www.kalamazoobicycleclub.org The Newsletter of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club April 2005
Spring arrived at 7:33 AM on March 20. While snow is still forecast, spring marks the start of the “official” bike riding season for the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. The regular KBC riding schedule will start on April 4. Please mark your calendar. If you have not done so already, have your bike tuned up, buy some extra innertubes, check the rest of your gear, and get ready to ride.
At the last Kalamazoo Bicycle Club meeting on March 14, two important new issues were raised. First, a mountain bike ride was added to the ride schedule. It will take place on alternating Tuesdays at the Al Sabo land preserve, which is located near the Texas Township Park (details in the Ride Schedule of this issue of the PedalPress). There is a trail loop in the Al Sabo preserve and the length of the ride can be determined by how many times the rider wants to do the loop. There may be periodic requests to assist with trail maintenance, so please help out with this. We do not want to see Al Sabo closed to bikes again.
The second issue raised was that of commuting to work, school or other locations by bicycle and what the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club can do to assist (or develop) bicycle commuting in Kalamazoo. There are members of KBC who, in addition to riding for pleasure, have made the decision to commute by bicycle. There may be additional members of the KBC that would commute but for obstacles such as lack of places to safely park or store a bike, lack of places to change clothes or to shower or lack of bike lanes or roads to one’s destination which are free of heavy traffic. Part of the purpose of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, as outlined in our constitution, is to “secure a better understanding and recognition of the need for safer riding conditions,... to encourage the allocation of facilities for bicycling on public lands; ... and to recognize bicycles as vehicles used for pleasure, fitness, and transportation.” It has been said that the days of cheap gasoline are behind us; with gas priced about 20% more than it was a year ago, this is probably right. Please continue to give your input into this issue, and read the articles on bike commuting in this issue of the PedalPress.
April 9 is race day. Team KBC and WMU’s bicycle team will be holding the 6th Street Road Race at the Alamo Little League Fields. Race day USCF licenses are available. Even if you have not raced before there is a category for you. Volunteers are needed for this event. We also need spectators! Details are on the race are available in the Ride Schedule of this issue and on the website at www.kalamazoobicycleclub.org.
Mike Boersma, KBC President
I didn’t get Mike’s President’s Letter until just before this issue went to “press;” I presumed he was sitting by his fireplace, toasting his feet, drinking tea, waiting for the weather to get better, as were we all. Though I initially commandeered his space to riff a bit on communicating effectively while on the bike, I’m happy to give up the top slot. But here’s what I was going to say…
We all know (or should!) that we need to use hand and verbal signals when riding in groups to alert the others around us to obstructions or dangers in the roadway ahead; potholes, dogs, cars, other bikers braking suddenly.
But this article isn’t about all that.
I just had my second hearing test in the last five years, and Carol, my audiologist, confirmed that I am definitely suffering from progressive hearing degradation, especially in the higher pitch range. This is no surprise to my wife, who sometimes grows impatient with my asking her to repeat things she said, like “Take out the recycling,” “When are you going to be back from your ride?” and “I’ve invited some people over for dinner.”
It’s also no surprise to me, given my years of working as a carpenter and a cabinetmaker when I hubristically ignored the need for protecting hearing while working with loud power tools. And, not insignificantly, there were those years in the 60’s and 70’s when it seemed my main impetus in life was following around bands like the MC-5, Grand Funk Railroad, and the Plasmatics and sitting directly in front of their large banks of Marshall amplifiers during concerts, with every dial on the amps turned up to 10. My ears never actually bled, but I’m sure none of this did my hearing any good. Plus, frankly, I’m just getting older, and older people often suffer decreased hearing acuity.
My hearing loss is in the higher frequencies. Usually, I have no trouble picking up the conversation when men speak, as their voices are in the lower register of sounds. Women though, with their generally higher pitched voices, I’m just not hearing as well. Too bad, because I like women. And I like the way they talk.
During our post-testing conference Carol and I discussed possible scenarios that might help me hear better, including one that will require me to shell out over $1,500.00 for a hearing aid the size of garden pea. Goodbye to those dreams of a Trek Madone this year…
We also talked about hearing aids and sports, and what hearing aids can and cannot do. Answering my queries, Carol remarked that it is difficult to communicate on a bike even under the best of circumstances because of the wind noise, and that a hearing aid would be of no help to me there. Great, so I go into hock to buy the hearing aid and during the one activity where I could use it the most, and it could potentially do the most good, it won’t work? Heck, maybe I should just get the Trek after all…
But Carol explained how voice sound is produced and projected, and what she said (well, what I heard of it anyway) made sense. Sound travels in waves, directionally, and it is affected by wind. So, on the bike, if you speak to someone and keep your head pointed forward, your voice is being projected ahead of you and not toward the listener. The wind often washes the sound waves away, and that makes it doubly difficult for the recipient of your dulcet verbiage to catch what is being said. I confess now to all of those who have spoken to me on the bike in this fashion during the past several years, I never heard much of what you said. Who knows all the things I agreed to, or with, over the years?
If you want to be heard when you talk to someone alongside you on a group ride, you need to swing your head around to face that person. Of course, if you do that you might take your eyes off the road momentarily, which is dangerous, but maybe if you study Picasso’s paintings long enough you might be able to come up with a way of manipulating your face so you’re able to do both at the same time. Don’t worry. Despite what your parents told you, your face won’t get stuck in that position permanently.
