Tuesday 5 Things – 2017.10.17

  1. This song from Sofi Tukker ( Best Friend ) is about to be crazy popular on alternative radio, and probably pop radio by spring.
  2. Last week saw two really good examples of the real problem between cars and bikes sharing the roads, and it is not the bikes. Matt Russell hitting a van that pulled out in front of him, on a CLOSED ROAD race course, and this 20 person protest against a bike lane installed after a child was killed riding in a neighborhood street are clear examples of fundamental issue that people as a rule really aren’t very good at driving.
  3. After years of riding bikes year round, we finally have lights that are finding the sweet spot of bright enough, long enough battery life, and small enough that riding at night no longer feels like a complete gamble. 1100 lumens, with 2 hours of battery life in a self contained unit that fits comfortably on the handlebars? Yes please. Lezyne Power Drive 1100i
  4. Fall is the best time of the year. It is also the hardest to dress for if you are doing any outdoor athletic activities. Knees are particularly difficult to properly address.
  5. Scott Sports sponsored athlete Louis Reboul might jus thave the best backyard bike space in the world. Just watch and enjoy. It helps that he has incredible skills on the bike.
Link

The subject is a woman and an elite triathlete, but I’ve seen some of the same personality traits amongst many age group athletes in running and cycling as well. It is a well written article, and hopefully can help people understand the need to back off on some of our obsessive behaviors.

The Condition That’s Quietly Sidelining Female Athletes

My Love/Hate Relationship with the “Group Ride”

After 30 years in the saddle, one would think I would have come to terms with most aspects of cycling, and resolved my own conflicted thoughts on some of the dynamics that exist within the sport and activity of cycling. Over 100,000 accumulated miles ridden, at an estimated average speed of about 15 miles per hour, that is over 6500 hours of time to ponder life, the universe and everything cycling. By now I should have solved all of the worlds problems. In reality, I haven’t solved any of my own, and when it comes to the “Group Ride”, I think all of that time has served only to muddy the issue for me.

As a cyclist, I view the dynamics of the Group Ride as a mixed bag because it brings out both the best and the worst aspects of cyclists on the whole. At the same time, it also represents one of the single best tools for engaging and educating new riders, while also serving to alienate drivers around them that may be potential cyclists. Hopefully, you see the issue. The Group Ride is both a very good thing, and a very bad thing at the same time, and reconciling the good versus the bad against each other is incredibly difficult.

Let me take a step back and explain, for the non-riders and those who eschew the Group Ride, why so many riders look to the Group Ride:

  • Learn to ride on the roads without the exposure of being on the roads
  • Comfort that if you have a problem, there are other riders to help you get home
  • Safety in numbers, with a group of riders on the roads, cars are forced to be aware of the group
  • Learn to ride in close quarters with others
  • Learn to draft
  • Social engagement with others who share a common interest in cycling
  • See roads outside of the comfort zone

The bad however is not a short list either:

  • Hammerhead “Type A” personalities that turn every group into a race
  • Cycling elitism (bikes, kits, accessories, Strava)
  • Automotive antagonism
  • Teaches some ‘bad’ road etiquette
  • Increased risk of bike to bike crashes
  • Not really ‘training’ opportunities
  • Teaches riding to other people’s pacing
  • Fails to reinforce strong bike handling skills
  • Fails to teach good safety practices on the roads

A few of these issues, others will quibble with. If there is a universal truth in cycling, it is that no group of cyclists can agree on anything, ever. However, for me, these are the core issues. Some of them can be mitigated by the culture of a given group ride, but the biggest one really is a struggle, and that is the antagonism that a Group Ride creates between drivers and cyclists, and there is no way to really combat the issue.

There are some common methods advised, and even employed by groups, but they are really ineffective, because no matter what action a group takes on the roads, it simply cannot make itself as easy to pass as a single rider, which even a single rider riding as far right as practicable makes challenging for drivers on roads that have failed to take into account the mixed needs of slow and fast moving traffic sharing a single space.

