Besides reporting and sharing the news about a driver murdering 5 cyclists and injuring 4 others, what can we do? Feel the grief, overwhelming sadness, and look over a shoulder a few more times in traffic than usual? I’ve been trying to come up with the words ever since the story broke from Kalamazoo.Then, read this post from Phil Miller. He agreed to let me share it with you and it captures the larger issue we face. Cycling as transportation is key to the leisure and hobby activities we usually associate with it. Our races and rides depend on safe roads.
The Greatest Threat to Cycling
It isn’t a gravel grinder, and it isn’t a Grand Fondo. It isn’t doping, or masters, or doping masters. It’s not UCI, nor USAC, nor NACS nor OBRA or even Oprah. It’s most definitely not equal payouts for women pros, or big payoffs to sports administrators. It’s not high entries, or the rising cost of insurance.
It’s not even Lance.
Our sport ceases to exist when we can no longer ride our bikes. When we risk our health, our lives and that of our loved ones for simply exercising our right to ride a bicycle on a public road - when the fear of yet another unaccountable drunken or angry moron prevents us from even pumping up a tire - then we are finished.
I’ve been trying to process the horror of what happened to a group ride in Kalamazoo, Michigan last night. Five lives lost, more irreversibly altered and damaged, not to mention the damage to those left behind. One is a cousin of an officiating colleague, and while I can say that I could never comprehend the devastation he feels, well, that simply isn’t true. I’ve had way too much practice over the years.
Get used to this, friends. If we don’t stand together in our balkanized little community, this will happen again. And again. And again. It doesn’t matter less that this occurs on a country road in the Midwest, or in downtown Seattle or in Redlands or Redmond or Riverside or any of the other places I’ve ridden over the past 50 years.
USAC CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall recently announced that USAC was going to get involved in bicycle advocacy. There is nothing I can think of that matters more in my life as a cyclist, and as a transportation professional working on bicycle and pedestrian mobility and safety. We - and I mean ALL of us - need to stand together without consideration of our other disagreements and make our voice heard in every state, county and municipality. If USAC is serious about this (and I believe Derek completely that this is a priority), then we must stand shoulder to shoulder to be heard.
Otherwise, our sport will not just be irrelevant - it won’t exist.
While Phil and I discussed the topic in chat, we agreed the sport needs to come together on SOMETHING — survival seems a reasonable place to start.
I was going to post this week that we’d reached peak roadie toxicity, when Velonews is encouraging us to rat each other out as dopers. Well, talking about doping is a luxury that’ll go away, if the sport goes away. A sidebar to “gravel” and the enthusiasm for “adventure” is that roadies, like me, are exhausted by the stress of riding in traffic. Worrying about a drunk or distracted driver takes a toll on our psyche; especially, when we learn the police had been getting reports on this truck for about 30 minutes prior to the crash — they were actively looking when it drove into a group on their daily ride.
For now we grieve with friends and families, and then hopefully look to USAC for leadership against this too common threat we face.
As shared in Issue 36 of our magazine, we’ve got a thing for premium compact cameras to take with us on our bikes. The Olympus PEN-F didn’t make it into the issue, but will share the photos and reviews as we take and write them.
David has PEN-F too, and has been posting photos like this.
Pivot’s favorite Swiss National Downhill Champion, Emilie Siegenthaler, knows that good days on the pump track, fun trail rides and riding her Phoenix on runs she knows like the back of her hand are all parts of finding the flow when World Cup time comes around again. She’s currently ranked 6th on the World Cup and we can’t wait to cheer for her at Fort William!
At this point in my cycling, I’m good never doing another interval or “suffering,” but that’s still what butters the bun of the marketers selling racing. In this video, Nino teaches goal setting, diversity and frame of mind. He doesn’t race a ton of days so he can be 110% for his top 10. In season he cross trains (runs, lifts, skis) and spends 25% of his time in intensive training, adapting to suffering. It’s not as complicated as a coaching plan would have you believe: put the time in, focus it, and extend the length you can go before the elastic snaps. For roadies, besides weight cutting in the pro ranks, it’s done with 2 x 20 intervals.
While my mood has shifted from turning myself inside out during a race to finding zen, and questing for the perfect weekend ride, fully understand those that push the limits, and what it takes to perform at your best.
Quoc Pham Shoes designed these sneakers with an intent to make a shoe cyclists could wear for all occasions, all day, on, and off the bike. They succeeded and proved you don’t need a stiffness index to make a good road shoe, just a well-balanced sole with a recessed cleat. The low-rise Urbanites feature natural materials and fine craftsmanship. They’re highly recommended by us, shared on Insta, reviewed on Medium Bicycles, and in the next issue of our magazine.
When Mr. On Your Left blew through a red light, I didn’t bark at him about it cause it’s still #BiketoWorkMonth, but mentioned it to my bro Chris DiStefano who told me this:
I rang my bell at a guy and he lost it. He said, “You’re supposed to say on your left!” I told him this was a universal indicator and just more pleasant. He said, “‘Oh, you must be one of those new commuters.
I also told him a bell was universal, what if someone doesn’t speak English. He laughed like Donald Trump. That’s ridiculous, is what he replied.
To The Point
It is ridiculous that those of us who ride year around, think this is the month when the tourists show up. So to the point, a bell is most certainly used to alert people on the path of your presence. I’ve have one on all my city bikes and have never had a confrontation over it. Also, if you’re gonna say, “on your left,” it’s done as a courtesy when passing. It does not mean, “Give me your line,” and/or that the cyclists in your way should move or slow down. Like a bell, it’s a courtesy, and much different than flashing your lights in the left lane at the car in front of you, right?
There’s only a few days left of bike-to-work month, so here’s another tip for the “Commuter,” “hold your line around corners.”
And, don’t run red lights.
While I don’t think it’s necessary to write e a bell shootout, I recommend you find one with a loud, pleasant ring and that suits you. I like bells from Crane, as seen in the photo above and that’s on Amazon for $12.00. The bell du jour is Spurcycle and Mark V reviewed it. One just like it is on Amazon too for $11.00. Also see this Vine with another Crane I have that I used to get brogramers’ attention downtown.