Knowing what I know now, it’s easy to understand why I’ve been struggling to hear what other people have to say to me on the bike. Aside from the difficulties posed by the environment (wind noise, primarily, but also stress and strain and the concentration required of riding hard), many of us have lazy speaking habits; slurring words, mumbling, not facing the listener. Most people can hear well enough that they can overcome those communicative deficiencies, so it usually isn’t an issue. But those of us with hearing problems need to have everything working as well as possible for us to be able to hear and carry on a reasonable conversation on the bike.
For these reasons, I ask that if you wish to communicate with me – or anyone else, for that matter - when we’re riding together, turn to speak, articulate your words – and don’t crash.
Zolton Cohen, KBC newsletter editor
But first, from Paul
Bruneau, KBC database manager, some notes of interest:
- A couple more member email addresses straggled in this month, bringing the number of unconfirmed email addresses down to 22, and unknown email addresses down to 17!
Editor’s note: If you
are a member and KBC currently does not have your email address, please get in
touch with Paul via the KBC website at www.kalamazoobicycleclub.org.
It only takes a few moments to fill out the email address form. And, again, we
will not sell, rent or otherwise give your email address away to anyone. We
only need it for the purpose of notifying you that the new issue of the
PedalPress is available at the link provided in the email. Back to
- The number of people who submit their addresses on the home page web form continues to astound me!! About 10% of them are members for whom I already have address. I politely tell them thanks, and that I already have it. Maybe another 5-10% (like maybe only two this month) are actual addresses of a member for whom I didn't previously have an address--this is the purpose of the form, of course.
But, like, 80% are from strangers whom I have never heard of before! Just browsers on the site who misread the form and go ahead and submit their email address to us. I don't see this as bad, though, because I have created a nice little email that explains what the form is for, and that they are very welcome to join the club. I am getting so many of these (over 20 this month I think) that I have made a script to automatically generate the email so I don't have to copy and paste the text any more. I know this has resulted in at least 3 new memberships, so I see it as a real neat thing.
Active subscriptions in KBC: 222
Thomas A. Moore
W. Sargeant White
April Expiring memberships:
Tony Finn Family
Paul Stevens Family
Back to Top
KBC’s regular monthly meeting was
The March meeting began with Mike Boersma, KBC President, reading a memo from absent Treasurer Tom Keizer. The memo stated that in the past KBC has given a donation to the YMCA in the amount of $100.00 in appreciation for providing a space for the club to hold meetings to meet there. Boersma asked if KBC should do the same this year. After some discussion, Doug Kirk expressed concern that it seemed as though it had become more difficult for the YMCA to find KBC an adequate meeting room over the past several months, and that any monies donated to the YMCA should include a letter along with the check politely stating our concerns about this issue. After some discussion, Kirk made a motion to this effect. Vice President Jim Kindle seconded the motion, and a vote was taken and unanimously passed.
FlowerFest Update: Zolton Cohen stated that he hasn’t been able to get in touch with Dave Jones, who is head of the FlowerFest Organizing Group (FOG), for a report. But when he does he will report back to the club.
Mike Boersma discussed with the club the possibility of starting a new club ride, similar to the FlowerFest, to take the place of the canceled springtime TrailBlazer Ride. The TrailBlazer was the brainchild of the Friends of the Kal Haven Trail, utilized to help raise funds to cover projects along the Kal Haven Trail. Since the sale of daily and weekly passes on the trail last year made some $10,000.00 over Van Buren County’s target operating cost for the year, the Friends of the Kal Haven Trail canceled the Trail Blazer ride, as it seems as though the trail is able to operate in the black at this point.
Boersma proposed that any profits from a new, replacement Trialblazer type club ride could go toward purchasing bikes for the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department. Those bikes would allow them to patrol the trail where it passes through Kalamazoo County and help stop vandalism of autos and picnic tables at the Trail head parking lot, which happened last year. After discussion by club members, the proposed ride was deemed to be too much work for the limited resources of the club at this time. Also, it is not known if there is a possibility that next year the Friends of the Kal Haven Trail might offer the Trail Blazer ride again if they need to raise funds in 2006. If so, a KBC ride could conflict with the Friends reinstituting their ride.
Taking into account the monetary resources the club has at this time, Zolton Cohen proposed that KBC get in touch with the County’s Sheriff Department and Township police to see how the trail will be patrolled, and to determine what they might need to help patrol the trail as far as bikes are concerned. Cohen noted that since the club’s constitutionally-stated purpose is to promote bicycling, anything that would make the Kal Haven Trail safer for users to enjoy would be in accordance with KBC’s mission statement. This was agreed to by members present and will be looked into.
reported that his efforts in putting together a comprehensive “bike camp” type
training program, based on the successful Gazelle Sports and
Employees or owners of the local bike shop would be asked to
speak on certain topics, along with volunteering club members, in order to give
attendees an introduction into the world of bicycling in
Randy Putt, KBC Ride Captain, although not present at the meeting, sent along with Mike Boersma a notice that a morning weekday ride is now officially “ON” with Renee Mitchell and Jelania Haile leading. This is a For Women Only ride at on Thursday mornings beginning in April. The group will meet in the southwest corner of Kalamazoo Valley Community College parking lot by the tennis courts; the pace is expected to be 15-16 mph and distance 20-25 miles.
In other news, Putt also noted that the KBC race team is sponsoring a bike race with WMU on Saturday, April 9. The team could use help for the 6th St. Road Race, especially lead/follow vehicles, corner marshals, and day-of registration. Contact Rick Updike if you can help at email@example.com.
