Monthly Archives: August 2015

Truth or Bullshit: Cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road

We all hear it. It is the first thing out of every anti-cyclist screed. So how does it fair in honest evaluation?

Drivers love to complain that cyclists are constantly breaking the law by rolling through stop signs and running red lights. Does it happen? Sure. Cyclists do it, and I sometimes do it too. When it comes down to it though, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are all people going places, and they all break laws in their own ways. After all, that speed limit sign? how often do you treat it as a minimum? If the regional studies are accurate, the number of cars at or under the posted speed limit is < 25%. In addition, studies have shown no meaningful difference in the percentages of law breaking between groups. Pedestrians jaywalk. Cyclists roll through stop signs and run red lights. Motorists speed, tailgate, fail to signal, fail to stop before turning right, drive while drunk, drive while distracted, and others. In other words, yes, cyclists don’t obey the laws, but then again, neither does anyone else.

One group breaking laws does not justify another doing the same. You do not hear anyone saying that car drivers do not deserve to be on the roads because they break the laws, that is reserved for drivers who have made egregious errors in judgement that have typically cost lives before they are removed from the roads. It is not that cyclists break the laws any more often, only that because they are different, drivers cling to that as a reason to vilify them. Breaking the rules is something many people do regardless of activity.

On a scale of truth to bullshit, let’s call this truth as a front for bullshit.

As the old saying goes, People in glass houses shall not throw stones.

Rough Commute This Morning

Strava Segment - Shiloh Rd - Union Hill to Majors

I admit it. Rarely do I actually get annoyed enough to throw ‘the one fingered salute’. This morning, it happened three times, on one road, all within the space of about one mile. It was a morning commute, but instead of being in commuter gear, I was in training gear, and moving at a training pace. What does that mean? It means, I wasn’t poking along.

The route this morning was selected because of the timing, my normal route up Highway 9 would have put me in the middle of the Midway Elementary School traffic at Post Rd. as a rule, those are situations that I will avoid because they create stress points for car drivers. Oddly, that stretch of road is plenty wide, and even though it is a 45 mph speed limit, I’ve had almost no negative interactions until the actual light, and the 500 feet from the light to the far end of the school. In that school space, there have been quite a few right hook attempts but that is more or less to be expected. In the interests of not going through there this morning, I elected a back road route that is far less traveled. A route that I was traveling against the flow of rush hour traffic.

So I chose to loop out to Union Hill Rd and come across Shiloh Rd back to Highway 9 well north of the school. You know, doing exactly what drivers say they want cyclists to do. Be courteous, share the road and use roads that aren’t so busy, and fast. So I find myself on Shiloh Rd headed west towards Majors Rd and Highway 9. The speed limit is 30 mph. As you can see from the above recording, I crossed that road at a speed of 21 mph average, with the first speed dip coming at a location where I slipped out of the way to allow two following cars to go around, and the second longer dip where I sat up and soft pedaled the accel/decel lane by the church to allow the two cars to pass there.

Unfortunately, the sections where I didn’t have space to give up, is where the proverbial feces hits the air moving devices that uses spinning blades. Shortly after entering this tight section of road, I was buzzed, and I do mean that in the closest sense of the word, by three vehicles in fairly quick succession. First was a white Chevy truck, who apparently couldn’t be bothered to slow down to near the speed limit, since I was moving at about 25 mph at that point, and wait until the oncoming traffic cleared. At least he had the courtesy not to smoke me out with his diesel until he had completed the pass. I only had to ride it as it was dispersing. Following him was the young female driver in her wine colored Kia mini-SUV. She gets the epic fail, since she was close enough that I felt the passenger side mirror blow past my shoulder. Finally, we had the dark green Oldsmobile. I don’t have a clue what this driver was thinking, since they started to give room, but then decided not to since there was oncoming traffic. Instead of hitting the brake and slowing, this driver seems to think crowding me and oncoming traffic would be a good idea.

Sadly, that last actually terrifies me. The other two, I can deal with, though the frustrate me, and my salute might have been an overreaction, this crowding both approach creates so many risks, and I saw one of them today. The oncoming driver, feeling crowded, dropped the wheels off the edge of the road, at speed, and twitched back into the lane. The two cars passed each other so close they could have swapped paint. It is a situation that leaves me feeling more vulnerable than any other. I can avoid most issues, but this one, I can’t once the driver has made this choice.

The only thing I could have done, was before the incident, I could have removed that option from the drivers menu of choices. In hindsight, on this section of road, I have no choice but to adopt a vehicular cycling lane position, and force the driver to leave the lane to get around me, or to run me over. My innate southern courtesy screams at me that this is rude, and I should be giving up the lane, but my safety dictates that safety wins over courtesy.

