently, do not share that philosophy.

Which leads me to ask all of you a big favor . . .

As the years I've been associated with the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club increase in number, the number of people coming to and participating in our ride groups rises as well. I remember back in the mid-90's when a showing of 8-10 people was considered a pretty standard turnout for the Friday night Tour de Gull.

These days, 20-30 people might be on that ride during the summer. On Mondays and Wednesdays in midseason it's not unusual to see 80 people milling around the parking lot waiting to divide up into groups and start their rides. And some of those groups might have 20-30 riders at the start, too.

It is exciting that so many people are so eager to ride in groups with the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. The "issue" of having so many riders show up is a good one to have. But there is a downside to it as well.

As group sizes grow, problems start to crop up. One of the major ones is that auto drivers can get impatient trying to pass a line of cyclists strung out over a quarter mile of roadway. That can induce those drivers to take risks like double-yellow line passing on hills or other actions (including road rage-induced "buzzing" too close to us) that are hazardous.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Because of that, and the fact that it is impossible for our volunteer ride leaders to ride herd on such large groups, we need to start dividing some of the larger groups up into more manageable units.

So, in the event of a lot of people showing up to do a particular ride, we're asking riders to step up and form smaller versions of the larger group.

By the same token, we're asking riders to be willing to join those groups in order to create a more orderly and safe experience for everyone.

We can have some fun with it, too. On some of the more competitive rides, a group starting a minute or two behind another could be the "chaser." Or one group could concentrate on skill-building, like pacelining, or might choose to ride at a slightly faster or slower pace than the other riders. We could even have a portion of a group ride a route backwards. What are your suggestions?

Thank you in advance for your cooperation on this issue. It's an important one and I'm confident we'll all benefit from pitching in and doing our part.

Zolton Cohen, KBC President


Next KBC Monthly Meeting on April 10th, 2012

The next KBC Monthly Meeting will take place at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 at the Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street. All KBC members are welcome to attend.


Pre-Season KBC Ride Meeting on April 17th, 2012

The Pre-Season KBC Ride Meeting will be on Tuesday, April 17th at the Best Western on 11th Street from 7:00 until 9:00 P.M. As in years past, we will cover the rules of the road, give you the option to sign your insurance paper work, and renew your membership.


The 3rd Annual Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival

by Brian Moon

Bicycle enthusiasts will be gathering April 26th for the 3rd year of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival's "Bike Shorts" program. This program is a collection of short films that celebrate bicycles and the culture that surrounds them. The films feature a wide spectrum of experiences, stories and images of bicycling. Some will make you laugh. Some will make you think. The common theme is that they are all for, about, or inspired by bicycles.

The final line up of 15 – 20 films will be determined after the April 1st entry deadline. The films originate from the United States and internationally. They range in length from the 1 minute long Switch to the 30 minute long Böikzmöind. Switch shows the transition from winter to spring as a snowboarder becomes a mountain biker. The United Kingdom film Böikzmöind is about riding fixed gear bikes in beautiful Bristol. The film shows the diverse cross section of riders and asks – why ride bikes with no gears in a city full of hills? It also shines a light on the community and camaraderie that comes with the simple joy of riding bicycles. The remaining films that fill out the program include action, comedy, animation, music videos, and documentaries.

The "Bike Shorts" program will be presented for one showing April 26, 2012 at Western Michigan University's Little Theater located on the corner of Oakland Drive and Oliver Street. Tickets are $8 general admission and $5 for students. This night of bike films is made possible by Breakaway Bicycles, Pedal Bicycles, Alfred E Bike, Johnson Cycle Works, the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, and Gazelle Sports. More information including directions to the theater, film descriptions and trailers can be found at www.KalamazooBicycleFilmFestival.com.

For more information, contact Brian Moon at 269-365-3850 or kbff@live.com.


The 12th Annual W Ride

It's spring, and you know what that means! Time for the 12th Annual W Ride! This year, it will take place on Saturday, April 28 at 9:00 A.M in Vicksburg. (Michigan, not Mississippi, for those of you who thought that we were going to be taking a road trip.)

And this year, a new tradition begins! From now on, the W Ride will also alternate the direction of the ride from year to year, just like a ride that's almost as famous as the W Ride, the Tour de France. So, this means that this year, for the first time, we will ride to Calhoun County first!

