Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ride Number 3 North Mountain and the start of trail 100

My Third ride. I joined the North Valley Mountain Bike Ladies for a meet up at North Mountain and I chased them as they flew down the hill and up to the dam. WOW it was fun and a little scary at the same time.  Now to get some long socks! LOL Feb 9th I will take a class.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've moved

I have started using the blog feature within instead of this site. See ya there.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Got a rusty chain?

There has been a lot going on in ABC. Some of the changes, you may have noticed. Many of them, you may be unaware of. Probably the biggest news has been the creation of a new web site. The new web site has many features that our old site did not have. The most notable is, that members now have a login and password. These have been emailed to you. We can see that about one-in-three members have logged into the site. The use of a login, means that we are able to create members-only web content, and also handle ride registration. Additionally, members can be granted permission to add, edit, or delete web content. And all of this without having to learn any programming languages. Our goal is to get as many people as possible involved in the development and maintenance of the web site.

This means that chapter and ride leaders can make sure information on the web is accurate and timely. Speaking of timely, the new web site offers a calendar. Members can post rides and events on the calendar. Of course, that raises the question, "What constitutes a club ride?" From an insurance point of view, a club ride must be at least three (3) members. From the club's point of view, a club ride must have a ride leader. That raises another question, "Who can be a ride leader?" At present, the club has no clearly established criteria. But, I believe there are several things ride participants would hope for, and expect. Of course, with the new web site, some of these expectations are changing. In the club's future, I believe a ride leader must:

-Know how to add/update/delete events on the club's web site calendar.
-Sign-in riders at the start of the ride getting waiver signatures and emergency contact information.
-Be prepared to file an incident report in the event of an accident.
-Be able to demonstrate a good understanding of the rules of the road and basic riding techniques.

Of course, making sure that everyone has a good time, also depends on, providing route information, looking after each other, and many other things. And that brings us back to the original question, "What constitutes a club ride?" I think a club ride is an opportunity to enjoy cycling in a social environment. Any of us can choose to ride by ourselves any time. But, we all recognize that riding with a group has lots of appeal and benefits. As a club, we offer tangible benefits, such as insurance coverage, a newsletter, a web site, etc. But, we also offer intangible benfits, such as the opportunity to find riding companions who are well suited to our distance, pace, and style.

While the typical Saturday or Sunday club ride is a great thing, I also believe the ad hoc rides, which a few friends can put together with only a couple of day's notice, are part of being an active and social cyclist. In order to give members the maximum value for their membership, I would like to see these rides treated as club rides too. In my vision of the club's future, with a few phone calls, emails, text messages, or by using the forums on the club's website, a few members decide to take a ride. One of the members (having the qualifications above) takes the role of ride leader and puts the event on the club's calendar. The ride leader prints out a sign-in sheet and gets it filled in by the riders. Everybody goes on the ride and has a good time. In this scenario, the members have benefitted from the tangible club benefit of insurance, because the club has provided an environment, which promotes getting out on our bikes. Maybe this ad-hoc ride becomes a regular event, maybe not, but either way, it is a club ride.

Of course, as a club officer, I want to know how many people are showing up for rides. We all like feedback. Doesn't it give you a sense of accomplishment, when you add up your miles for the week? Wouldn't it give you a sense of pride in your club, to be able to brag about how many great club rides there were last year? How many lives have been enriched by the club? How can we gauge the health of the club if we can't measure it's temperature? Nobody want's to turn this simple question into a beauracratic record keeping nightmare. However, our new website provides us with the opportuinty to do this kind of thing with just a few mouse clicks. With today's technology, it's not a question of "if" we can do something. It is a question of whether we care enough to do it at all! If, as a club, we want to grow, thrive, ride, promote cycling, then we must come together and make things happen. Without followers, leadership is nothing! Club members have to make known their hopes and desires for the club. But, at the same time, saying, "The club ought to...." doesn't work, unless there are members who are willing to DO those things that the club should do. The club depends on volunteers. Be proud of your club and ask what you can do to make the club even better.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Anthem Sprint Try-athlon

It was just a month ago today, I headed out for my first training run after concluding that I should "try" a sprint triathlon. If I'd thought about it sooner, I'd have liked to start training earlier. It wasn't until after I decided that I wanted to "try" this, that I actually looked at the calendar. As a life-long cyclist, the 20K ride wouldn't be a problem, but I've never been a runner, and summer swim team is 40 years behind me. The 5K run would be the real challenge for me. The 400 meter swim will probably not be pretty, but I think I can get through it.

