March 2014 President’s Letter

Rough Times Ahead for KBC

This morning, I walked downtown from my house at the top of West Main hill. A little skiff of snow had fallen overnight, concealing large areas of glare ice on the sidewalk that had formed, courtesy of rain that fell a week or so ago.

Everything was, as they say, "slickern' deer guts on a doorknob." I nearly went down a couple of times when my feet suddenly flew out from under me. Only my cat-like reflexes, honed fine by dodging metaphors, kept me upright.

As I walked, in the brief moments when I dared cast my eyes away from the path in front of me, I noticed something peculiar. West Main Street had turned into a gravel road.

There was gravel; stones the size of red kidney beans, lying where the pavement used to be. I looked closer and suddenly realized that the gravel actually was the pavement. It was pavement - asphalt - broken into bits and pulverized by the continual pounding of tires from the 18,000 cars and trucks that utilize West Main Street in a 24 hour period.

It was obvious, a moment later, from whence the gravel came. A white utility van hit a deep, water-and ice-filled pothole and showered me with filthy, salty, freezing cold water. Water had filled the place where the pavement used to be. And the pavement, now loose on the road, was being converted swiftly and efficiently into gravel.

This all occurred on Monday morning, February 24. And the weather forecast for the next ten days is calling for no daytime temperature higher than 22 degrees. Sub-zero cold is predicted for several of the next few nights. So, technically, we're not even into "pothole season" yet, and won't be until there are definitive signs of spring. Yet, already, the roads are crumbling at an astonishing rate.

I spoke with Kalamazoo's Vice Mayor David Anderson and Portage Mayor Pete Strazdas a few weeks ago at an open house, and both said this winter has strained road budgets to the break point. Not only have Kalamazoo and Portage's city coffers been drained by all the extra snow plowing required by a 100+ inch snow depth winter, but materials like salt, sand, and beet juice, used to melt snow and provide traction, have run low and at the same time are escalating in price.

Both Anderson and Strazdas said that every dollar that comes out of road funds to deal with this exceptional winter is a dollar that is not going to be available to repair the roads in the spring and summer. That is true on both a city and county-wide basis. Connecting the dots, it looks as though we're in for a very bumpy ride this year.

How Do We Deal With It?

In the past few years, I have noticed, on our evening group rides especially, that the practice of cyclists at or near the front of a group pointing out road hazards like branches, potholes or deceased rodents has declined markedly. It is not clear as to the reason for this; perhaps it can be attributed to the large number of new bikers in the club who are strong enough to ride in a group, but are not yet versed in group riding etiquette.

That won't be an option this year. Roads everywhere are going to be more dangerous to ride on, and we will need to be more vigilant - and courteous to our fellow cyclists - than ever.

Let's make it a point to .... well, point out road hazards this year. As you ride at the front of your group, remember what it felt like to be near the back and to have ridden over a stick, pothole, or woodchuck that was not pointed out further up the line. A little reciprocal looking out for one another goes a long way...

Let's get together after the melt and ride!

Zolton Cohen, KBC President


Next KBC Meeting on March 11th, 2014

The next KBC Monthly Meeting will take place at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at the Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street. All KBC members are welcome to attend.


KBC Riding Season Begins on March 10, 2014

The KBC riding season will begin on Monday, March 10 and the rides will begin at 5:30 P.M. However, it is unlikely that there will be hoards of KBC cyclists participating, at least until the weather warms up (if it ever does). The rides in March will be somewhat informal, and the season doesn't really get going until April. The April rides will begin at 6:00 P.M. See the KBC website ( for more details.


KBC 2014 Friend of Bicycling Award

The following is the press release for the 2014 KBC Friend of Bicycling Award.

KALAMAZOO, MI, February 9, 2014 - Open Roads Bike Program (, received the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club's 4th annual Friend of Bicycling award during a presentation at Bronson Hospital on Thursday, February 5, 2014.

KBC president Zolton Cohen says, "One of my most pleasurable tasks is to give our annual Friend of Bicycling award to a worthy recipient. This year, the award goes to the Open Roads Bike Program."

