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How to Not Kill a Cyclist

29 May

A Modest Proposal May 18, 2012

How to Not Kill a Cyclist


It’s National Bike to Work Day today, and maybe you noticed a lot of cyclists on your commute this morning. If you didn’t—and you’re a driver—that’s cause for concern. A plea for safety from cyclists to motorists.

My friend was driving down a suburban road, me in the passenger seat, when he came up behind a cyclist. There was no bike lane and a car was approaching from the opposite direction, so he slowed such that we remained behind the rider.

Credit: vtsr

After the other car went by, my friend began to accelerate, intent on passing. “Hang on,” I said. “There’s a sharp bend just ahead, and you don’t want to pass while we’re both going around it.”

“Why not?”

“Because—well, just watch.”

My friend tapped the brake and fell back. As the rider navigated the curve, he swung out into the road and upon reaching the straightaway returned to the shoulder. As my friend passed a few seconds later, the cyclist gave a friendly wave.

“Got it,” my friend said to me. “Thanks.”

I’m not a better driver than my friend—in fact, quite the opposite. But I am a cyclist, while he is not, and he appreciated knowing more about how we operate.

As many cyclists are aware, there are entire bookstore sections devoted to advice on co-existing with cars. We read them as if our lives depended on them, because often they do. But there are also many things bike riders would like drivers to know—like, we don’t ride on the sidewalk for a reason (it’s dangerous and in many places illegal), or that “cyclists” and “pedestrians on bicycles” are two distinct groups, or that we know we look ridiculous in bike shorts. As well as the following:

Don’t “Door”

As in, “Trevor got doored last week and has been in the hospital ever since.”

Every time drivers are parked on the curb and open their driver’s side door without first checking their side- or rear-view mirror, they run the risk of dooring a cyclist: striking them as they pass and knocking them into traffic, or abruptly placing the door unavoidably in their path such that they collide with it at full speed. Either way, it’s what we in the business refer to as a “huge bummer” for all involved.

Dooring is also one of the easiest oh-rats-I-just-killed-a-cyclist scenarios to avoid: Whenever you’re parked on the side of a road, check your mirrors to ensure no one is approaching before you open your door.

Pass Deliberately

“Pass slower vehicles” is an axiom of driving, one that motorists rarely question. And yet, as my friend who considered passing a cyclist on a curve illustrates, there are many situations in which passing merits a moment’s consideration to determine whether it truly makes sense.

If, for instance, you are behind a cyclist and approaching a stop, passing the cyclist likely will gain you nothing. In fact, you may end up passing the cyclist twice: once before the intersection, a second time after. Which, let’s face it, is going to annoy you.


You may wind up in that worst of all worlds: a quantum state of simultaneously passing and not passing.


Even worse is when you’re trying to pass a cyclist, but can’t. Such as when the cyclist is moving at roughly the same speed as traffic—as is common in urban areas, or on a downhill—in which case you may initiate a pass only to discover you have nowhere to go, because there’s insufficient room between the bike and the preceding car for you to occupy. You then wind up in that worst of all worlds: a quantum state of simultaneously passing and not passing.

Finally, if neither of the above situations applies, and you’re able to pass safely please do not then immediately execute a right-hand turn and cut off the cyclist. This happens more often than you might imagine, as drivers may simply forget that hanging back instead of passing is an option.

The goal here is not to list all the situations in which passing is inappropriate, but to remind drivers that passing is never obligatory, and should be done deliberately. And, while we’re on the subject, passing should be “deliberate” in the other sense of the term as well: slow, unhurried, and steady.

Be Cognizant of Bike Lanes

Much of the above passing advice becomes moot on a road with a bike lane, as both drivers and cyclists will have space sufficient to avoid interaction. That doesn’t mean drivers shouldn’t pay attention to the cyclist of course, and it doesn’t mean drivers shouldn’t pay attention to the bike lane itself, as it may suddenly end or become obstructed, requiring a cyclist to move into traffic (even if only for a moment). Drivers should keep an eye out for cars parked or garbage cans set in the lane, or for the abrupt dead-ending of the lane at the transition from one neighborhood to another.

Acknowledge Cyclists

In “How to Drive Around Cyclists” [pdf] Lawrence Ulrich pairs tips for drivers with “Cyclists’ Commandments,” one of which is “make eye contact.” Drivers can help us adhere to this commandment by seeking eye contact with cyclists, perhaps accompanying it with a nod or a wave to indicate we’re seen. Because lacking such reassurance, we are going to assume drivers are unaware of our presence and give them a wide berth, which may require swerving out of our path and into traffic.

Behave Predictably

Cyclists are ever vigilant for anomalous behavior on the part of motorists, as it makes us profoundly nervous. Ironically, one of the most common reasons motorists behave unexpectedly is out of courtesy toward us, such as at a four-way stop when a driver skips their turn and motions for the cyclist to proceed instead—it’s a kind gesture but a bad idea. When a driver strays from the rules of the road it confuses not only cyclists, but—more perilously—other drivers, as an element of uncertainty is abruptly injected into what is normally a well-ordered system.

Know the Law—or at Least Its Foundation

Every state and municipality has its own set of laws governing cyclists and those driving in close proximity to cyclists. At the core of every set of statutes, though, is the same fundamental concept: A bicycle is a vehicle. To wit:

  • Seattle: “Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to a driver of a vehicle, except as to the special regulation of this chapter and except as to those provisions of the Traffic Code which by their nature can have no application.”
  • San Francisco: “Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations.”
  • New York [pdf]: “Bicyclists have all the rights and are subject to all the duties applicable to drivers of motor vehicles.”

And so forth. The specific laws of a state or city may modify some element of this concept—by mandating cyclists remain as far to the right as is safe, say, or allowing cyclist to ride two abreast—but internalizing “a bike is a vehicle” gets you 90 percent of the way to understanding cycling law.

As a practical matter, this means a cyclist owns the road every bit as much as motorists, and is allowed (for example) to “take the lane” whenever necessary. It also means cyclists must obey stop signs, stoplights, and all other rules of the road.

The “right-hand turn” law for motorists, however, deserves special mention. As mentioned above, drivers should never pass a cyclist if they intend to make a right-hand turn, as they will likely be cutting them off. In other instances, this is the usual formula:

  • An automobile should be in the right-most lane when making a right-hand turn;
  • A bike lane is a lane; therefore
  • An automobile should enter the bike lane before making a right hand turn.

Big fat caveat: The above logic is not universal, as some places (e.g., Oregon) forbid automobiles from entering the bike lane in any circumstances. In these cases the car turns from the main lane and across the turn lane, which can be cataclysmic if a cyclist is in the process of whizzing by. The critical distinction between the two right hand turns laws is illustrated here.