So, with all of that said, do the merits of the Group Ride outweigh the negatives? I think they do, but it falls upon the ride organizers to work to mitigate potential conflicts of the various negative issues. However, I suggest two additions, and it is something that I am working to incorporate into the Group Events that I lead and organize.

  • Reduce the size of the sub groups within a Group Event to no more than 10-12 riders per
  • Choose routes that incorporate roads that are better able to support larger groups

The second item is going to cause some consternation amongst both drivers and riders alike.

You see, this means going counter to the current trend of routing group events out of towns and onto lesser travelled “back roads”. Instead, we will be using more 4 lane parkways, both with and without bike infrastructure where we can. It also means targeting roads with existing and emerging bike facilities. Why? because these are locations where a group can significantly mitigate the inconvenience factor that generates the antagonism as the additional lane provides an easier passing space while clearly marked and available bike facilities paired with bikes using them sends a clear message that bikes are expected to be there.

All of that said, for solo and small groups of riders (less than 5), it is important to remember and reinforce that every road that is not part of a limited access highway is a bike lane.

Dru Satori

September 8, 2017

We are going to be doing some rearranging of menus and page layout for the next couple of days. Please be patient if what you are looking for is not where you expect it be….

Conversations with non-Cyclists

As a cycling advocate, and a relatively outspoken cyclist in general, I find myself frequently engaged in conversations with people that would really prefer cyclists not to be on the roads. Rarely do these conversations deviate much from a pretty standard set of discussion points. The reality is that most of the people engaging in these discussions are not really interested in understanding, they just want to express their opinions, and for everyone to accept them as the truth. It would be refreshing for a discussion to go down the path of honesty.

Imagine this:

Mr. Anti-bike: “Did you ride your bicycle to work today?”
Me: “Yep, it was a lovely 14 miles. Just fantastic.”
Mr. Anti-Bike: “You know, you are a nice guy, but I really hate it when bikes are on the roads and make me slow down for a few minutes. I’m just in such a hurry, and between the radio, my phone and my morning coffee, it is just too hard to also steer, use the brake and the blinker to pass them safely, so yeah, I kinda hate you guys.”
Me: “That’s understandable, I hope you don’t accidentally hurt someone.”

End of conversation. There is no wiggle room, or invitation for an education. Unfortunately, instead of the above, we get a different dynamic:

Mr. Anti-bike: “Did you ride your bicycle to work today?”
Me: “Yep, it was a lovely 14 miles. Just fantastic.”
Mr. Anti-Bike: “You know, you are a nice guy but, cyclists should register, insure and pay taxes like cars do.”

or

Mr. Anti-bike: “Did you ride your bicycle to work today?”
Me: “Yep, it was a lovely 14 miles. Just fantastic.”
Mr. Anti-Bike: “You know, you are a nice guy but, cyclists should be held to the same standards as cars.”

or a handful of other excuses, all of which beg for education and understanding, opening a conversation. A few actually do want to understand, but they are, in my experience, the minority. If you’ve read this far, then hopefully, it is because you actually do want to understand.

For convenience, let us address the common responses.

“Bikes are so dangerous!”

No more so than cars are. The numbers are stark, and clear. Per hour travelled, the car is more dangerous. The car kills more people under the age of 40, per year than any other single thing. We are so jaded to it, that we do not even think about it, but the numbers are crystal clear, and that does not even address the secondary impacts upon our health that cars represent.

“Bikes should stick to bike paths”

So let’s address this from two fronts. The first, is that the multi-use bike paths most often referred to are NOT bike paths, they are Multi-Use Paths, basically glorified sidewalks. Much like the situation on the roads, a fast moving bike on a multi-use path is the same as a car on the roads, even though the damage they would cause to a pedestrian, child, or pet while riding them is not as often life threatening as when a car hits a cyclist, the risks are similar. Making that situation far more complex is that those paths are indeed paths to nowhere, so for ’transportation’ they hold little value, and worse, in order to make use of them in the manner suggested, it place MORE cars on the roads to haul the bike to and from those paths, at the rush hour you want less traffic.

