Pedal Press

Fast Track Index

KBC Annual Recovery Party Date and Location Set!

Its PARTY time!! KBC's annual 'Recovery' Party will be held on Saturday, January 21st, 2006 at the home of Megan, Fred and Rebecca James, 5220 Ridgebrook Drive Portage, from 7-10 PM. Ridgebrook Drive is located south of Kilgore Road between South Westnedge and Lover?s Lane, West off Woodmont Drive.

Social Directors Renee Mitchell and Jelania Haile will make chili (both meat and veggie) and have beer, wine, and soft drinks on hand. (Cricket Howard?s Recovery Red Beer will be making an encore appearance!)  

We ask that you bring a dish to pass. To avoid 'too much' of a good thing, we suggest that if you ride in the 12-14 mph group, bring appetizers/breads, in the 15-17 mpg group, bring salads, and 19 mph and up bring deserts. This should ensure a wide variety of goodies.  

Local bike shops are contributing schwag to give away at a raffle and there will be a slide show of KBC events. Volunteers to come early and help set up or stay late and help clean up would be greatly appreciated. If you have any questions, please contact Renee (#329-7061) or Jelania (#345-1274).  

Every KBC member is welcome and encouraged to attend. This is a great time to reconnect with your biking buddies and share good food and good company! See you there!

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President's Letter

There is 5 inches of snow on my driveway. Discretion overruled valor in my decision to forgo traveling to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with my extended family. It would be foolhardy to attempt riding in these conditions.

The next scheduled Kalamazoo Bicycle Club event (apart from monthly meetings) is the Recovery Party, set for January 21, 2006. In the meantime, I hope everyone will take the opportunity to maintain your hard won bicycle physique. There are numerous opportunities to do so, outlined in the minutes from the November Kalamazoo Bicycle Club meeting.

If indoor bicycling is not appealing, I have seen advertised on the internet carbide studded bicycle tires and other extreme weather gear that will allow you to ride on your mountain or road bike (yes, there are studded 23mm road bike tires) before the plow gets through.  Please do not rip up the roads or create trails of sparks when riding on dry surfaces. Remember to keep that bottle of ammonia handy to melt the ice buildup on your brake pads. If the bottle of ammonia freezes, it is too cold to go for a ride.

Keep an eye open on the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club listserve for ride announcements. This is Michigan and there are opportunities to ride throughout the year on the roads in decent weather.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season!

Mike Boersma, KBC President

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Meeting Minutes

KBC?s regular monthly meeting was held Tuesday, November 8, 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, Doug Kirk, Kathy Kirk, Dick Nivala, Jelania Haile and Renee Mitchell.

The first order of business was the election of the 2006 KBC Executive Committee. KBC members present unanimously approved for a second term Mike Boersma for President, Jim Kindle for Vice President, and Tom Keizer for Treasurer. New this year and also unanimously approved was Chris Haddock to the position of Secretary.

Recovery Party update: Jelania Haile brought to the board?s attention that Megan and Fred James offered the use of their home as the venue for the upcoming Recovery Party. The party?s date has been set for January 21st; further updates will follow. Again this year there will be great food, beverages, and schwag.

Off Season KBC Activities and Ideas: Mike Boersma asked the meeting members what there is to do during the so-called off-season. Activities mentioned were the Wednesday night Kal Haven Trail ride, the upcoming spinning classes starting December 16 at Alfred E. Bike (bring your own trainer), programs at local health clubs, or taking in a semester at KVCC for a spinning class. Zolton Cohen also mentioned that Milham Park Municipal Golf Course may again have grooming for skate and inline cross country skiing this winter.

On the topic of Community bicycling awareness and outreach, Jelania Haile proposed a plan for attracting new riders utilizing the ?Bike Camp? concept. KBC?s Bike Camp would involve a weeks-long training program, culminating with participants riding in the FlowerFest Bicycle Tour in July. The Bike Camp Committee at this time consists of Paul Bruneau, Jim Kindle, Zolton Cohen, Jelania Haile, Renee Mitchell and Victor Van Fleet. Any other members who wish to get involved are encouraged to do so.

Old Business: Zolton Cohen reported to the club that the monies approved at last month?s meeting; $400.00 to the Van Buren County Road Commission and $100.00 to the Charter Township of Texas, were sent out along with the thank you letters, and graciously accepted by both parties. The $100.00 that was earmarked for the City of Kalamazoo?s Kal Haven trail building efforts east of the 10th Street parking lot could not be sent, as it turned out to be impossible to find out to whom the check should be made out. The check was returned to Treasurer Tom Keizer. The matter will remain on hold until the proper information has been collected.