Read the Signals

The law also requires cyclists to know and use the official hand signals for turning, slowing, and stopping. But in practice almost no one does. Lest drivers judge, however, remember that by law they are supposed to know the hand signals too, yet often don’t. Well here they are, in case this comes up while you’re a contestant on Jeopardy!

You skipped right over that, and that’s OK, because cyclists generally make up signals on the fly. Pointing out their intended route is a common one. Pointing to the ground to their left, when they are in a bike lane, on the shoulder, or on the right side of the road, is typically a warning that they are about the “take the lane” due to an obstruction. Most are self-explanatory. It’s less important that drivers “learn the hand signals” than that they simply are aware that hand signals will be given, and keep an eye out for them.

Lay Off the Horn

IT IS A COMMON JOKE ON THE INTERNET THAT TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS THE TEXTUAL EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING. By extension, honking to a cyclist is like putting those caps in bold and 48-point type. More to the point, a cyclist is on an unstable machine, travelling at a high velocity, and chock full o’ adrenaline; introducing a loud noise into a cyclist’s immediate environment may startle them—with disastrous results. A driver may become irritated with a cyclist for some reason or another, and they may be completely justified in doing so, but honking is less an expression of annoyance and more a crapshoot that may send the cyclist careening into traffic or a curb.

And remember that, the expression notwithstanding, nobody can actually honk “at” someone; one honks, and the noise assails the just and unjust alike. If there is a cyclist nearby, don’t honk at anyone if you can help it. Try going to your happy place instead. Or just sublimating that rage and yelling at the nightly news later that evening like the rest of us.

Stop Surfing

Do I even need to tell you to not text and drive? If cycling injury statistics are to be believed, as well as the personal experiences of me and everyone I know who bikes, then yes, yes I do. In fact, here’s a litany of driving guidance that has no place in this article, because it’s stuff you should or should not be doing regardless of the presence of a cyclist, but that I nonetheless feel obligated to mention given the topic of this article: Get off your phone, don’t drive drunk, use your turn signals, don’t drive aggressively, don’t tailgate. Drivers have heard all these pleas before, but ignoring them near a cyclist ups the odds that someone’s going to die over it.

Judge Us Not by Our Jerks

Just as some percentage of drivers are jerks, so too is some percentage of cyclists—I reckon about 15 percent in both cases. And I’m sure 15 percent of Segwayists are jerks, and 15 percent of jetpackists will be jerks at some point in the future. The Jerk Constant is as immutable and universal as π. The point here is to remember that the majority (85 percent!) of cyclists are not that punk you encountered last Tuesday, so don’t let that frustration get the better of you whenever you see a cyclists up ahead.




And finally, a tip for cyclists: When riding, express your appreciation to drivers who adhere to any and all of the above whenever you can. The more you can reinforce the central truth of commuting—that motorists and cyclists are in it together—the better we will all get along. And that helps everyone, regardless of the number of wheels upon which they ride.



Captain America at the Tour of California

18 May


American Dave Zabriskie of the Garmin-Barracuda team was the fastest man against the clock on Thursday’s Stage 5 of the Tour of California, winning the race’s only time trial around Bakersfield.

Zabriskie covered the 18.4-mile (29.7-kilometer) course in 35 minutes and 59 seconds, with an average speed of 30.7 miles per hour (49.5 kilometers per hour).



Zabriskie’s Time-Trial Weaponry

Garmin-Barracuda’s Dave Zabriskie used a commanding win on Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California to vault into the overall race lead. Here’s a look at the technology that helped get him across the line first. —Joe Lindsey
zabriskie p5 

Aero Stopping Power

Magura’s RT8 hydraulic rim brake caliper features arms that follow the shape of the fork to help aerodynamics. The hydraulic fluid line runs into the back of the caliper, keeping it “clean” in the air as well. And while many TT bikes suffer from substandard braking, the powerful hydraulic calipers offer impressive stopping power.
zabriskie p5

Lever Management

Magura makes dedicated brake levers for the system, but as you’ll notice, there’s no built-in system for Shimano’s Di2 shifters. At the Giro d’Italia, Garmin mechanics cobbled a custom solution for Ryder Hesjedal, but in California mechanics haven’t had time for that retrofit yet.

Power Stash

The cover you see here sits just above the chainstays and hides an integrated cubby for a Shimano Di2 battery. There’s dedicated cable management inside the bike as well, to make it easier to set up.


Cervélo uses a clever interpretation of the International Cycling Union’s rules on tube gussets to sculpt a seat tube–top tube juncture that would normally be an illegal shape. Anything to make the bike faster.

Cooling Tactic

Garmin’s Castelli skinsuits have a special pouch in the center of the back. In WorldTour races where radio communication is allowed, it can hold the riders’ radio transmitters. But at races like the Tour of California time trial—held in 101-degree heat in Bakersfield—it’s handy for socks stuffed with crushed ice.

Captain America’s Lid

Garmin has a special non-production version of Giro’s TT helmets. This is Dave Zabriskie’s Captain America livery as he is the U.S. national time-trial champion. First used at the Tour de France team time trial last year, the helmets are far blunter than even the Advantage 2 time-trial helmets that most other Giro-sponsored teams wore. Garmin’s sports scientist, Robby Ketchell, says that the profile has better aerodynamics in windy conditions. One downside: zero ventilation.

Labor of Love of Speed

Time trial bikes require special care. Team mechanics spend hours tinkering with internal cable routing, machining custom mounts for everything from computers to batteries, and doing anything they can to make the bikes faster (like removing bottle cages used in course recon). Here, Garmin-Barracuda’s Alex Banyay goes over Zabriskie’s Cervélo P5 to ensure that everything is in perfect working order.

30 Reasons to Take Up Cycling

11 May

Guinness pint at Trek 100

30 reasons to take up cycling

8th May 2012 | 10:30

Improve your brainpower, relationships, health and happiness

Whether it’s to boost your fitness, health or bank balance, or as an environmental choice, taking up cycling could be one of the best decisions you ever make. Not convinced? Here are 30 major benefits of taking to two wheels.

1. You’ll get there faster

Commute by bike in the UK’s major cities and you’ll get there in half the time of cars, research by Citroen shows. In fact, if you drive for an hour in Cardiff’s rush hour, you’ll spend over 30 minutes going absolutely nowhere and average just 7mph, compared to averaging around 12-15mph while cycling.