“Bikes should only ride in bike lanes / there should be more bike lanes”

Most people would agree with this. That said, simple bike lanes really are not the answer. Protected bike lanes, green lanes, and fewer car traffic lanes are better overall solutions. In point of fact, many of the gridlocked roads that are the best bike routes and yet frequently avoided could be improved by eliminating a car lane and replacing it with a protected bike lane. It seems counter intuitive, but that is exactly what has happened in many cities that have done this New York City Protected Bike Lanes HAve Actually Sped Up Traffic. Why? because traditional, narrow, unprotected bike lanes lead to higher risks of crashes at conflict points like shopping center entrances and exits, each of those crashes dramatically reducing road throughput. However, protected bike lanes will never happen if people keep fighting every proposal to improve bike infrastructure on the roads.

“Maybe there is a reason that there are so few bike lanes”

There is, and it was alluded to above. Bike lanes are perceived as adding little value for drivers, and when push comes to shove, drivers will vote for more car lanes, to their own detriment, over bike lanes, every single time. It is not a lack of desire, or need, but a simple equation of too many drivers not understanding the single largest truth of traffic engineering: You cannot fix traffic throughput by adding more lanes.

“Roads are Designed for Cars.”

Perhaps recent standards have adapted to a car primacy, but no, roads are not designed for cars. They are designed for transportation, and the car just happens to be the current ascended mode, but roads predate cars by thousands of years, and interestingly enough, PAVED roads have deep roots in bicycle culture, not cars. There is a really great book on the subject that delves deep into the history of the American road system that we all take for granted these days. Roads Were Not Built For Cars. As an adjunct, looking at our modern infrastructure, and many of the problems that are looming from our car obsession, another great read and aggregation of information about our infrastructure is the book Door to Door.

“Cyclists should register, insure and pay taxes like cars do.”

First, registration is fraught with issues, particularly when you use a blanket statement on bikes, because that means children riding in the neighborhood, but worse the costs of administration of such a program so far outweigh the revenue generated that doing so is a net loss to the property tax payer. Of course, then there is the insurance question. No, cyclists are not required to carry bike insurance, though many do carry bike specific policies, as well as being vehicle owners in the vast majority of the cyclists you are complaining about, they are covered under those car and motorcycle policies. Which brings us to vehicular taxes. Fun fact, the fuel taxes make up the bulk of the road taxes that you are referring to, since tag and ad valorem taxes don’t really make rounding on those numbers. Double bonus fun fact? those fuel taxes don’t cover 50% of the road maintenance budgets of our cities, counties and state. The shortfall is made up through sales and property taxes, and that doesn’t even consider new construction and adding infrastructure because of the sheer volume of single occupant drivers.

“Cyclists should be held to the same standards as cars./Scofflaw/Lawbreakers”

So, legally speaking, they are. Enforcement is an issue, but that is a two way street. It turns out that in studies that didn’t involve law enforcement statistics the results have different conclusions. Though many purport that cyclists break laws more frequently than drivers, and that they do so without knowledge of the law, this, and a couple of other studies support a VERY different conclusion. A conclusion that cyclists, do not break the law any more frequently than drivers do, and that when they do so, the do it in full knowledge of what they are doing, and with rational reasoning behind it. .

“People absolutely need cars to get around.”

No, people don’t ‘need’ cars, but the sure do want them, and it often seems that any push for infrastructure results in a rabid pushback from drivers who just can not see spending the money on bike and pedestrian infrastructure while traffic is so bad. They demand more roads and lanes, which does nothing but bring more traffic, making a bad situation worse.

“The Roads are too busy for bikes”

The short and simple answer here is that the roads are too busy for cars. That is a part of the problem. The assumption is that the bikes are slowing down the cars, but the reality is that the vast majority of the car/bike interactions are on lesser travelled backroads, and the encounters are quirky escalated because the car traffic that is using these back roads to avoid heavier traffic main roads are expecting to travel at a higher speed. Seriously, the entire encounter is typically driven by the issue of too many cars on the roads to start with. Further, those cycling groups are the place where cyclists gain the confidence on their bikes to become commuters, removing cars from the roads.

