Monday, August 31, 2009
Diane and Allison on Sunday's Bride Ride.....
noting Allison's "delicate condition", perhaps a "Shotgun Bride Ride"?
I've been asked this question several times during "event" rides, "Doesn't Diane get mad when you just drop her and ride off?"; to which I respond, "Not nearly as mad as she gets when I ride with her and tell her, 'come on, come on'". It's largely a matter of style. Diane's approach to cycling is very laid back and I'm a tad more energetic.
But we do ride together and those special outings are called Bride Rides. Last Sunday, we met Chris Shaw and lucked upon John and Allison Martin and their running buds Lea and Greg Jacuzzi, who were in the Bride Ride mode. A good Bride Ride involves a lot of conversation and an average speed not to exceed 14 MPH. Diane was on a bit of a mission, making only a brief appearance between gym and boating, so Chris Shaw and I were left to maintain order. I must say that The Martins and Jacuzzis do good Bride Ride. They even sealed the deal with a stop at ZaZa for gelato, gaining some bonus style points for their effort.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Within the last few weeks, an ordinance was introduced to the North Little Rock City Council that would have created penalties for harassing, threatening, throwing objects, etc., at cyclists. The proposal was cussed and discussed, added to, watered down and finally dropped. While I'm lukewarm on laws against things that could already be covered by existing law, I supported this because as a cyclist I've been subject to behavior from motorists that I've never experienced as a driver, walker, runner and long-haired hitch-hiker (OK that was a long time ago, but still a relevant experience). For whatever reason, some drivers are simply enraged at the sight of a cyclist. I don't understand it. My cousin, a big Bush man, had it explained to him that those drivers assume all riders are Democrats. Doesn't say much about the character of those particular Republicans.Besides, I actually know a cyclist or two who admit to being Republicans. Drivers contacted aldermen and showed up at meetings with the usual rant about scofflaw cyclists running stop signs and slowing them down on their appointed rounds. Admittedly, I'll cruise a stop sign on the bike, as do many motorists, but I don't hear these folks whining about motorists performing rolling stops and unsignalled lane changes, though I see that every day. Besides, if I run a stop sign and encounter a car, I'm going to lose, so I approach all intersections with great caution. If a car runs the stop sign and hits me, the driver is unlikely to suffer any consequences, physical or legal.
This article appeared here via the gadget to the right and enumerates what you might assume:
Who Causes Cyclists’ Deaths?
More than 52,000 bicyclists have been killed in bicycle traffic accidents in the U.S. over the 80 years the federal government has been keeping records. When it comes to sharing the road with cars, many people seem to assume that such accidents are usually the cyclist’s fault — a result of reckless or aggressive riding. But an analysis of police reports on 2,752 bike-car accidents in Toronto found that clumsy or inattentive driving by motorists was the cause of 90 percent of these crashes. Among the leading causes: running a stop sign or traffic light, turning into a cyclist’s path, or opening a door on a biker. This shouldn't come as too big a surprise: motorists cause roughly 75 percent of motorcycle crashes too.
I can't remember the last time I was endangered by a cyclist while driving my car and I've never been late to work or an appointment because I slowed for riders. Never. And my conclusion is that these people have an unexplained resentment towards cyclists and their claims are, for the most part, pure bullshit. I'll give credence to a few drivers who may regularly have to slow for weekend groups on regular routes like Wye Mountain, but the delays are insignificant, even if irritating. As a rider, when was the last time a driver was stuck behind you for 5 minutes? Never for me. 2 minutes, rarely. There is just not enough traffic on the vast majority of the roads that we ride here for cyclists to create much of a hold up.
On the bike, I've been intentionally run off the road, tailgated by a screaming, horn-honking soccer dad, and swerved at by oncoming vehicles who could not possibly be effected my presence. Not to mention the cursing, one-finger waves, thrown objects, etc., etc. Why? I can't answer that question, so my simple point is that cyclists are uniquely vulnerable and, for whatever reason, uniquely targeted by these nutjobs, so perhaps we need unique protection. Such a law would be marginally enforceable but would at least give law enforcement in our community something to hang their hat on in the event they witnessed an act of aggression.
I don't expect the real bullies to see the light, but I think most of the people that complain think of cyclists as a bunch of weirdos somehow very different from themselves.
When people target cyclists, they don't stop to think that they may be endangering or harassing their family doctor, their homebuilder or the guy that has to approve their next car loan.
Hopefully, we will reach a point where cyclists are considered mainstream traffic and not singled out for abuse. There will always be small-minded people who strike out at the unfamiliar or the bullies who enjoy playing rough as long as they have the upper hand. I don't know what motivates the pricks of the world, but I believe that the vast majority of people treat us pretty well out on the road. Give them all the lane that you safely can and then a smile and a wave as they pass on by.
