December 2013 President’s Letter

A Different Perspective on Things

Newly elected to another term as President of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, my thoughts turned immediately to partying; specifically, to the club's annual Recovery Party.

As some of you may have heard, Teri and John Olbrot, longtime hosts of the Recovery Party, are not going to be able to accommodate us in their home this year. We thank them for so generously putting up with us for so long. But we do need to look into obtaining a new venue to hold this year's event. It's not too early to start thinking about this and lining something up. January will roll around sooner than we all think.

So, do any of you have a house large enough to contain 70-80 friendly people for about three hours on a winter evening? We'll pay for cleaning your carpets after the party is over.

Or do you have access to a suitable community or commercial space that could be borrowed or rented for little or no money? Please let Social Director Chad Goodwill know (he can be contacted at if you come up with any ideas.

In the meantime, have you had the chance to get out on your bike lately? The weather has turned chilly - and ferociously windy at times. And wet, too. But there have been days here and there decent enough to get out and ride and I have taken advantage of a few of those.

One thing always strikes me when I ride at this time of year: when traversing familiar roads and routes, everything looks completely different. With leaves gone from the trees and brown fields replacing the green and lush growth of summer, it's like traveling to another state or country.

You can see further in all directions, although the openness contributes to doing battle with the wind on a more frequent basis. But I've discovered new buildings; houses I never knew were there before, and signs and mailboxes and billboards. Hills and valleys, too, and the dark, broken corpses of trees lying tangled on the floor of the forests I pedal past.

This is a different time of year. Riding seems like more of a look-around-you-and-take-it-in type of scenario than a follow-the-wheel-in-front-of-you-and-try-not-to-get-dropped activity. If you haven't tried it, or have given up riding for the year, put on some tights, booties, a hat and a wind shell, and give it a try. You don't have to go far or fast. But just get out and enjoy yet another side to this great sport. It truly does give you a different perspective on things.

Zolton Cohen, KBC President


Next KBC Monthly Meeting on December 10th, 2013

The next KBC Monthly Meeting will take place at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, December 10th 2013 at the Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street. All KBC members are welcome to attend.

Voting for the KBC's Friend of Bicycling Award for 2014 will take place at this meeting.


KBC's Friend of Bicycling Award Nominees

Besides seeing your cycling pals, there's another reason to join us at the next KBC meeting on Tuesday, December 10. You get to have your say in KBC's 2014 Friend of Bicycling Award. If you are a KBC member in good standing, you are eligible to vote for your favorite nominee, but you must be present at the meeting to vote. Reading through the nominations, I am once again reminded how lucky we are to live in our bicycle friendly community! And the nominees are:

Athletic Mentors

Athletic Mentors, founded by Cheryl Olson and her business partner Mark Olson, has been one of the primary driving forces growing young people's involvement with bicycling and improving the visibility of bicycling in West Michigan, through the development of many successful cyclists and cycling related events. Mark and Cheryl created Athletic Mentors in order to make cycling's healthy lifestyle their careers by training athletes of all levels and giving them opportunities to make the most of their potential. In addition, working through Athletic Mentors, Cheryl has been THE driving force behind the growth of women's bike racing in Michigan.

By working with many successful West Michigan businesses (including Bissell, Advantage Benefits, and Priority Health), Athletic Mentors has raised public awareness and involvement in dozens of events ranging from television's Miranda's Party in the Park and bike skills clinics to KBC's own BTR Criterium and the 2013 Lawton State Road Race. Athletic Mentors has also helped many West Michigan amateur athletes stand on the podium at dozens of state and national events and has helped launch careers for world class athletes Brent Bookwalter and Ted King, both of whom currently race for Division 1 international professional teams. (We're talking Tour de France, folks!)

Kalamazoo Gazette / MLive

For the past few years, Kalamazoo Gazette / MLive covered an especially wide spectrum of bicycling news and seemed especially proactive in doing so throughout 2013. Reporting included KBC's Bike Camp, the events held during Kalamazoo Bike Week 2013, a bicycle-motorist safety editorial, articles about interesting human powered vehicles, coverage of Chris Gottwald's world-record setting 100 mile ride, numerous charity related rides, news of trails, and interesting bike tours that local riders participated in, among many others. Community Engagement Specialist Linda Mah has been very helpful and quick to answer questions posed to her in regards to bicycling related news.