2. Sleep more deeply

An early morning ride might knacker you out in the short term, but it’ll help you catch some quality shut-eye when you get back to your pillow. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers asked sedentary insomnia sufferers to cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. The result? The time required for the insomniacs to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by almost an hour.

“Exercising outside exposes you to daylight,” explains Professor Jim Horne from Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre. “This helps get your circadian rhythm back in sync, and also rids your body of cortisol, the stress hormone that can prevent deep, regenerative sleep.”

3. Look younger

Scientists at Stanford University have found that cycling regularly can protect your skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation and reduce the signs of ageing. Harley Street dermatologist Dr Christopher Rowland Payne explains: “Increased circulation through exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to skin cells more effectively, while flushing harmful toxins out. Exercise also creates an ideal environment within the body to optimise collagen production, helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles and speed up the healing process.” Don’t forget to slap on the factor 30 before you head out, though.

4. Boost your bowels

According to experts from Bristol University, the benefits of cycling extend deep into your core. “Physical activity helps decrease the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, limiting the amount of water absorbed back into your body and leaving you with softer stools, which are easier to pass,” explains Harley Street gastroenterologist Dr Ana Raimundo.

In addition, aerobic exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps to stimulate the contraction of intestinal muscles. “As well as preventing you from feeling bloated, this helps protect you against bowel cancer,” Dr Raimundo says.

5. Increase your brain power

Need your grey matter to sparkle? Then get pedalling. Researchers from Illinois University found that a five percent improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests. That’s because cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the region responsible for memory, which deteriorates from the age of 30.

“It boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which fires and regenerates receptors, explaining how exercise helps ward off Alzheimer’s,” says the study’s author, Professor Arthur Kramer.

6. Beat illness

Forget apples, riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay. “Moderate exercise makes immune cells more active, so they’re ready to fight off infection,” says Cath Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital in London.

In fact, according to research from the University of North Carolina, people who cycle for 30 minutes, five days a week take about half as many sick days as couch potatoes.

Riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay:

Riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay

7. Live longer

King’s College London compared over 2,400 identical twins and found those who did the equivalent of just three 45-minute rides a week were nine years ‘biologically younger’ even after discounting other influences, such as body mass index (BMI) and smoking.

“Those who exercise regularly are at significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity,” says Dr Lynn Cherkas, who conducted the research. “The body becomes much more efficient at defending itself and regenerating new cells.”

8. Save the planet

Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. It takes around five percent of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike, and a bike produces zero pollution.

Bikes are efficient, too – you travel around three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy and, taking into account the ‘fuel’ you put in your ‘engine’, you do the equivalent of 2,924 miles to the gallon. You have your weight ratio to thank: you’re about six times heavier than your bike, but a car is 20 times heavier than you.

9. Improve your sex life

Being more physically active improves your vascular health, which has the knock-on effect of boosting your sex drive, according to health experts in the US. One study from Cornell University also concluded that male athletes have the sexual prowess of men two to five years younger, with physically fit females delaying the menopause by a similar amount of time.

Meanwhile, research carried out at Harvard University found that men aged over 50 who cycle for at least three hours a week have a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than those who do little exercise.

10. It’s good breeding

A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you. According to research from Michigan University in the US, mums-to-be who regularly exercise during pregnancy have an easier, less complicated labour, recover faster and enjoy better overall mood throughout the nine months. Your pride and joy also has a 50 percent lower chance of becoming obese and enjoys better in-utero neurodevelopment.

“There’s no doubt that moderate exercise such as cycling during pregnancy helps condition the mother and protect the foetus,” says Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you:

A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you

11. Heal your heart

Studies from Purdue University in the US have shown that regular cycling can cut your risk of heart disease by 50 percent. And according to the British Heart Foundation, around 10,000 fatal heart attacks could be avoided each year if people kept themselves fitter. Cycling just 20 miles a week reduces your risk of heart disease to less than half that of those who take no exercise, it says.

12. Your boss will love you

No, we don’t mean your Lycra-clad buttocks will entice your superiors into a passionate office romance, but they’ll appreciate what cycling does for your usefulness to the company. A study of 200 people carried out by the University of Bristol found that employees who exercised before work or at lunchtime improved their time and workload management, and it boosted their motivation and their ability to deal with stress.

The study also reported that workers who exercised felt their interpersonal performance was better, they took fewer breaks and found it easier to finish work on time. Sadly, the study didn’t find a direct link between cycling and getting a promotion.

13. Cycle away from the big C

There’s plenty of evidence that any exercise is useful in warding off cancer, but some studies have shown that cycling is specifically good for keeping your cells in working order. One long-term study carried out by Finnish researchers found that men who exercised at a moderate level for at least 30 minutes a day were half as likely to develop cancer as those who didn’t. And one of the moderate forms of exercise they cited? Cycling to work. Other studies have found that women who cycle frequently reduce their risk of breast cancer by 34 percent.

14. Lose weight in the saddle

Loads of people who want to shift some heft think that heading out for a jog is the best way to start slimming down. But while running does burn a ton of fat, it’s not kind to you if you’re a little larger than you’d like to be. Think about it – two to three times your body weight goes crashing through your body when your foot strikes the ground. If you weigh 16 stone, that’s a lot of force! Instead, start out on a bike – most of your weight is taken by the saddle, so your skeleton doesn’t take a battering. Running can wait…

15. You’ll make more money

If you’re cycling to lose weight then you could be in line for a cash windfall… Well, sort of. Researcher Jay Zagorsky, from Ohio State University, analysed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth – which saw 7,300 people regularly interviewed between 1985 and 2000 – to see how their obesity and wealth changed over that period. Zagorsky concluded that a one unit increase in body mass index (BMI) score corresponded to an £800 or eight percent reduction in wealth. So, shed a few BMI points on the bike and start earning.

16. Avoid pollution

You’d think a city cyclist would suck up much more pollution than the drivers and passengers in the vehicles chucking out the noxious gases. Not so, according to a study carried out by Imperial College London. Researchers found that passengers in buses, taxis and cars inhaled substantially more pollution than cyclists and pedestrians.

On average, taxi passengers were exposed to more than 100,000 ultrafine particles – which can settle in the lungs and damage cells – per cubic centimetre. Bus passengers sucked up just under 100,000 and people in cars inhaled about 40,000. Cyclists, meanwhile, were exposed to just 8,000 ultrafine particles per cubic centimetre. It’s thought that cyclists breathe in fewer fumes because we ride at the edge of the road and, unlike drivers, aren’t directly in the line of exhaust smoke.