Cohen adds, "Open Roads, and its founder, Ethan Alexander, have contributed great things to the Kalamazoo cycling community since the group's start in 2009. Most visibly, there are the bike racks made from defunct bike frames located at the People's Food Coop and the parking ramp by the RAVE Theater. Additionally, programs like Fixapalooza help get the community involved in fixing and riding bikes."

"Most of all, Open Roads is important because it works with young people to develop social skills as well as mechanical aptitude. The abilities Open Roads imparts to these young adults will stand them in good stead throughout their lives, making them good citizens as well as good people."

Cohen concludes, "That all these endeavors come through the conduit of bicycling is one of the geniuses of Open Roads. For all those reasons, I am pleased to announce that Open Roads is the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club's Friend of Bicycling for 2014."

Past recipients of the Friend of Bicycling Award have been the Friends of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, The City of Portage Department of Streets and Equipment, and Breakaway Bicycles and Fitness.

The non-profit Kalamazoo Bicycle Club was formed in 1971 in order to promote bicycling in the region. Its activities include bike safety advocacy, club rides, racing, touring, and the promotion of bicycle-friendly infrastructure.

Ethan Alexander, right, Director of the Open Roads Bike Program, receives the 2014 Friend of Bicycling Award on February 6, 2014 from Kalamazoo Bicycle Club President Zolton Cohen. Open Roads Board members, left to right in back, are Emily Betros, Matt Semelbauer, Brian Morris, Brandt Christopherson and Nikki Gates.

Marc Irwin, KBC Director of Public Relations


Call for KalTour Volunteers

Assuming that the snow has melted by the end of June, the 2014 edition of KalTour will take place on Sunday, June 29, 2014. As always, there is plenty to do both before and during the ride. Route planning, route marking, contacting vendors, scheduling volunteers, and purchasing food and other supplies are among the many tasks that will be done before the ride. Day of ride tasks include setting up and staffing registration and sag stops, patrolling the route, and cleaning up at the end of the day.

I am asking KBC members to pitch in where and when they can. To those who have helped out in a variety of ways in the past, I am of course grateful, and to show my gratitude, I will be asking you to help out again this year. I would like to see new people get involved, as well. If you have not previously volunteered at KalTour, but would like to help (or if you can convince a non-riding friend or family member to help), please e-mail me at or meet with me before or after one of the KBC meetings.

Mike Krischer, KalTour Director


2013 KBC Member Mileage Almanac

3,000Jon Ballema
813Andrea Bau
849Roger Behnke
10,871Terry Butcher
1,500 John Clark
1,620Gregory Connors
6,000*Derek Dalzell
6,640Paul Guthrie
8,704John and Barb Hart (tandem)
1,480*Jeanette Holm
2,129Anne Hoover
1,822 Terry Hutchins
4,000*Aliceanne Inskeep
9,345 Doug Kirk
3,300 Dale Krueger
2,000*Mike Mock
5,500Terry O'Connor
4,981John Olbrot
5,469Don Reeves
6,802 Paul Selden
2,800*John Shubnell
6,789Tim Stewart, Sr.
2,758Gordon Vader
7,007Rick Whaley
5,000*John Wunderlin

* (Noted as approximate.)

These are based on member reports received in time for submission to March's Pedal Press. Keep track of your mileage for next year's KBC Member Mileage Almanac.

Throughout 2014, please send reports of rides you have done that may be of interest to others. Trips, adventures, long rides, race results, an experience on a trail, a pleasant outing with the family .... in short, submit just about anything you think may help our members get a feeling for the many bicycling experiences that are out there!

Paul Selden


What Is a Sharrow?

A term that we are going to be hearing a lot about this spring and summer in our region is SHARROW. A sharrow is a graphic that is painted on the street. It consists of a bicycle with two arrowheads above. Sharrows are a nationally recognized pavement marking used to help bicyclists and cars share the road in a safe and efficient manner.

This image was taken in Ann Arbor on 4th Avenue during the last weekend in February, and is a very good picture of a sharrow and its placement. All of Ann Arbor's downtown streets have been marked with sharrows. One of the advantages of sharrows is that they require no additional street space. This makes them ideal for an urban environment. Note that the snow and ice had narrowed this road by about 3 feet on each side, causing the parked cars to be much closer to the center than normal.