Safe Kids of Kalamazoo County

For many years, the volunteers at Safe Kids Kalamazoo County, now led by Deb Carpenter (a member of Bronson Children's Hospital), have addressed the safety needs of a group of bicyclists that are often overlooked by others: children and younger bicyclists. KBC members know first hand about their work because we have played a part in some of the events that Safe Kids helps to organize or participate in (such as the Bike Rodeo and the Kids Triathlon) and can personally attest to the many positive contributions that the Safe Kids helmet program brings to our community.

Open Roads Bike Program

This past year, as they have for a number of years, the Open Roads Bike Program offered community based development programs that teach social and bike mechanic skills to area youth. All of their bikes are donated by community members. Open Roads was founded by Ethan Alexander, who, with the help of many volunteers, pioneered a number of their key programs. Programs include a weekly two-hour "Fixapalooza," creating the hand crafted bike rack sculptures seen throughout the community (e.g., the People's Food Co-op), a monthly booth at the Bank Street Farmer's Market, and the program for which they are perhaps best known, their eight week bike repair and social skills educational program. Open Roads is a great example of how a dedicated group of people has grown over the years by doing good both for the community while advancing the interests of bicycle education.

Kathy Kirk, Chair, Friend of Bicycling Committee


Rider Profile: Kyra Niehus-Staab, Bike Commuter

In the hilly West Main Hill neighborhood, shortly after the time middle school gets out, it is not unusual to see a reed of a girl riding her bike. She usually has on a backpack, but occasionally, when there is much to carry, she will fill up a recently-purchased saddlebag that hangs off a rear rack on her red Trek hybrid bicycle.

That girl is 13 year old Kyra Niehus-Staab, an 8th grader at Linden Grove School, located on Arboretum Parkway. And, although some of her schoolmates ride their bikes to school during the warm months, she is nearly unique in the fact that she bike commutes through rain and cold - and, recently, snow.

Asked why she doesn't take the bus along with the other kids in the neighborhood, she replies, "The bus is slow and boring. Biking is a much more interesting way to get to school."

On her bike, Kyra can ride the approximately three mile distance from her house to school in about 15 minutes. Or, as she says, "Eleven or 12 if I'm trying to go fast. On snowy and cold days though, or when the roads are icy, it might take 20 minutes." The bus takes between 30 and 40.

"The bus goes in all different directions to pick up kids at their houses," Kyra says. "But on my bike I can ride directly to and from school, so it doesn't take as long." And by opting for the bike instead of the bus, she can sleep in a few extra minutes each day.

The Niehus-Staabs are a biking family. Dad Eric bike commutes to his job at Kalamazoo College, and Kyra says he influenced her decision to start doing the same, to her school. When not in school, Kyra likes riding on the Kal-Haven Trail, and with her brother Liam and other kids in the neighborhood. She always wears her helmet, but notices that many of her schoolmates do not.

Riding in the fall and winter presents challenges, Kyra says. Though she wears heavy winter gloves, her fingers still get cold; precipitation can be conquered, however, through the use of a rain poncho.

Other than a long, steep hill on the ride home, the most difficult thing to negotiate on her bike commute, she says, is college students on WMU's campus. "They're on their cell phones and don't pay attention when I yell 'Excuse me!' So I have to dodge them."

Environmental impact also played a part in Kyra's decision to start riding to and from school. Last year she carpooled with several other kids in the neighborhood, but this year decided to strike out on her own using her bike, reducing her carbon footprint even further.

Kyra says she will ride as late into the winter as she can, until the weather and ice make it impossible. But she'll pick it up again the spring. And as to the benefits of her bike commute: "It's nice to see the ponds on WMU's campus, and otherwise I wouldn't be getting any exercise at all. And I just really enjoy riding my bike."

Well said, Kyra Niehus-Staab. And ride on...

13 year old Kyra Niehus-Staab pauses after a snowy-day bike commute home from Linden Grove Middle School in Kalamazoo.