My normal running route for the past week or two, has been a 3.14 mile loop (5K). That route goes from my front door and loops around the Community Center. I've been arriving home from this run pretty much spent. Today, I thought I would "try" to bring two pieces together for the first time. My plan was to run up to the Community Center and "try" to swim 200 to 400 meters, depending on how it felt when combined with the running. Then I would finish with the run home. Since this would be a first for me, I though I would shorten the run by making a bee-line for the Community Center and then back via the same route. That would shave a mile or so off my "standard" loop. However, about when I got within sight of the Community Center, I realized that I had forgotten my ID and wouldn't be able to "try"combining swimming with running. At that point, it was a relatively easy decision to convert my run back to my normal distance. I was feeling pretty good as I turned onto my street. So, on a whim, I though, "I should 'try' hopping on the bike and riding back up to the Community Center for a swim." So I would "try" my first transition at my own home.... Grab my ID, change shoes, put on my helmet, gloves, get a drink, grab my bike out of the garage, and go. As near as I can tell, that took about 4 minutes, but I felt pretty good getting on the bike. I've been doing all my running in the mornings, but now it was around 6:00 PM and although the sun was setting, the temperature was still nearly 100 degrees. The evaporate cooling effect at bike-speed was refreshing, so, I opted for slightly more riding than the bee-line route back to the Community Center. But the distance wasn't really the point. It was novel for me to do ANYTHING after running 5K, besides flopping down on a patio chair until the sweating and the panting subsided enough for a shower. So, after only about 8 minutes on the bike, I arrived at the Community Center and transitioned again into the pool. I paused for a breather at 250 meters, only to hear that the pool was closing. (Who knew, 6:30 on Sunday? Well, not me!). ...out of the water and back on the bike, I rode home. In the end, within just over an hour, I ran 5K, biked a total of 3.5 miles, and swam 250 meters. So, I try-ed!

email to the cross country running coaches a Boulder Creek High School

I live in Anthem and am both a runner and a cyclist. Now that school is back in session, I've noticed something that I would like to bring to your attention. In the morning, I often see school atheletes running in the bike lanes facing traffic, particularly going south along Gavilan Peak Parkway between Anthem Way and Memorial Drive. Many of us have been taught to walk facing traffic. However, this advice only applies in cases where there is no sidewalk. This is specifically addressed by Arizona law (ARS 28-796): "If sidewalks are provided a pedestrian shall not walk along and on an adjacent roadway". Given that I cannot think of any roadway in Anthem that doesn't have an adjacent sidewalk, I contend that nowhere in Anthem is it proper to run in the roadway.

I'd be happy to discuss with you the several reasons why I believe that if runners are going to violate this law and run in the roadway, it would be safer for them to run in the direction of the traffic. However, I doubt that the school wants to endorse illegal behavior. I think the most prudent thing, is to instruct runners to stay out of the road except while crossing at designated crosswalks. In defense of the runners, I have noticed that they do seem to pay particular attention to crossing Gavilan Peak Parkway using the traffic signals and crosswalks at Memorial Drive. This is very good!

I think the best strategy for all concerned is to look for running routes which capitalize upon the miles of off-street walks and trails in Anthem. I have spent many hours with Google Earth and other mapping software, studying the network of trails throughout Anthem and I have devised many routes of varying distances and surfaces (concrete, decomposed granite, dirt, etc). I would be happy to work with you and your team members to design routes which meet their training needs while discouraging the use of the roadway.

Unfortunately, many if not most of the adult runners that I see, are also misbehaving exactly as I have described. What I would like to see is a whole new generation of runners that understand why it is so dangerous for them to run in the roadway facing traffic. While we are at it, it might be good to make sure that if any of the students are also cyclists, they should understand that they DO belong in the roadway and NOT on the sidewalks. Traffic laws are for everyone's protection. Obeying them is in everyone's best interests. School is a good place to reinforce this.

Please feel free to call me at 623-326-3455 if I can help.

Thanks for your time,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Anthem Trails email sent to HOA

I believe that the location of the makeshift bike course, pictured in the August 5, 2010 edition of "In & Out", is just down the street from my house. While it is easy for the HOA to point the finger at the residents, I believe they also bear a certain responsibility. Looking at the trail signs posted around the neighborhood, it is clear that many of the trails which were planned, were never built. In fact, a trail was planned for the desecrated area in the picture. Had the planned trail been built, vandalism in this area would not have occurred. The kids who built this bike park would not have felt they were in an abandoned parcel of the community. They picked that area precisely because it didn't have a trail going through it. It is a place where the sidewalk literally ends.

It appears that many people, including some of the-powers-that-be, feel that environmental regulations prevent improvement in the washes. It becomes easy to say, "We can't put a sidewalk through a wash! That's a protected area." And yet, the maintenance crews can dump loads of cholla, or piles of boulders in washes to discourage traffic through them. You can't have it both ways! I believe that properly engineered accommodations, such as trails and culverts can be built, particularly in cases where doing so is part of repairing existing damage to the environment or to protecting it from future damage. Many examples of such accommodations already exist within the community. Clearly, there are administrative hurdles to such plans. Does that mean we shouldn't investigate them? Of course we should. We should operate from the premise that rules will not prevent us from protecting our environment.

