November 2015 President's Letter

The Results Are In

Change, they tell me, is good. If that adage is true, then the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club is in for a whole lot of good in the very near future. The club’s Executive Committee will be entirely remade once we elect, at the November meeting on Tuesday, November 10, the unopposed slate of Renee Mitchell, President; John Olbrot, Vice President: Val Litznerski, Secretary; and Mike Boersma, Treasurer.

I tip my helmet to these individuals who are willing to step up and work on behalf of KBC and regional cycling. They will bring in fresh ideas, new energy, and innovative thinking that will transform the club and all it does. My wish, as outgoing President, is that every member of our club gives them the support that I have enjoyed in my years in office. Believe me when I say that the jobs they are undertaking are time-consuming, difficult, and often vexing. They are giving of themselves, sacrificing time in their busy lives, in order to make our club better. Please let them know you appreciate the path on which they are about to embark.

New faces on the Executive Committee will be Renee and Val. Many of you know Renee from her position as Education Chair, from which she has for many years admirably administered Bike Camp, among other things. As President, you’ll find her focused and organized to the hilt (unlike your sitting President!). Her competence in anything she undertakes is impressive to witness.

At last year’s Recovery Party, Val won the award for being, Pound for Pound, the Best Biker in the Club. She is a top-shelf endurance athlete who brings executive experience to the table from her job in the insurance industry.

Before I move on to other things, I want to express my thanks to outgoing Vice President Doug Kirk for his help and council over the past couple of years. We sometimes didn’t see eye to eye on things, but were able to argue our positions with respect for one another. He is not only a true friend, but also the best, most tireless, and passionate advocate for cycling any bike club has ever had.

Thanks also go to Treasurer John Olbrot, whose steady hand and calm demeanor have meant so much in terms of keeping the club on an even keel. He will serve well as Vice President, bringing with him enthusiasm for bicycling, maturity, and a wealth of knowledge about how KBC runs.

Mike Boersma, former President, present Secretary and future Treasurer, has for years been a rock of reliance for both me and the club. When I asked him last year if he would serve as Secretary, he said he would. Asked if he would serve as Treasurer in next year’s administration, he said he would. And he wasn’t just a “placeholder” as Secretary. He wrote cogent and concise meeting minutes, and contributed enormously as a member of the Executive Committee. Look for that to continue as he takes over as Treasurer.

As I step down as a member of the administration of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, it is people like the aforementioned that I will miss the most; the friends I have made through cycling and working together on projects like KalTour, Bike Camp, and the Anniversary Ride, to name just a few. They made the work enjoyable; it is flat-out fun to come together in a collaborative effort doing good works. More should try it….

Hats Off!

Those of you who have been coming to the KBC monthly meetings or carefully reading the minutes in the Pedal Press know that the club has been hashing over a reordering of the club’s popular and stylish logoed baseball-type hats. Thanks to club member and owner of PowerLink Promotional Products LLC, Scott Powers, those discussion have now come to fruition.

We placed an order for four different colors of one-size-fits-all hats. And they aren’t a carbon copy of what we had before. They are updated, bear the club’s logo in front and the website address on the back, and are durable and stylish chapeaus that will serve well for years to come. Good thing, as my previous collection of KBC hats, after 14 years of hard use, are, as my wife gently puts it, “An embarrassment, and fit only for fishing or working around the yard.” She always did have a way with words.

We’re selling the hats, which Scott generously provided to us at his cost, for $10 each – truly a bargain in light of their quality. I will have them at the November monthly meeting and at subsequent club events. Cash or checks are acceptable payment methods. It’s not too early to start thinking about stocking stuffers for Christmas….

Injury Report

Finally, as wonderful as cycling is as an exercise and an outdoor sport, it is more than ironic that something with such positive benefits can, at times, also be quite dangerous. I was reminded of that recently when I went to visit Jon Ballema after a crash he endured while training for a cyclocross race. After undergoing surgery, Jon is now recovering, but is doing so with the aid of a walker.

We talked about how astonishing it is that, in the blink of an eye, we can go from being a perfectly functioning human animal to something that is broken and unable to even implement basic living tasks.

Be careful out there, my friends. And heal quickly and completely, Jon.

Adios to the rest of you. I’ll see you somewhere down the road.

Zolton Cohen, KBC President


Next KBC Monthly Meeting on November 10, 2015

The next KBC Monthly Meeting will take place at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at the Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street. All KBC members are welcome to attend. The election for next year’s Executive Committee positions (President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer) will take place. New KBC hats will also be available for sale and cost $10.