That's right! After beginning the ride at the east parking lot of Vicksburg High School, we will turn left and travel east on W Avenue until we reach the Calhoun Country line. Then we'll turn around and ride west, back to Vicksburg. We'll then make the traditional stop for drinks and a snack at the local convenience store in Vicksburg before continuing west on W Avenue to the Van Buren County line. Then, we'll turn around, once again, and ride back to Vicksburg. That's 48 miles of W Avenue and we'll be enjoying every inch of it! As usual, maps will be provided for those of you are worried about getting lost.

Rick Whaley will lead the main group of riders, and the speed will probably be around 16 to 18 mph. But other groups of riders are welcome to ride at any speed they like. Be a part of history and do the first W Ride that travels East-West-East, instead of West-East-West. Your friends will be insanely jealous.

Rick Whaley, W Ride Leader


CMS Racing Team

CMS Race Team Barry-Roubaix Recap

by Jesse Riegle

(Editor's Note: The Barry-Roubaix race is a road race of either 62, 36, or 24 miles in Barry County on mostly gravel roads. This year's race took place on Saturday, March 24, 2012.)

The 2012 Barry Roubaix was another spectacular event for this relatively young race. Over 1,500 pre-registered racers came bearing down on the Gun Lake unit of Yankee Springs Recreation area for this 4th annual BRX. After the flood warnings and watches from the previous day of drenching rain had ended, the BRX course was left in near perfect conditions. This year marks the first ever Barry Roubaix that started in above freezing temperatures. With the balmy 55 degree race start temperature there was a relatively naked feel to the short sleeve and short lycra kits donned by the racers. There was a fine mist in the air and the ground was plenty saturated but the rain had helped wash away some of the sand that had accumulated throughout the two track sections that were sure to be a brutal and testing section of the course.

CMS Race team had a great showing for this event with Dylan Gonda, Lewis Henrickson, Jesse Riegle, Joe Thomas, Pete Post, Jamie Clark, Darryl Dolby and Ray Fulkerson all coming out strong and looking sharp wearing their CMS kits. It was a brutal race this year with all the congestion on the two track sections. Jamie took an early crash racing in the "Fat Bike" division that sent him to the ER for some x-rays of his beautifully colored grapefruit sized swollen hematoma to his thigh as well as a little cosmetic repair to his ankle that included a few stitches. He will be as good as new and back to racing within the week, though. The rest of the CMS team managed to make it through the mayhem with minimal chaos and the race continued through rural Barry County. The hills are still very large and the speeds are intense for this early season kick off race for 2012. The second section of newly added two track on the end of the course proved to be a deciding factor for many of the racers as it was a nasty climb laden with sand and ruts. After that section there was no looking back and the rest of the ride is history.

The finishing results were very impressive for CMS. In the 36 mile race, Dylan Gonda took 6th place in the 11-19 age group, Lewis Henrickson took 10th place in the 20-29 age group (36 miles), Jesse Riegle took 2nd place with Joe Thomas in 3rd for the 30-34 age group, Pete Post took 27th in the 45-49 age group, and Ray Fulkerson took 5th in 50-54 age group. It was an excellent day for CMS!


An Interview with Ethan Alexander, Founder of the Open Roads Bike Program

by Paul Selden

I was introduced to Ethan Alexander, founder of the Open Roads Bike Program, by Ron Fuller, Superintendent of KRESA. Ron suggested that Ethan would be a great delegate to work with to represent KRESA in our efforts to make the community even more bicycle friendly. Once I had the chance to talk with Ethan, who is employed as a Positive Behavior Support Specialist by KRESA, I learned what a great choice Ron had made. Ethan is not just a passionate supporter of bicycling. He also founded and runs a non-profit organization called the Open Roads Bicycling Program, which operates in Kalamazoo.

P: Ethan, what is Open Roads?

E: The Open Roads Bike Program is a youth development organization. We use bikes to teach youth bicycle mechanic skills, plus social skills at the same time.

P: How do you do that?

E: The short answer is we conduct a series of eight week educational programs in partnership with host organizations in the Kalamazoo area. While we are teaching the kids how to repair a bike and fix flats, we are also teaching them social interaction skills, such as how to introduce themselves in public and how to listen to others in a respectful manner. Each youth going through the program gets a free bicycle, helmet, and lock.

P: What motivated you to start Open Roads? Where did the emphasis on social skills come from?

E: The primary motivation came from my father. I was born and raised in Northern Michigan. When I was two years old, my dad decided that we no longer needed a car. So for the next 10 years we moved in the world through bicycle. Spring, summer, fall, and winter. Bicycle only. It was an amazing way to live. And the whole time my father told the rest of the world that the BICYCLE was the way to go. Cars weren't safe and there were TOO many of them. So, we got around by bike.

