KBC PedalPress www.kalamazoobicycleclub.org The Newsletter of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club June 2005
June President’s Letter
It takes getting away from Michigan and riding for an extended amount of time or distance in another state to fully appreciate what good roads are like to bicycle on - and that the roads around here are just not good roads. Good roads lack pot holes. Good roads are paved, not chip and sealed. Good roads handle the amount of traffic intended for them. Good roads are safer roads.
I have taken up the challenge of randonneering. Randoneering is long distance, timed, bike rides. There is a series of brevets, challenge rides of 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k. The goal of doing these rides is to qualify for a really long distance ride, such as the famous Paris-Brest-Paris ride held every four years (the next PBP will be in 2007). There is no sag service, so if you or your bike break down, and you are unable to repair the problem, you might have to depend on your thumb or on Greyhound to get you to the start/finish line. Good luck finding help at 3:00 AM.
Thus far, I have completed the 200k (125 mile) and the 300k (190 mile) rides. The final two rides of 400k (250+ miles) and 600k (380 miles) will be in June after this issue of the Pedal Press comes out. The series that I have been doing is out of Wisconsin (most of the riders are from the Chicago area). These rides go whatever the weather conditions may be, so this past weekend I ended up riding with some folks from Ohio who had been snowed out of their 300k ride (battling 20-30 mile per hour headwinds with occasional heavy rain for 100 miles was tough enough, I can not imagine battling a blizzard for 200 miles). Nightfall does not stop the ride: you are expected to have lights to ride at night.
These rides really stress the importance of nutrition and hydration. You MUST stay fed and watered to finish these rides (or really any other distance event like a full Ironman (only 128 miles) or the century (100 mile) option of the FlowerFest Tour). I brought a supply of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars and bananas along for both of the rides and I had enough calories. The foods that I took are gentle on the digestive system; if you are planning a distance event, the foods should be tested prior to the event so that if they are not gentle, you can go to plan B.
Wisconsin has really good roads (even the isolated backroads tend to be pothole free). Thus, if you do plan on doing something like the Wisconsin Ironman, or a brevet, or a tour, you will find that the roads are the least of your concerns (although I did run into a drunk driver who ran me off of the road (I can only assume that the yahoo was drunk as I have never seen a sober driver drive that erratically) The terrain, at least on the route that I have been on, is rolling to hilly, so be prepared to do a 6th Street hill every 10 miles or so.
So, why do this? I guess the best explanation I’ve heard boils down to this: I am never going to be able to ride like Lance Armstrong and compete in the Tour. But I do have it within my power to ride in the Paris-Brest-Paris ride, which is comparable, in France, to the Tour.
Go out and have some fun on a bike.
Mike Boersma, KBC President
subscriptions in KBC: 228
Sally Pitt-Van Buren
June Expiring Memberships:
Michele Cudahy and Dave De Back
Doug McDonnell Family
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KBC’s regular monthly meeting was held Tuesday, May 10, 2005 at 7:00 pm at the Kalamazoo YMCA located on Maple Street. KBC President Mike Boersma led this monthly meeting. Other members present were Jim Kindle, Tom Keizer, Mike Berry, Zolton Cohen, Paul Bruneau, Victor Van Fleet, Shawn Messenger, and Rick Updike.
Discussed first at this meeting was the schedule of events for Bike Camp. Bike Camp is scheduled for Saturday, May 21st. Zolton Cohen stated that three local bike shops have been asked to participate. Breakaway Bicycles and Alfred E. Bike have graciously accepted, but Village Cyclery will not able to attend. Also, the Kal Haven trail will be open to all attendees who partake in this workshop and will be able to ride for free on that day. There also will be apple cider on hand to quench the thirst of participants. Everyone thanked Zolton for all his efforts and hard work, and hope everything goes off well
Rick Updike, a member of KBC’s Allez Racing Team and Caesars Cycling, gave the members of the May meeting an update on how the race team is progressing since its conception in January. Specific on the details of the USCF 6th Street Road Race along with WMU on Saturday April 9th, Updike stated that the race generated $400.00 more in income than expenses and, except for a couple of complaints by residents in the area, everything went well. Updike stated that the potential to have a state race here in Kalamazoo is great, so we must be able to get along with the locals.