KBC member Joe Kucharski proposed starting a Mountain Bike group ride in 2005, using the Al Sabo Trail off Texas Drive. Kucharski suggested riding the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month, starting in May. These dates would be the alternate Tuesdays with the Tuesday Night Time Trials during the summer. The group would meet at the Texas Park parking lot, which is near the entrance of the Al Sabo Land Preserve. Trail loops are about 4 1/2 miles, and Kucharski plans to ride at a moderate-to-recovery-ride pace. Mike Birmann and Kevin Vichinsky also plan to help lead the ride. Kucharski stated that no one really could be dropped as this is a continuous loop and whenever a rider tired he or she could get off at the end of the loop.
Kucharski also asked the club for help in determining who to contact about issues with the Al Sabo trail, and specifically who manages it. He stated that the trail isn’t being utilized to its fullest, that portions are off limits to bicyclists, and conflicts between bikers and joggers are sometimes a problem. Doug Kirk recommended Kucharski call his brother Lee Kirk, a city attorney to get information about contacts he needs to further efforts in making the trail more bike-friendly.
Member Nicole Newman asked the club for help in getting more commuters on bicycles. She regularly commutes to her job by bicycle and would like to get word out to others to encourage the practice of commuting. Zolton Cohen suggested that Newman write an article for the PedalPress detailing what thought process once must go through, and the planning involved to become an everyday commuter on a bike; what to wear, what to carry, where and how to ride with traffic. Brad Fry was mentioned as a good resource for information, as he also commutes on bike. After further discussion, Cohen offered to help Newman write this article.
With the absence of Treasurer Tom Keizer, Mike Boersma reported that KBC has $9,024.76 in savings and $2,951.15 in checking.
With no further business to attend to, the meeting was adjourned at 8:20 pm. Next meeting: Tuesday, April 13, 2005, 7:00 PM, Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street.
Respectfully submitted, Mike Berry, KBC Secretary
Early-Spring Ramblings from the Ride Captain
As I write this note, I’m on my way back from my vacation in
The weather was nice in Florida, but there are a lot of cars to contend with and there are a limited number of roads suitable for riding. Numerous streets in the urban area have bike lanes. Unfortunately, they often end abruptly and dump a rider into busy roads. At least the Sarasota County Road Commission is making an effort to make the area bicycle friendly. Once you get away from traffic there are not many road choices and you have to ride quite a distance to ride anything except an out and back. At one point I rode 13 miles without seeing a cross-road. It pays to have some idea of where you are going.
It is always interesting riding in new locations although making a wrong turn can take you miles farther than intended. Every year I go to Siesta Key I add new roads to my riding repertoire. I have developed a number of routes I enjoy riding. There is a route touring several nearby barrier islands, one of which is Siesta Key. On this route there are numerous good bicycle lanes, a few miles of lightly traveled roads, and the toughest climb in the area (over the Bay Bridge that has an ample shoulder for riding). The Bay Bridge connects Sarasota to a couple of the barrier islands, Lido and Longboat Keys. The views of the Gulf of Mexico form the connecting draw bridges are beautiful. On a sunny afternoon the gulf and inland waterways appear turquoise in contrast to the white sands of the beaches. I also enjoy a route that takes me inland to Myakka State Park, which is a haven for exotic birds and alligators in the wild. In addition, the park has ~7 miles of very low traffic and low speed limit roads. It is a fantastic place to ride. Jenny and I did enjoy ourselves during our stay at Siesta Key. It’s time to get back to reality and dig out my cool weather clothes.
It is spring in Kalamazoo, so the weather should start warming up soon. I’m anxious to get back home and ride with KBC members again. It’s about time to put winter behind us. All the weekly KBC rides will start as soon as the time changes after the 1st Sunday in April. Not all ride groups will be in action, but there will be riders at each of the weekly rides. As the weather cooperates, come on out and ride. I know, most of us are out of shape and have to go through the slow process of getting in riding condition. Take your time and put in your base miles to prepare for the upcoming season.
This is another reminder that the Senior Olympics is being held in Kalamazoo this summer. There are several cycling events planned, including 5 & 10K time trials and 20 & 40K road races, as well as many other events. Anyone over 50 can participate and the medals are awarded to the top 3 finishers. There are numerous age groups separated by 5 year intervals. There are numerous KBC members that would be qualified to participate. Maybe we could have a KBC Senior Olympics Team. If you are interested, check out the website www.michiganseniorolympics.org and contact your ride captain.
April Ride Schedule
All Weekday Rides Start at Starting April 4
There are likely to be fewer riders in April, so there may not be enough riders for all the ride groups. Hey, it is time to put in base miles, so speed is not important, right? Additional ride leaders are needed for all the ride groups. The more volunteers the better. Ride leaders make every attempt at keeping each group together although the 20+ mph groups may not stay together.
Impromptu weekend rides can happen anytime the weather is suitable and someone is willing to organize in 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 April, 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 ride 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.
Descriptions of the regular weekday rides are listed below and the full ride schedule will start in May at 6 PM. KBC plans to offer at least a partial weekly ride schedule in April at 6 PM as the weather permits.
New Ride – Would you like to meet other women in cycling? Join Renee Mitchell and Jelania Haile for a women-only ride on Thursday mornings beginning April 7, weather permitting. Meet at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC- south-west parking lot by the tennis courts) at 10AM. The pace will be 15-16 mph with a distance of 20-25 miles.
