Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wait, what?!

UPDATE: 9/30/2010 Alberto on doping report...
It looks like Alberto's experts are saying this is food contamination and ingestion was unintentional. I hope that's the case. I'm so sick of this.

I turned on my computer after my ride tonight and what do I find headlined on VeloNews, but this: Contador tests positive for low levels of clenbuterol

I have no idea what to think. Hopefully, a more complete story will unfold tomorrow at the press conference.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kristin Armstrong, Take Two?

This just came through the wire at the New York Times:
Olympian Kristin Armstrong Considers Comback

I, for one, would be ecstatic if she came back. I wonder who would step in to run PB & Co./TWENTY12 if she came back. But whatever she decides, I doubt we've heard the last of Kristin.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Enforcing Artificial Speed Limits

I have a few reactions to this story:
City Pages: Greenway cyclists ticketed by phantom cop...
Star Tribune: Not so fast, officer warns bikers
Mpls Bike Love Forum - Police ticketing bikers on Greenway
1) The speed limit isn't 10mph on the Greenway
2) "You'll never catch me!"
3) Who is this phantom police officer, which city do they work for, and why are they radar-ing bikers when they could be out catching bad guys?

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system...
Don't "run" from the police, even on a bike. They will find a way to catch you and it isn't worth it. If an officer waves you over, move over and stop. BE POLITE. Officers are trained to be in control of a situation, so let them do their job and both of you will be easier for it.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cyclist Converses with Motorist, Part II

As promised, here's the second part of the interview with the slightly fictional "Motorist". The disclaimer from the previous entry applies here, too.

The roads are full of cars. Why don't you ride on the sidewalk?
I believe it's called a "sidewalk" for a reason. A sidewalk is meant for pedestrians to walk on, not for wheeled vehicles. In many communities, you will actually see signs posted that bicycles, Rollerblades, and skateboards are prohibited from sidewalk use. The space is often too uneven, narrow, or punctuated with obstacles to safely allow for riding.
I, myself, was on Nicollet Mall once, trying to get back onto the street, when a Minneapolis Police vehicle rolled up and informed me that I wasn't allowed on the sidewalk. I politely said I was attempting to figure out where I was and how to get back onto the street safely. They let me hop the curb onto the street in front of their vehicle and I was off like a shot before they could think of an excuse to detain me.

Okay, what about the bike paths? Couldn't you just stick to those?
The Twin Cities metro area has a wonderful network of bike paths and trails, and I love this area for that. However, wouldn't you get bored if you drove the same roads all the time, every day? How often do you end up at the end of your drive to work or the supermarket, and not remember the drive there? Dangerous for you and for the other drivers around you. To stave off boredom, vary training program needs, hit different landmarks and shops, and to view different scenery, cyclists mix up where they ride. Riders who love to ride the roads will often hit a favorite paved trail, too.

I never know how a cyclist is going to behave or where they're going when I pass them on the road. This makes me really nervous, what can I do?
Be alert. You don't know how the person in the car next to you on the highway is going to behave, or where they're going, do you? Yet you're comfortable driving there. One of the requirements of riding a bike on the road is riding in a safe, predictable manner and using hand turn signals. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen and there are careless cyclists out there, just like there are careless drivers. Again, stay alert and look around for that cyclist that may be in your blind spot(s).

Since they're riding bikes, cyclists don't pay the same taxes I do because I drive a car and buy gasoline. Since my taxes are paying for the roads, I should be able to use the road and cyclists shouldn't.
*snort* I'm curious, do you really believe that?
Nearly every cyclist that I know drives an automobile. We [cyclists] pay gas taxes, property taxes, renter's tax, sales tax, liquor taxes, should I continue? I assure you, we do pay the same taxes.
I will point out the vast conspiracy (shh!) for bikes to take over the world, as reported by the New York Times Spokes Blog on August 5, 2010. First the streets, then the world! As Matt Hill tweeted in response to the SpokesNYT (spokesnyt) August 5 entry, "Phase 1: Collect underpants." Are you laughing yet? I hope no one is taking this Dan Maes seriously, as his statements about the instituting of bike policies are absolutely ludicrous.

Cars and trucks were on the roads first, thus bikes don't belong on the road.
Ah, a history lesson, yummy! Actually, roads were originally paved to better accommodate the huge boom in bicycling in the 1890's (The Golden Age of Bicycles). That, and the bicycle and the horse and wheeled buggy were the two main forms of private transportation just before the invention of the automobile. To make these forms of transport easier, roads began to be graded and smoothed (Wikipedia, Bicycle History). So, bicycles have been around longer than automobiles and you have the bicycle to thank for the idea that roads should be smoothly paved and graded. ^_^

And that's it, for now. I hope you've found this two-part series educational, informative, and humorous. If you have a question that you'd like me address, leave me a comment or shoot me message through this blog.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cyclist Converses with Motorist, Part I

A few nights ago, I had a conversation with my folks about how a huge SUV had honked at me and zoomed past my left elbow way faster and closer than necessary on my afternoon ride. I had reacted by sitting up in the saddle, pounding my chest with a gloved fist and yelling, "Yes, I'm here!"