The improvised bike park is not an isolated situation. A casual observer can recognize many opportunities to improve the trail system here in Anthem: foot paths, made by people going where they want to go, where there is no accommodations to limit their impact on the environment. Rather than simply threatening to enforce rules, the HOA should take stock, and determine what can be done to accommodate where people want to go and protect the environment. Why are so many crosswalks un-marked? Why isn't Memorial Drive striped with bike lanes? How come it's so difficult to ride a bike from the paved multi-use trails to the on-street bike lanes, without encountering a curb? I believe that few Anthem residents are aware of the Maricopa Trail. The Maricopa Trail is planned to circumnavigate the county, linking parks and recreation areas throughout the county, via a multi-use (hiking, biking, and equestrian) trail. An important segment of this trail lies within Anthem, and yet miles of barbed-wire fence and threatening signs hide this gem. The Maricopa Trail should be a featureof the community, not something we fence ourselves away from! Anthem has miles of beautiful trails and bike lanes. But, it could be even better. It could be world-class. Such distinction would not only be good for the environment, but good for property values. The active lifestyle promoted in the brochures, could be more than just marketing hype.

The community enhancement funds were clearly intended to address such issues. Let's build a list of problem areas around the community and prioritize them. We can work with the regulating bodies to get permits to empower us to protect our open spaces and to enhance opportunities for residents to enjoy these areas responsibly. But the residents cannot possibly do this without the leadership and support of the-powers-that-be.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Riding to The Great Bike Chase

The Great Bike Chase

I was wondering what it would be like to ride to this event from the North Valley. It looks like it could be a cool route. Starting from the Park and Ride in Anthem, head down Gavilan Peak Parkway to Tramonto and then take the North Valley/Norterra Parkway all the way to Pinnacle Peak. Some zigging and zagging around Rose Garden and 15th Ave gets you down to Union Hills. So far, the route has been almost entirely on bike lanes. Just east of 7th Avenue, it is possible to pickup the Multi-use path along the Cave Creek Wash. There are two awkward bits on this trail, but they only amount to 3/10 of a mile out of the 8 miles of paved trails to the Arizona Canal near Dunlap Avenue. Another bit of neighborhood wiggling puts you on 23rd Avenue for a few more miles of bike lane before cutting over to the light-rail station on 19th Avenue just south of Bethany Home. Out of the 29 miles of cycling, around 28 of them have been on a designated bike lane or paved multi-use trail.

Buy an all-day rail pass and board the light-rail with your bike for the last 6 miles to Hance Park at Central Avenue and I-10. You can participate in the event or re-board the light rail and continue on to destinations such as Pueblo Grande at 44th Street and Washington, Papago Park, or cross the river to Tempe and check out the Bike Cellar. Your return trip can be as simple as riding the light-rail back to the north end of the line and retracing the route, or can include a ride along the Grand Canal Path.

Would you think you could go from Anthem to Tempe and back with your bike and it would only cost you 58 miles of riding and $2.50 light-rail fare?

My most minimalist toolbag

These are my current choices
Crank Brothers Speed Lever
Innovation Ultraflate Plus
Swiss Tech Micro-Plus
Ascente Bare Bones Mini-Tool
Performance tube repair kit
Spare Tube powdered and bagged

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What is the definition of a bicycle?

I read
with interest, particularly, the section which proposes refinement of the definition of a bicycle:

6. "Bicycle" means a device, including a racing wheelchair,
that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride and that has
(a) Two tandem wheels, either of which is more than sixteen inches
in diameter,
except that the wheels
may be smaller if the bicycle is foldable.
(b) Three wheels in
contact with the ground, any of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.
I found the proposed revision troubling. While in the past, I have accepted the 16-inch wheel rule as central to the definition of a bicycle, the proposed change now has me even questioning that. Since parts A and B are the definition of a bicycle, using "bicycle" as part of the proposed revision to part B is semantically problematic. By my read of the revised definition, since the handlebar folds down,the device below could count as a bicycle.

Bike Friday and other similar travel bicycles typically have a 20" wheel, so I'm not sure exactly what the concern is.

Personally, I think that a rotary, human powered, propulsion mechanism is central to the definition of a bicycle. Pushing off with a foot, like with a skateboard, scooter or rollerblades doen't fit this definition but a racing wheelchair and a handcycle would. And if we are going to include trikes as part of bikes, why not quad-wheeled devices?

Based on the revised definition, I can fairly easily imagine contrivances which would technically fit the definition of a bicycle, but which I would think had no business being in traffic.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adopt A Street: The Arizona Bicycle Club, Past, Present and Future

ABC participates in Phoenix's "Adopt a Street" program. Our designated roadway is Maryland Avenue from 20th Steet to 12th Street. Of course, many club members know that Granada Park is at 20th Street and Maryland Avenue. What you might not have thought about is the subtle irony that a car can't drive down Maryland Avenue from Granada Park to 12th Street... but a bicycle can! There is this "thing" in the way, it's called the Piestawa Freeway or SR-51. A bicycle can go under the Freeway through a bicycle/pedestrian underpass, but a car has to go a half-mile south to Bethany Home Road to get to the other side of the Freeway.

Looking at the Maricopa Association of Governments Bikeways Map, it is hard not to notice that within a few miles of Granada Park, there are numerous roadway underpasses along the Arizona Canal path. There are three bike/pedestrian bridges associated with the Freeway in the Dreamy Draw area and many more to the north. And, there are multiple underpasses allowing cyclists and pedesrians to cross under the Freeway.