The Monday Ride at Texas Drive Park will consist of 5 ride groups, which should provide a pace to suit riders of all abilities:
The 10-15 mile distance groups will generally ride the same route and are recommended for new riders. These groups will sometimes combine depending on the number of riders present. The 25-30 mile groups will typically ride the same route in the early part of the season. KBC recommends the 16 – 18 mph group for more experienced riders who are new to the club. This group is very steady and one of the more popular ride groups. The leaders for the 16 – 18 mph and 19 - 20 mph groups plan to keep the groups together and at a steady pace. All riders who want to push the pace can do so in the 20+mph group. The 18 – 19 and 20+ mph groups will most likely start riding the more hilly routes after May at the discretion of the riders and leaders.
Plans for the 4th year of the Tuesday Night Time Trial are in the works. The Barnes family plans to run the time trial once again this year and plan to use the same route as last year. The route starts at the Pavilion Township Hall at the corner of Q Ave and 28th St. The time trial will run every other Tuesday starting in May or June.
New Tuesday Ride - The Tuesday ride is scheduled to meet at the Pfizer B298 parking lot at the NE corner of Portage and Romence Roads to ride on east side of the county. One ride group is currently planned at an 18-20 mph pace and the group will stay together (led by Larry Kissinger and Randy Putt). It is possible that other ride paces could be offered (need ride leaders).
Another New Tuesday Ride – Joe Kucharski, Mike Birmann, and Kevin Vichinsky of Foxwood Racing have offered to lead a “recovery pace” mountain bike ride in the Al Sabo land Preserve twice a month. In April and May, these rides will occur on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays. After that, they will be held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. Meet at the Texas Drive Park parking lot at 6:00 PM for these rides.
The Wednesday ride meets at the Kal-Haven Trail Parking lot. KBC plans to offer 3 ride groups:
The Wednesday night Hammerfest will start at Kal-Haven Trail Parking lot at 6 PM when daylight savings time kicks in. The pace of the ride is typically greater than 23 mph and the route goes to Bloomingdale and back (about 46 miles). Since the route is well known to most of the regular riders, no maps are available for this ride. This group is typically large (more than 15 riders) and consists of racers and other experienced riders. Doug Kirk is the ride leader. The group typically fragments into smaller groups and the riders oftentimes do not finish together. This ride is hard and is not suitable for inexperienced riders. Some riders can expect to be dropped from the main group.
New Ride – Would you like to meet other women in cycling? Join Renee Mitchell and Jelania Haile for a women’s only ride on Thursday mornings beginning April 7. Meet at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC- south-west parking lot by the tennis courts) at 10AM. The pace will be 15-16 mph with a distance of 20-25 miles.
Thursday night is a nice and easy social ride at Texas Drive Park and has a small loyal group, which is growing in size. Riders of all riding abilities are welcome. The pace is typically 15-17 mph and distance is 20-25 miles (led by Dave Jones).
The Friday Tour de Gull meets at Billy’s Bike Shop in Galesburg and the pace varies depending on who shows up (led by Randy Putt). We did have a 16-17 mph group periodically as well as a large 20+ mph group last year. Doug Kirk also established an alternate Southern Route, which was successful in its inaugural year. The fast group typically leads itself. The route for this ride is well established so the ride leader job is easy.
New Ride – The Saturday Ride (~40 miles) at 10 AM from St.Timothy Church on BC Avenue between Gull Lake and M-43 (9800 E. BC Avenue. Approximately 1.5 miles north out of Richland on M43, turn right on BC and the church is on the right about 0.5 mile from M-43. You cannot see the church from the road, so watch for the church sign. If you come to a big curve in the road you passed the church). Paul Raynes plans to lead this ride most Saturdays. He will need some help leading. I suspect Paul will be riding as soon as the roads are suitable.
Also, we plan to continue the special weekend rides in 2005. The rides were successful last year, once again. 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 on May 14 (Yes, Rick Whaley will be back from Ann Arbor to lead the ride he created. Thanks once again, Rick.)
· The 7th annual Old Car Festival Ride (about 60 miles) from Vicksburg High School on June 11
· 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 Gull Lake in July (distance and date TBD)
· The 8th annual Ride Around Kalamazoo County (100 miles) on August 6 or 13
· The 34th KBC Anniversary Ride in September (date TBD) (~40 miles)
· The 2nd Fall Ride on 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.
If you have any questions about ride leader duties or would like to lead a ride, call the ride captain at 649-1814.
Cannondale R4000si size 56 road bike with flight deck. Phone Terry 342-4608
Editor’s note: KBC
member Nicole Newman is a bike
commuter and would like to see others involved in this aspect of bicycling. The
PedalPress caught up with her recently and conducted an interview that gives an
insight into the world of the hardy bike commuter.
PP: Nicole, how long have you been bike commuting, and is this the first job you've commuted to?
NN: This is the first job I’ve committed to commuting to by bike. (This is the first job I’ve committed to, for that matter.) I’ve been bike commuting for almost four years, but that does not make me an authority.
PP: How long is your
commute, and do you ride it the year around?
NN: I work at two locations, so depending on the day, my total mileage is between 5 and 20 miles. I ride the short commute every day year round, and will go home in the middle of the day to get a car to drive if I have to make the longer commute in the dark, the very cold, or the snow.
PP: What is the biggest problem you find with bike commuting? How do you carry your "stuff," shoes especially? Did you have to purchase any special clothing to make bike commuting more comfortable?