To defuse future conflicts with residents during bike racing events, Zolton Cohen offered to put together a letter to those residents who wrote to the club with complaints. It is hoped this might get communications between them and the race team started, and pave the way to come up with an amicable solution for their grievances. Updike also proposed a possible community-friendly gesture following the Adopt-A-Highway theme by putting up a sign on DE Avenue and then “adopting” the area for roadside trash pickup. It would show the good will of the race team in working with the community. Mike Boersma suggested KBC members also be a part of the clean up, since KBC does benefit from the race team itself.
FlowerFest Update: Zolton Cohen stated he still hasn’t been able to contact Dave Jones, who is head of the FlowerFest Organizing Group (FOG), for a report. But Tom Keizer, Treasurer and former FlowerFest committee member, says again that he has talked to Dave Bishop who is currently on the committee. Bishop stated to Keizer that everything is going fine. Mike Boersma stated for the meeting minutes that “I guess no news is good news.”
KBC’s four-color brochures that are distributed to local bike shops are now down to a handful. Zolton Cohen has asked the club about reprinting new ones. After some discussion, Paul Bruneau, Data Base Manager, volunteered to get 3 quotes from printers for lots of 500 and 1000. Because this needs to be done in a timely matter, Jim Kindle made a motion to have the executive committee make the decision on reprinting these brochures. Mike Boersma seconded the motion and the motion was passed.
Zolton Cohen reported that the Tuesday Night Time Trial Series is set to begin on May 17th at Pavilion Township Hall at the corner of 29th Street and Q Avenue. KBC’s time trial is a ten-mile race against the clock. It will be the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays in June, July, and August; rain or shine. Sign up at 5:45, start at 6:15 sharp. QUESTIONS: Chris or Marian Barnes, (269) 327-8972. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Boersma brought the club’s attention to the upcoming Ride Of Silence. This is in memory of bicyclist that have been killed, and to bring awareness to bicycling in general. Mike believes this is a ride that KBC members might possibly want to participate in and will be looked into it as a possible KBC ride.
Boersma also brought up the possibility of KBC contributing to the Lucinda Means Memorial. Lucinda, director of the League of Michigan Bicyclists, died in her sleep on April 27th. Everyone thought it to be a good idea and Mike said he would look further into the details.
Victor Van Fleet, Kalamazoo Bicycle Club’s Chairman of the Safety and
Education Committee, again reiterated the importance to the club about making a
difference with the overweight and obesity problem plaguing
Treasurer’s Report: Tom Keizer reported that we have $9,030.00 in savings and $3139.00 in checking.
With no further business to attend to, the meeting was adjourned at 8:15 pm. Next meeting: Tuesday, June 14, 2005, 7:00 PM, Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street.
Respectfully submitted, Mike Berry, KBC Secretary
KBC’s Bike Camp, a seminar held on Saturday, May 21st and directed at beginning bicyclists and those who have been out of the sport for a while, proved to be a hit. While perhaps not a home run, it was at least a single; maybe even a long single up the gap.
Approximately a dozen cyclists showed up at the event to drink some cider, receive handouts dealing with bicycle safety and the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, ride on the Kal Haven Trail, and listen to local biking experts share their knowledge and love of bicycling.
KBC member/volunteers and the subjects they addressed included:
Doug Kirk – Bike fit for comfort and safety
Paul Bruneau – The benefits of recumbent bicycles for comfort and speed
Paul Raynes – How to change a flat tire on road or trail
Bryon Bierema – The health benefits of bicycling
Randy Putt – The “why” and “how” of riding in groups
Mike Boersma – Legalities and safety issues concerning bicycling in Michigan
Kathy Kirk – who was slated to speak on the many road, trail, and bike path options available in the Kalamazoo area, but did not present due to time limitations.
In addition, Paul Wells from Breakaway Bicycles spoke on the importance of helmet and rear view mirror use, and also about bicyclist and auto driver behavior on the roadway. Nikki Pavlak and Steve Senyk from Alfred E Bike demonstrated various bicycles that are suitable for riding on different types of terrain.
Victor Van Fleet, KBC’s Safety and Education Chair served as host and greeter, and Jelania Haile led Bike Camp attendees on a post-seminar ride on the Kal Haven Trail.
Feedback from Bike Campers was universally positive, ranging from “informative” to “interesting,” to “are you going to do this again soon? I’d like someone I know to come and listen to it.”