Here's one explanation for raging drivers in general:
Road-ragers generally 'underachievers'
According to Vavrik, road rage can take many forms.
"There's not a clean definition of it. It's basically an aggressive act aimed at hurting somebody or sending a message to somebody," Vavrik said.
"The people most at risk of engaging in these behaviours are the least likely to control their behaviour," he said. "They have low emotional intelligence. They don't have the tools or skills or strategy to manage their emotions.
"In those extreme cases, we're talking about sociopathic issues. The driver's a walking time bomb."http://autos.canada.com/news/story.html?id=1444441
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I was out for a ride on Thursday night with some of the local folks with whom I've spent a little time working for "Bike Friendly Community" status for North Little Rock. We were not very organized but the gaggle aspect of the ride gave me a chance to peal off and visit with some friends along the trail, including Cherie and Sacha (I hope my spelling is correct!). You may have seen Cherie along the trail, often in the company of some very cute little dogs and/or on her skates or her bike. Tonight, she was on her scooter and accompanied by Sacha, who can be seen above riding in his road bag and wearing his very appropriate "doggles". The Style Guy would approve!
I met Cherie a couple of years ago along the trail and I always enjoy a visit. Of course, she did get a good scolding for riding without a helmet! As is often the case, my unsolicited advice will probably go unheeded but at least Sacha has the proper eyewear.
Enjoy the ride!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I mentioned this character in a "Denizens of The Trail" post a while back and managed to snap a photo of him Sunday. I call him the Medicine-Stick Man for the stick seen being worn on his head. It looks to be adorned with yarn, leather and feathers though I've never had a chance to inspect it closely. When not being worn on the rider's head, the stick can be seen lashed to the downtube of his bike.
August In Arkansas? You've Got To Be Kidding!!
Is it really this nice or have my friends Chris and Angie spun loose a nut?
We all know the drill for late summer riding in Arkansas. Freeze the Polar bottles in the hope of having cold water for a couple of hours. Throw a third bottle in your jersey pocket along with a handful of electrolyte caps. Drop your cell phone in a Ziploc to save it from the streams of perspiration and head out at the first hint of daylight in an effort to knock out your miles before the pavement melts. You're drenched before you get out of sight of home, you leave puddles at stop lights as you stand frying on the asphalt griddle, climbs are misery as your self-made breeze disappears and your body tries to ration its limited vascular resources between the demand for power and the need to cool the machine. It's August. We're locals. We can take it. We've grown accustomed to it, we accept it and we adapt, but that doesn't mean we won't accept the gift of remarkable weather that we've enjoyed over the last several days.
As I rolled off of Park Hill at 6:40 Saturday morning in a sleeveless jersey, I experienced something I haven't felt for a couple months this side of the Rockies; I was cool. It was 62 degrees and if it had been March, I might have had my knee warmers on. I met Sam Ledbetter at the BDB and headed up River Mountain Road, a sure cure for common cold, as we rode to our meeting place with Chris Irons, Chris Shaw and their friend, Angie. From that point at Rahling and Chenal,we had a leisurely ride out west of Little Rock to Pinnacle Park and back via Garrison and Barrett Roads.
The day warmed up pleasantly and we enjoyed spectacular conditions of blue skies, low humidity and temperatures that barely leaned on eighty. August days like that are rare blessings and must be spent outside to be fully appreciated.
Irons and his bride, Rebecca, have been training for an Iron Man, which takes place next weekend in Louisville. Their training rides have ranged up to 120 miles and I've joined a couple of them along with Chris Shaw. We weren't in for the full distance and have found ourselves feeling like slackers for riding "only" 65-70 miles at a whack. How did that happen? Just a few weeks ago, 70 miles felt like a pretty manly ride!
Heber Springs Route Revisited
I had a chance to drive my route to Heber Springs (8/3 Post)in reverse today. I wanted to reassess my impressions and check out the viability of riding from Heber and arriving back in North Little Rock after noon on Sunday. My conclusions were that:
(1) The route actually looked much hillier from the car than I'd perceived it on the bike. The North to South ride should be appreciably easier than South to North as you gradually give up elevation and..
(2) the traffic at that time of day and the road conditions on Highway 107 from the air base gate to North Hills Blvd. would make for a dangerous trek.