NN: The biggest problem is the amount of available daylight. Last year I waited until mid-March to start the longer commutes because prior to that it was dark when I needed to leave. The second biggest problem is making sure I have everything before I ride down the big hill on the way to work; I *refuse* to ride back up for forgotten items. I carry my stuff in a Timbuk2 bag. It holds an amazing amount of stuff and seems to be indestructible. I leave a pair of Birkenstocks in my office, so I never carry shoes.
On a daily basis I carry clothes for the day, my lunch, my
lock, and the work that came home the day before. In the spring and fall I
sometimes wear my work clothes on the ride instead of cycling clothes, but this
is not the norm. Besides, (my husband) Jeff gives me the “you’re so
embarrassing” look, as if I’m not a real cyclist when I wear a skirt on my road
bike. The only additional clothing I purchased for commuting was a pair of
tights for the cold weather. Okay, Santa brought me a pair of lobster claw
gloves and a balaclava. We also found a face mask in the street one day,
which I swore I would never wear no matter how much Jeff cleaned it, but I do,
when it’s single digit weather.
PP: If it rains, do you take a car instead of the bike?
NN: Jeff usually asks if I want a ride to work when it’s raining, but I can only think of a couple of times in four years when I have accepted a ride due to inclement weather. The rain and snow are not a big deal usually.
PP: Talk about the bike you ride and how it is equipped for commuting. Lights, fenders, packs, other things that make it easier to commute? How do you hydrate - water bottle or hydration pack?
NN: I ride one of two bikes to commute. I ride an old mountain bike in bad weather, and I ride my road bike in good weather. I have no special equipment except for a small battery operated flashing red light on the mountain bike. No hydration equipment, either. The most I ride one way is 10 miles, and so far hydration has not been a problem. I make sure to carry bus fare, though, just in case.
PP: What do you do when you arrive at work in terms of changing clothing, showering, and stowing your bike at your job? Is there a safe place to park your bike at your office? Do you lock it while you're doing your job?
NN: Both campuses that I work at have bike racks, and I have had relatively few problems leaving my bike locked up outside. Occasionally my bike resides in my office or the hallway outside my office. One campus has showers and a locker room available, and, fortunately, this is the longer commute. At the campus where I have most of my classes (the shorter commute), I just change in the bathroom and hope for the best. The ride to this campus is almost all down hill, so I don’t really do much work to get there. I assume that my colleagues keep important papers in their desks whereas I keep deodorant, baby wipes (the cure when there’s not a shower) and extra socks. I can’t stand wet socks.
PP: What do the people you work with think about your biking to work? Are any of them tempted to join you in bike commuting? Have you made any converts? You work at a community college - what do your students think of your bike commuting? Have you ever received any positive (or negative) comments from either co-workers or students?
NN: Most of my coworkers are very supportive, some even looking out for me on their way to work. They’ve started to notice other drivers’ scary habits around me and will make sure that I pass safely by before continuing on their way. I still get a lot of comments like “Isn’t it cold out there?” It’s cold waiting for the car to warm up, too, but somehow I’m viewed as the odd one. I gently remind people that I didn’t wake up one 4-degree morning in January and suddenly decide to start biking to work.
PP: My students eventually find out that I ride to work, and the most common comment is “You rode here in those sandals in the snow?”
NN: I would say that I haven’t received any negative comments from anyone, but I’m also not included in conversations about the price of gas and parking. I try not to go off on people, but other cities and countries make use of the alternatives that are available. I’m trying to advocate the alternatives*walking, cycling, public transit, car pooling. I admit I’m not making much progress.
PP: Has bike commuting ever interfered with your job performance - for instance, did you ever flat on the way in and arrive late? Get sprayed by a truck driving through a puddle and arrived a muddy mess?
NN: I’m knocking on wood at this moment. I refuse to answer the question for fear of jinxing my very good luck thus far. All has gone well.
PP: Presuming you ride the same route every day, is there anything in particular you notice over the course of a year - say the changing light, debris in the roadway after the winter, pollen on the ground in the summer, sunsets or sunrises, the quantity and diversity of roadkill depending on the season?
NN: Deer and turkeys are really big when they’re poised to cross the road in front of me.
The smell of bacon at the State Diner in the morning is very tempting.
Most SUVs contain only the driver.
On a bike, a person can smell the season.
And I love the twinkle lights downtown in the winter.
PP: Finally, do you like to bike commute, or are you just a walnut-chewing, tree-hugger who is trying to get out of her obligation to purchase gas at $2.19 per gallon? Any health benefits you've noticed in your years of bike commuting?
NN: Walnuts are disgusting. I do like to bike commute. It’s easy and cheap and good for me. If one’s fuel efficiency averages 25 mpg for her 20 mile total daily commute and gas costs $2.19 per gallon, gas alone will cost her $1.75 each day. She could put her bike on the bus to go to work (no worries about showers, etc.), then ride her bike home for less money. The break-even point in this situation (bus fare, fuel efficiency and total mileage held constant) is at $1.57 per gallon of gas, and when is the last time you saw that? I’ll stop here before my math and politics take over and things like “wealthy, privileged, overweight, fossil fuel-burning nation” show up. I’m also feeling a need to make a spreadsheet to illustrate my point.
I think about this a lot. I think about how easy it would be to change a few small habits and achieve some significant results. We have friends who are thinking about dining out only if they can get there on their own power. They haven’t committed to this summer project yet, but they’re at least thinking about it. It is easy to ride to the library, the post office, the video store (to rent something that induces a two-hour vegetative state), the grocery store, Treat Street, the bakery, the farmer’s market, your child’s school . . . I would be glad to help folks get started.