KBC extends its appreciation to the volunteers who took the time on a busy spring Saturday to reach out to beginning bicyclists, and also to those who chose to attend. As a first-time event, it was difficult to predict what the attendance would be, and also how best to advertise it – especially on a day when so many other community events were planned. But it was a good start. And we can build on this success in order to broaden the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club’s base of members in the future.
Your Dues At Work - Total cost of Bike Camp to KBC: $16.93 for printing and cider.
|(Left to Right) Paul Raynes, Victor Van Fleet, Kathy Kirk, Paul Bruneau, Paul Wells and Doug Kirk listen to Wells describing the finer points of bike helmet fit at KBC's 2005 Bike Camp.|
|Doug Kirk, in white jersey by well pump, mounts a bicycle on a trainer for an attendee of KBC's 2005 Bike Camp, readying it to fine tune the fit to its owner.|
|Jelania Haile, right, waits to lead a Kal Haven Trail ride at KBC's 2005 Bike Camp while in the background, Doug Kirk, in white jersey, fits a bicyclist to his bike. Photos by Zolton Cohen.|
Dateline April 1, 2005: Kalamazoo Michigan.
Kalamazoo Bicycle Club officials reported last Friday that one bicycle racer who had signed up for the April 9th 6th Street Road Race had been disqualified due to egregious blood doping.
Frederick “Red” Ruff’ansore, 32, of the Grayling Cycling Club first raised suspicions of race officials when he showed up on the day of the race with an 83/72 chainring on the front of his titanium Litespeed racing bicycle. Because most of the other participants who intended to race on the hilly course chose the more standard 53/39 tooth configuration, Ruff’ansore’s gigantic titanium chainring stood out as unusual.
Just before the start of the USCF Men’s Category 1/2 race, Ruff’ansore was led away to the official’s tent where his arms were checked for needle “tracks.” A blood sample drawn from Ruff’ansore’s right index finger revealed traces amounts of a combination of Jose Canseco’s and Tyler Hamilton’s blood. Officials disqualified Ruff’ansore immediately, told him to pack his belonging in his van and to leave the premises. Off-duty Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department deputies had to drag Ruff’ansore, who became enraged when told he could not race, to his vehicle. Preliminary results of the testing were available immediately, leading to the disqualification; state laboratories in Lansing will not have the remaining blood panel and scan completed until early July.
When contacted two days after the incident, Ruff’ansore said, “Hey, what can I say? I like to run big rings. Where’s the crime in that? Just because I can push gears others can’t, I’m a criminal?”
A look into Ruff’ansore’s racing record reveals a history of upper level finishes in Category 1/2 races starting in the fall of 2001. In the ten years prior to that he raced in the slower Category 4/5 and citizen’s races, never coming near the podium in any one of them.
“Yeah,” said Ruff’ansore, “I met Tyler in the summer of 2001, and Jose shortly after that. We shared a house together for a couple of months and got to be pretty good friends. It was their input that made me what I am today, a championship racer.”
Blood doping, the practice of removing some blood from the body in order to store it and replace it at some future time prior to a competitive event, is considered cheating by every sports governing body in the world, with the exception of those monitoring professional wrestling. The removed blood is stored while the body manufactures additional red blood cells to replace those that were lost. Infusing the stored blood before a race enables the increased number of red blood cells to transport oxygen to the muscles, leading to enhanced performance.
Usually, people engaged in blood doping use their own blood for replacement. But in some reported cases, blood from other people has been successfully transfused, opening up a pool of “donors” available to those willing to engage in the procedure.
“The Kalamazoo Bicycle Club and its officers will be hearing from me,” Ruff’ansore said. “That’s for sure. They took away my self respect and humiliated me in front of hundreds of people. My lawyers, Nasty, Brutish and Short are preparing my lawsuit already.”
Officials at the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club could not be reached for comment. But their attorney team of Whitelipt and Trembling issued a statement, a portion of which read, “We have never condoned cheating in any way, shape or form and will not tolerate it now. Mr. Ruff’ansore was caught red-handed – or red-blooded, as the case may be – and he suffered the consequences. To file a lawsuit based on his dismissal from the race because he was caught blood doping verges on the absurd. He did the deed and paid the price for his nefarious action. We look forward to seeing him in court.”
Calls to Jose Canseco, Tyler Hamilton, Mark McGwire, and Jennifer Lopez were not returned.