So, my parents asked, "Well, what should we do when we see a cyclist on the road? They scare us!" Wait, cyclists scare motorists? Really? Okay, then! Here's what I'd absolutely love you to do if you encounter me or any other cyclist on the road.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer or a police officer. This essay is a reflection of my own experiences and Minnesota state laws. Laws vary by state and even locality, be sure to check them out. The bold lettering is the motorist stating a question. The italicized lettering is my answer to that question/statement.

I hate it when I see cyclists on the road. I never know what they're going to do. I just want to get past them as soon as possible. What should I do?
Please don't honk your horn. We hate that, and it's dangerous. Cyclists can hear an approaching automobile very easily, an internal combustion engine is quite noisy compared to a bicycle. You don't need to honk to let us know that you're there, often we already know. Just continue to [safely] drive the way you normally do when there are other vehicles around. Be alert and both you and the cyclist should be okay.

But, you're going so... slow on the road! How am I supposed to pass you!?
Safely and respectfully, please. Bicycles are vehicles, too; and in Minnesota they have the same rights and duties to the road as a motor vehicle. If you wish to pass a cyclist, do so in a predictable and safe manner. Don't rev your engine or lead-foot it just to pass. Give the cyclist at least three feet of space when you pass, remember we're not enclosed in a steel and glass box to protect us. That traffic lane is wider than you think, and you might be able to pass without crossing the center-line. But if you aren't sure, err on the side of more room rather than less room, it's very frightening to have a two-ton vehicle buzz by six inches from your left elbow.

The shoulder is wide. Why do you always ride so close to the white dividing line? Shouldn't you be as close to the right as possible?
Yes and no. Statute 169.222, Subd. 4(3) states that a cyclist must ride as close to the right as is practicable. The thing is, there is often a lot of debris (glass, sand, gravel, branches, trash, etc.) on the shoulder that make operating a bicycle more hazardous than it otherwise is. The only clear path is closer to the traffic lanes, where automobiles have blown the small stuff to the side. Hence, that's where we ride.

What if there's no shoulder, only one lane, and you're in it? I want to pass and you're in my way!
I'm very sorry you feel I'm in your way, but I do have a right to the road. If you wish to pass, do so in the same [controlled and safe] manner that you would pass a slow-moving truck or tractor on the road. Wait for a widening of the road, another lane to open up, or a clear lane across the dashed yellow line. Pass smoothly and without honking your horn. If you honk, you may startle me into veering into your path. And that's not what either of us want to happen.

Cyclists are very rude to me when I pass them, even if I give them plenty of room. They yell, flip me the one-fingered salute... What's up with that?
Every cyclist who's ever ridden on the road has had at least one encounter with an angry driver who's done something to endanger their life. Some cyclists' feel that yelling, etc. is their only means of protecting themselves from something/someone that could squash them like a bug.
Personally, I try not to get angry or pay such a driver back in kind. It is childish and gives cyclists a bad reputation. Just smile and wave and let them stew. Getting angry and attempting to "teach them a lesson" (you know what I mean) could end up with one or both of you in the hospital or worse.

This is turning into a long entry, so I'll be posting a second part to this "interview" within the next couple days.

To read Minnesota's laws regarding the operation of a bicycle, go to Minnesota Legislature and retrieve Statute 169.222.

For more information on sharing the road in Minnesota, head to Share the Road Minnesota

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Product Review: Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Socks

I should first say that I love cycling socks. I mean really, truly love them. So much so that I wear them all four seasons. And for a Midwest resident, that is saying something.

I've worn Pearl Izumi socks before and count them among my favorites. The problem is they're often to rich for my wallet (at $10+ a pair), so I have to be really in love with them to cough up the dough. Enter the Elite LTD Socks. Come on, could you resist these? I couldn't; especially since I've got a new black, white, and red jersey to find matching socks for.

I rode in them for the first time this afternoon and they performed superbly. As you may have noticed, they are right and left specific so they fit like a dream. The compression in the arch keeps them in place and they don't bunch up anywhere. They also breathe really well, I can tell these are going to be my "go to" sock for really warm rides. Anyway, those heels make the sock, don't they? Yep, I'll be heading back to the bike shop to see if there are any more in my size. They shall be mine!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.