Sharrows also help bicyclists position themselves within the lane. They are painted on the street in a place where if a bicyclist rides over them, the bicyclist will be outside of the "door zone." The other benefit to sharrows is that they keep a bicyclist from being "pinched" in the curb or gutter.

Sharrows also benefit motorists. They help to alert motorist that this is an area that is likely to have bicyclists. Sharrows make the bicyclist more visible to a motorist and can encourage safe passing by the motorist. Sharrows have also been shown to help to reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicyclist.

I used the following sources for this article. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices,, is a technical document produces by the Federal Highway Administration. From The National Association of City Transportation Officials, NATCO, I reviewed the shared lane markings section, . This document has a number of great pictures showing how sharrows are being implemented across the country.

David Jones



Kudos go to the leadership and staff of Texas Township, which recently decided (voting 5-1 in favor) to widen the paved portion of the shoulder on Q Avenue between 8th and 10th Streets to a full four feet. The township decided to spend $37,000 of its own money to pave four feet wide shoulders instead of the initial three feet that had been initially proposed. MLive wrote that Treasurer Paul Cutting pointed out that "the project aligned with the township's master plan to allow more opportunities for bicycle traffic," that Clerk Linda Kerr noted that "the recent community survey showed that people want biking and walking trails," and that Trustee Joyce Neubauer "agreed the amount was reasonable for a project that would make the road safer."

Kudos go to the leadership and staff of Kalamazoo and Oshtemo townships for their unanimous decisions in February to authorize their supervisors to seek Bike Route designation for their portions of the Drake Road improvement project between Grand Prairie Road and Ravine Road. Their staff and leaders did an excellent job of laying out the options for their respective boards, as well. The votes in favor were 7-0 in both cases, showing that these townships are solidly in favor of making their jurisdictions even more bicycle friendly, and safer for all the other non-motorized users who will benefit from the heightened awareness offered by Bike Route signs.

Paul Selden

Monthly Meeting Minutes

The February 11th, 2014 meeting of the KBC was called to order by President Zolton Cohen at 7:00 P.M. Those in attendance were: Those in attendance were: Zolton Cohen, Doug Kirk, Joe Kucharski, Mike Vandeveer, John Shubnell, Rick Whaley, John Idema, John Olbrot, David B. Jones, Mary Gerger, Kathy Kirk, Marc A. Irwin, Renee Mitchell, Dale B. Krueger, Mike Krischer, Jon Ballema, Paul Selden, and Bryan Garfoot.

John Olbrot gave the treasurer's report:

As there was no KBC meeting in January 2014, John's report included both December 2013 and January 2014. John also briefly summarized the KBC's Year End Financial report.

December 2013
Checking Account$7,962.71
Certificate of Deposit $11,131.90

January 2014
Checking Account$8,238.03
Certificate of Deposit $11,132.84

Education Committee Chair Renee Mitchell gave an update on 2014 Bike Camp. She reported that the starting date of this year's camp will be May 9. Renee mentioned that there will be a new Bike Camp brochure for 2014 and that volunteers are needed for the continued success of Bike Camp.

Renee also briefly talked about working on a Bike Education Program involving Kalamazoo area communities.

Jon Ballema reported that, due to extreme winter weather, members of the KBC/CMS Race Team are riding trainers inside right now.

Zolton led a brief wrap-up of the January 2014 Recovery Party. All members present who had attended the party agreed the new venue was great and, if possible, should be secured for next year's Recovery Party.

The 2014 KBC Friend of Bicycling Award was presented by Zolton Cohen to Ethan Alexander, Director of the Open Roads Bike Program, at a recent Open Roads meeting. Special thanks go to Kathy Kirk for attending the event and photographing the presentation.

Director of Road Safety Paul Selden summarized the status of ongoing infrastructure improvement projects within Kalamazoo County and how they relate to the bicycling community. As Paul expects 2014 to be a "huge year" as far as road projects are concerned, he mentioned the importance of the KBC's continued communication and involvement with the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, various area city commissions, and their specific street/road departments. Paul also spent some time defining the importance of various terms, such as: Non-Motorized Traffic, Commuter Bike Routes, Shoulders versus Bike Lanes, and Sharrows (Shared-lane markings).