Zolton Cohen


CMS Race Team Monthly Update

Well, the road season has been laid to rest for 2013 and I think for a lot of us it couldn't have come soon enough. Come September, motivation is seriously waning as the majority of us have been training hard since January and racing since March. Aside from relaxing and dreaming of next year, the fall does offer a few nice things. Easy rides whenever you feel like it (or no rides if you don't feel like it), but more importantly, cyclocross and Iceman! Some of us have been making it out to a few cyclocross races around the state and in our back yard with the hopes of having some fun, maintaining form a little bit longer, and, of course, seeing who can suffer the most.

Early last month was also The Iceman Cometh mountain bike race and yet again it didn't disappoint. The team had a few riders in the mix, though I don't know all the results. I do know that Joe Thomas got 63rd in the Pro Category which is absolutely phenomenal. He had this to say about the race.

"It was a rush coming into the finish with many people yelling your name. I made a move in the last kilometer to beat the guys I rode in with. It wasn't my strongest day on the bike. The first few miles blew me up trying to keep pace with some very fast guys. Seeing a group in front of you and trying to bridge the gap in the pro race is nearly impossible. A couple of pile ups in the first couple miles allowed the leading groups to get away really quickly. I'll most likely be back for more next year ... if anyone can get a top 40 or 50 in that race you're doing well."

For me .... I think it's high time I bought a mountain bike.

Jon Ballema, CMS Race Team Director


Long Rides SIG November Update

In November, Long Riders Paul Selden and Marc Irwin rode to Yankee Springs, and Rick Whaley and Paul Selden made it to Shipshewana from Vicksburg (with Marc Irwin joining us as far as a turn-around by way of Centreville). Chilly 15-20 mph head winds were the order of the day for both rides. (Editor's Note: The ride from Shipshewana back to Vicksburg was fun. The ride to Shipshewana, not so much.) Then, in the week before Thanksgiving I did a 131+ mile Portage-Union City-White Pigeon-Decatur-Portage loop.

The KBC long rides special interest group is going into hibernation for now. Some of us will be riding throughout the winter when the opportunity presents itself, but this will not be on any kind of a pre-announced or even semi-organized basis. Rumor has it that two more KBC members have joined Randonneurs USA (RUSA), so stay tuned to see what happens next season. My prediction is that next year we'll be doing at least one longish (62-90 mile) ride monthly. These will probably be scheduled on the weekends to make it easier for more people to join in the adventures.

As for me, I'm still riding, but it's almost time to put on my ice tires and move some of the training rides indoors.

Over the winter, to help you contemplate what long riding is about, check out and for more information.

If you have any long ride updates to share with your fellow KBC members, please send them to

Paul Selden

Monthly Meeting Minutes

The November 12th, 2013 meeting of the KBC was called to order by President Zolton Cohen at 7:03 P.M. Those in attendance were: Terry O'Connor, Kathy Kirk, David Jones, Renee Mitchell, Bob Allwardt, Rick Whaley, Mike Boersma, John Olbrot, John Idema, Nicole Allman, Doug Kirk, Zolton Cohen, Pete Post, Nikki Gates, and Mary Gerger.

John Olbrot gave the treasurer's report:

Checking Account$7,829.31
Certificate of Deposit $11,130.01

Director of Road Safety Paul Selden reported on infrastructure planning relating to bicyclists in Kalamazoo County. He referenced a preliminary draft of a policy document being circulated for comments to be reviewed by the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

Awards Committee member Paul Selden announced there are four nominations for the 2014 Friend of Bicycling Award. The committee will be reviewing the nominations, and information on the nominees will be in the December issue of The Pedal Press. All KBC members present at the December 10, 2013 meeting will vote for the recipient of the 2014 Friend of Bicycling Award.

Elections were held for 2014 KBC Executive Officers. Election results are:

President:Zolton Cohen
Vice-President:Doug Kirk
TreasurerJohn Olbrot
SecretaryMary Gerger

Board Appointed Positions for 2014 were approved by the Executive Board, and are as follows:

Database Manager:David Jones
Webmaster:Cullen Stevenson
KBC InsuranceTerry O'Connor
Pedal Press EditorRick Whaley
Education ChairRenee Mitchell
Director of Road SafetyPaul Selden
KalTour DirectorMike Krischer
Social DirectorChad Goodwill
KBC Friend of Bicyclist Award Committee ChairKathy Kirk
Public Relations ChairMarc Irwin

Joining the Awards Committee for 2014 are Bob Allwardt and Pete Post.