Don’t forget to note on your calendars the date of KBC’s bike tour – and largest fund-raising event of the year – the Flowerfest Bike Tour on Sunday, July 17th, 2005. More information about Flowerfest is available on KBC’s website: www.kalamazoobicycleclub.org. New this year is the opportunity to sign up for Flowerfest online on the website.
Dave Bishop, of the secretive Flowerfest Organizing Group (FOG), sends along this report on FOG’s doings…
1. The 32, 60, and 100 mile route have all changed slightly to create more interest in the rides. This has come about due to rider input. It keeps the rides from becoming stale. All will go North, with the 62 and 100 mile routes combining on some of the same roads.
2. The 100 mile route will have an additional stop in the park in Schoolcraft, where there will be minimal supplies as it is very close to the end of the ride. Nevertheless, it will be an additional stop and a chance for a quick breather before heading back to the finish. Otherwise, we will be having the same sag stops as before: Timber Ridge and The Briar Patch. The usual fare will be at both.
3. We will be giving out new biker’s gift this year. It seems as though everybody has enough water bottles.
4. The t-shirt design for this year is quite a change from previous years. Amy Lehman has come up with a great design and I’m sure the riders will like it.
5. FOG, of course, is looking for volunteers for the sag stops, sag wagons, road painting, packet stuffing, and registration.
Flowerfest Route updates:
Century Route: Loop 1 is shortened, getting to the Timber Ridge Sag at 23 miles and the first Briar Patch Sag at 45 miles. Loop 2 remains the same. There is a water stop in Schoolcraft at 90 miles on an expanded Loop 3.
62 mile Route: This route changes the most. It follows the Century Route for the first 45 miles including the Timber Ridge Sag and the 6th Street Hill. Loop 2 (Lawton) is eliminated. There is only one stop at the Briar Patch Sag. Loop 3, which is modified slightly, is shared for the most part with the 31 mile Route.
31 Mile Route: Loop 3 is modified and shared for the most part with the 62 mile Route.
The 15 Mile Route and the Family Ride remain the same.
Late Spring Ramblings from the Ride Captain
There have been some great riding days in April and May, and some very cool days as well. I hope you have been able to do some riding this spring. The attendance at the 2005 KBC rides continues at a record-breaking pace. It is spring in Kalamazoo and the weather is starting to warm up again, and hopefully for good. There were at least 80 riders at last Monday’s ride with at least 6 groups going out - and it was only 55 deg. A second Recovery Ride group has started on Monday, led by Larry Kissinger, Randy Putt, Tom Noverr, and others to be named. This ride is intended to be a slightly faster version of the very successful Recovery Ride led by Zolton Cohen. It is the intention of the ride leaders to keep the pace steady at ~19 – 20 mph with no rapid surges. The group plans to work on paceline techniques and general large group riding techniques. The ride will follow the mostly flat Schoolcraft route used by Zolton’s group.
Attendance at the Wednesday and Friday rides is high as well. I don’t have a report on the Thursday Evening Ride. I assume it is going well. The first Time Trial of the year was held this week, with 17 riders attending, including at least 4 first-timers. It is amazing how well everyone is riding.
Two of this year’s three new rides, the Thursday morning Women’s Ride & Sat Morning Ride from St Tim’s Church near Gull Lake, are slowly gaining attendance and will continue in June.
Join Rene Mitchell and Jelania Haile on the Thursday morning ride from KVCC for 20 – 25 miles at a 15 – 16 mph pace. They are working hard to make this ride a success. This ride starts at 10:00 AM.
Join Paul Raynes on the 10:00 AM Saturday Ride for ~ 40 mile rides. Paul has had a few riders join to ride the rolling hills of NE Kalamazoo County and southern Barry County.
There has been little interest in the Tuesday Ride from Pfizer in Portage. Since I will be unable to lead the ride in June, this ride will be cancelled and will be taken off the ride calendar unless someone else steps up to the lead the ride. The ride has been competing with the Tuesday Time Trial on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, and the KBC board meeting is on the 2nd Tues evening of the month.
The W Ride was a success, with 9 riders in spite of soggy, cool, and windy weather. The riders in attendance braved less- than-desirable weather. What dedication!! The riders did enjoy the maps; pretzel sticks. This was the 5th year for the ride and Rick Whaley provides a different map every year. The maps were so good that Steve Barnes had to have 2 of them!! He must have been hungry. My hat is off to Rick Whaley (the infamous founder of the W Ave Ride) for driving all the way from Ann Arbor to lead the ride, and on a crappy day. The rest of the riders decided to abandon at the half-way point, but not Rick. He finished the whole route, 48 miles. Rick, you are one dedicated cyclist.