Wednesday Night Rides @ Endurance House Are Back

With the time change, and more spring like temperatures, it is ride time again. Wednesday Night Rides at Endurance House with Bike Alpharetta are back. This is a favorite group ride in the area, as it accommodates a wide range of paces and skills, with 5 groups spread across 2 routes.

The slower groups, the Yellow, White & Orange if needed, will ride the Bike Alpharetta Loop ( https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16259584 )

White = ~13mph
Yellow = ~14mph
Orange = ~15mph ( only if needed )

The faster groups, the Blue, Green, and Brown, will ride the Endurance House Loop (short until the beginning of April, then the 27/30 for the summer) ( short: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/18739926 long: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/18739844 )

Blue = ~16mph ( only if needed )
Green = ~17mph
Brown = ~18mph

The fastest group, the Black, is riding the 27/30 mile Endurance House Loop, until sometime in late April or early May, and depending upon interest, will extend out to use a 40 mile version. ( https://ridewithgps.com/routes/19008273 )

Black = ~19mph+ ( only if needed )

As a reminder, these rides are Triathlon Bike friendly, but that does mean being aware of the safety issues involved. Triathlon/TT bikes have challenges in groups. Do not ride in aero inside a group, only use aero if off the front or back. Keep your hands near your brakes. Also remember, your gearing is typically setup more for flat courses, and while none of these routes are mountainous, they do involve some climbing. If you feel that the climbs may present some challenges, then feel free to ride at the back of a group.

Finally, these rides, like every other ride we do is a ride at your own risk. You are responsible for your own safety. Don’t cross wheels, bring lights, bring what you need for minor roadside repairs, and keep your eyes out for traffic and problems.

Wednesday Night Ride?

Alright, weather looks good, and the trainer just isn’t appealing to me. 10 mile loop on roads with street lights and/or bike lanes around Alpharetta around 6:30PM. Put on your lights, and come ride with me.

Starting at the Parking deck between city hall and Publix. Let me know if you plan to join!

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/18455443

North Atlanta Winter Bike Sessions

With the end of the 2016 summer cycling season starting to wrap up, it is time to start planning for 2017. The number one question I recieve as a ride leader this time of year is both an obvious one, but also the one that presents an obvious problem, how to get in the work when light and cold weather become a challenge. In addition, Atlanta has a very good program available if you are willing to to drive an hour from the north side, and let me be right up front about this. I am not a certified cycle coach. Robert Wilhite is, so what he has to offer may be more coaching focused than what I am planning here, but the drive to his Winter Bike League is brutal and I personally love the group of people we have up here, so this is as much about enjoying the company of people that have built relationships during the season while building and maintaining fitness for 2017 so we can do it all again.

With that in mind, I wanted to layout what I am thinking, and let everyone make their own choices. A couple of notes before I get into the structure and schedule that I have in mind.

Fit

With the season wrapping up, and a plan to get better for the next season, this would be a good time to get in touch with your fitter and schedule a follow up, or schedule your first if you’ve never been professionally fit for your bike. Yes, it will be relatively speaking, expensive. However the cost here is less than many of the other solutinos we throw money at to be more comfortable, and faster on a bike. In many ways, everything else riders wish to accomplish on a bike start with the fit. Sadly, a good fit can introduce position changes that incur a short term slow down as muscles adapt to new body positions. We are blessed here on the north side with several good options.

  • Eddie O’dea @ Endurance House
  • Curtis Cannon @ Cannon Cyclery

Both of these gentlemen are well respected in the area.. I obviously have a preference, but these are two of the most respected in the area.

What makes this so important to do now is that most of us arr in the best shape we’ve been in this season. Our bodies are best suited to adapting now, and with the work of the winter, any short term losses will turn into net gains by the time spring rolls around.

Indoor Trainer

While not required, an indoor trainer will make staying fit, and increasing fitness through the winter. Part of the plan for these Winter Bike Sessions is to leverage one or two indoor virtual workout(s) a week. Any indoor trainer will do the trick, but to really maxmimize the experience and the benefits, a Smart Trainer does make the experience more enjoyable, particularly when paired with Zwift.