PP: Thank you for your insight into bike commuting, Nicole.
Up until about 4 years ago, I commuted by bike to work somewhat irregularly. Since then, I've been commuting regularly, weather permitting, which means that I'm at low risk for motorists sliding into me or not seeing me because of white-outs, and the shoulders are clear. (I don't commute very often from late Dec through Feb!). I can dress adequately for rainy commutes when it is 35-40 degrees, so a forecast of rain doesn't deter me.
My commutes were 14 miles one-way, but now they are 24 miles one-way, so a good portion of my commutes from Oct-Mar are after dark. The roads on my commute have good shoulders and I have an excellent HID headlight (NR Flamethrower) that is so bright that motorists think I'm on a motorcycle. Before I bought the HID light, I was occasionally having problems with motorists not seeing me, but that has not been a problem with the HID. I usually have two flashing rear lights, to provide confidence that I will have at least one light working at all times and to increase the likelihood that motorists will see me. Perhaps the most important advice I could give to a prospective commuter would be to buy the best lighting system possible if the commutes involve riding after dark.
On most days, I carry all of my gear in a big Carradice Camper saddlebag that attaches to the rails of my saddle. The saddlebag usually contains the following: 1) an emergency tool kit, tubes, patch kit, 2) work clothing, excluding shoes that I leave at work, 3) work papers and/or my laptop and other electronic gear, 4) emergency cycling clothing (e.g. shell, wind pants, perhaps a rain cape) in case of nasty weather, and 5) possibly extra riding gear (i.e. shorts, jersey, socks) in case the temperatures are really cold and/or it is wet and I'm concerned about pulling on soaking wet clothing for my ride back home. On some commutes, I've carried 30 lb stuff in my saddlebag, and this creates a wonderful strength workout when climbing hills such as the one on Bronson Blvd.
My personal preference is for a saddlebag instead of a messenger bag or panniers. I would use a messenger bag if my commute was only a few miles and my typical loads were less than 10 lb, but I don't like them for 10+ mile commutes; they create too much pressure on the butt and they are really hot in the summer. Although panniers would be fine for my commutes, I prefer the saddlebag because it is possible to use the saddlebag on just about any bike whereas panniers require a bike with a rack. With the saddlebag, I can commute on any of my bikes.
Some bikes are better for commuting than others, and about 2 years ago I obtained a custom built touring/commuting frame from Bob Jackson. The custom tourist is wonderful for commuting because it was purposely built to have great riding characteristics while carrying heavy loads under less than ideal conditions. The bike has stout tubing, relaxed geometry, and clearance for big tires (all great for heavy loads and bumpy city streets), fenders (necessary for commuting in comfort on rainy days), a low bottom bracket (great for stability with heavy loads), and it has handlebars that are high enough for me to more easily monitor traffic than I can on a racing bike. This is not to mean that a custom commuting bike is a necessity--just about any bike will do. My Bob Jackson tourer is a luxury!
For anybody considering bike commuting, I highly recommend the book, The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons from the Street, by Robert Hurst (Falcon Press, 2004). The book provides a great philosophical treatise on urban cycling, techniques for riding safely through potentially dangerous situations, and critical assessments of equipment.
In an email follow-up to what he had written before, Steve went on to say:
If there seems to be general interest by club members, then maybe it would be worthwhile to continue on the topic, such as discussing various bike routes around town and possible safety problems of various roads or even intersections during rush hour traffic.
I've learned from riding on busy Oakland Drive during rush hour that even though we might have a bike lane, we can't depend on motorists staying out of it, and that a biker could make a fatal mistake by moving too fast in the bike lane and passing apparently stopped cars that are backed up at, say, the Howard Street intersection. I've learned from bitter experience that motorists are oblivious to bikers in the bike lane.
If motorists are heading north on Oakland and apparently get frustrated trying to get past the Howard Street intersection, they might make a sudden right turn, without signaling, onto one of the nearby roads such as Maple Street. Or if they are heading south on Oakland and are tired of waiting for the light at Parkview, they might suddenly decide to get gas and turn, again without signaling. Even when passing backed up cars at a walking pace, I've had to make sudden, and unexpected, right turns with the vehicles because they gave me no warning that they were going to turn.
The days are getting longer and a bit warmer and daylight savings time is nigh, which means that the KBC ride schedule gears up too. But we all know that lots of beautiful days in the next few weeks will also be just a wee bit chilly, especially toward the end of those after-work rides. For lots of us, this means freezing toes or fingers.
Well, it doesn't have to. Borrow a page from hunters who spend hours sitting still, waiting for that 8-point buck to amble past. Buy yourself some activated charcoal hand or toe warmers. These little packets of treated charcoal release just the right amount of heat. In fact, they're a tremendous boon to cold weather riding.
Without these miniature hot-pads, in order to ride at 35 - 45 degrees, I'd need thick wool socks and either toe-covers or full booties. Even then, I simply could not keep my feet comfortable for long below forty degrees.
But with a pair of these on top of my feet, between the sock and the shoe (not even against my skin), I can ride for hours in total comfort--without booties. The difference has to be experienced to be believed. I honestly am amazed. What's more, the fact that some small part of me is actually taking in heat just seems to help me stay warm all over.
The packets are pretty small, and once in place (I put them just behind the tops my toes but they'd do just as well inside a pair of gloves), I quickly forget they're even in there--no discomfort at all. And they last at least 6 hours.