The Old Car Ride is on for June 11 from Vicksburg High School, starting at 8:30 AM. I hope to have a new route this year of 60 – 80 miles. I’m still working out the route details. The route will still go south into St. Joseph county and cross the covered bridge into or out of Centerville, and then west into the Three Rivers area. The route should offer some interesting riding and scenery. This ride was rained out last year so I’m hoping for good weather this time around, and a well attended ride. The pace is typically ~ 18 mph and is adjusted for the riders present. As always, riders of all abilities are welcome to join us.
If you have not been out to one of the KBC rides yet this year, I hope to see you in at a ride in June.
ALL WEEKDAY EVENING RIDES START AT 6:15 PM in June and continues through August – except for the Wednesday night Hammerfest, which always starts at 6:00 PM.
Additional ride leaders are still 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.
The Monday Ride at Texas Drive Park will consist of 5 ride groups, which should provide a pace to suit riders of all abilities:
15-20 mile group at 10-12 mph (informally lead by a number of riders)
15-20 mile group at 12-15 mph (informally lead by a number of riders)
25-30 mile recovery I group at 16-18 mph (led by Zolton Cohen)
25-30 mile recovery II group at 19-20 mph (led by Larry Kissinger, Randy Putt, Tom Noverr, and others)
25-30 mile group at 20+ mph (variety of leaders)
- The 10-15 mile 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. This group has gained quite a following, usually 10 – 15 riders.
- The 25-30 mile groups will typically ride the same route in the early part of the season. KBC recommends the 16 – 18 mph Recovery Ride group for more experienced riders who are new to the club. This group is very steady and one of the more popular KBC ride groups. The 19 – 20 mph group is a steady group as well for riders who want to ride at a faster pace. The leaders for the 16 – 18 mph and 19 - 20 mph groups plan to keep the groups together and at a steady pace. The 16 – 18 mph and 19 – 20 mph groups may combine depending on the number of riders present.
- All riders who want to push the pace can do so in the 20+mph group. The 18 – 19 and 20+ mph groups may start riding the more hilly routes in June at the discretion of the riders and leaders.
The Tuesday Night Time Trial has started. The Barnes family is running the time trial once again this year and is using 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 the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays in June, July, and August. Start time is 6:15 PM, but please come early to sign up and to warm up.
The Wednesday Ride meets at the Kal-Haven Trail Parking lot. KBC plans to offer 3 ride groups:
30 mile group at 18-19 mph (the Quarter-Fast Ride) (Led by Tim Stewart and others),
30 mile group at 22+ mph (The Half-Fast Ride) (led by Zolton Cohen)
The Wednesday night Hammerfest will start at Kal-Haven Trail Parking lot at 6 PM. 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. Typically, there is no designated ride leader. The group typically fragments into smaller groups and the riders often times 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. 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 Thursday Night Ride is a nice and easy social ride night 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 (TDG) meets at Billy’s Bike Shop in Galesburg for a ride around Gull Lake (27 miles). We have a 16-17 mph group periodically, as well as a large 22+ mph group. Doug Kirk also established an alternate Southern Route, which was successful in its inaugural year. The fast group typically leads itself. It is a great route of rolling hills and curvy roads, and fast and furious finish for the 22+mph group. The south route is flatter and has minimal traffic.
The route for this ride is well established so the ride leader job is easy. There has been interest from club members in establishing a 13-15 mph group for this ride. If you are interested, please contact the Ride Captain. We would love to hear from you.
16 – 18 mph group (leader TBD)
19 – 20 mph group (south route) (leader TBD)
20+ mph group led by Randy Putt and others (TDG)
New Ride – The Saturday Ride (~40 miles) at 10 AM from St Tim’s Church on BC Avenue between Gull Lake and M-43 (9800 E. BC Avenue. Approximately 1.5 miles north out of Richland on M-43 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 have passed the church). Paul Raynes plans to lead this ride on June 4th, 18th and 25th. Paul could use some help leading the ride.