When I moved to the Valley in '92, the Squaw Peak Parkway pretty much ended at Dreamy Draw and dumped traffic onto surface streets. A few years later, The Freeway pushed north to Shea, then to Union Hills Drive, and finally, all the way to the 101 loop. So, much of the design and construction work for the majority of these heavily used bicycle and pedestrian accomodations, which many people now seem to take for granted, was already completed before I even got to Arizona. But now, looking back roughly two decades, one thing is clear. This didn't happen by accident! The Arizona Bicycle Club played an important role in insuring that development in the area did not ignore the needs of area bicyclists.

Founded by Eugene and Sylvia Berlatsky in 1964, ABC has served cyclists in the Phoenix Metro area and across Arizona. ABC has grown over the years into a large and robust organization of over 400 members. ABC is a club affiliate of the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). For over 125 years, LAB has been the premier national membership organization for bicyclists, and serves as a strong voice for cyclists' rights and effective education so bicyclists can share the roads and paths of this nation with safety and confidence. Gene and other club members were instrumental in the establishment of the Phoenix Sonoran Bikeway which connects South Mountain Park with Carefree Highway.

Erected in 2005, the Eugene Berlatsky Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge on Maryland Avenue, crosses I-17. No other east-west road in Phoenix has a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian accomodation across BOTH I-17 and SR-51 freeways.

In February 2010, ADOT and FHWA hosted public scoping meetings as an opportunity for community members to participate in the scoping process. Scoping is the first step in the stucy process and is intended to inform and involve the public agencies, and special interst groups. The public scoping meetings marked the beginning of ADOT's public outreach program that will continue throughout the study. Public comments regarding the I-17 Study are currently being accepted and can be submitted by using the Public Meeting Comment Form.

Inspired that one person, can make a difference, I attended one of these meetings. What would Gene do?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wickenburg Overnighter 2010

Have I gotten spoiled by Arizona weather? I know that even in Phoenix, it is sometimes possible to get caught in a shower on a ride, and so, I'll throw on my Gore-Tex if it looks like it might rain. Normally, I don't like to start riding when it already IS raining. But we've committed to doing this ride. Several riders bailed at the start, but not all, so off we ride. The first few miles just seemed like a bad idea getting wetter.

And yet, a few miles before Lake Pleasant with only about 6 miles into the ride, the rain had pretty much abated. Geographically, we crossed the barely noticable New River Wash. With all the rain we've had, it seems like it should have water in it, but the roadway seemed wetter than the wash. We were prepared to shuttle bikes around the construction zone near Lake Pleasant. Even though the construction zone is posted as 3.5 miles long, our reconnaissance had concluded that the areas in question were MUCH shorter. As it turned out, traffic on the outbound leg was light and so the construction zone was a complete non-issue. Our group made the decent into the depths of the Agua Fria river valley. Just upstream, the New Waddell Dam holds back Lake Pleasant but downstream, it looks pretty much like the desert of Marty Robbins' day. At around 1500 feet, this is the lowest elevation we'll see.

Coming up out of the valley represents a fairly demanding 6 miles of climbing. In another 10 miles we hit the highest point of the ride at around 2000 feet and then begin descending into the Hassyampa Valley and turning north and upstream on Grand Ave (US60). Last year's construction on US60 coming into Wickenburg is now completed but we were a bit disappointed by the striping. Bath, rinse clothes, happy hour, dinner, sleep, breakfast, ride... The return leg was almost completely rainless and almost windless but overcast and cooler than it should be.

I like to say, "It's difficult to justify spending a lot of money on good rain gear when you live in Phoenix, but it's impossible to test it." Well, this trip proved me wrong. I still don't know how to keep my feet warm and dry in the rain, but the rest of me fared well enough.

Thanks to everyone who made this happen. You know who you are.
I found this great picture using Google Earth. While riding through the area, you get a sense that it looks like this, but pictures taken from the road don't quite reflect it like this picture does. US60 is in the corner of the image, looking upstream toward Wickenburg. Even in the drizzle, it was beautiful. I've done this ride with heat and wind, but this is the first time I've done this ride in the rain and I'll bet money it won't rain on this ride next year!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fast Eddies for Breakfast

Breakfast ride starting at Via Linda and Mountain Vieiw in Scottsdale to Fast Eddies 3422 W Glendale Ave, Phoenix.

Crossing over I-17 on the Gene Berlatsky Bridge

Through the Dreamy Draw on the multi-use path.

For full trip details, click on title.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Potential Energy

Since the beginning of the year, I've been writing about ABC, volunteers, and administrivia. This morning, while riding my bike to work, I was reminded of what keeps me coming back to bicycles. Bicycles are basically fun. There are many dimensions to cycling and so there's always new things to explore and there are always new routes to ride. Recumbents and uprights, tandems and solos, road bikes and off-road, racing, touring, and commuting... these are just some of the many dimensions available to bike riders.

I've spent some time living and riding bicycles in Europe where cycling is much more of a way of life than in this country. As I was watching the light-rail cruise along Camelback Rd, I was flashing back to a small town in Germany where the "tram" was an integral part of the transportation network. As I was looking out over broad expanse of the Valley, I was reminded of gliding easily across the flat lands of Denmark. The Congressional Bike Ride in Washington DC featured some of the best urban bike facilities anywhere. A few years ago, I rode out of DC on the fabulous Washington and Old Dominion (WOD) Trail , a 45 mile Rails-to-Trails route.