Cyclists breathe in fewer fumes than drivers:

Cyclists breathe in fewer fumes than drivers

17. Enjoy healthy family time

Cycling is an activity the whole family can do together. The smallest tyke can clamber into a bike seat or tow-along buggy, and because it’s kind on your joints, there’s nothing to stop grandparents joining in too.

Moreover, your riding habit could be sowing the seeds for the next Bradley Wiggins. Studies have found that, unsurprisingly, kids are influenced by their parents’ exercise choices. Put simply, if your kids see you riding regularly, they think it’s normal and will want to follow your example. Don’t be surprised, though, if they become embarrassed by your tendency to mismatch fluorescent Lycra when they become teenagers.

18. It means guilt-free snacks

Upping your salt intake is seldom your doctor’s advice, but in the few days leading up to a big ride or sportive, that’s exactly what you should do. This gives you the perfect excuse to munch on crisps and other salty foods you might normally avoid. The sodium in them helps protect your body against hyponatraemia, a condition caused by drinking too much water without enough sodium that can lead to disorientation, illness and worse.

19. Get better at any sport

Whether you want to keep in prime shape or just improve your weekly tennis game, a stint in the saddle is the way to begin. A recent medical study from Norway carried the title Aerobic Endurance Training Improves Soccer Performance, which makes it pretty clear that the knock-on benefits to other sports and activities are immense.

20. Make creative breakthroughs

Writers, musicians, artists, top executives and all kinds of other professionals use exercise to solve mental blocks and make decisions – including Jeremy Paxman, Sir Alan Sugar and Spandau Ballet. A study found that just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts at least one measure of creative thinking. Credit goes to the flow of oxygen to your grey matter when it matters most, sparking your neurons and giving you breathing space away from the muddle and pressures of ‘real life’.

21. You’re helping others

Many cyclists turn their health, fitness and determination into fundraising efforts for the less fortunate. The London to Brighton bike ride has raised over £40 million for the British Heart Foundation since the two became involved in 1980, with countless other rides contributing to the coffers of worthy causes.

22. You can get fit without trying too hard

Regular, everyday cycling has huge benefits that can justify you binning your wallet-crippling gym membership. According to the National Forum for Coronary Heart Disease Foundation in the US, regular cyclists enjoy a fitness level equal to that of a person who’s 10 years younger.

23. Boost your bellows

No prizes for guessing that the lungs work considerably harder than usual when you ride. An adult cycling generally uses 10 times the oxygen they’d need to sit in front of the TV for the same period. Even better, regular cycling will help strengthen your cardiovascular system over time, enabling your heart and lungs to work more efficiently and getting more oxygen where it’s needed, quicker. This means you can do more exercise for less effort. How good does that sound?

24. Burn more fat

Sports physiologists have found that the body’s metabolic rate – the efficiency with which it burns calories and fat – is not only raised during a ride, but for several hours afterwards. “Even after cycling for 30 minutes, you could be burning a higher amount of total calories for a few hours after you stop,” says sports physiologist Mark Simpson of Loughborough University.

And as you get fitter, the benefits are more profound. One recent study showed that cyclists who incorporated fast intervals into their ride burned three-and-a-half times more body fat than those who cycled constantly but at a slower pace.

Cycling can help you lose pounds – but don't take it too far!:

Cycling can help you lose pounds – but don’t take it too far!

25. You’re developing a positive addiction

Replace a harmful dependency – such as cigarettes, alcohol or eating too much chocolate – with a positive one, says William Glasser, author of Positive Addiction. The result? You’re a happier, healthier person getting the kind of fix that boosts the good things in life.

26. Get (a legal) high

Once a thing of myth, the infamous ‘runner’s high’ has been proven beyond doubt by German scientists. Yet despite the name, this high is applicable to all endurance athletes. University of Bonn neurologists visualised endorphins in the brains of 10 volunteers before and after a two-hour cardio session using a technique called positive emission tomography (PET). Comparing the pre- and post-run scans, they found evidence of more opiate binding of the happy hormone in the frontal and limbic regions of the brain – areas known to be involved in emotional processing and dealing with stress.

“There’s a direct link between feelings of wellbeing and exercise, and for the first time this study proves the physiological mechanism behind that,” explains study co-ordinator Professor Henning Boecker.

27. Make friends and stay healthy

The social side of riding could be doing you as much good as the actual exercise. University of California researchers found socialising releases the hormone oxytocin, which buffers the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Another nine-year study from Harvard Medical School found those with the most friends cut the risk of an early death by more than 60 percent, reducing blood pressure and strengthening their immune system. The results were so significant that the researchers concluded not having close friends or confidants is as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight. Add in the fitness element of cycling too and you’re onto a winner.

28. Be happy

Even if you’re miserable when you saddle up, cranking through the miles will lift your spirits. “Any mild-to-moderate exercise releases natural feel-good endorphins that help counter stress and make you happy,” explains Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation. That’s probably why four times more GPs prescribe exercise therapy as their most common treatment for depression compared to three years ago. “Just three 30-minute sessions a week can be enough to give people the lift they need,” says McCulloch.

29. Feeling tired? Go for a ride

Sounds counter-intuitive but if you feel too tired for a ride, the best thing you can do is go for ride. Physical activity for even a few minutes is a surprisingly effective wake-up call. A review of 12 studies on the link between exercise and fatigue carried out between 1945 and 2005 found that exercise directly lowers fatigue levels.

30. Spend quality time with your partner

It doesn’t matter if your paces aren’t perfectly matched – just slow down and enjoy each other’s company. Many couples make one or two riding ‘dates’ every week. And it makes sense: exercise helps release feel-good hormones, so after a ride you’ll have a warm feeling towards each other even if he leaves the toilet seat up and her hair is blocking the plughole again. 

Take care of your ticker while you still can!

1 Feb


Get out there and do some damn cardio, you bastards!



Start Early To Curb Heart Risks For A Lifetime

05:35 pm

January 25, 2012

A stethoscope rests on top of a puzzle shaped like a heart.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. But who’s at the most risk?

A study in the lastest New England Journal of Medicine offers a simple way to predict the risk of a fatal or debilitating heart attack or stroke for a middle-aged person over the rest of his or her life.

“If at age 45 you have two or more of either elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes or smoking, and you’re a man, then there’s a 50-50 proposition that you will have a heart attack or a stroke during your remaining lifespan,” cardiologist Donald Lloyd-Jones, who headed the study at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Women with two risk factors have about a 30 percent chance.

Having even one risk factor dramatically increases the risk of heart disease. And 95 percent of middle-aged Americans (ages 45-55) have at least one risk factor for heart disease.