The 7th annual Old Car Festival Ride (60 - 80 miles) from Vicksburg High School will be held Saturday June 11 at 8:30 AM, led by Randy Putt. Join us on June 11 for a ride south into St. Joseph County, and then enjoy the Vicksburg Old Car Festival after the ride. The pace will be 17 – 19 mph. Riders of all abilities are welcome. Additional leaders are needed for a ride pace other than the pace posted. Maps will be provided with short cuts included if riders would like a shorter ride.
Also, we plan to continue the special weekend rides in 2005. These 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 HS was held on May 14 with 9 riders. (Thanks once again, Rick.,
The 7th annual Old Car Festival Ride (60 - 80 miles) from Vicksburg High School June 11
The 8th annual ride to South Haven with a stop at the beach (100 miles) in July 9
The 3rd annual Family Ride from St Tim’s Church near Gull Lake in July (distance TBD)
The 8th annual Ride Around Kalamazoo County (100 miles) August 6 or 13
The 34th KBC Anniversary Ride September 17 (~40 miles)
The 2nd Fall Ride October 1 or 8 (~40 miles)
The dates for some of these rides are not yet firmly established for 2005. If you have comments about the above-mentioned rides or have suggestions for other rides, contact Randy Putt by phone or e-mail.
It was with great trepidation that I gathered together everything I needed during the early morning hours on Saturday, May 21st, to act as moderator at KBC’s initial Bike Camp. How many people would show up? Zero? 200? Would the presenters remember to come? Would they talk long and boringly – driving away the attendees? Would it rain? Would the administrators at the Kal Haven Trail remember that they had offered Bike Campers use of the Trail for free that day?
One by one my fears and anxieties fell away during the beautiful, sunny morning. It didn’t rain. All the presenters showed up and spoke well. We even had about a dozen attendees. The cider was cold and good, and the pass-taker in the Trail’s caboose even vaguely recalled that someone had said something, somewhere, about Bike Camp, and allowed the Campers to pass his jurisdiction without a peep. All in all it turned out to be a successful inaugural event.
As I watched Doug Kirk explain the complexities of adjusting a bike to fit properly, Paul Bruneau expound on the many benefits of riding recumbent bicycles, Paul Raynes give an informative and humorous illustration of how to change a flat tire on the road or trail, Bryon Bierema proselytize on the health benefits of bicycling, and the rest of the presenters from KBC, Breakaway Bicycles and Alfred E Bike, I felt a certain amount of pride in what we were trying to accomplish. There is power in the accumulated knowledge in this bike club; to many, we’re “experts” on bikes and bicycling. And maybe we should use what we know more often to try and get more people involved in the sport.
Big – and Getting Bigger – Ride Groups:
Larry Kissinger and I talked recently about attendance at club rides when we first became involved in KBC 7-8 years ago - when the turnout at the Tour de Gull on Friday nights was considered decent if 8 riders showed up. On a recent, warm Monday night, KBC ride leader Tim Stewart counted over 80 people standing around in the Texas Drive Park parking lot, getting ready to hop on their bicycles for rides of various paces. A few weeks later, with the temperature standing at 55 degrees, another observer noted the almost 50 riders who showed up for the same Monday night rides. The numbers are similar on Wednesdays, at the Kal Haven Trailhead parking lot.
The fact is, KBC club rides are attracting more and more people every year. And while this is great news – more people are taking bicycling seriously both as transportation and recreation – it is also creating some safety problems on the roads where we ride. For all of us to stay safe when we ride in groups, we’re going to have to do some adjustments to the ride groupings in order to reduce their size.
Here’s the problem: When a group gets too large it takes up too much space on the roadway. It’s one thing to ask automobile drivers to wait patiently in order to safely pass a clot of 10-12 riders; it’s another to expect them to wait until the opposite lane clears sufficiently to pass bicyclists strung out over a hundred yards of road. The result, as we’ve seen several times during the Monday, Wednesday and Friday rides, is drivers’ passing unsafely, putting both us and them at risk – unnecessary risk.
In theory, cars and bikers would share the roadway safely and everyone would be pleasantly surprised at the courteous behavior of the other group. But that’s not what happens in the real world, and it is understandable that drivers get impatient when encountering large groups. It’s not an excuse for unsafe passing of course, but we need to be reasonable and to do our part in sharing the road safely with cars.