Paul and Zolton mentioned the importance of reporting potholes to various area agencies. Due to this harsh, long winter, road budgets are very tight, and communities do not have the funds to go out on "Pothole Patrol." Area street/road departments will be relying more on citizens to bring the worst potholes to their attention. Zolton stressed the importance of riding alertly and safely, in order to save your wheels and avoid accidents.

Zolton summarized a conversation he had recently with Race for Wishes Director David Buick. The date for this year's Race for Wishes (held in Lawton) will be July 13, 2014. David stated he is hoping to have rides on 5 or 6 Friday nights before the race. The rides would be 1 to 3 loops of the race route, ending at Big T's in Lawton. David believes this would be a fun way to promote the Ride for Wishes. There will be more information forthcoming about this topic.

Zolton briefly discussed new information from Insurance Coordinator Terry O'Connor (not present at this meeting) regarding coverage overlap when KBC members participate in the KalTour. KalTour Director Mike Krischer will be looking at breaking out KBC members on the registration form in order to avoid unnecessary insurance costs.

Those present at this meeting wishing to be 2014 Sanctioned Ride Leaders were sworn in by President Zolton Cohen. Those members are as follows: Zolton Cohen, Doug Kirk, Joe Kucharski, Mike Vandeveer, John Shubnell, Rick Whaley, John Idema, John Olbrot, David B. Jones, Mary Gerger, Kathy Kirk, Marc A. Irwin, Renee Mitchell, Dale B. Krueger, Mike Krischer, Jon Ballema, Paul Selden, and Bryan Garfoot.

Zolton adjourned the meeting at 7:47 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,

Mary Gerger, KBC Secretary



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Editor's Letter - The Cold, Nature's Bloodhound

I sit and stare outside at the snow covered landscape and realize that there's a hole in my bicycling storytelling resume; I just don't have any particularly interesting cold weather cycling stories to tell. There was that 15 degree December evening a few years back, when I attempted an after work ride; concluding after 5 minutes that I had made a mistake, concluding after 10 minutes that I had made a big mistake, and then concluding my ride by turning around and riding home. But most of the time, I don't tempt myself with rides in very cold weather. I stay indoors, ride my stationary trainer, and curse the cold, curse my stationary trainer, curse life, and hone my Mr. Congeniality skills.

But sometimes the cold finds you, anyway. I came home from work on Valentine's Day to a reception that was chillier than one by a woman receiving a blender from her beau on that Hallmarkian blessed day. Had I offended my furnace? Apparently, I had. It was running, but generating no heat. I turned the furnace off, inspected the filter to make sure that it wasn't too dirty, and then turned the furnace back on. Still no heat. Having exhausted my repertoire of repair tricks, I prepared for and experienced a rather cold night, and by the time I got up the next morning, the temperature in my house had dropped to 50 degrees. I called for a repair and when the repairman came out later that morning, he told me that I needed a new part that wouldn't be available until Monday.

So, that afternoon, for the first time in my life, I rode my stationary trainer wearing a base layer under my jersey. And the next day, when the temperature in my house had dropped to 45 degrees, I rode my stationary trainer wearing a base layer under my jersey and knee warmers. On the plus side, I enjoyed my stationary trainer riding more than usual, as a way to keep warm.

On Monday, when the temperature in my house had dropped to 40 degrees, I discovered that my "repair" was actually going to be a replacement. I hadn't planned on buying a new bicycle this year, but now I really wasn't planning to buy one. Fortunately, the repairman found a way to get my furnace running for a couple of days and on Wednesday, I became the not-that-proud owner of a new furnace.

After it was installed, while engaged in my newfound hobby of driveway ice chipping, I noticed that the street was relatively ice free. So, I celebrated my pride of ownership by riding my bicycle outside, quintupling(!) my 2014 outdoor road bike mileage. That's right, I increased my mileage by four and not one, but two zeros, percent! They called Marco Pantani "il Pirata," so you can just call me "il Percente" or, even more fittingly, "il Percente Grande." Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I should note that my mileage up to that point had been 2.5 miles, so it is reasonable to conclude that I did not pull a cycling all nighter.