In this study, Lloyd-Jones and his colleagues tallied the results of 18 long-term studies conducted over the past 50 years. The studies included men and women, African-Americans and whites. All told, there was information on more than 250,000 adults.

The specific risk factors were most important, regardless of age or race.

If you’ve got some of these risk factors, don’t despair, though. You may not be able to get down to zero, but you can reduce the odds for cardiovascular trouble with exercise, a better diet and treatment for the conditions.

Indeed, Lloyd-Jones says talking about lifetime risks may help motivate patients do that sooner rather than later.

He says he worries that patients won’t take action on diet or exercise when they hear they have just a 3 or 4 percent risk of suffering a debilitating heart attack or stroke over the next five or 10 years. If, on the other hand, he provides a clearer picture about what is in store for them over a lifetime, they’ll be more likely to adhere to a healthful lifestyle.

There was some heartening information in the study, according to Lloyd-Jones. Nonsmokers who make it to middle age with normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar have almost no risk of heart disease. “Our data suggested that for a 45-year-old man the likelihood that he would have a heart attack or stroke by 80 was only 1.4 percent,” Lloyd-Jones says.

If more people could get to middle age without the usual risks, it could make a big difference. That means patients and doctors should start tracking blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar starting early in adulthood.

Cardiologist Gordon Tomaselli, president of the American Heart Association, says young adults without a doctor should measure their blood pressure on their own with one of the automated blood pressure cuffs common at pharmacies and grocery stores. If the reading is high, get to a doctor.

If there’s a family history for high cholesterol or diabetes, get that checked early too.

Diet, exercise and drugs can be highly effective when people have these health problems, Tomaselli says. And while they can’t wipe out heart disease risk entirely, they can keep it under control.

What Would Jens Voigt Do?

1 Feb


reposting from:

By Jens Voigt

I am always surprised when people come up to me wearing a T-shirt that says, “Shut up legs!” It was just something I said once, long ago, to a journalist who’d asked how I could dig so deep in races. But even today people who see me say, “Come on, Jens. Tell us! You know what we want to hear!”

“Shut up legs,” I say, and they love it. They laugh. They tell me it inspires them.

This is never annoying. It’s flattering, this whole idea that I have somehow become a racer who means something to people. I would say I was a promising but not spectacular racer when I turned professional in 1997. It was two years before I got a really big win, the Criterium International, then two more before I won a stage of the Tour de France and got to wear the yellow jersey for a day. I would win two more Tour stages over the years (and wear yellow for another day in 2005), plus a stage of the Giro d’Italia, and four more titles at the Criterium International–respectable, but certainly not the sort of career that inspires T-shirts.

Somehow, I became known more for the way I race than the races I’ve won. I never imagined that, either. Whenever I got into a long and exhausting breakaway after I’d tried the same tactic just the day before, or when I attacked over and over in a race, or got up after a crash that had ruined my bicycle and finished the race on a loaner so small it made me look like a bear riding a circus bike, I was just always trying to do my job. I was just riding the only way I knew how.

I was just being myself. Maybe that appeals to cycling fans, too. People see what they get with me and they get what they see. I don’t have brilliant earrings. I don’t have tattoos. I don’t have a Porsche or Ferrari in my garage. (And let’s not forget my funny German accent–that helps as well!)



There is so much crisis in our world (and our sport) that maybe people also see and appreciate the stability in me. You know–Jens is this rock in the ocean. The waves are crashing against him, but he just stands there. Maybe a plain-talking guy who is the same every race and tries hard every chance he gets, maybe that connects, I don’t know.

I think I will never understand fully why so many people seem to like me as a racer, but it is a nice feeling. It is also a great motivation. Okay, I’m not winning 10 races a year or anything, but I am still there to win one or two for myself, and I am still able to help my captains and friends win. There is a lot of satisfaction knowing that a tiny piece of someone’s success is yours, and maybe the way I have been supported by all of you, now some of my success can be yours. And there is satisfaction, too, in pushing back against the hands of time. In many races, at 39, I’m the oldest rider out there.

I don’t know how much longer I will be able to win this fight against the clock. But for however long that is, I will refuse to let myself ride in a comfort zone, as if I have nothing more to prove and I can go ahead and slow down on a difficult descent or, when the race becomes truly difficult, go ahead and ease up because I don’t need to worry about my contract for the next year.

Every time I race, I will race so fiercely my legs cry, and when I can’t do that anymore, that’s when I will know it’s time for myself to shut up and leave.



And on that note:    Jens Voigt prepares for the Tour de Suisse by reassuring scientists at the Large Hadron Collider that he means no harm.


The Legend of Jens

21 July 2010 —

I challenge you not to love Jens Voigt. This man is made out of chiseled granite and railway spikes. He is truly the stuff of legend.

For the second year in a row a bad crash threatened to take Jens out of the Tour de France.

After a front-tire blow-out, shattering his bike, tearing open his elbow and being covered in road rash at the start of a 25km descent, Jens had some choice words for the Broom Wagon.


That stage pretty much got off on the wrong foot. For starters, we just went out so hard. We started out climbing up the Peyresourde Pass and everybody came out with their guns smoking.

I came over the top only 20 seconds down on the front group, but about 2 kilometers into the descent my front tire blew and I thought, “Oh God,” and I went down. Just one year after my horrible crash, and there I was tumbling on another mountain descent. And let me tell you, about the only place that feels good right now is my right ankle. The rest of me is all road rash. Plus I’ve got five stitches in my left elbow and then there are some ribs that are not in the right place! I may have to get x-rays, but I hate x-rays (the radiation), and plus, if I’ve got a fractured rib, what can anyone do about it?

The worst thing of all was that I almost got forced out of the Tour for a second year in a row. The problem was that the first team car was behind Andy Schleck, and the second had decided to go up ahead to hand out water bottles at the foot of the next climb. As a result I had no bike, because mine was shattered.

Jens Voigt on his 'junior' bike (note the toe clips ;-)Jens Voigt on his ‘junior’ bike (note the toe clips 😉

So then the broom wagon pulled up and was like, “Do you want to just get in?” And I said, “Oh no, I don’t need YOU!” But there I am with blood spurting out my left elbow and no bike. Finally, the race organizers got me a bike, but it was this little yellow junior bike. It was way too small for me and even had old-fashioned toe-clip pedals. But that is the only way I could get down the mountain, so I had to ride it for like 15-20 kilometers until I finally got to a team car with my bike.

Then, I still had to get up to the grupetto. All I can say is that that desperate times need desperate measures, but I got up there. And once I did it was grupetto all day long.