The paths along our canals are awesome accommodations to bicycles. I think they can go toe-to-toe with some of the best that any major metropolitan area has to offer. Our spring riding weather is as good as anybody's. We also get about 4 to 6 weekends in the fall which are pretty close to perfection. But the stuff in between is pretty good too. It may get uncomfortably hot here during a summer mid-afternoon, but the morning and early evening are generally rideable that time of the year. The winter mornings here in the Valley may be cool but by the middle of the day, it's often very nice. We almost never ride in the rain here. Basically, we have a great climate for cycling. Sure, there are hearty souls in other parts of the country who can claim year-round riding conditions because they're not afraid of riding in snow and with lights, but does that really count?

My point is that the metropolitan Phoenix area has tremendous potential to be a world class bike-friendly area. Obviously our climate is conducive to year-round riding. Our terrain is not as demanding as many cities. Our infrastructure here is relatively new and growing. We tend to have fairly wide streets. Valley Metro is making a commendable efforts to integrate bicycles into their operations. Tucson's half million residents are already recognized as living in a top rated bicycle-friendly city. The League of American Bicyclists rated Tucson as a bicycle friendly community at the gold level. Scottsdale and Tempe have both achieved silver status. Phoenix currently has no designation. Could Valley Metro do more? Of course. Could we use more bike lanes? No question. Could Phoenix go gold? Sure!

During the National Bike Summit in March, Andreas Rohl, the Director of the city of Copenhagen's bicycle program, said that this country has lots of "low hanging fruit". He means that if we just do the easy stuff, we'd make huge gains. Let's do the easy stuff! It'll be fun.... just like riding a bike.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

El Tour De Phoenix

At the starting line.

Bush Highway

View of Saguaro Lake

Finish line

Kristi worked booth at the Expo on Friday, the day before the El Tour de Phoenix ride. Someone had an extra registration and she thought I'd want it. So, at less than 12 hours before the event, I find that I'm in it. I spent an hour or two getting my gear ready and got about four hours of sleep before getting up at o'dark-thirty to drive to Mesa for a 6:30 start. The course is a 72 mile route which ironically never sets wheel in the city limits of Phoenix.

The folks at Perimeter Bicycling Association of America, Inc. sure put on a nice ride. The traffic control alone must be a massive logistical effort. I don't think I stopped at any intersection. I was waved on by the person controlling the intersection. The aid stops were roughly every 10 miles. I think I skipped four of them and fueled up at the other three.

I recorded my performance on GPS and it is available here:

My finish time of 4 hours and 19 minutes puts me pretty solidly in the silver. I'd have to shave 34 minutes off my time to be in the gold but I could slack-off for almost an hour before I would be among the bronze finishers. The complete results are here:!ETP/ETP09Res/ETP09-FS.html
I might have done better if I'd actually trained for the ride, but I felt pretty good about being able to just go out and do it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April is Bike Month

Scottsdale Cycle the Arts kind of kicked things off, but April is bike month.

Lots of links at

These events are all opportunities that ABC could be involving ourselves in. I think that if we were just a bit more organized, it shouldn't be that hard to promote ourselves better.

I'm going to plan to ride my bike to work on April 22 and maybe some other days. Post-equinox, the daylight shouldn't be an issue. I've been hoping that the new access road from Anthem down to Tramonto would be open by now. It seems like it might only be days away, but it could be weeks. When it does open it, should shave almost 2 miles off of my commute distance each way. It might get down to under 40 miles round trip.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Which club should I join and what are the dues?

I recently received an email from a local cyclist who was asking about ABC and said he was up in the air as to what club he should join. What follows is an edited version of my response to him.

ABC membership is currently only $25 per year and applies to any and all ABC chapters that you might choose to ride with. Fees vary for special events, such as the Desert Classic in the spring, or McDowell Mtn in the fall. For special events, a discount is typically given to ABC members. We also typically honor Greater Arizona Bicycle Association (GABA) membership for such special events and vice versa. All ABC chapters are based on a weekly riding schedule, with an established starting time and location (mostly public parks). Geographically, our [insert chapter name here] Chapter might be the closest chapter to you. Of course guests are always welcomed by any chapter. Giving several of them a "test ride" might be very instructive. Seek out the ride leader, sign-in before the ride, and let them know it is your first ride with them as a guest.

ABC is organized under the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) and riders in ABC events are covered by our insurance which is provided through the LAB. Event and mechandise discounts, our monthly electronic newsletter, as well as ride insurance are just some of the many benefits of ABC membership. In my experience, what an individual gets out of belonging to a cycling club is directly related to what they put in. Because of our organizational structure, you can get involved at any level you're comfortable with from the chapter on up to the national organization. The more people get involved in a constructive way, the better it is for the club. But even if all you do is show up for an occasional ride, you can know that a portion of your ABC membership will go to support safe and enjoyable cycling and advocacy in a wide range of ways. ABC board meetings are always public, so we are a very transparent organization. As an ABC member, you will always have an opportunity to be heard.