The emphasis on social skills came about because I thoroughly enjoy working with kids. And I believe that bicycles are an essential ingredient to childhood. They represent freedom and independence. Bikes are a tool for self sufficiency. As far as social skills go, every young person needs to have the ability to get along well with the world around them. Whether in a job, in school, or a family, we need to play well together. Open Roads gives all kids a great start.

P: I assume you work with volunteers to run your program. Tell me about them, and who is involved with the Open Roads Project.

E: Our volunteers are tremendous…very unique and community-minded. They have a combination of passion, both for bikes and a love of educating our youth in varying proportions. We have about 30 volunteers ranging in age from about 16 to 60.

P: Do your volunteers all have to be born mechanics?

E: Not at all. Many just love to teach the social skills we emphasize: how to show respect for others, owning your own actions, self-discipline, and bike safety. They may pick up a few mechanical skills, such as how to adjust a bike for proper fit, and so on, along the way.

P: You have a tremendous emphasis on education. About how many kids does Open Roads run through its structured programs each year? Does the program operate year-round or mainly in the summer?

E: We hold four to six educational sessions for youths per year, from May through October, with about 40-50 attending annually. Perhaps 75 people attend our "Fixapaloozas." These are open to the community at large.

P: I met a bunch of your volunteers when I visited your huge warehouse facility on Cameron in the Edison neighborhood. I bet there were maybe 25-30 old bikes there. How did you come upon that facility, and what do you use it for?

E: We rent that structure. It's a business incubator in the Edison neighborhood that we heard about through one of our board members. It serves as our base of operation.

P: Where do you get the money to do rent a big warehouse like that?

E: Our funding comes from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, generous private donors, and our community-based bike sales and service.

P: Does Open Roads do anything besides provide youth education programs?

E: As a way to generate revenue for our youth programs, we also provide used bicycle sales and service. We probably have about 10-15 of bikes for sale at any given time, from $25-$100, including mountain, road, kids, and cruisers. We have tandems and a quadruple seater that we use just for fun. We also create handmade bike racks for the public. The bike racks are a wonderful opportunity for us to recycle bikes that would otherwise be thrown into a landfill. You can see some of them at the People's Food Co-op and on the first level of the parking structure next to the Rave theatre downtown. We also staff an informational booth at the Kalamazoo Farmer's Market.

P: Thanks for sharing your time, Ethan. Anything you'd like to add, in conclusion?

E: Just that if anyone would like to volunteer or donate an old bike, we'd welcome that. You can check us out on our web site, www.openroadsbike.org .


Monthly Meeting Minutes

The March 13, 2012 meeting of the KBC was called to order by President Zolton Cohen, at 7:05 P.M. Those in attendance were: Zolton Cohen, Tom Noverr, Frank Machnik, Paul Selden, Chad Goodwill, Doug Wales, Marc Irwin, Dale Krueger, Kathleen Kroll, Tom Keizer, Rick Whaley, Cindi MacDonald, Jon Ballema, David Jones, John Olbrot, Teri Olbrot, Mike Mock, Michael Krischer, Mike Boersma, Nancy Clinton., and Mary Gerger.

Treasurer John Olbrot gave the Treasurer's Report:

Checking Account$5,663.97
Savings Account0.00
Certificate of Deposit11,110.65

Director of Road Safety Paul Selden reported that the City of Portage has $20,000 available for Bike Lane repairs. Paul stated that he had been given a list to help prioritize the Bike Lanes in need of repairs

The members in attendance at this meeting wishing to become KBC Sanctioned Ride Leaders were sworn in by President Zolton Cohen. Those members were: Thomas G. Noverr, Frank J. Machnik, Mark A. Irwin, Chad Goodwill, Dale B. Krueger, Kathleen Kroll, Tom Keizer, Cindi MacDonald, John Olbrot, Teri Olbrot, Mike Mock, and Michael Krischer.

The KBC was very fortunate to have Mark Olson, from AthleticMentors, LLC. as our guest speaker. He spoke to the group about developing a Cycling Training Plan. It was a very informative presentation, with a great amount of information shared in a very short time. Our thanks to Mark for speaking to our group. The presentation for the evening can be downloaded here.

The Special Interest Group Committee Report (SIG) was given by Paul Selden. He reported that this month's report was essentially the same as last month's report and that over 90% of the respondents want to communicate more easily with one another.