Needless to say, I had plenty of time to come up with a fitting book of the day. It’s from the Disk World series by Terry Pratchett. In it, the protagonist is Conan the Barbarian, who is a 70-year-old who has just survived everything. At one point he, and his other old warrior friends capture this village, but then they find that they are surrounded by an army of tens of thousands, and his only reaction is, “Oh man, it’s going to take days to kill all these people!” And that’s the way I was today when I was lying on the ground. I just thought, “Oh no, I’m going to Paris this year, I’m going to Paris. There’s just no way you are going to get me out of this race for the second year in a row!”

I wanna be like Jens.


The Most Terrifying Five Minutes of Singletrack on Earth

1 Feb


I think I just crapped my pants a little.


Seriously… cold sweat here at my desk.




Typically the gravity set looks at folks on shorter travel bikes and yawns. Anyone who yawns at what this crew rides in Austria is either blind or stoned. Speaking of which, we’d have to be seriously medicated to attempt anything like this. If you have acrophobia we recommend you change the channel or hold on tightly to your computer monitor. By the way, the location near as we can tell is in a canyon called the Oetschergraeben, at the northern edge of the Ybbstaler Alps.


Pitt’s Dirty Dozen

30 Nov

A brutal sufferfest dreamed up by two time RAAM winner Danny Chew. Take the 13 steepest hills in a very hilly city and link them all together in a one day ass kicker of a ride.

His site, with all of the details:


And a 30 min documentary on the spectacle.



Canton Ave… 37% grade.

Defying the Dirty Dozen: Cyclists take on steepest of Pittsburgh’s steep hills
Sunday, November 27, 2011
By Sean D. Hamill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bob Stumph had just finished 4th in the race to the top of Canton Avenue, the steepest of 13 hills cyclists tried to race up Saturday during the 29th running of the  Dirty Dozen BIke Race.

But that’s not what Mr. Stumph, 24, a barber from Beaver, wanted to talk about with his band of supporters, who cheered him as he took on the hills, each of them at least a 20 percent grade.

“I’m so glad you came,” he shouted to his girlfriend’s mother, Becky Gannon, over the cacophony of cow bells, air horns, and shouts of “Go! Go! Go!” Nearly 200 spectators lined both sides of the 100-yard-long cobblestone street to cheer on other cyclists trying — many in vain — to climb the 37 percent grade hill. “This is what the Dirty Dozen is all about.”


That was the sentiment of the day for the 300 or so riders who came out trying to fulfill the goal the race founders had when they started in 1983 with just five participants: the three co-founders and two friends.

“The whole thing back then was to try to do outrageous rides,” said Bob Gottlieb, 52, a Squirrel Hill resident who still rides the race occasionally. “Whether it was a 150-mile ride in the Laurel Highlands, or to ride the steepest dozen hills in Pittsburgh in one day, we just wanted to do rides that we could challenge ourselves and hang out with our friends.” There were 12 hills that first year, and there have been as many as 15, but this year it was a baker’s dozen.

While the race still has that quirky, grass-roots feel to it — it has a $15 registration fee, it doesn’t take out permits with the cities it runs through, there’s no title sponsor, and the 13 finish lines are hand-drawn orange chalk lines on the streets — Saturday’s turnout may eventually change all of that.

Though the race has grown steadily, its previous record attendance from 2009 was still just 185 participants — already making it Pittsburgh’s biggest bike race.

But last year the race caught the attention of WQED public television’s famed documentarian, Rick Sebak. He brought two cameramen to the 2010 race and produced a show that ran on WQED’s “It’s Pittsburgh” series in January.

Mr. Sebak, who won a regional Emmy for the piece, said he was drawn to document the race for a basic reason: “Its spirit seems to be very Pittsburghian. It demonstrates how we love our hills.”

Largely as a result of that publicity and the great fall weather, Saturday’s race broke the previous record by more than 60 percent with about 300 riders.

Many of those people who have helped support the race and spread the word of its insane beauty over the years believe that popularity means it will soon have to change. The hills they race up are narrow streets designed two centuries ago, and it was already getting tight with 185 racers. And with 300 cyclists, the peloton is that much longer and unwieldy on even the main roads.

“It’s getting to the point where now it really needs a title sponsor and some formal organization,” said Mr. Gottlieb, who owns a scrap metal plant on Neville Island. “Because, eventually, something is going to happen as it gets bigger.”

Glenn Pawlak, owner of Big Bang Bicycles in West Mifflin and a sponsor of the race for the last two years, agreed that having 300-plus cyclists in one race could be a tipping point “or a breaking point.”

“It’s getting big enough that it’s going to need to be dealt with in a higher, more professional fashion,” he said.

Pittsburgh Police had already let race organizer Danny Chew — one of the co-founders and by all accounts the reason the race has grown like it has — know that it was becoming unwieldy two years ago. They asked him to not take the cyclists through the Liberty Tunnel on the way back into the city near the end of the race.

“So I stopped [going through the tunnel] because I want to be on good terms with them,” said Mr. Chew, a nationally renowned long-distance cyclist who has twice won the Race Across America.

Still, he has resisted the idea of making it an officially sanctioned race.

“They know I do it,” Mr. Chew, 49, of Squirrel Hill said of the police. “I tried to get a permit [from Pittsburgh] last year, but it cost too much.”

This year, anticipating more riders, Mr. Chew rounded up more volunteer marshals to help control traffic and watch the cyclists at each of the 87 intersections they cross during the six hours they are out on the streets of Pittsburgh and several surrounding suburbs.

And he asked his two supporters, Big Bang Bikes and Eat’n Park, to help out a bit more with funding and contributions.

Brooks Broadhurst, vice president of Eat’n Park and a cyclist, came out to help as a marshal and contributed Smiley Cookies, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and hot chocolate.

He said he and his company have taken note of the race’s unique quality already, in part because the course goes past two of its restaurants.

Like everyone who is part of the race, he recognizes that in addition to the grueling hills and quirky fun, it’s Mr. Chew who makes the race what it is.

“He’s a unique character,” Mr. Broadhurst said. “No one else could do it.”

With his high-pitch, staccato voice and endless championing of the Dirty Dozen, Mr. Chew’s infectious enthusiasm seems to have impressed everyone who has done the race — despite the pain it causes.

“Well, racing this is like hitting yourself with a hammer: When you stop, it feels real good,” said Jim Switzer, 56, a high school automotive technology teacher from Dimock, Pa., who came out for his first race Saturday. “Only Danny could get this many people out to do something like this.”