Another problem with large groups has to do with safety within the group itself – bike-to-bike safety. Often, even if the riders at the front of the group point out to riders behind them the potholes and other obstructions in the roadway (as they are supposed to!), that information does not get passed down all along the two-abreast line of bikers, as it should. With a smaller group this doesn’t seem as great an obstacle. If you’re only five to six riders behind the front, you can more easily observe what the leaders are doing and what they’re pointing out or swerving around on the road; 20 riders from the front you’re pretty far out of the informative loop.
Also, while crashes can occur in small as well as in large groups, crashes in large groups tend to take out more riders, simply by the fact of the sheer numbers in the peloton.
So, the solution to most of these issues seems to lie in breaking up the large groups into smaller ones. KBC’s administration is working on ways of doing just that, and would welcome any insight you have into how to do it efficiently, equitably and fairly. Should we count off by ones and twos before a ride starts and split the group into odd and even numbers? Would using prime numbers help? Should we, as Tom Cross has suggested, draw cards and dub the groups Red and Black? And what if you want to ride with a close friend? Do you trade cards or numbers with someone else to get in his or her group?
This will require some experimentation, sorting out, and cooperation from club members who attend rides. It won’t be perfect right off the bat – and may never be. If you have any suggestions about how to accomplish this, please come to a club meeting to give us your input – or contact me directly: Zolton Cohen, at email@example.com.
Zolton Cohen, KBC Newsletter Editor
By Axel Kleat
I’m truly glad to see more and more riders at the club rides the last few years, and I suppose I should expect that some of them, especially the young ones, will be faster than I am. But I’ve got this funny feeling that they just aren’t working as hard as I am at trying to go fast, and that they’re just fast—really fast—anyway.
I suspect that they can—and do—pound a few beers the night before, or maybe stay up till four, or both—and still take enormous pulls at absurd speeds with heart rates well below mine.
Now, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe these guys do hundreds of crunches daily, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and no refined sugar, get a good solid 8 or 9 hours of sleep at night, and limit themselves to one beer—and then only if they’ve had a good race. Maybe they did structured sets in the weight room and rode or skied outside all winter because trainers are for wimps.
I really want to think they did all this stuff because it’s too demoralizing to think about all the work I’ve put in year after year only to be so much slower than some of these guys. This winter I did sensible, smart off-season training on and off the bike, I improved my eating habits, worked on my position on the bike, spent more time than ever in the weight room, and more time on the rollers than I have in years. What’s more, I really made a commitment to increasing my core-body strength.
And I’m faster than last year. For sure I’m climbing better—I can hang with people who used to drop me like a bad habit in the hills. I even felt good enough about my riding to enter the Club’s 6th Street Road Race—my first road race in nearly twenty years—and had groups of guys queuing up to suck my wheel on the climb. Talk about ego gratification!
But as soon as the Wednesday Night Hammerfest got cranking, I got a nasty reality dose. It’s not as though the guys at the front are quite in the same league with the real pros I fawned over while visiting the World Professional Road Cycling Championship in Ontario a year and a half ago. But golly gee whiz, the riders pulling at the front of the Hammerfest this spring are really impressive.
Used to be that I could hang out mid-pack without too many worries, at least until we got to the hills at the end. No more. Constant attention is an absolute necessity…along with a certain amount of luck. Guys decide to ride off the front of a pack already going 28 mph. Then a few others take offense and decide to chase—usually the instant they round a corner. Of course, about then us wankers in back have just begun lifting our noses off our stems in order to set up for the turn, which some of us negotiate with a bit less than total aplomb. Up front the racers—who are cranking so hard their bikes do power-slides around the corner as they whip up the pace—string out single file.
You know the rest. Suddenly the pack is stretched out over a quarter mile, when it was only maybe a hundred yards long moments before. The dreaded rubber-band effect stretches…and stretches…gaps begin to open, and we’re all sprinting like the finish line’s a hundred yards up the road just hoping to latch on to the back of those…those…those darn Hammerheads up there!
And just like that, I’m off the back—usually with a few other sorry souls, all of us ‘way too far into oxygen debt to commiserate about how the heck it happened this time. Anyway, it all boils down to this: No matter how hard I train, I’m never, ever going to be that fast; never, ever going to be as fast as I want to be. I got the wrong DNA or something, and it torques me off!
I love this sport and I’m going to keep working at it. But I just hate having to look in the mirror and see just another decent rider despite all my hard work. Anybody got a line on some EPO or maybe some HGH?
2005 KBC Board of Directors 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.