Cohen also reported to the club about his phone conversation with Jeff Mitchell, Special Operations Officer for the Van Buren County Road Commission, the entity in charge of operating the Kal Haven Trail. Mitchell profusely thanked the club for the $400.00 donation KBC sent, saying it ?really helped to alleviate some of the conditions there.? But the matter of the parking lot being reserved only for trail users was and is still a topic of concern. Mitchell stated that if someone is parked out there who does not have a pass, the attendant on duty can have the car towed. Discussion on this topic had certain members unsettled at Mitchell?s response. However, the consensus among the majority of members present was to buy either a daily or seasonal pass, thus ending the complaint about taking away parking from patrons who have paid the fees. This also would be the best way to help support the Kal Haven Trail and bicycling in general. KBC may pursue with Van Buren County some type of group rate for the club.

New Business: Doug Kirk asked members present their thoughts about making a donation to the YMCA for the use of a meeting site every 2nd Tuesday of the month. Discussion on the specific amount was jostled around until an amount of $120.00 was agreed upon. Kirk made a motion to give to the YMCA a donation in the amount of $120.00, seconded by Zolton Cohen. A vote was taken and unanimously passed.

Treasurer?s Report: Tom Keizer reported that the checking account balance is $3.337.00 and savings of $2,057.00 along with a $10,000 4-month Certificate of Deposit at 3.2%. Also reported were the final figures on the Flower Fest with an income total of $7,864.00, expenses of $6,272.00, giving the club a total profit of $1,591.00.

With no further business to attend to, the meeting was adjourned at 8:07 pm. Next meeting: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 at 7:00 PM, Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street.

Respectfully submitted,
Mike Berry, KBC Secretary

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Birthdays and Expiring Memberships

Active subscriptions in KBC: 217


Kay Barker * Taylor Birmann * Mike Boersma * Kirt E. Carter * Al Cergol * Joseph Dill * Thomas Ekema * Monica Elfring * Eric Feucht * Judah Gesmundo * Troy Halseth * Sherry Higgins * Rosemary Jacobson * Mike Jones * Stephanie Kennedy * Dale Krueger * Ruth Krueger * Greg Lawford * Doug McDonnell * David Mitchell * Donald Mitchell * Erica Munson * Rob Nicey * Adie Pregenzer * Crystal Raynes * Jason Rutgers * Rob Schwenk * Paul Stevens * Dave Tingley * Monica Tory * Richard Wolf * Cris Wolthuis

New Members

Sandra James * Kelley James-Jura * Richard James-Jura * Richard Jura

Expiring Memberships

Aric Bostwick * Bruce Dedee * Marie Giacobone * Darrell Greathouse * Doug & Kathy Kirk * George Lombardi * Jim And Sally Van Buren

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Thanks to Outgoing Secretary Mike Berry

KBC wishes to thank member Mike Berry for successfully manning the club?s secretarial duties for the last year. Mike attended every monthly meeting and not only took comprehensive notes, but also taped each session in order to insure accuracy in his reporting.

Mike furnished to the newsletter editor clean, concise copy that require little editing , and was always not just on time but actually early in submitting his work before deadline ? thereby helping out the newsletter production process considerably.

KBC wishes Mike good luck in his ?retirement? from secretarial duties, and we?ll look forward to seeing him on KBC rides next year.

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Trailblazer Tour to Return in 2006!

The PedalPress has learned that the Friends of the Kal Haven Trail have decided to resurrect their popular Trailblazer Bike Tour, after a one year hiatus from the local bicycling scene. As one of the first bike tours in the spring, many resident and out-of-area riders viewed the Trailblazer as a good event to get the season off to a rolling start.

The Trailblazer is scheduled for the second Saturday in May, 2006. Details will follow as spring comes closer.

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Editor's Letter

Kal Haven Trailhead Parking Lot Situation

I was roller skiing at the Kal Haven Trail a few weeks ago and for the first time noticed a particular sign at the Trailhead parking lot on 10th Street in Kalamazoo. It may be a new sign or maybe I just never noticed it before. At any rate, the sign said, "Parking for trail users only."

My first thought was that if this sentiment is enforced, KBC has a potential problem on its hands. We do pretty much take over that parking lot nearly every Wednesday night during the summer riding season.