And sometimes the cold finds you, even when it isn't cold. About 30 years ago, I rode my bicycle from my apartment in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Durham to serve as a course marshal for a Labor Day road race. It rained hard for about 20 minutes soon after I arrived, soaking my cotton t-shirt. I spent the next hour shivering and pondering if it was possible to die a more ironic death than one via hypothermia in 65 degree weather. I was really not looking forward to the ride home, but fortunately for me, if not the runners, the sun finally came out during the race and warmed me up.

Then there was that time during the DALMAC ride in 2011, when my cycling companions and I decided to take refuge on the outskirts of Boyne City from the pouring rain. Serving, once again, as a cautionary tale for Boy Scouts everywhere, I had failed to bring a cycling vest or rain jacket along with me, so standing in the air-conditioned splendor of your typical convenience store wearing a rain soaked jersey, I was getting pretty cold, even though it was almost 70 degrees both indoors and outdoors. And then I remembered an old trick that cyclists use to keep warm, utilizing a product found in your typical convenience store, and, no, it didn't involve beer. I bought a newspaper, took out a couple sections, folded them, and stuffed them under the front of my jersey. With luck, this would warm me up, and with even more luck, this would provide me with some post-ride reading material while standing shirtless in front of a mirror, just the way I usually like to read while relaxing.

And, indeed, the newspaper did warm me up. Or, perhaps, I was distracted. After the rain stopped, we took our own route into Petoskey, thanks to Tim, a route that he promised would be much better than the actual route. Like sheep, John, Carl, and I unthinkingly agreed to do this, and like lambs being lead to slaughter, we followed him.

This turned out to be a very baaaaaa-d decision. First, we rode on a busy road for several miles. Then we climbed and descended two monstrous hills. Then we started riding on a bike path west of Petoskey that paralleled U.S. 31, and after the bike path suddenly disappeared, we found ourselves riding on the shoulder of U.S. 31 facing heavy traffic; poster boys for cycling safety. The League of Michigan Bicyclists would have been proud. Then we rode on a sidewalk that was interrupted by driveway curbs about every 100 feet. Then we picked up the bike path again, albeit a segment that apparently hadn't been resurfaced in several years. We finally arrived in Petoskey, where Carl perfectly captured the spirit of the occasion with the words "Tim, I love you, but I'm ready to kill you." And by the time I discarded my newspaper in Good Hart, I knew that my battle with the cold was merely my second greatest adventure of the day.

So, maybe I don't have any interesting cold weather cycling stories. But maybe it doesn't matter. The cold, particularly this winter, is relentless, and eventually the cold and the stories will find you.

Rick Whaley, KBC Newsletter Editor

Some Upcoming Rides of Interest

Wow, there's finally something to report!

Saturday, March 22, Barry-Roubaix-Killer Gravel Road Race. Hastings, MI. 23, 35, and 62 miles.

Classified Ads

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

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

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

Shop Notes

Alfred E Bike

320 East Michigan, Kalamazoo, (269) 349-9423
Alfred E. Bike's Big Spring Sale is March 28th - 31st! Savings on everything in the store!

Billy's Bike Shop

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

Breakaway Bicycles

185 Romence at Westnedge, Portage, (269) 324–5555,

Custer Cyclery

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

Gazelle Sports

214 South Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, (269) 342–5996,
ATTENTION LADIES! Gazelle Sports' Bra Fit Fest takes place March 21, 22, and 23. Come in for great bra deals and our expert bra fitters. Visit Gazelle Sports Kalamazoo on Thursday, March 20 between 5:30 and 8:00 P.M. to meet and be fit by bra fit expert and lead designer for the New Balance Psyche Bra collection, Audrey Kirkland.

Johnson Cycle Works

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


611 W Michigan Avenue, Kalamazo, (269) 56–PEDAL and
"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." - Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Team Active

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

Village Cyclery

US 131 in Schoolcraft, 679–4242

Zoo City Cycle & Sports

4328 South Westnedge, Kalamazoo (269) 552–3000


Bicycling Safety Disclaimer

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

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