The only downside is that they're only good for one use--throw them into the landfill when you're done (at least they're organic and will bio-degrade, except for the plastic wrapper) so you have to open a new pair for each ride.
Each pair costs anywhere from 69 cents to $1.49 depending on where you shop and if you can find them on sale. Not a terribly large expense for a good early-season training ride, especially if (as is often the case) it keeps me from draining the hot-water tank in the shower when I get home. You can purchase these warmers at most any large store such as Meijer’s, any outdoor sporting goods store, most hardware stores, and recently I've begun seeing them in bike shops.
Bottom line: simple organic chemistry trumps Old Man
Winter, but you’ve got to ante up.
Registration and the start/finish are at the Alamo Little
League fields on
Open USCF racing starts at , with an NCAA-sanctioned collegiate race to follow, scheduled to begin at . The USCF races include categorized and age-delineated groupings. Collegiate race categories include Men’s A/B/C and Women’s A/B.
course features a challenging 10.2 mile circuit that includes one of the
longest and steepest climbs in
Purse will be drawn from 50-50 split of entry fees collected.
Winner automatically receives entry fee back.
For race fields of 4-20 riders
1st- 3rd Place—Purse drawn from 50% of entry fees collected
For race fields of 21-40 riders
1st– 5th Place—Purse drawn from 50% of entry fees collected
For race fields of 41+ riders
1st– 7th Place—Purse drawn from 50% of entry fees collected
information on the
Organizers of the
1. Corner Marshals. We have police at major intersections where traffic needs to be stopped. We would also like to have people at non-major intersections making sure that approaching cars know about potential race traffic. Racing goes from 9am to ~4pm, and we need corner marshals all day. Hopefully, we can work out a rotation where people would only have to work a couple of hours...but that will depend on the individuals.
2. Lead and follow vehicles. Each of our 7 groups of riders for the USCF race will need a lead and follow vehicle. The lead vehicle just stays out front and defines the beginning of the peloton for safety reasons. The follow defines the rear of the peloton also for safety, but the follow is also responsible for hauling racer's spare wheels and aiding in a quick wheel change should it be necessary.
3. Day-of-race registration. We need people to help collect entry forms and money and assign numbers at the registration table in the morning. People doing this activity should expect to work from ~6am - 9am.
4. We could use free or good-deal food for the volunteers on day of race.
Potential volunteers should contact Rick Updike firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd welcome any help we can get.
Other contact people are:
Dave Boboltz (616) 901-4861
David Sperry (269) 324-7998
Those really fast and fanatical recumbent riders are rallying again this year. Here are the dates and times and contact information for their more or less local rallies in 2005.
Recumbent Rallies Return
See what all those recumbent riders are smiling about by taking some test rides at one of the Michigan recumbent rallies this year. For those not familiar with the bikes, recumbents have the rider sitting in a chair-like seat with the result being the lack of back, neck, seat and wrist pain.
On May 14th the Michigan Recumbent Rally East will be held in the southwest Detroit area, followed by the Michigan Recumbent Rally Central near Lansing on June 25th. In September there will be the Michigan Recumbent Rally West at Hastings (south of Grand Rapids) on the 10th and the Fall Recumbent Rendezvous in the northern Detroit region on September 17th.
The Rallies are free, one-day, no registration events that include recumbent dealers, displays, test-rides and used bicycles for sale. “Buying your first recumbent” talks are given, as well as group rides. For more information on the Rallies, the Wolver-Bents, or recumbents in general, visit the Wolver-Bents Recumbent Cyclists website at www.wolverbents.org, e-mail email@example.com, or call 734/487-9058.
For those interested in a more competitive event, the Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association (MHVPVA) will be holding its annual Rally on June 11th and 12th at Waterford, Michigan (northern Detroit suburbs). For more information on the MHPVA event, visit www.mhpva.org or contact Wally Kiehler at 313.884-0109 or WKiehler@Comcast.Net
Michigan Recumbent Rally – East
Willow Metropark pool shelter, southwest
Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally
Michigan Recumbent Rally Central
June 25, 2005 (Saturday)
The Upper Peninsula City of Marquette, Michigan is again welcoming bike racers from across the country for a weekend of racing and other events on June 24, 25, and 26, 2005.
There will be singletrack XC races at the Marquette Mountain Ski Area, and “gravity” games like the Big Hit Freeride, Leg Burning Hill Climb, and the Midwest’s Longest Downhill.
racers, there are 25, 50, and 80 mile events and a special
“Twilight Criterium.” through the streets of
For information on entry fees and start times, go to www.superiorbikefest.com, or call 1-866-370-RACE.
KBC member Rick Updike has participated in the Marquette Superior Bike Fest for the last several years and has done well in the road race and crits.
From John Klemme:
Your cycling club seems large and active and so I’m wondering if a few of you might be interested in joining me in Switzerland.
Our organization is sponsoring an 11-day “Tour of Switzerland” this summer and I’m hoping that you can present the tour to your club. Or possibly help me to get the word out to cyclists that you know.
We’re a small group of educators here in Geneva, Switzerland. We spend our summers trying to promote Swiss bike tourism and cultural exchange. Our tour last year was so successful that we’re now organizing three for this summer. We’re offering the trip at cost. The price is $2500, a bargain considering that it’s all-inclusive. We organize events with our Swiss friends, first-class hotels, gourmet meals, van support, train travel and even new bicycles. It sure beats going with a tour-operator.