As club president, I am interested in seeing new members join ABC. As a cyclist, I'm interested in seeing that anyone with an interest in cycling is able to pursue it to their greatest satisfaction. No matter what your goals, or how you choose to pursue your interest in cycling, I'm happy to share my thoughts with you, and I am always interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject. Thanks for your interest in ABC.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

National Bike Summit 2009

Photo by MoBikeFed

From March 10th to the 13th, hundreds of bike entusiasts attended the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. Kristi Felts Moore represented ABC and I showed up in time to ride in the Congressional Bike Ride which is the final event of the conference. This was the ninth National Bike Summit, and each year the event gets bigger and better. This year many opportunities lie ahead. With the inauguration of a new President and the swearing in of a new Congress just months ago, the political climate has changed. There is a tremendous sense of hope that we are entering a new era of transformative policy change, even as we face challenging economic issues.

As our country contemplates how to spend billions of dollars to stimulate the economy, we have clear choices. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood addressed the summit, noting that the DOT will be "a full partner in working toward livable communities". But Federal money is trickling down to state and local governments and opportunities abound for local spending on infrastructure supporting bicycling. Bicyclists appreciate the positive impacts that cycling can have on health, the environment, and the economy. But we need to promote this view so that those who are making decisions about our future consider all users of the transportation system, particularly bicyclists and pedestrians. I encourage everyone to take some time to think about how you can influence those in government, at all levels, to support bicycling.

On a more personal note, I feel compelled to confess that my inner Boy Scout failed me, and I showed up for the Congressional Bike Ride woefully under prepared. I've often said, "Its difficult to justify good cold-and-wet weather riding gear when you live in Phoenix, but it's impossible to test it." Maybe I've just been living here too long, but I dismissed the need for full-finger gloves. It's Spring! Right? The daffodils are just about to bloom. Right? It was almost 90 degrees when I left Phoenix, but it started snowing on me during the ride. It was just flurries and the roads weren't slippery, but I was cold. I don't know if my blood really is any thinner for living in the desert but my fingers and toes were really complaining. On a more postive note, it was a treat to ride in our nation's capitol among some of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

Locally, the spring equinox is behind us and for those who avoid riding with lights, it's getting lighter earlier and staying lighter longer so there are more opportunities to ride. If you've been hybernating and haven't yet emerged for the Spring, hesitate no longer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

National Bike Summit

Tim, Larry, Kathy,Gene, and Kristi

Congressional Ride Start

Monday, February 16, 2009

There's nothing quite like...

I've often said, "There's nothing quite like riding away from home on a bicycle, knowing that you won't be back by bedtime." I don't think it really matters if you've loaded all your gear into panniers or if you put a suitcase in a SAG wagon. Whether you're going to Wickenburg for the night or riding coast-to-coast, either way, I think there's a heightened sense of freedom and independence that you just don't get from a day-ride. Bicycles are often a kid's first real experience with freedom. For me, getting a driver's license as a teenager was a big deal, but it was many years prior to that when I had realized that a bike was good for more than just riding up and down the same old street. With a bike I could actually take myself where I wanted to go and I could cover distances that I'd previously thought required a car and an adult driver.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. " I prefer to say that a person really only has to worry about three things in life: We have to protect ourselves from the elements and serious injury; We have to maintain proper nutrition; We have to decide to move around or stay put. Every other worry is either secondary or optional. This doesn't really get much more clearly apparent when traveling under your own steam. That is when you come face-to-face with what's really important in life. "Hydrate or die" isn't just a marketing slogan. The choice of what to take and what to leave behind becomes a very personal decision that has to do with what's really important to you.

Tim and Cindie Travis considered worry number 3 and decided to move around. They rode their bicycles away from their home in Prescott, Arizona and they just kept riding. I suspect that the desire to run away from home is nearly universal. A week in a time-share isn't quite like joining the circus, but maybe the driving force is basically the same for both. I think that the desire for adventure is universal. When I'm touring on my bike, it seems that everybody I end up talking to has a bike story. Usually it has to do with their cousin's daughter who rode to Tierra del Fuego or some such. I regard this as evidence of the universal appeal of adventure. Even if folks aren't up to it themselves, we all seem to thrive on living vicariously. The opportunity to share in other's experiences expands our horizons and makes us feel good. Sometimes it even inspires us into adventures of our own. Sometimes it creates a passion that might even grow to eclipse the original inspiration. I know my Dad's stories of riding his balloon tire bike around New England in his youth inspired me to try my hand at touring by bicycle and it's become a part of my life.

Well, just such an opportunity for inspiration is at our doorstep. Come hear Tim and Cindie Travis share their experiences of years of living on the road and seeing the world from the saddles of their bikes. You'll find the details of this upcoming event elsewhere in this issue of The Chain Letter. This is sure to be an inspiring event suitable for the whole family. Bring the kids, bring your spouse, bring your cousin's daughter. I'm sure you won't look at your bike the same after spending an evening with Tim and Cindie.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Paradise Valley Chapter Ride

Starting from Roadrunner Park near SR-51 and Cactus Road, the Paradise Valley chapter headed for South Mountain for "silent Sunday".