Friday, August 21, 2009
American sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin) is kicking ass at the Eneco Tour, outsprinting the likes of Tom Boonen and currently holding the overall lead. Farrar is the only man who seems to be able to hold Mark Cavendish's wheel consistently and has managed to come around him a couple of times, once for a win at the Tour of Qatar and once for a half-wheel second at the Tour de France. He was pipped by Boonen today, but he was right there! He's getting more and more confident, something Protour sprinters need in spades. American cycling just keeps getting better.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Of course, that doesn't really mean that the riders are going nowhere. It probably does mean that poaching will be expensive. With new teams being formed (RadioShack, Sky), big spenders like Katusha throwing cash around and an uncertain future for Alberto Contador at Astana make for more hustling than usual. Here's some information on Astana that is typical of the depth of fact in the news right now:
Alberto Contador (rumoured)
Levi Leiphemer (rumoured)
Andreas Klöden (rumoured)
Other articles have Contador locked in and Leipheimer already signed with RadioShack. If you pay attention to this stuff, it is fun to follow and makes the next racing season much more interesting. The riders currently under contract are forbidden from discussing their transfers until September 1, so they have to remain coy and noncommittal though you can almost perceive the nudges and winks that go with the silly season.
Heard it on the radio...
The sports guys were discussing comebacks of sports stars in a conversation about Brett Favre's signing with the Vikings. Regarding Lance Armstrong, it went something like this, "Lance Armstrong, yeah, he came back and proved he could still compete at the top of his sport. He might have won if he'd had his own team. Instead he just gave up with five days left in the race......"
Monday, August 17, 2009
This is the route that I learned to call the Log Cabin Ride. I was first led out here a few years ago by a neighbor and some bike shop boys. I had no idea where I was, but it was good riding.
The Map My Ride link above maps the ride from my house, but when other riders join me, we usually meet at the BDB. The ride goes out through Pleasant Valley and Chenal, before getting slightly more rural further west. For a neat view of the ride, follow the link above, then click on "route" and "Open in Google Earth". Once again, I question the elevation numbers on map my Ride. My Garmin shows close to 5000 feet of climbing on this route.
The "Log Cabin" is a 14,000 square foot home overlooking a small lake and sitting on 75 acres of hilltop off of FernCrest Road in western Pulaski County. It is spectacular AND it's available for $4.3 Million. With a 30 year conventional mortgage, that's a little under $20,000.00 per month after $850,000.00 down. That's a lot of Italian bicycles, even if they're the new Pinarello Dogma with Shimano electronic DuraAce at $17.000.00.
Anyway, the ride has some hills, not the least of which is Ferncrest, which takes you past the Log Cabin as you climb up and over the ridge to Col. Glenn. The photos above show friends Tom and Heather paying the price of admission to the more pleasant ride across the top of the ridge and, of course, a shot of the Log Cabin.
Coming back in on this lollypop of a route, you get to climb a bunch of sharp little hills on Chenal Valley,Pebble Beach and Valley Club before you return to descend River Mountain Road and those climbs can take their toll by the end of the ride. Of course, climbs mean descents, too, and one of my favorites is between Col. Glenn and Ferncliff Camp.It is long and fast, making several sweeping turns on smooth pavement over the course of a mile or two in the shade of thick woods. Very nice. Traffic isn't bad, with Ferndale Road from Denny to Kanis probably being the busiest stretch and refueling is convenient at the friendly store at Kanis and Ferndale.
This is a good midlength town-and-country ride, about 46 miles from the BDB, that can make a fine addition to your list of weekend options.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Very cool and just a small reminder of the luxury of diverse resources provided by the River Trail system.
Imagine my dismay when the new Bicycling magazine and Mountain Bike arrived in my mail box and there were NO MIRACLE WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS touted on the front cover! While I'm sure that I need to Train For a Fast Century, Boost Power, Never Bonk, Ride Longer and Find The Perfect Saddle, what I want is to Lose 5 Pounds Fast. I guess I'll just have another bowl of ice cream with cherries and blueberries instead and wait for next month's magazine.
I think most of the bike magazine headlines are aimed at beginning/intermediate or just-interested cyclists who may pick up a copy at the news stand, so there is always a hook for each of the most common goals of this demographic:
Of course, the interests of advanced riders are the same, but they typically know the drills. And regular subscribers don't have to be sold by the cover, as they've already bought the magazine. That said, I enjoy the magazine and the contents are not quite as repetitive as the covers, but the covers are what sell mags at retail. In fact, the publisher of one publication, I think VeloNews, admitted as much when it comes to Lance and mentioned it in response to complaints of "Lance-overload" from a cranky reader. A few months back, the newsstand cover was Lance Armstrong. The subscription cover was somebody like Fabian Cancellara; well known to pro racing followers, but unknown to the vast majority of Americans. Magazine covers are not a reward for "most deserving rider". They are a sales pitch for the publication and Lance sells better than anyone else in the world of bicycles. Fair enough.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall"
..from Guy Clark's "Stuff that Works"
I recently had a conversation with a newly converted road bike rider who had just given up his hybrid, but was still wearing baggy shorts and a cotton T-shirt. I had just met the guy. He had picked up his very fine new road bike that day and was the friend of a friend. New guy was making some hard and fast declarations of his intent to never wear lycra bike shorts. He seemed a good sport and I gently chided him by replying, "Bullshit!! If you're still riding in a year, you'll be wearing spandex and a jersey. I'll put down a fiver on it."