So I figured I?d better try and determine what was up, and called Jeff Mitchell, Special Operations Officer for the Van Buren County Road Commission. We ended up having had a wide-ranging half hour conversation about various Kal Haven Trail issues. Chief among them was how the Wednesday night KBC rides are affecting the trailhead on 10th Street.

First of all, Mitchell thanked the club for the $400.00 donation the club sent in a few weeks ago for trail maintenance. He said it, "really helped to alleviate some of the conditions out there."

We next discussed KBC?s Wednesday night rides, and the situation concerning some of the riders in our club (and I admit to being one), who have been using the backside of the outhouse for a urinal. Mitchell said that has to cease. We've got to cowboy up and actually start using the vault toilet. I know it's going to take some training, but this is something he says has to be corrected if we're going to continue to use the facility. I said I'd pass the word along. It is important to remember that our individual actions out there can have an effect on the entire club?s being able to use that venue as a gathering place before our Wednesday night rides. ?Nuff said on that issue?

Mitchell said the wording on the sign - ?Parking for trail users only? - pertains to a state law, and if someone is parked out there who does not have a trail pass, the attendant on duty can call a towing service and have that car towed.

The solution to that - and I also talked to "Hal," one of the attendants on duty about this - is that everyone from our bike club who parks a car there should buy either a daily or seasonal pass. Hal said, though this is not ?official? policy, if someone is parked there and not using the trail, he would recommend displaying the pass on the dashboard of the car. Individual trail passes are 3.00 for the day, 15.00 for a season; 35.00 for a family season pass. Not too much in the overall scheme of things, and it's a way we can not only support a facility that the club uses heavily, we also add funds to their coffers so they can continue to improve the trail. It's pretty simple: use the trail facilities and ante up for that privilege.

Now here's something I didn't know until Mitchell and I talked about it: the state is still up in the air about whether or not the Van Buren County Road Commission will operate the trail in the years to come. After reading all the news about the trail and having attended several meetings about this in the last several years, my impression had been that the Trail operations had been turned over to VBCRC - at least for the foreseeable future.

It turns out that future will be decided in December when the DNR will meet to determine if they want to continue having VBCRC run trail operations on the Kal Haven Trail. As Mitchell said, this situation is pretty frustrating because he can't plan on anything long-term if the possibility exists that VBCRC won't be running the trail next year.

According to Mitchell, the DNR's position is that they don't think VBCRC should charge for trail passes. They would prefer that trail maintenance be funded through grants and corporate donations so users could use the trail for free. That would be great - if the funds were available. But Mitchell said they aren't (or at least there aren't enough of them), and the trail requires a substantial amount of money to run. Thus user fees are necessary in order to keep the trail going.

Finally, Mitchell wanted me - and the club - to know that no Van Buren County funds are being used for trail maintenance. Anything that is done to the trail is paid for with trail user fees. He related just some of the many projects his crew has undertaken this year, including painting outhouses, bridges, and upgrading the approach to the trail on 10th Street. Add all that up, toss in mowing and regular trail maintenance and pay a few staff people and you wonder how they did it with 54k this year.

One of the things Mitchell has done to cut costs is to use volunteer and prisoner labor for some of the painting projects, so out-of-pocket expenses for some of these undertakings were only for paint and painting tools.

Bottom line...the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club will still be able to use the Kal Haven Trailhead parking lot on 10th Street as a gathering place for our Wednesday night rides, at least for now. But we need to use the toilets, and those who park out there need to buy the trail passes. Buying trail passes, Mitchell said, is the best way to support the Trail. So, please buy a pass and display it on your car's dashboard if you drive to and park there for the rides...

In the overall scheme of things, I feel KBC needs to preserve a good working relationship with the entities operating the Kal Haven Trail in order to keep using the 10th Street parking lot. If we lose the use of this facility we?ll be very hard pressed to find a gathering place that offers parking, bathrooms, and is willing to allow (with liability issues being what they are) nearly 100 people to gather one night a week for the entire summer. Those places are very few and far between.

In addition, to many people in our community who do not ride on the roads, the Kal Haven Trail truly represents bicycling. As our Constitution states, one of the purposes of our club is to promote bicycling in this region, so partnering with one of the prime bicycling facilities in this part of the state would seem to align with our Club?s stated goals.

Zolton Cohen, KBC Newsletter Editor

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Axel Kleat

Cycling Alabama

Due to nasty injuries I suffered in August of 2005, I missed both my annual ride to the Mackinaw Bridge (DALMAC) and a weeklong vacation I?d planned for early October. So I was looking for something new and interesting to do on the bike while I convalesced. As it turned out, a guy who looked vaguely familiar?even though I still haven?t quite figured out why?handed me the solution as I crutched around the parking lot at the State Road Race.