Some went all the way to the top. My ending mileage was 54 miles. The good news was there was really only one climb.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Moon Valley Chapter Ride

I rode with the Moon Valley Chapter. The "grasshopper" pedestrian bridge at Moon Valley Park near the corner of Coral Gables Drive and 7th Avenue provided a backdrop for a group photo. The 47 mile ride was pleasant and without incident. The far point of the ride was the corner of Lone Mountain Road and Pima Road. The route is available at:
A refreshment stop in the Desert Ridge Marketplace offered an opportunity for socializing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Where do you want to ride?

Event: The January Board Meeting of the Arizona Bicycle Club (ABC). The public is welcome.
Date: 7:00 PM, January 7th 2009
Location: Amerischool at 1333 W Camelback Rd. Phoenix Az 85013
Notes: Following the business portion of the meeting (around 7:30) there will be a presentation by Neill Thompson on Route Mapping featuring TrimbleOutdoors.


I think that when bicyclists show up for a club ride, one of the things they are likely to expect is a route map and/or directions. The collective knowledge of local routes and conditions is one of a bike club's biggest assets. Historically, that tribal wisdom has been difficult to document, store, maintain and share. For the past two and a half years, I've struggled with finding ways to produce route maps for club rides. My primary goal was to produce a quality map. I searched for tools and techniques that not only worked for me, but that other people might adopt. Initially, I never considered that some riders might want to download route information to their GPS unit or cell phone so that they could be prompted for turns. Today, that seems like a reasonable request. Producing a quality printed map is still a vital goal, however, the problem of managing a collection of routes is equally important. The relatively recent proliferation of GPS devices and geographic data has created new opportunities. Organizations such as, and have joined forces to provide solutions to these challenges. To take advantage of this capability, a GPS device or expensive software is not required for riders nor ride leaders. I am planning to demonstrate the use of free Internet based software from for route mapping. Additionally, I will be demonstrating ways ABC could manage a collection of favorite routes. Looking at a route using Google Earth puts it in a whole new perspective.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bicycle and Icicle, the difference is the B...rrrrr

The radio said it was 35*F this morning as Team Bison headed out for a Desert Foothills Chapter ride. A few puddles were observed to have ice in them. My feet felt like riding in the Canadian Rockies, only a lot drier. If you're looking to test you're cold weather riding gear, I have good news for you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


As I mentioned in an earlier post, the winter solstice has passed and daylight riding will become commonplace again. Marking the turn of the seasons with an evening ride to the Phoenix Zoo for Zoolights seems appropriate. Tom Adams coordinated a dinner and led an evening ride through Indian Bend Wash in Scottsdale.

The Next Generation

My daughter Carol, Kasidy and I rode the Bison with the Coyotes. We did 26 miles roundtrip. It was cool to start out, but it is December.

Actually, today is the winter solstice. The solstice is traditionally a pagan holiday celebrating that there will be more daylight hours for cycling for the next half a year. It is my belief that an appreciation for this celestial event is universally appreciated by modern cyclists, except for a few oddballs who seem to enjoy riding in the dark.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coolest Bike I Saw This Weekend

Have you seen this bike around town?
It's a destination.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Introducing the ABC virtual office

Thanks to everyone for their survey responses. The number of responses was much higher than I would have predicted. It proves to me that people really care about the club. That fills me with enthusiasm for bringing a new vitality to ABC and doing some really cool stuff. But I know that I can't hog all the fun! There is a dedicated group of individuals who have been tirelessly working for the betterment of the club. In some cases, these folks have decades of loyal service. I applaud that service and I trust that I can count on them for continued support. But, based on the survey results, it seems clear that there are plenty of additional people willing to lend a hand. Thanks! We just need to be coordinated so that we're all pedaling in the same direction. In order to help communicate my vision for the club, I have started a blog and already created a few posts. Please check it out at: Feel free to leave comments on the blog or email me directly.

One of my first goals is to make the club's business much more efficient so that portion of the monthly meeting is very quick and easy. That will leave time to do other more fun stuff. We need to lay all the groundwork between the meetings so that at the meetings we can quickly bring things to a vote when necessary and easily report progress. To kick off the fun stuff, I'm planning to put together a presentation on route mapping technology for next month's board meeting. I hope you can attend.

But the business of the club isn't just about board (bored?) meetings, minutes, agendas, etc. There's the riding. That's what we're about! Putting on a major ride is work. There's no doubt about it. And we're going to put on several major rides in 2009. But it can be fun work if it's done well. In addition to rides, there are numerous other volunteer opportunities that could also be very satisfying and rewarding. Having functioning committees is critical to getting things done well, and having fun doing it. To be effective, the committees must manage themselves, get guidance and direction from the board, and actively report results. I will have an acting chairperson for each committee before the next board meeting. I will work with each committee to consider the survey results and develop goals for the coming year.

But to make this work, we need new tools for communicating and collaborating. Our new Ride Coordinator, Kristi Felts Moore, has been burning the midnight oil setting up just such an environment on the Internet using software available from Google. This software is free for the club because of our non-profit designation. More importantly, this software is designed so that you don't have to be a computer nerd to use it. If you're able to surf the web, you're more than half way there. I think this software has great promise for helping us in many ways. The survey is just one example of what can be done with Google's offerings. I think that the response demonstrates its potential. Getting over 150 responses is incredible!