Only a couple dozen riders ever hope to score a point in the race — the top 10 men and top five women up each hill get points in descending order. The rest of the racers are merely trying to complete each hill. That’s a tall order when walking up hills — a compelling option on most of them — doesn’t count as completing a hill.

Ann-Marie Alderson of Etna won the women’s race for the first time, one of only three women to finish every hill out of 13 women who competed.

In the men’s race, Steve “Steevo” Cummings, 31, a Howard Hanna real estate agent from Lawrenceville, won the men’s race for the eighth time in a row.

Before the race he insisted he was “scared” because it was “so much pain” to contemplate doing the race again — a sentiment he couldn’t completely let go, even after winning.

“I don’t want to come back,” he said with a smile while leaning on his bike, still breathing heavily after completing the last hill on Tesla Street in Hazelwood. “I hope it snows a lot next year so we don’t have to do it.”

But with all of Saturday’s success, the question remains, would Mr. Chew allow it to become more professionally run with a title sponsor and all that that means?

He would, though he conceded, “It is a little upsetting, because it started so small, and it was kind of nice when I knew everybody in the race, but there’s something nice about having hundreds of people trying all of these hills.”


Date with Death – 127mph on a bicycle

4 Nov

Crazy bastard… and I admire the shit out of him for the note carried in his pocket.

Date with Death

by Clifford L. Graves, M.D.
September 1965

A tense group of people was gathered on the freeway near the German town of Friedburg on July 19, 1962.

Herr Heinemann had painstakingly measured off the official kilometer. Half a dozen timekeepers of the International Timing Association were fiddling with their electrical equipment. Captain Dalicampt of the French occupation forces deployed his men at strategic points along the cleared Autobahn. Chief Schefold of the federal highway department dispatched a sweeper crew. Adolf Zimber lovingly wiped a bit of invisible dirt off the windshield of his massive Mercedes. Reporters were asking questions, scribbling notes. A photographer was angling for a shot. José Meiffret was about to start his Date with Death.

Of all the tense people, Meiffret was the least so. A diminutive Frenchman with wistful eyes and a troubled expression, he was resting beside a strange-looking bicycle. A monstrous chain wheel with 130 teeth connected with a sprocket with 15. The rake on the fork was reversed. Rims were of wood to prevent overheating. The gooseneck was supported with a flying buttress. The well-worn tires were tubulars. The frame was reinforced at all the critical points. Weighting forty-five pounds, this machine was obviously constructed to withstand incredible punishment.

On this day, at this place, on this bicycle, José Meiffret was aiming to reach the fantastic speed of 124 miles an hour. Everything was now in readiness. Meiffret adjusted his helmet, mounted the bike, and tighten the toe straps. Getting under way with a gear of 225 inches was something else again. A motorcycle came alongside and started pushing him. At 20 miles an hour, Meiffret was struggling to gain control. His legs were barely moving. At 40 miles, he was beginning to hit his stride. At 50 miles, the Mercedes with its curious rear end was just behind. With a wave of his hand, Meiffret dismissed his motorcycle and connected neatly with the windscreen of the Mercedes. His timing was perfect. He had overcome his first great hazard.

Swiftly, the bizarre combination of man and machine gathered speed. Meiffret’s job on penalty of death was to stay glued to his windscreen. The screen had a roller, but if he should touch it at 100 miles an hour, he would be clipped. On the other hand, if he should fall behind as little as 18 inches, the turbulence would make mincemeat of him. If the car should jerk or lurch or hit a bump, he would be in immediate mortal danger. An engineer had warned him that at these speeds, the centrifugal force might cause his flimsy wheels to collapse. Undismayed b the prospect, Meiffret bent down to his task.

He was now moving at 80 miles. News of the heroic attempt had spread, and the road ahead was lined with spectators. Everybody was expecting something dreadful to happen. Herr Thiergarten in the car showed Meiffret how fast he was going by prearranged signals. Meiffret in turn could speak to the driver through a microphone. “Allez, allez,” he shouted, knowing that he had only nine miles to accelerate and decelerate. The speedometer showed 90. What if he should hit a pebble, an oil slick, a gust of wind? Ahead was bridge and clump of woods. Crosscurrents were inevitable.

In his pocket, Meiffret carried a note:
“In case of fatal accident, I beg of the spectators not to feel sorry for me. I am a poor man, an orphan since the age of eleven, and I have suffered much. Death holds no terror for me. This record attempt is my way of expressing myself. If the doctors can do no more for me, please bury me by the side of the road where I have fallen.”

Who was this man Meiffret who could ride a bicycle at such passionate speeds and still look at himself dispassionately?

[personal history removed, read at link]

The Mercedes performed flawlessly. People could not believe their eyes. What they saw was the car in full flight with and arched figure immediately behind, legs whirling, jersey fluttering, wheels quivering. “Allez, allez,” gasped Meiffret into the mike. In the car, the speedometer crept past 100 mph, then 110 and 120. Anguished, Zimber looked into his rear-view mirror. How could Meiffret keep himself positioned? It was fantastic.

At the flat, the speed had increased to 127. Faster than an express train, faster than a plummeting skier, faster than a free fall in space. Meiffret’s legs were spinning at 3.1 revolutions per second, and each second carried him 190 feet! He was no longer a man on a bike. He was the flying Frenchman, the superman of the bicycle, the magician of the pedals, the eagle of the road, the poet of motion. He knew that he must live in the rarefied atmosphere for eighteen seconds. When he passed the second flag, the chronometers registered 17.580 seconds, equivalent to 127.342 miles an hour.

Meiffret had survived his date with death.

Full article with more history here:




Trek 100 ride report

1 Aug

It’s a bit (like a full year) late but I don’t think I ever completely documented this experience, which has been one of my favorite bike weekends ever. In a way this might be more of a bike weekend report, but there are bikes all the same.

Last winter a friend called me and asked if I wanted to do a bike ride with him and some friends. “Sure, sounds great… what’s the catch?”
“Well, it’s in Wisconsin (where his sister lives) and its 100 miles… but it’s put on by Trek and there’s always free goodies.”
“Well, I’ve been wanting to do my first century for a while now. What the hell, I’m in.”
“Ok, it starts at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo and heads out and back across the rolling Wisconsin countryside. Oh and bring your appetite, because the aid stations are out of this world and there’s free beer!”

About that time I finished up my new bike build (Masi 3VC Carbon, SRAM Rival, etc). Fast forward to June and it’s time to head out.