He was passing out flyers to anyone who?d take one, and since I was moving pretty slowly, I was easy prey. Back at the car, I found I was gripping an invitation to Alabama Cycling Camp, a new racing/training/bike fit winter camp run by a longtime cycling coach from Windsor, Ontario named Aldo Sfalcin. A little investigation of the Camp website disclosed the camp runs from late November through March and is based in Ramer, Alabama, nearly 900 miles from Kalamazoo and only 90 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. The price was reasonable, and the urge to get in some of the long fall miles I?d missed couldn?t be denied. Before long we were throwing stuff in the van.

We got up really early the day after Thanksgiving and stepped outside into 10-degree temperatures, howling wind, and 4 inches of fresh, powdery snow. Ugh! Might as well have been mid-January. Twelve hours of nearly non-stop driving later, we stepped into 75 degree sunshine at the 100-plus year old house-cum-training-headquarters Aldo owns in the tiny community of Ramer, about 25 miles south of Montgomery, the state capital.

As it turned out, we were the first trainees of the year, and while the house holds up to 16 visitors, we were the only ones signed up so early. In fact, Aldo had his son there along with a lifelong friend and cook-for-the-week Dino to help whip the place into shape for the season. Aldo and Dino, ages 60 and 63, were both born in Italy and emigrated to Canada with their families shortly after World War II. They?ve been riding and racing since they were kids. Aldo?s been coaching over 23 years and has coached at least seven riders who have competed in World Championships. In fact, he won a bronze medal of his own at the 2005 World Masters Cycling Championships.

Didn?t take long to get the feeling that what Aldo doesn?t know about racing and training isn?t worth knowing, and that we?d be riding and learning at the knee of a truly knowledgeable man. But the first thing that he and Dino both emphasized was that we would just love the roads. Great pavement, rolling countryside and very little traffic, each one told us at least twice, just wait and see tomorrow.

Aldo is a truly energetic, outgoing guy, and his never-ending enthusiasm is contagious. His plan for each day was written on a chalkboard on the living room wall, not far from a five-foot square map of the entire area covering about 35 miles in every direction. Breakfast at 8:00, stretch, ride four hours from 10:00 till 2:00, more stretching, lunch, then bicycling maintenance and adjustments, dinner, bicycling discussion, lights out by 10:00. In other words, all day every day focused on bike fit, fitness, riding, and racing skills. Perfect.

That first evening, we ate a tasty pasta dinner with salad and polenta before beginning what turned out to be a nightly ritual of a wide-ranging cycling-oriented conversation with lots of storytelling before we fell into bed early?the twelve hour drive had taken its toll.

After a good 10 hours of sleep, we were ready to get it on. Breakfast was pancakes with bananas and blueberries, cereal, toast, fruit, juice and coffee. A little stretching, some educated guessing about how much lycra to squeeze into and we were ready to clip-in, along with Aldo and Dino. But before we pushed off, Aldo took time to go over some basic rules of the road?a sensible thing to do since he gets all sorts of riders in the camp, and he has no way to know people?s skills in advance. No crossed wheels, keep a decent following distance, communicate your intentions, be polite out there, wave at people?we need them to like us, hang on to your trash, that sort of stuff.

The plan today was four hours at a nice, easy aerobic pace. No hard riding allowed. This turned out to mean 60 miles in three and a half hours. Aldo spent the whole ride in the back, checking out our position, our riding style, making suggestions, and trying to convince 63 year old Dino, who pulled about half the ride, to go slower.

Didn?t take long to see that they were right about the roads. Hardly any tar-and-gravel. Lots of good, smooth asphalt. For sure the ground never freezes this far south, so the roads stay nice and smooth. Plus, amazingly little traffic. I?ve always figured that, once I get 15 or 20 miles out of Kalamazoo, the roads are deserted. Riding on a Saturday in the middle of the day, I seriously doubt we had more than thirty cars come up behind us in sixty miles. After stretching and dinner, Aldo spent a couple of hours getting to know about our riding history, our goals, and what we?d like to get out of the camp.

The next day we had to wait for a morning shower to blow through. After a shortened ride, we spent the evening we talking for an hour and a half about time-trialing, road-race tactics, early-season training techniques, and how to measure our progress without spending thousands of dollars on Computrainers or SRMs.