Please check out what's going on at Even though there are public portions of this domain, it is intended as a collaborative workspace for managing the business of the club. Dennis MacLeod and Terry Mickelson's work on the site is independent of this and still vital. But these new tools can help coordinate and manage any project that the club undertakes. In the public portion of the new .org site, there is:

  • a form for submitting agenda items for board meetings
  • a form for volunteering to work on our major rides for 2009
  • a form for volunteering to work on committees
  • an online calendar
  • a report of survey results
As we add registered users to this site, I look forward to:
  • publishing meeting minutes there
  • managing the work of the committees in sites they control
  • finalizing the draft of a strategic plan and other documents
  • creating a project management system
  • and much more.
Because this software can do so much, there is a bit of a learning curve and some people will be initially intimidated and perhaps even frustrated as we acclimate to a new way of doing business which maximizes our productivity. I've been in the Information Technology industry since the '70s and I sometimes feel overwhelmed in this environment. I suspect that it's because I'm being asked to think outside the box. When I take my time and open my mind, I see the value and am sure that we can put it to good use. The dizzying array of tools and features all need to be evaluated, tied together, documented, and rolled out. Right now, that effort is in its infancy. I'm confident that with patience, dedication, and feedback, we can create a powerful and user-friendly environment for achieving the club's goals.

I value your opinion. Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hoof prints on the roof

Kristi, Kasidy and I rode our tandem (AKA "The Bison") this past Saturday morning with the Desert Foothills Chapter. We rode pretty hard, particularly chasing down one of the other bikes who got out in front of us on the ten mile run down New River Road headed toward Lake Pleasant. A traffic accident on Carefree Highway detoured us a couple of additional miles before we wrapped up our 44 mile jaunt. We were frankly too tired to get the Bison off the roof of the car when we got home. So, a few hours later, when the time came to leave for the ABC holiday party, the Bison was still there and thus accompanied us to Paradise Valley. I announced myself to the guard at the gate saying I was there for the bike club party. The gentleman nodded toward the roof of my car and said, "Yeah, I kinda figured." The gate swung open and we made our way to the clubhouse for a wonderful and festive evening. From it's perch in the parking lot, the Bison had a wonderful view of the city lights with the silhouette of Camelback Mountain rising sharply and majestically behind us into the night sky.

In the meantime, Kristi and I shared fine food, drink and conversation with other club members before herding the Bison back north to Anthem. Pulling into the driveway at home, I noted, "At least we won't have to put the bike up on the car in the morning to go ride with the Coyotes!"

Thanks to all for a wonderful evening.

Friday, December 5, 2008

As the world turns...

If you haven't ever seen Google Earth, you should! Google Earth is a free application available at

Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings and even explore galaxies in the Sky. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places and share with others.

It's that "sharing with others" that really makes Google Earth cool. Just to get a better feel for the geographical distribution of the ABC chapters, I pinpointed them in Google Earth as placemarks. The file attached in the link below should load in Google Earth (assuming you have it installed on your computer) and show placemarks for all nine current ABC chapters.

All Chapter Start Locations

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cycling it forward

For me, bicycling is all about fun… the wind in my face with the endorphins coursing through my veins. I just want to go ride my bike! While riding alone is fun, I also enjoy riding with a group. Sometimes new riders tell me that they want to get in shape before coming out to ride with the group. I say, "Come out to ride with the group to get in shape!" I find that group riding helps build and maintain skills better than almost anything else a rider can do. For more than 30 years, ABC has strived to improve the quality of life in Arizona by supporting bicycling. Throughout those years, the club has depended on volunteers and that need never changes. I would like to challenge every member to perform at least one volunteer activity for the club in the coming year. For example, slice up bananas at a SAG stop or help clean-up after the Christmas party. If every member would do just one thing for the club every year, I think we'd do amazing things. By this time next year I hope that everyone will have an answer to the question, "What did you do to help the club in 2009?"

But I feel the club has a responsibility to its volunteers. The club has to treat volunteers with respect. The club has to plan ahead enough to provide ample notice and clear directions. If everybody understands what is expected, then things will go a lot smoother. I'm hoping that if the club can clearly and very specifically communicate what it needs, it will be much easier to find people willing to step up. For the club to be able to do this, it needs to have a clear and well communicated vision of where it wants to go in the future. Therefore, we are developing a questionnaire designed to help the board develop a long range strategic plan. Additionally, this survey will establish a baseline against which we will be able to measure progress towards meeting the goals we set for ourselves. Please look for a link to this survey in your email and please take 5 minutes out of your busy day to fill out the survey. This is your club and it depends on your input to succeed.

In addition to the regular chapter rides which happen weekly, we are planning for the Gila Bend Tour, The Desert Classic, The Grand Canyon Ride and The McDowell Mountain Century. In addition to our Holiday Party, we are planning on hosting a presentation by touring cyclists and authors, Tim and Cindie Travis this Spring. I think this is going to be a great year of riding but we need your help to make it happen. If you have ideas or comments, please email me at