We cross Switzerland west to east, averaging around 50 - 60 miles a day. The itinerary is designed for two levels of riding, so both less-experienced and more-experienced riders would be comfortable with our riding schedule.
If you’ve ever thought of Switzerland or biking in Europe, take a look at the links below.
20 Jacques Dalphin
From USA: 011-41-22-342-3857
On Saturday, May 21st, The Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, in conjunction with area bicycle shops, will present its first ever “Bike Camp,” an approximately two hour long seminar directed at beginning bicyclists and also those who have been out of bicycling for some time and wish to get back into the sport. Location will be the Kal Haven Trailhead parking lot on 10th Street. Start time is 9:00 AM; there is no charge for the seminar.
The purpose of Bike Camp is to give those interested in getting more involved in bicycling information about the many road and mountain bicycling opportunities available in the Kalamazoo County area. Local cyclists will speak on topics such as the health benefits of bicycling; the purpose and pleasure of riding in groups; necessary safety equipment and protocols; and will give insight into the many trails, paths, and roads suitable for bicycling in the vicinity.
Representatives from local bike shops will speak on getting your bicycle to fit you properly, so biking can be about pleasure and not pain; how to change a flat tire; and what styles of bikes are most suitable for certain types of cycling.
Participants are encouraged to bring their bicycles to the seminar to get them fitted, and also to join others in rides on the road and on the Kal Haven Trail following the seminar. The rides will be led by members of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. More details about this event will follow in the May PedalPress.
If you have a friend or a spouse who has expressed interest in bicycling, Bike Camp is a good opportunity to introduce him or her to the sport – a low-pressure, low-intensity, informal setting at which beginners can get their questions about bicycling answered.
By Axel Kleat
Flew to southern
For one thing, the weather was perfect. Sixty degrees, lightly overcast most of the day, and a light wind. There was universal agreement that if the sun had been out, it would have been hot. Second, although California is the most populous state and most of the people live in the southern half, the roads were truly deserted despite the fact that several movie and television stars live in the area.
All that population means lots of bicyclists, and even this early-season century had six thousand riders—the vast majority of whom chose the full century route rather than the only other choice, which was fifty miles. Although the course was well marked, the arrows were totally unnecessary because we could always see plenty of riders in front of us.
The organizers had five sag stops, all of which were the best-run operations I’d ever seen. Even though there were at least five hundred people milling around each of them when we were there, literally dozens of Porto-potties meant no waiting. No waiting for food or water either. Big, well organized tables and lots of volunteers—including at least two at every sag making sandwiches non-stop. Other people were cutting up fresh fruit and even pouring water into our bottles for us.
And the route was truly beautiful. Record rain recently out there meant the desert mountains were green, not brown. Lush fields of grass and wildflowers were everywhere as we rode in and out of the mountains, and I truly enjoyed the constantly changing collage of brightly colored jerseys meandering off into the hazy green distance.
But the most memorable part of the ride took place about forty miles in, when we hooked up with a group being pulled by a tandem. This was one of few relatively flat areas of the ride, and the tandem was setting a nice, smooth 20 – 22 mph pace. Not surprisingly, it had collected quite a following, with anywhere from fifteen to thirty riders latched on behind.
We were maybe eight riders back when the group snaked around a corner. I was surprised to look up and see that the tandem had gapped the riders just behind. Couldn’t let that tandem get away, so I uncharacteristically sprinted to the front of the gap and towed us all back to the tandem, thereby being rewarded for my efforts with first wheel.
The tandem was some sort of folding bike, a Bike Friday, I think, with little twenty-inch wheels. But what most interested me was that the stoker was a little brown-haired girl about eight years old. She was having a gay old time, too. She’d tap the dozens of riders they’d pass on the shoulder, smile, wave, and chat for a bit with the friendly ones. In other words, she wasn’t too focused on her pedaling. Then I noticed that she was standing up! Not for a break every once in a while like most of us do, but she actually stood on the pedals for miles at a time. It was as though she was running in place back there! She’d hold on with one hand for a while, then the other. I sucked that wheel the next fifteen miles, and I swear she might have sat down for two of them.
After a while, I realized that the captain—presumably her dad—must be one heck of a rider. They were so smooth, and pretty darn fast too, even though his daughter is dancing on the pedals back there, leaning to and fro, and even turning all the way around to talk to me. So when we finally came to a stoplight and I could pull up alongside for a look, I was surprised to find a really average-looking guy with a wee bit of a gut. On the whole, to look at him I wouldn’t have expected he’d even be up to sitting in the train he was pulling mile after mile. Can’t judge a book by its cover…
Still, I was amazed at the athleticism of the girl. After all, we were over fifty miles into the ride, and she’s just having a gay old time. I was figuring she must have some serious cycling genes in her background as I watched her stand and pedal mile after mile, and when we got to a rest stop, I asked what her name is, adding, “I want to know so I’ll know it’s you when you’re a famous bike racer in a few years.”
“It’s Caterina, with a ‘C’,” she replied—not at all out of breath, before adding rather huffily, “But I don’t want to be a bike racer!”
“What do you want to be?” How could I not ask her?
“A movie star,” She shot back with a tone that left no room for debate. Then she gave her long hair a toss and sashayed away, swinging her tiny hips.
I think that even at that tender age, she had enough life experience to see me for exactly what I was—just another lousy wheel-sucker.
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
Social Director: Megan James Phone:
Webmaster: Kathy Kirk Phone: 388-5045
FlowerFest Director: Dave Jones Phone: 760-8869
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 Kalamazoo Bicycle Club are as follows:
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.