At the high end, the Wahoo Kickr and the Tacx Neo are probably the most approachable and readily available in the area. Personally, though I really like the Neo and the way it is built, when it comes right down to it, I don’t like training indoors enough to justify the cost. Instead, I use something in the middle of the road, and it remains my top choice/recommendation for a couple of reasons. The Tacx Bushido hits a great middle ground of smart functions and price. It also has the additional benefit of not needing a power plug making it portable. It is also a dual band unit that supports both Bluetooth and ANT+, so it can pair with a Garmin for logging, as well as to a computer, phone or tablet to control and record workouts.

The last thing to think about here, is that while the indoor workouts will be defined, and could be performed without anything but the trainer and stop watch, there is a nice mental shift that keeps things social when you add in the virtual training game that is Zwift. As a part of the Winter Bike Sessions, the plan is to hold a corresponding virtual group workouts on Zwift.

Session 1 – Baseline, Bike Skills and Climbing

Dates 10/31/2016-12/11/2016
Target Event Ridley Master’s Underwear Ride – TBD (12/11/2016 estimated)
Optional Event WBS 1st Annual New Years Eve 3 Gaps Ride (12/31/2016)

The first session it intended to focus on finding a base line for where we are, then to build from there work into some specific bike handling skills before really starting the prep for some climbing skills. Since this block will be the first after daylight savings time comes to an end, it will also be the one to challenger our collective time and daylight management skills.

Week 1

Monday – Ride – Speed Work: Intervals 4 ( Group Event on Zwift )
Tuesday – Run (Optional) – Tempo 2 Miles
Wednesday – Core (Optional) – Plyometrics 45 minutes + 500 yard swim
Thursday – Ride – Steady State: 1.25 hours with 2 up tempo spins
Friday – Run (Optional) – Speed Work: 3 miles with 3 short intervals
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Ride – Long Ride: 2.5 hour 70% effort

Week 2

Monday – Ride – Speed Work: Pyramid 3 ( Group Event on Zwift )
Tuesday – Run (Optional) – Hill Repeats x2
Wednesday – Core (Optional) – Pilates 30 minutes + 1500 yard swim
Thursday – Ride – Steady State: 1.5 hours with 3 up tempo spins
Friday – Run (Optional) – Speed Work: 3 miles with 1 long intervals
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Ride – Long Ride: 3 hour 70% effort

Week 3

Monday – Ride – Speed Work: Intervals 6 ( Group Event on Zwift )
Tuesday – Run (Optional) – Tempo 4 Miles
Wednesday – Core (Optional) – Plyometrics 45 minutes + 1000 yard swim
Thursday – Ride – Steady State: 2 hours with 4 up tempo spins
Friday – Run (Optional) – Speed Work: 4 miles with 3 long intervals
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Ride – Long Ride: 3.5 hour 70% effort

Week 4

Monday – Ride – Speed Work: Pyramid 7 ( Group Event on Zwift )
Tuesday – Run (Optional) – Hill Repeats x4
Wednesday – Core (Optional) – Pilates 30 minutes + 2000 yard swim
Thursday – Ride – Steady State: 2.5 hours with 5 up tempo spins
Friday – Run (Optional) – Speed Work: 3 miles with 2 long intervals
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Ride – Long Ride: 4 hour 70% effort

Week 5

Monday – Ride – Speed Work: Intervals 6 ( Group Event on Zwift )
Tuesday – Run (Optional) – Tempo 4 Miles
Wednesday – Core (Optional) – Plyometrics 45 minutes + 1000 yard swim
Thursday – Ride – Steady State: 2 hours with 4 up tempo spins
Friday – Run (Optional) – Speed Work: 4 miles with 3 long intervals
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Ride – Long Ride: 4.5 hour 70% effort

Week 6 – Event Week – Lighter Load

Monday – Ride – Speed Work: Pyramid 5 ( Group Event on Zwift )
Tuesday – Run (Optional) – Recovery 3 Miles
Wednesday – Core (Optional) – Pilates 30 Minutes + 1500 yard swim
Thursday – Ride – Steady State – Steady 90 Recovery
Friday – Walk – 30 minute walk, leisure pace keeping loose
Saturday – Ride – 60 minute light spin
Sunday – Event Day – Enjoy, and trust in the training. No breaks over 5 minutes to keep from tightening up.