"Thank You" to all of these members for volunteering their time and efforts with the KBC during the upcoming year!

Nicole Allman (from the Vine Neighborhood Association, AmeriCorps, and Local Initiative Support Corporation), spoke about a grant to improve cycling infrastructure within the Vine Neighborhood area.

A discussion was held regarding the Kalamazoo Pedestrian Coalition petition proposal. The KBC has decided to table their support of this petition, as it stands at this time.

Zolton mentioned that the KBC Recovery Party, held annually in January, is looking for a new venue. Many thanks are extended to John and Teri Olbrot for hosting the party in previous years. Several ideas for a new location were discussed and more information on the 2014 Recovery Party will be forthcoming.

Kathy Kirk wanted to express special thanks for certain articles in The Pedal Press. Rick Whaley's Editor's Letter, Doug Kirk's article on Kalamazoo Bike Week, and Zolton's President's Letter were all mentioned by Kathy as great contributions to the November 2013 Newsletter.

Doug Kirk brought up the possibility of the KBC sponsoring some type of bicycling event during the Kalamazoo Bike Week 2014. Please contact Doug with your creative suggestions.

David Jones reported there should be updated information on his bicycle tire recycling project in the December issue of the Pedal Press. (Editor's Note: Updated information will appear in the January issue of the Pedal Press.)

Zolton briefly discussed BTR race funding issues brought up at the 2013 BTR Bike Race follow-up meeting. He indicated there will be a race in 2014.

Zolton adjourned the meeting at 8:02 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,

Mary Gerger, KBC Secretary



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Nighttime in Portage

My headlight let me down again. It doesn't hold a charge very well and I have found that it suddenly loses power at inopportune times, and any time is inopportune while riding at night. Still, I had expected it to work for more than 50 feet after rolling out of my driveway. I have also found that slapping it like an old black and white TV whose rabbit ears had seen better decades sometimes fixes it. This time it didn't. So, I stopped, replaced the nonfunctioning headlight with a AA batteries powered headlight that I was carrying in case of probable emergency, and continued on my way.

The night was clearless, a harbinger of the snow that could be occurring within the next 12 hours. I turned onto Oakland Drive and picked my way through the bits of sticks deposited on the bike lane thanks to the previous Sunday's storm, while checking my mirror for approaching cars. The sticks were not illuminated as well as I would have liked. However, I was. Although it was a few days before Thanksgiving, I had gotten a head start on Christmas, wearing a reflective vest to match my reflective helmet and reflective shoe covers, accompanied by blinking ankle strap lights. My bicycle was decorated with the usual blinking red taillight, but I had also accessorized it with reflective strips applied to the seat stays and crank arms. I was half expecting passing drivers to hurl presents, which would certainly be more welcome than hurling invectives at the unexpected cyclist with whom they were sharing the road. Unfortunately and fortunately, I received neither.

I turned left on Schuring Road, and then turned right, winding my way through the streets between Schuring and Centre Avenue, hugging the center to avoid the leaves that were periodically piled along the curb. Like me, a few houses couldn't wait for Christmas, or perhaps, they were leftover Halloween lights, and neither explanation was particularly excusable. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two dark shapes approaching from the shadow of a house, and as they ran just in front of me, I realized that they were deer; disproving my albeit unlikely hypothesis that they were two large cats. Two houses later, I passed another house whose roof was lit up like a landing strip, so maybe they were actually reindeer. This was another excuse for cautious riding. I didn't want to run over any elves.

I crossed Schuring Road and rode through the streets north of Schuring. Reaching the stoplight where Constitution Boulevard runs into Romence Road, I waited to turn left. I hoped that the drivers across from me who weren't in the right turn lane and weren't using their left turn signals weren't also planning to drive straight ahead. The light changed and those drivers who just couldn't summon the energy to flip a stick did indeed turn left, to my relief and exasperation.

Soon after turning right off Romence, I saw three men changing a flat tire on a pick-up truck by the side of the road; a bad time for a flat tire, but I suppose that no time is a good time for one of those. I continued to ride through the streets of what was now my old neighborhood, checking my mileage from the glow of the occasional street light, as I was getting cold, but also wanting to ride at least 8 miles. This was an arbitrary goal, but a goal, nonetheless. I rode by my old house and got on the bicycle path that didn't exist when I lived there, riding by the water tower and Haverhill Elementary School before rejoining the road. The path was dark; reinforcing my opinion that my AA batteries had been graded on a curve, although it was more likely that they were simply running out of power.