Even further though, this is just another example of where doing what drivers think they want cyclists to do actually creates more risks than cyclists behaving like they are cars.

Race Report – Area 13.1 Half Marathon

Area 13.1 Half Marathon – Race Report

Area 13.1

Usually, this would be an easy report to write, as this is the third year for us running in this one. Well, 3rd for Scott. Dru skipped a year, and last year the even conflicted with our race in Savannah. Anyways, I digress. For us, this is an event that we look forward to on the calendar because it is very much a home town event, and the format is different and fun.

What makes this so different?

To start with, the race is an evening race that finishes in the dark, by design. In addition, the route itself lends itself to a kind of eerie, alien and rock n roll vibe. Finishing in the dark, on a course that can only be lit by tower lights and generators means alot of handheld or head lamps, which only adds to the fun vibe.

OGRES ready to run

The big downside to this event is that late August in Atlanta is almost a promise of heat and humidity. This year was no exception, with temps in the mid 80’s, but crazy humidity. To the point that I have done runs in the rain where I finished the run feeling cleaner and dryer than this one. Sticky? no, soaked. To the point that a pair of merino wool socks were completely soaked and the feet were full prune status by the end of the race.

This year Scott and I went out at the same time, instead of prior events where we would split into self selected pace groups. Both of us had time goals in mind and they were not too far apart. It made for a good time.


This year, the half course saw some changes from the course used in prior years. While in the past the course has been nearly pancake flat, this year a couple slight variations. First was a change to moved an early section of the first out and back loop from an old gravel residential road to a crushed gravel nature running trail by the river. It certainly made a scenic change, but at the same time it created a narrower course at a early point in the race. There were still alot of runners in close proximity this early, so some of the spots got tight and slowed the pace down. The second change added a good hill to the route. Essentially, 110 feet of climbing in about a mile, starting at mile 6.75. To put it mildly, it kinda hurt, but in a good way.

Elevation Profile

All in all, the changes slow the race down, but still make it a better overall event. In addition, the changes work hand in hand with the other new feature this year. In addition, they added a 5k that runs on the same first out and back loop that goes off about 15 minutes after the half starts. After running the race, I am pretty sure that the course changes in the first loop were to accomodate the 5k and I think the net result is great for the event on the whole. Though the participation numbers appeared to be higher for the half, the 5k should allow the even to grow into a premier Atlanta event over the coming years (assuming Roswell doesn’t do something silly with permits as they did in 2014).

In the end, this is an event that has had some trials getting to this point, but today, I think they have built a great foundation, and are set for it to become one of Atlanta must do events each year.

There is one other big thing to note. In past years, water stops and frequency have been a concern for this event. Judging by the setup this year, I think organizers heard the concerns and tackled them quite directly. With water more often than every 1.5 miles, there was more than adequate supply of hydration, and nutrition along the course..


On a would we do it again scale, the answer is, yes. As long as we don’t have an event that conflicts in the coming years, I expect to keep running this event. I really hope the stick with this new course layout as well, as it just flows really well.

Weekend Training & Racing

Well, it is almost the weekend again. So what is the plan this weekend? After last weekends adventures this weekend seems tame. With just a long swim, 17 mile run, and 75 & 6 miles brick on the plan. How to tackle this?

Well, the plan this weekend is to swim Saturday, and then do a couple miles of running to get the legs loose before doing a half marathon in Roswell ( Area 13.1 ) instead of the training run. Sounds like a solid plan, and really, I am looking forward to this race. I like the course, although this year adds a wrinkle with a short climb on Lower Roswell Road that could prove interesting. The course sets up to be a fast race, and with the late start, hopefully the temperatures won’t be so insanely hot. It should be good fun.

Sunday morning we will follow that up with 75 or miles at 7:30 from Endurance House using the OGRE 85 Route. This is of course open to anyone that would like to join in. The pace shouldn’t be too fast, since I will probably still be flat from trying to push a PR in the 13.1. In addition, this route has several built in bail out points to cut it short as needed.

Have a great weekend, I know that we will try hard to do just that.

So You Want to Be A Better Cyclist

At some point, every one that makes the transition from casual/recreational cyclist to fitness/serious cyclist goes through the same moment. “I want to be a better cyclist”. It takes different shapes, but it is all the same core idea, getting better. As a cyclist that has been riding for a long time, and one that is often seen as being a ‘strong’ rider, I get asked for advice a lot. As in almost every ride I do with a group of cyclists.