Don’t Be A Quitter

WP_20140901_001

Quitting. Vocally, and loudly quitting. Writing a (blog post)[http://surlybikes.com/blog/post/im_done] to be read by other cyclists about why you are quitting and all those bad car drivers and all the risks. Then actually getting off the bike, either riding on indoor trainers and racing on closed courses only, or selling it altogether. Either way, these people are quitters. They are becoming part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, all because of fear in the face of overwhelming statistics that show that they are choosing the wrong side of the road.

Don’t be a quitter.

Seriously folks, yes, cycling can be dangerous. Let us all be reminded about the other singular truth. Life is dangerous, and the only promise in life is that it ends. If maximizing the amount of time you get to spend in life then you have to understand the risks you take, and put them into perspective. So about that perspective? You want to hang up your bike, put away your messenger bag and take a car instead.

You know a car, which kills enough Americans under 65 per year to be a top 5 cause of death? Consider the things that we do to cure, and or avoid cancer or heart disease, and yet we blithely climb into a car. Seriously. 1 out 112 Americans will die in a car crash, and that number is going up, not down. Worse, these statistics fail to address the indirect damage they are doing to our lives, not just the health risks that run the gamut from obesity, depression, cancer, heart disease but also the environmental impacts and even the financial damage.

Yet, there are cyclists that have made the investment into themselves, to ride. To improve their quality of life through fitness, and getting out of the car who are now quitting and getting back into a car, because they feel threatened by those very cars.

Part of the problem, not the solution.

Keep in mind, that quitting is the easy way out. Blogging that you are quitting, is contributing to the culture of fear that has become part and parcel to riding a bicycle in the U.S. A culture where every bike fatality where a car is involved is shared and published on social media. A culture that reinforces the fear with every fatality, with every near miss, all in the name of being informed and sharing.

I am a cyclist, and I’m not going anywhere. That is the message we need to be sending. Per hour traveled, it remains safer than getting a car. The benefits of riding a bike so far outweigh the merits of driving a car, that even with the distracted drivers that are just as likely to smash into parked police car as they are to hit me on my bicycle it is a risk that makes logical, statistical sense.

Of course, I want cycling to be safer. No cyclist doesn’t, but quitting is not the answer. Getting involved, seriously involved in advocacy of ideas like Vision Zero and promoting safe, non-car infrastructure. Working with your governments and communities to push agendas that make our cities safer for everyone, including car drivers, is in every citizens best interests, even though people will fight against it. If you can’t do it for yourself do it for your kids, so that when they are your age, they don’t have to fight this battle.

But no, quitting is easy. If you can’t beat them join them, right?

Yeah, about that…

Don’t be a quitter.

North Atlanta Winter Bike Sessions Update

So, after seeing what kind of interest there was, I think I am going to go ahead with this.

I’ll be putting together a full page here with all of the details, but the short version is this. The plan is to do 3 sessions during the winter. Each of the 3 will focus on part of our riding, and build towards a specific event, with an additional optional event mixed in there.

I personally have a couple of races scheduled that will impact my ability to lead a couple of the events, so I will be looking for a couple of volunteers to fill my shoes on those days. It shouldn’t be too hard, as I am pretty sure a trained monkey can do what I do with equal  aplomb.

The first session is being planned to start at the end of October and prepping for the Ridley Master’s Underwear Ride, though the date has not been officially announced, we are guessing 12/11 as the target date. There will be an optional 12/31 ride of the 3 Gaps as an optional ‘social’ ride.  This session will focus on bike handling skills and some climbing.

The second session will be all about speed and power, with a target to do the Tundra Time Trial race  in February. Following with building on the power and speed will be a third session that focusing on pushing the endurance up to be ready for an early season century at the Tony Serrano ride.

Full schedule to follow as well as details about prep and the how and when…