Nominations for Friend of Bicycling Award

Nominations for putting candidates for KBC's Friend of Bicycling Award on the ballot will be closed on November 10, 2015. The award will be voted on at the club's next meeting on December 8, 2015. The award, which has been presented annually since 2011, is for an individual or other entity that "significantly advanced the interests of bicycling." If you have a nomination in mind, please go to for more information.

Paul Selden, Friend of Bicycling Award Committee

October Monthly Meeting Minutes

Present: Marc Irwin, Pam Sotherland, Renee Mitchell, John Olbrot, Doug Kirk, Kathy Kirk, Zolton Cohen, Teri Olbrot, Leanne St. Peter, Rick Whaley, Michael Krischer, Valerie Litzerski, David Jones, Scott Baron, Terry O’Connor, Paul Selden, Ryan Heidenfeld, and Michael Boersma.

Welcome and Introductions: The meeting was called to order at 7:00 P.M.

Officer Reports: John Olbrot, KBC Treasurer, reported that the KBC had income in September of $53.74; expenses of $167.70; a checking account balance of $5661.75; and a CD balance of $11,151.40.

Committee Reports: Paul Selden reported on a Midwest Communications radio station bicycling related PSA to be broadcast on WKZO, WVFM, WZOX, WQLR, and WNWN. Paul also reported on the City of Kalamazoo non-motorized plan, which he reports as a work in progress.

Declarations of Intent to Run for Officers of the KBC Executive Committee: Renee Mitchell announced that she was running for KBC President; there were no other candidates. John Olbrot announced that he was running for KBC Vice President; there were no other candidates. Valerie Litzerski announced that she was running for KBC Secretary; there were no other candidates. Mike Boersma announced that he was running for KBC Treasurer; there were no other candidates.

Survey Results: Renee reported on the KBC membership survey and presented the following highlights: There were 96 survey responses.

KBC members surveyed reported the following positive aspects of the KBC: Bike Camp, Insurance, the BTR race and KalTour, the Pedal Press, and KBC social events.

KBC members surveyed reported the following areas of improvement: A need to support new riders; a need for additional volunteers; a need for a succession plan; better leadership for slow – 15 mph and slower – rides, a need to improve the website, and a need to ensure that everyone gets the Pedal Press.

Various ideas for methods of engaging potential new KBC members were Bike Week, having an urban bike tour or ride(s), skills clinics, slower rides, and KBC literature disseminated at local bike shops.

KBC Hats: KBC hat samples were displayed. Hats will be available for $10 each.

KBC Club Jersey Update: Renee Mitchell and Kathy Kirk will oversee KBC jersey design and ordering. Kathy reports that she selected Giordana Cycling as the vendor for the new jerseys. Giordana has an online store which supports online ordering. Dave Hauschild, a KBC member, has agreed to design the jerseys. Giordana will supply a fit kit so that KBC members may select appropriate sizing for jerseys at fit parties to be announced.

KBC Subcommittee for Electronic KBC Communications: Scott Baron and David Jones volunteered to be on this subcommittee.

Bronco Bash: The KBC will explore getting space at the Bronco Bash to disseminate KBC information and information on bicycling in the area, especially the WMU campus area.

Old Business: Paul requested nominations for the KBC Friend of Bicycling Award.

New Business: Kathy announced that the KBC trash pickup on 12th Street in Oshtemo on Saturday, September 26 went well.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 P.M.

Mike Boersma, KBC Secretary



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Editor's Letter - The October of My Discontent

I used to enjoy October and all of its clichés. The rich pallet of leafy colors displayed by a canopy of trees in the countryside. The crisp, cool evening air. The crunch of leaves on the sidewalk underfoot. The thwack of shoulder pads colliding during a football game. The pungent, yet satisfying, aroma of the burning leaves of my childhood.

But there is a dark side to October that has nothing to do with the increasing lack of daylight. The not-so-rich pallet of rusty colors displayed by a collection of junked cars, exposed behind a canopy of trees in the countryside. The promise of stinging, cold evening air. The crunch of ankles on the sidewalk turning on hidden walnuts underfoot. The pain of shoulder separations at a football game. The mysterious and unpronounceable carcinogens that stunted my growth and thwarted my dream of a career in the NBA, assuming that they also ruined my hand-eye coordination. Yes, there is a dark side to October, darker than the darkest dead, decayed leaf.

And while I still enjoy October, I don’t enjoy it as much as I did. And I certainly don’t enjoy the winding down of the cycling season. I tell myself that it is good for me to ease off for three or four months and that probably is a good idea. My knees would benefit from some down time, but, still, my mind wouldn’t.