Paul reported that the Communications Committee was considering David Jones' suggestion of using the Yahoo Groups which are already in use by the KBC. Zolton told Paul that the Communications Committee is authorized to act on whatever they determine to be the optimum form of communication, and thanked them for all of their hard work.

There was no Old Business this evening.

Under New Business, Rick Whaley reported that the Pre-Season Ride Meeting was fast approaching. Zolton noted that Bill Figeley was happy to organize that meeting.

Zolton introduced Chad Goodwill as the new Social Director of the KBC, and thanked him for volunteering to fill that position.

Respectfully Submitted,

Mary Gerger, KBC Secretary



The electronically-distributed KBC Pedal Press comes out on or around the first of each month.

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Editor's Letter – Dodging Bullets

A butterfly flaps its wings. In the resulting turbulence, a leaf falls from a tree. The leaf brushes against a squirrel. The startled squirrel dashes across the street in front of a car. The equally started driver slams on his brakes. The even more annoyed passenger throws a beer bottle at the squirrel. The beer bottle, who remains emotionless, shatters on the shoulder of the road. The cyclist runs over the broken glass. And there I am about a half mile later, just after turning north on 8th Street, replacing a bicycle tube.

Actually, who knows how that broken glass ended up on the shoulder of U Avenue, but I figure that the above hypothesis is as good as any. What I do know, however, is if I had avoided U Avenue that particular summer afternoon, I would not had ridden over the glass and would not have gotten that flat tire. What I don't know is what would have happened if I had ridden down V Avenue instead. And while I'm on the subject, what would have happened had that butterfly not flapped its wings. Probably nothing unfortunate, but you never know.

And that's the thing about dodging bullets; almost all of the time you don't know that you've dodged one. But there are times when you do.

A couple weeks ago, I was watching an NCAA basketball tournament game and during a commercial break, I turned to the Weather Channel to see what the weather was going to be like the next day. As soon as the local forecast was over, the weather forecasters began to talk about a tornado that had touched down in Dexter, Michigan a few hours earlier. Having lived in Dexter for four years before moving back here in 2007, this news got my attention. They showed some footage of the areas that were damaged and it wasn't until the very end of the video that I thought I recognized one area of damage that wasn't too far from where I used to live.

So, I got on the internet and pulled up a video taken from a helicopter. I tell you, it's a strange feeling when the first thing that you see is two demolished houses and you realize that they are across the street from where you used to live. The video soon panned to my old house, which, while not demolished, was heavily damaged. That video and other videos showed that my former house had lost about a quarter of its roof, the garage door had been crumpled like aluminum foil and was draped over a car in the garage, and the side of the garage where I used to prop up my bicycles was now incapable of propping anything up, since it was lying on the lawn. A large piece of plywood had been driven through one of the bay windows in the front of the house and there were additional wood, vinyl siding, and other debris all over the yard. There was also some yellow "Do not enter" tape wrapped around the front doorknob and I have to wonder if my former house will join some of its neighbors and eventually be demolished.

I thought of all the rides I used to take through this neighborhood in order to get from my Point A house to Point B and then back to Point A; this neighborhood now riddled with the capricious damage that tornadoes do. I thought about my bicycles that almost certainly would have been destroyed, as well as other mementos of my life that might have been destroyed, had I still lived in that house. And I thought about the damage that had occurred to my current house, thanks to the 70+ mph winds that blew through the area last July.

A few hours after that summer storm, I drove directly from work to the Monday night ride, and when I drove home after the ride, I discovered that the winds had sheared off a tree in my front yard, a tree that was now lying against the front of my house. In addition to some shingle damage, there were soffits in my yard that had, until very recently, been over the entryway to my front door and over my patio in the back of my house. Because most of my neighbors' houses had been untouched by the storm, I thought that I had been unlucky, but the events in Dexter had driven home the point, once again, that luck is a relative thing. I hadn't dodged that bullet, but I had dodged a hand grenade by almost four and a half years.

The next week, I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to ride my first Wednesday night ride of the year. When I got home after the ride, I noticed that my chain had slipped off the freewheel. Turning my bike upside down and placing the handlebar and the seat on the floor of my garage to put the chain back on, I found that the seat was no longer parallel to the top tube. Apparently, I had been riding so fast that the force of the wind had torn the bottom of my seat, in addition to the space-time continuum. Getting tired of listening to Eddy Merckx's labored breathing during his struggle to stay on my wheel, I decided that I had better ride back into 2012, and I did so. But that still didn't repair the seat.