Broken down and ready to ship:

I packed up my gear and sent it up to Revolution Cycles in Madison, WI. Great shop, great people and they held on to all of my stuff for me until I got in town. By the way, would you believe that on American Airlines, when a flight attendant asks you to take the bike helmet that’s attached to your backpack via carabiner and put it in the overhead bin they will NOT allow you to just put it on your head. Apparently in this context the helmet is just too unsafe. Anyway, here’s a cool shot of Revolution:

We had 5 or 6 people meet up from around the country for this so we used the day before the ride as a prep. Madison is a big on cycling. Bike lanes on all the streets, big wide bike paths, bike racks everywhere, including bars. It’s great. One friend was just getting back from clavicle / scapula breaks thanks to a car turning in front of him while on a training ride in Pittsburgh. As a little shake-down for him we did 20 miles around the lake in Madison then popped into some local joints for a cold beer. The dinner of choice on the night before the monumental journey was pizza and more beer. Yup, this was shaping up to be a great weekend.

Oh, and we also took this opportunity to make a slight upgrade to my bike. I was planning to wear a Lone Star Beer jersey for the ride. Gotta represent the Republic of Texas, right? Well, We couldn’t find Lone Star cans in Madison so I went with the next best thing:

Fast forward to Saturday morning, pre-sunrise. The smell of bacon fills the air. Yeah, we like to really clean up the diet leading up to long rides. Bike prep, gear prep and a little drive out of the way, we finally get to the starting line for the ride. We were next to the stage where a band would be playing after the ride, but for now there were the usual ceremonies going on. National Anthem, thank yous to the sponsors, and the calling out of the one guy in the group wearing a Lone Star Beer jersey.

*On the PA system*
“Lone Star?! Where are you from”
“From the great state of Texas, sir.”
“Texas, huh… $5 says you travelled the farthest of everyone here. That means you lead us out. Make way for the Texan! Get up to the front… we’re leaving when you do!”
And with that my first century was underway.

The ride was farily uneventful when you exclude my brief moments of idiocy. Like the time around mile 20 when we thought it would be a good idea to latch onto a 30mph pace line. Or the time around mile 40 when I thought it would be a good idea to jump out front of our group and catch “the breakaway” (aka. The next pack of riders up, about 1/8 mile ahead on a slight uphill run). I paid for both of those later in the ride, as evidenced by the bruised quad that we noticed at a rest stop. Slight strain, I’d say. You can see some bruising in this pic

And these guys weren’t kidding about the rest stops! Subway sandwiches early on. No big deal.

But then, what is that… is that a snowcone stand?! Yup. Moving on… no… can’t be… hot wings! SCORE!

It was at this time that one friend who has done this ride many times before told me, “Matt, we’re at mile 65. This stand was in the same place last year and I took down 14 wings. I’m goin’ for broke here buddy, keep an eye on me.” 16 wings later, pride fully intact (if not boosted), we were back on the road.

Trucking on through the countryside, the rolling hills were becoming annoying, but every now and then we’d get a nice long fast one to make it feel a little better

Thanks to the long night before I was starting to feel it in my legs, but thankfully I had two doses of the best pain reliever to ever be poured out of Dublin. Mile 70 and mile 85 both got a Guinness chug while on the road and I have to say, it was perfect. Slightly irresponsible, maybe. Great story and the most satisfying beer ever, definitely.

Anyway, we continued on to the finish in a not-very-respectable 5:30. In this case though a slow time was completely worth hitting every stop and having an incredibly fun time doing it.

Here’s a shot of Hot-wing Steve, myself and Dave.

My favorite part of all of it though is the post-ride beer. A few in our group had a rough start and bailed early to do the 100k route. This means that they were waiting for us at the finish. Have you ever had a beer handup? No? Give it a shot sometime. It beats the hell out of Gatorade!

As a post-ride celebration we went back and had yet another night of fun. A couple growlers of some local microbrew and more food (more bacon!) and it would soon be time to head back to TX, but not without some incredible memories and experiences from my first century.

Wilderness medicine – feeling a little less inadequate (and other thoughts)

1 Aug

1, 2, 3, 4, 5… AVPU… A, B, C, D, E… Vitals… SAMPLE… oh, and watch out for that snake over there.

The outdoors appeal to me in a way I can’t really put into words. Whether it’s as simple as getting on the road bike and pedaling until I’m away from everything or doing some destination hiking in Rocky Mtn Ntl Forest, trying my best to not break me or my MTB on any number of trails, or (like last week) watching Pacific Ocean waves crash into rocky Mexican cliffs with a good book in my hands, I am a creature of solitude. Fiancée excluded (she also LOVES traveling and escaping the mayhem ❤ ), I love to get away. People, noise, hustle, deadlines, people, pressure, people…

Getting away from people and noise means just that though. Getting away from a support network should the need arise. For reasons I can't fully explain a couple weeks ago, maybe while reading Fire Season by Phillip Connors (great read, btw), I decided that I should be more prepared, both for my own benefit and for anyone who might be near me. Two weeks later I snagged the last open spot in a wilderness first aid course put on by NOLS and WMI (think of regular first aid but with more improvisation and without the luxury of being able to call 911 and have the problem taken off your hands in less than an hour).


So, 16 hours of class later here I sit. Exponentially better prepared for the shitty part of the search for solitude and peace. In fact, after going through this class I decided that I’d like to go even further. Anyone who really knows me can attest to the fact that I can’t sit still. I always have to be learning, or doing, or teaching, or building or something. I’ve already started thinking about going to the next level and going through the wilderness first responder level stuff.

Another cool part of this weekend is that one of our instructors is an ultrarunner… and I love to blog stalk endurance athletes. After logging who knows how many miles last summer on the roadie (with some amazing century rides) and a couple more on the MTB, I got off the bike for MUCH longer than I should have (work, life, etc). Life is affording me some much needed downtime at the moment, and after reading a couple pages of our instructor’s blog I have to say I’m re-inspired.

It’s never too early to prep and I always work better with an endgame in mind. I think it’s time to put a plan together for the Hotter ‘n Hell Triple Threat next summer. 13 mile MTB race Friday night, 100 mile roadie ride Saturday and a half marathon trail run Sunday. Who know’s maybe this jumbled mess of thoughts in blog form will transform into a training log.

Maybe she’ll check her site traffic and see the click from here and maybe not, but either way, big thanks to Liza Howard (and Ky Harkey) for the great time this weekend. Though unexpected and certainly not part of the lesson plan I also have a bit of a new perspective on things.

And all of this also reminds me that this blog is about more than the day to day nonsense that frantically zigs and zags throughout my brain. I need to do a better job of documenting the experiential side of life. To the three people who might occasionally read what I write: expect more ride reports, trip summaries, beer reviews, etc in the next few weeks to months. Cheers.

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