And this is also the time of year when I am unable to ignore the fact that I am a weather ingrate. “Why can’t it be 75 degrees and sunny all the time?” I whine, as I prepare to ride under less optimal conditions. I sneer at weather that I would give my fleece lined tights for in February. My motivation to do long rides plummets, even though it shouldn’t.

Even so, I can motivate myself, if the ride is right. So, when Doug proposed a ride starting in Hillsdale on the last Sunday in October, I was intrigued. I had ridden in Hillsdale County for the first time in my life during a 200 kilometer (actually 135 miles due to my lack of cue reading skills) brevet put on by the Detroit Randonneurs in September, and the chance to explore more roads that I had never been on before appealed to my sense of adventure. It was a busy time, with housework chores and a rare 3 day business trip starting the following Tuesday, so I wasn’t sure I could spare the entire day traveling and riding, but I decided to make the time.

And I was glad I did. There were 7 of us, 5 from the Kalamazoo area and 2 from Ann Arbor. Traveling southwest from Hillsdale, we rode through Montgomery, Michigan and south to the Indiana border, where I’m sure I amused my cycling companions by zigzagging back and forth on a road that marked the border, while exclaiming “Indiana! Michigan! Indiana! Michigan! Indiana!” When it comes to entertaining myself, I set the bar low. After riding around what is likely one of the many Clear Lakes in the United States, we crossed back into Michigan from Indiana traveling east, and rode to Camden, Michigan. From there, we rode south on M-49 to the Ohio border just to do so, turned around, and rode back to Camden and back to Hillsdale; 64 miles total. This was the first time that I had ever ridden in 3 states on a ride.

However, during my undergraduate college years, I had run in 3 states. Five miles northwest of Newark, Delaware, State Route 896 leads to the Maryland border and, about 200 yards later, to the Pennsylvania border. One time, I managed to talk one of my cross-country teammates into searching in a wooded and somewhat swampy area for what I was sure would be a marker indicating the intersection of the three states. We didn’t find it. The day before my college graduation, I decided to try again. This time, I found it. And as I contorted myself around the marker in order to be in all 3 states at once, I thought to myself that this is the sort of activity that makes a college education pay off.

And if I ever travel to the Four Corners Monument, I know that I will feel compelled to drop on all fours, placing the palms of my hands in two states, while placing my knees in the other two states. Then, I’ll rotate and repeat the process, either clockwise or counterclockwise, whichever spirit moves me. Because this is the sort of activity that makes a graduate school education pay off.

And I also know that at one point during the ride, we were within a couple miles of the intersection of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. This spot appears to be on road, albeit an unpaved one. And someday, on another adventure ride, I will seek it out and pretend to play Twister again.

Afterwards, the Kalamazoo contingent went to a downtown pub in search of liquid and solid refreshments. The burgers were tasty; food always tastes better when you earn it. We then headed home and I was able to mow my lawn and rake some leaves before it got dark.

I brought home a souvenir from my business trip; an energy sapping sore throat and cold, so I’ve been doing a lot of non-adventurous sleeping lately. And as I write this, a couple hours after a bowl of chicken soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, and a few hours before the arrival of the trick or treaters, where I hope to avoid spreading contagion along with my candy, I note that October is almost over. And I have to admit that, except for the past couple days, it wasn’t bad. So maybe I’ll actually be able to enjoy November and all of its clichés.

Rick Whaley, KBC Newsletter Editor

Some Upcoming Rides of Interest

It’s November, nothin’ to see here, folks, move along …….

Classified Ads

And still no Classified Ads to post. At this point, I’d sell my soul for a Classified Ad. Hmmmm, now that’s an ad, isn’t it? Okay, I’m not that desperate.

Shop Notes

Alfred E. Bike

320 East Michigan, Kalamazoo, (269) 349-9423

Billy's Bike Shop

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

Custer Cyclery

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

Gazelle Sports

214 South Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, (269) 342–5996,
Gazelle Sports' Sock Sale runs now through November 30! Buy three pairs, get a fourth pair FREE! Choose from great brands like Smartwool, Balega, Feetures, and Wrightsock. (All four pairs must be the same brand.)

Kzoo Swift

445 Forest St, Kalamazoo, (269) 929-8053.

Pedal Downtown

- 611 W Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, (269)567-3325

Pedal South

- 185 Romence Road, Portage, (269)324-5555 and

Team Active

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

Village Cyclery

US 131 in Schoolcraft, 679–4242

Zoo City Cycle & Sports

4328 South Westnedge, Kalamazoo (269) 552–3000


Bicycling Safety Disclaimer

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

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