A more likely explanation was that the seat had been slowly tearing for a while, and twisting the bike after setting it on the ground provided enough force to detach the seat from the two pronged end of the seat rail. I then began to wonder what would have happened if the seat had detached in this manner while sliding on my seat before rising to stand on the pedals. I strongly suspect that sitting down afterwards would have provided a very unpleasant surprise and it is entirely possible that I would have crashed my bike, while leaving some unusually placed scars. So, perhaps, I dodged yet another bullet.

So, you go out on a ride and you find that you have to come home early. Or you have to wait for a long train to pass. Or you get a flat tire. Inconveniences all, but it could have been a lot worse. You never know what could have happened had you continued riding, had started that ride 5 minutes earlier, or had chosen a different route. And that's something to keep in mind while fixing that flat tire.

And in the meantime, there's a bicycle club newsletter editor writing an Editor's Letter after a hard ride a few hours earlier. His hamstring cramps. He screams. In the resulting turbulence, . . . .

Rick Whaley, KBC Newsletter Editor


Some Upcoming Rides of Interest

Sunday, April 15. Fisk Knob Time Trial. Fisk Knob (Kent) County Park. 28 km (17.3 mile) time trial. http://www.fusioncycling.org.

Saturday, May 12. Trailblazer 2012. Kalamazoo and South Haven, Michigan. 25, 35, 45, 70, and 100 miles. Trailblazer.2012@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 P.M. Ride of Silence. Johnson Cycle Works, 5309 Gull Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan. jen.johnson@wmich.edu.

Wednesday through Sunday, August 29 – September 2. 42nd Annual Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw (DALMAC) Bicycle Tour. Four rides over 4 or 5 days, ranging from 286 to 404 miles. Registration has begun and all rides fill up quickly. www.DALMAC.org


Classified Ads

Extra large cycling shirt, hardly worn as it was too large for me. Blue and white with Volvo and Cannondale the primary words on the shirt. $30. Dale Krueger at 375-0114 or dalekrueger@charter.net

Looking for a used women's bike in good condition, hybrid, for paved road/trail rides. Not sure of the size bike needed, but I'm petite, 5'3." Contact Donna at doandres@att.net or (269) 968-9674 (home) or (269) 830-1706 (cell).


Shop Notes

Alfred E Bike

320 East Michigan, Kalamazoo, (269) 349–9423

Billy's Bike Shop

63 East Battle Creek Street, Galesburg, (269) 665–5202

Breakaway Bicycles

185 Romence at Westnedge, Portage, (269) 324–5555,
Are you or someone you know looking for a new job? Breakaway Bicycles & Fitness of Portage is now accepting applications for employment in both sales and service. We are looking for a few full or part time salespeople as well as a full or part time mechanic. Experience is a plus, but not essential. If you are interested, please visit our website at www.breakawaybicycles.com and click on the careers link on the bottom left of the page for an application.

Custer Cyclery

104 North Augusta, Augusta, (269) 731–3492

Gazelle Sports

214 South Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, (269) 342–5996,
It's time for Gazelle Sports' Spring Sock Sale!
Buy 3, get a 4th pair FREE!
Sale runs April 15 - May 31.
And check out our 5k/10k Training Program! Orientation meeting April 12, 6:00 P.M. at Gazelle Sports, downtown Kalamazoo.
More info at www.Gazellesports.com. Click on "Training," then "Training Programs."

Johnson Cycle Works

5309 Gull Road, Kalamazoo, (269) 226-0001.


611 W Michigan Avenue, Kalamazo, (269) 56–PEDAL
info@pedalbicycle.com and www.pedalbicycle.com

Team Active

22 W Michigan, Battle Creek, 1–800–841–9494

Village Cyclery

US 131 in Schoolcraft, 679–4242

Zoo City Cycle & Sports

4328 South Westnedge, Kalamazoo (269) 552–3000


Bicycling Safety Disclaimer

Important: Riding a bicycle is an inherently dangerous activity. There are risks of injury or death. You could ride over something and fall, or get hit by an automobile or strike or be struck by another bicyclist. There are many other dangers to bicycling as well.

While nothing can eliminate all risks associating with bicycle riding, to minimize the danger, make sure you and your bicycle are in good riding condition. Know the rules of the road and also of the group you're riding with, and ride in a manner consistent with the protocols of that group. Always wear a bike helmet, use bike lights if riding in the dawn, dusk or dark, and consider purchasing and riding with additional safety equipment such as reflectors and rear view mirrors.