Another beautiful ride the next day, with practically no traffic and great, undulating roads. Afterwards, it was bike-fit time, and it became abundantly clear that Aldo is just bursting with knowledge?book-learned knowledge and hard-earned practical, seat-of-the-pants knowledge. After setting our bikes up on a trainer, he filmed us from the side as well as the back. Aldo?s eye (and camera) showed my seat was high and also too forward. I looked forward to feeling the change on the road on the next day.

And indeed the next day was the best yet. Our halfway point was a tiny town named China Grove. I thought of the Doobie Brothers song of the same name, but I recall references to the Lone Star State in that song, so I decided that the Brothers hadn?t necessarily been to Pike County, Alabama. As a bonus, about two miles before the end a big, beautiful fox ran right across the road directly in front of us. What a fabulous, unexpected surprise.

I continue to be amazed by Dino, the 63-year-old Italian diesel. Aldo tells us he?s had a small heart attack. Dino admits he has high cholesterol and high blood pressure. He also admits that he doesn?t like to take his medication, and hasn?t been since he got here. We?re all giving him a hard time, trying to coerce him to eat the pills. Aldo asks him what he wants us to do if he has a heart attack and dies on a ride?joking all the time, even though they?re lifelong friends. That Aldo truly cares and wants Dino to take care of himself is somehow painfully evident as they banter back and forth about coroners, and 911 calls, and exactly what Aldo would tell Dino?s wife if he keeled over out here on his bike.

Yet Dino is clearly the hammerhead of the four of us. We?re all keeping our heart rates down at aerobic levels, but Dino simply pulls away from us on the climbs. He shifts down less than the rest of us and just rides up the hill one or two gears higher. His form, cadence, and position on the bike look exactly the same as when he?s rolling down the flats. He rarely stands and his hands are always on the brake hoods, never the tops or the drops. I hope I ride like Dino when I?m 63.

The next day is just another nearly perfect ride. It?s hard to describe?or believe?how excellent the riding is around here. What?s more, the people are remarkably friendly and helpful, and we have yet to have a car fail to give us plenty of room on the roads. We wave at them; they wave at us?even ornery-looking guys in big ?ol pickups. In fact, many drivers wait respectfully behind until we wave them around. One gets the impression that folks down south are a good bit more laid back and take the Golden Rule pretty seriously, a very nice feeling indeed. Northerners could learn a thing or two.

Over dinner, I grilled Aldo and Dino separately about just how much they?ve ridden over the years. Neither has any real record of their riding, so all we could do was some educated guessing? Dino?s done about 300,000 miles, Aldo about 275,000. I thought the 150,000 I?ve done was pretty good, but these guys have been riding and racing the last forty-five years, about twice as long as I have, though each of them took a break for ten years or so when their kids were young.

Is it likely a week of training in late November going to help my riding next year? I?d have answered ?No? a week ago, but now I most definitely answer ?Yes.? And for lots of reasons.

For one thing, Aldo?s enthusiasm is really contagious. He?s a great guy to spend time with; a real character and his own man. As result, I?m really excited about what I?m going to be doing during the off-season and why. And I have some real plans for what to do in order to make early season riding pay off later on. I understand now how to train properly to sprint, and how position myself for a sprint-or for a climb. I understand why it?s important to eat properly and when I ought to be eating before?and during?an event. I understand how to work on my aerobic base and why it?s important. I understand more about what makes a proper warm up, and the importance of being relaxed out there. And boy, did I ever learn a thing or two about time-trialing.

Think you know all you need to know to get what you want from this sport? I?m betting you don?t, and that you?d learn lots from Aldo. Cabin fever staring you in the face? Need your bicycling batteries recharged this winter? Check into Aldo Sfalcin?s Alabama Training Camp.

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KBC Contact Information

2005 KBC Board of Directors

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
Database Manager Paul Bruneau
  Phone: 269-343-6016
Newsletter Editor Zolton Cohen
  Phone: 269-344-0200
Ride Captain Randy Putt
  Phone: 269-649-1814
Social Director Michele Intermont
  Phone: 269-373-8929
Social Director Meghan James
Webmaster Kathy Kirk
  Phone: 269-388-5045
Flowerfest Director Dave Jones
  Phone: 269-760-8869

KBC Membership Fees

Monthly club meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month February through December at the YMCA on Maple Street in Kalamazoo. Time is 7:00 PM. All members are encouraged to attend.

Please go to our website at to sign up for membership and for more information about KBC.

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