Leaving my old neighborhood, I turned left for a brief ride back on Oakland Drive before turning right into the neighborhood to the north of my new neighborhood. I thought about the fact that I had seen few cars other than the ones on the major roads, and even fewer pedestrians; all of them dog walkers. It was no surprise that I had seen no other cyclists. The temperature was just above freezing and it was a dark and almost stormy night. I thought about those in the warmth of their houses, huddled around their dinner tables or their TVs, behaving the way normal 40 or 50 or 60 year old people behave.

I also thought about the fact that fifty years ago to the day, a President had been assassinated, and that the take home message that I took from that experience was that I never wanted to live to see that happen again. And I also thought about the fact that my 11 year old self could not have possibly fathomed how I'd be spending my evening exactly fifty years later. But if James Taylor was right and that "the secret of life is enjoying the passing of time," then I suspect that I was closer to uncovering this secret that evening than most of those who were spending their time gazing into their reality TV reflections. And time can be a fragile gift.

I crossed Romence Road heading south, back to my neighborhood, and I enjoyed a stretch of well lit, downhill, freshly paved pavement, before riding the last few fractions of a mile back to my house. I took my bike inside my garage, leaned it against the wall, and checked my time and mileage. I had been riding for 48 minutes, 9.5 miles, and one hot shower. And then I'd eat dinner, just like normal people do.

But first, I pulled my non-functioning headlight from my jersey pocket, set it on the kitchen counter, and pressed the on-off button. It was working again.

Rick Whaley, KBC Newsletter Editor

Some Upcoming Rides of Interest

Feeling Scroogelike yet?

Classified Ads

NEW: Cycleops PowerTap SLC+ Power Meter (with accessories) - $2,000 (Best Offer). Accessories: Electro Pack, CycleOps matching front hub, Salsa skewers, Mavic Open Pro rims (hubs currently strung within). Cassette Type: Shimano. Electro Pack: YES.

Technical Specifications
* Wireless 2.4 GHz transmission with ANT+Sport
* Ceramic bearings
* 15mm alloy axle
* Carbon/alloy hubshell
* USB download
* Coded heart rate
* Hub weighs a mere 402 grams
* Patents issued and pending
* Displays and records:
* Peak Power
* Time in Zones
* Power (current, average, max.)
* Heart rate (current, average)
* Cadence (current, average)
* Speed (current, average, max.)
* Energy expenditure (total kjoules)
* Ride distance (miles or km)
* Ride time
* Programmable odometer

Contact Fred Hoffman at or (269) 312-2036.

NEW: Garmin Edge 705 - $250 (Best offer). Garmin Edge 705/Bundle Item is a GPS-Enabled Cycling Computer. Includes Heart Rate Monitor and Speed/Cadence Sensor. Contact Fred Hoffman at or (269) 312-2036.

2012 Jamis Nova Pro 'cross bike (54 size). Carbon fiber seat stays and fork; road bike oriented 50-34 chainset paired with awesome 11-32 climbing cassette. Tremendous all-purpose bike: road, trail, dirt/gravel, and cyclocross, but way lighter than the typical hybrid. Brake and stay clearance for even wider tires and fenders, but works great with narrow tires. Tires and rims unused except for bike shop test ride. Almost new brake pads with relatively few miles on them. Maintained by Pedal Bicycles including full tune up this winter. Includes two bottle cages and original owners manual. Selling to make room for a touring bike. Purchased for approx. $1530 - will sell for about half what I paid: $775. For detailed specs, see E-mail to discuss.

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,

Custer Cyclery

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

Gazelle Sports

214 South Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, (269) 342–5996,
Join Gazelle Sports for the 31st One One Run on January 1, 2014 at 1:00 P.M. at Spring Valley Park. All your bike buddies will be there .... having traded in their helmets for stocking caps. Get more info at - once there, click on "Sponsored Events."

Johnson Cycle Works

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


611 W Michigan Avenue, Kalamazo, (269) 56–PEDAL and

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.