I am not a coach (yet), so take what I have to say on this subject with a certain grain of salt. That grain of salt is that this is experience of what I have done and what I have seen work for others. Keep in mind, here is the first secret of those ‘strong riders’ you see on the roads; they are looking at stronger riders and working to be those riders. All but the very best always think of themselves as middle of the pack riders at best. We are all our own worst critics.

So about being a better cyclist. Define “Better”? This is ultimately where it all starts. What part of cycling do you need to work on to be better in your mind. Is it speed, distance, technique or just comfort in the environment. Defining what better means to you really gives you something concrete to work on. If you want my answer, it is simply yes. More specifically, it means being comfortable first, having good technique second, and letting distance and speed come from those two.

Being comfortable in the environment, be it on the roads or the trails, really has to be the first order of business. If you aren’t comfortable, you cannot focus on the things you need to focus on to improve technique, speed or distances. If you are afraid, or intimidated by the ride, you won’t be able to put in the time you need to get the other bits in place. Unfortunately, this is also the hardest thing to learn. For most people, being on the road is a terrifying place to be. Cars, trucks and others are just scary to deal with. It has been drilled into the collective conscious that riding a bike on the road without bike lanes is dangerous, and while to a degree it is, we actually make it more so by riding in fear. Making matters worse, in our efforts to ride ‘safely’ in order to overcome that fear, we reinforce the very fears that start the cycle.

What does this mean? First and foremost, it means learning to take to the road, and own the space. Getting comfortable with 3 basic thoughts.

  1. You do belong on the road
  2. Your space is what you need to be safe, including space to maneuver
  3. Cars do not actually want to hit you

The statistics are cut and dried, riding on the edge of the road;

  • you are outside the line of vision increasing the risk of not being seen
  • you are encouraging close proximity passing by giving enough space to be passed within the lane
  • you are encouraging aggressive behaviors by displaying your fear of that car

You want to get better on the bike, you have to eliminate the fear.

As you ride without fear, the other parts of getting better come as natural extensions, but you can accelerate things by working on technique off the roads, using an indoor trainer. Pedal efficiency, strength, cadence can all be gained indoors. What you cannot learn is the feel of the road, and how to shift, adjust, avoid, and truly pleasure of the ride. See this is where, getting out on the road truly leads to being a better cyclist. There is an ebb and flow to the road. No current trainer in the world can replicate that ebb and flow.

Only experience can teach the subtle fell of a road that change gradient from -%1 to flat to 1% gradient, and how to shift efficiently and timely so that you don’t lose power (or drop a chain from shifting late under too much power). Only riding on the road will teach the skills that are needed to avoid and adapt to the road conditions as they change. Little things like moving around nails, rocks, sand and gravel. Hopping potholes and adjusting to bumps and rolls in the road surfaces are all important skills that directly translate into being a better cyclist. All of these things are what make it possible to truly ride farther, faster.
Finally there is the question of how do you learn to ride farther and faster? The answer to this question is by far the easiest. You just have to ride. You may need a plan, but that is dictated by your specific goals, but nothing will allow you do either of these if you do not get out there and ride.

No matter what else you do, nothing beats time in the saddle, and that is the ultimate key to riding.

Just Ride…

Some days are for Site Maintenance

Not posting. The article I had written for today just isn’t ready, and I won’t have time to finish it until tonight at the earliest. Instead, I did a little bit of clean up and details in the weekly rides section, if you are bored and want to look at that. Shouldn’t you be out working out anyways?

On a tangent, I have decided that unless something changes, I am not going to go back to a standard fluid trainer this winter. I am leaning towards a set of rollers instead.

The current plan is a TACX Antares ( or if I am feeling particularly flush that day, the Galaxia which I really want, but I’m not sure I want it $100 more than the Antares ). Comments and opinions are welcomed!

Weekdays are for Work. Weekends are for Working Out. So are weekdays.

3 Gaps with the Olde Blind Dogs & Goat Riders

Some rides are just better than others. This one. Yeah. Perfect summer day, great company, hard ride. Doesn’t get much better.

Weekend Training Opportunities

Friday: 7:00PM @ Forsyth Greenway Union Hill Trailhead – 6.5 mile run with OGRE Dru
Saturday: OGRE Dru is doing the IM Chattanooga Bike course with the Endurance House Redefine Your Possible Team
Sunday: Headed to the North Georgia Mountains to do a little 3 Gaps 50 miles on the bike with the Olde Blind Dogs and Goat Riders.

If you are interested in coming along for any training opportunities, shoot an email to OGRE Dru ( dru at weareogre dot com )