How could I be so absolutely certain of the future of new guy's wardrobe? Simple. It's the stuff that works. There is a good reason why about 99% of all road cyclist wear lycra shorts/bibs and wicking jerseys with pockets in the back. It's the same reason that riders usually opt for clipless pedals at about the same time that they move to bike shorts. Those things are made for the purpose and have evolved into the best solutions to the problem at hand, whether it be for comfort or for the purpose of improving power and efficiency, they all boil down to improving performance and enjoyment of the sport.
Some gear decisions are not quite so black and white, but there are still strong arguments to be made for specialized gear. Mountain bikers usually opt for hydration packs instead of bottles, for instance, though some roadies roll with a CamelBak. The difference? Many modern mountain bikes lack a place for more than one bottle, bottles can easily fly from cages on rough terrain and a bottle on the frame is often covered with mud and dirt. On top of that, there aren't many fire stations or convenience stores at which to grab a water refill out in the woods. The hydration pack offers large capacity for water and gear, but can be hot and and heavy on the shoulders on a long ride. I also like being able to carry both sports drink and water in their respective bottles on the bike. On a far less practical note, a roadie with a CamelBak and visored helmet just won't rack up many style points.
You can call me conformist, but there is a reason that bowlers wear smooth soled shoes and golfers don't. It would be kind of fun to have them exchange shoes and then play their respective sports. For wintertime boating, nothing beats my Goretex drysuit. I resisted for years and then kicked myself in the ass for having spent so many days on the river, soaked and chilled to the bone, but determined to keep playing. When considering gear, look around and see what works. It's not a brand thing, but a matter of having the best tool for the job.
There will always be contrarians, deviant souls determined to prove the masses wrong by insisting on riding in cargo shorts and flipflops while chanting, "You don't need all that stuff....just keep it simple......", while their asses chafe and the voices in their heads are telling them to put the tin foil back in their helmet....
These folks typically don't ride for long or, if they do, they acquiesce and quietly slip unnoticed into the fold of the anonymous masses of people with good sense and better bibs.
Try not to go too far out of the mainstream when kitting up for a new activity. There is a reason that it is mainstream. Off-the-wall stuff usually ends up in the back of a closet, so it's a good idea to look around at the gear that is being used by the people who use it the most. That's the stuff that works.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
1989. Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon are locked in battle seconds apart at the start of the final time trial. LeMond uses an aero helmet and bars, needing 10 seconds to win back the yellow jersey and the his third Tour. Fignon goes for disk wheels, no helmet and cowhorn bars.
I had never seen this historical TT until now. Very cool.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Refresher course for new rider-readers: If you get a cut in a tire, it needs to be reinforced from the inside or the tube will just burst out of the hole in the tire when inflated. Fold a dollar bill and place it inside the tire over the hole, between the tire and the tube. Remount the tire, check to make sure the tube is inside the tire all around, inflate. Power bar wrappers, gu packs (messy), tape, etc, can also be used.
There is something to be said about the simple elegance of the perfect suitability of a dollar bill for use as a tire patch. There is a lot to be said about the suitability of money in just about any other pinch in which one may find oneself .
And where else can you get a ride home for a dollar.....and still have the dollar!
Fun stuff. The centerpiece of the park and the river is Cossatot Falls. It consists of six named drops over about a quarter mile. I took the video below from my boat while parked in the middle of Whiplash rapid as Diane and friend Rick run the rapid and my nonrelated brother, Dale Barton, expertly slips his canoe into my eddy. Diane is in blue and she is smooth in the boat! Whiplash is in the middle of the Falls and just below the most difficult drops.
I'll try not to get too carried away with the video, but I got a new little Olympus waterproof pocket camera and I'm enamoured with it. The video quality less than topnotch, but coming as an afterthought from a point and shoot camera, I guess I'm impressed! Being waterproof, shockproof,very compact and pretty cheap makes it my kind of toy. What really amazed me was that I could buy a 16gb card that will hold about 16,000 photos at 5 megapixels. Call me a geezer, but that's a hell of a lot of memory for something that costs 50 bucks and is the size of a fingernail.
Hope you enjoyed the whitewater diversion. I know you didn't enjoy it as much as we did! We're fortunate to have some rivers and creeks that are real jewels and time in the boat is a very good thing, especially in August in Arkansas. I should have gone back for more, but it was back to the bike on Sunday for me! I had a mission.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
What does this have to do with cycling? Not much, unless you're trying to decide between a horse and a bike. I say, go with the bike. Lower maintenance and you can keep it in the house where it should be safe from being buggered.