Tag Archive for bike racing

LA’s hit-and-run bike body count climbs; Lakewood Sunday Funday and Brentwood Grand Prix

Add another name to SoCal’s climbing bike body count.

It made the news all over town when 18-year old Inglewood High School star athlete Markeis Vonreece Parish was killed in a hit-and-run while crossing the street at Crenshaw and 78th Place last month.

What I missed at the time, or the stories I read failed to mention, was that he was walking his bike in an unmarked crosswalk when he was hit by a speeding Mercedes with enough force to send his body sliding a full block to 79th Street, and stripping him of his clothes as he skidded across the pavement.

And even though he was identified as a pedestrian at the time, that makes him more than just another notch in the seemingly endless epidemic of hit-and-runs plaguing Los Angeles and other Southern California cities.

It makes him one of us.

And I apologize for the delay in acknowledging that.

The collision occurred at 6:15 pm on Saturday, July 20th; the car was found less than an hour later, roughly two miles away at Imperial Highway and Spinning Avenue. To the best of my knowledge, no arrest has been made, despite reports that the identity of the driver is common knowledge within the community.

This is the 55th bike-related fatality in Southern California this year, and the 24th in Los Angeles County; that compares to 23 in LA County for all of last year.

It’s also the 9th bicycling death in the City of Los Angeles, compared to five in each of the previous two years. And it’s the 13th fatal hit-and-run involving a bike rider in Southern California since the first of the year; eight of those have occurred in LA County — seven in the City of LA.

My sympathy and prayers for Markeis Parish and all his family and loved ones.

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Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

CD4 Council Member Tom LaBonge hosts his annual Tour LaBonge each Wednesday through August 17th.

Metro continues to offer a series of free bike safety classes throughout the LA area, including classes this weekend in Downey, Hacienda Heights and Culver City, as well as a Spanish language class Monday in Azusa.

There will be a memorial ride for San Diego cycling legend Gordie Shields today at 9 am, starting at Pepper Park, 3299 Tidelands Ave in National City.

The next edition of the LACBC’s Sunday Funday Rides takes place this Sunday, August 4th, with a Lakewood Family ride led by board member Steve Boyd. The easy ride along the San Gabriel River Bike Path offers options of six and 18 miles, returning along PCH. The ride is free for LACBC members and a guest; meet at Del Valle Park, 5939 Henrilee Street at 9:30 am, rolling at 12:30 pm.

The best of California bike racing comes to LA on Sunday, August 4th when the Brentwood Grand Prix rolls through the streets of the Westside with the SCNCA Elite State Criterium Championships. The racing starts at 7 am and continues through the Women’s Cat 1 – 3 and Men’s Cat 1 – 2 at 2:15 pm and 3:15 pm, respectively. And you won’t want to miss the kid’s races at 12:45 pm.

The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee meets at 7 pm on the first Tuesday of each even-numbered month; the next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 6th at the Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall Community Room, 6501 Fountain Ave.

The USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships returns to the bike-unfriendly StubHub Center in Carson next weekend, with events starting Friday, August 9th and continuing through Sunday the 11th.

Downtown Long Beach will host its inaugural Bike Drive-In starting at 6 pm on Saturday, August 10th in the parking lot across from Fingerprints Music at the intersection of Fourth and Elm streets. The evening will feature live music from three bands, followed by the bike-centric animated feature, The Triplets of Belleville.

The Planning Committee of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosts a panel discussion on What Do Elected Officials Want to Hear on Thursday, August 22nd at 7 pm in the Edison Room on the 1st Floor of LACBC Headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street. Free for LACBC members, $10 for non-members.

The second annual Clitoral Mass — yes, you read that right — women’s ride rolls on Saturday, August 24th from 4 pm to midnight. Riders assemble at Watts Towers, 1765 E. 107th Street.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Civic Engagement Committee meets at 6:45 pm on the last Tuesday of each month to discuss how to elect and influence bike-friendly politicians. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, August 27th, site TBD. The meetings are open to everyone, and you don’t have to be an LACBC member to participate; email bikinginla at hotmail dot com to be added to the discussion list.

Here’s your chance to bike the famed Las Vegas strip and the surrounding Las Vegas Valley, with the 6th Annual RTC Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo Pinarello on Saturday, September 21st. The event will offer routes for riders of all levels, from a 17-mile ride to 60-mile Metric Century and a 103-mile Gran Fondo; the longer rides will visit the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Lake Mead.

Bike SGV invites you to join them for their 2013 Awards Ceremony and Fundraiser on Saturday, September 28th from 5 pm to 11 pm at the San Gabriel Mission Grapevine Arbor, 320 South Mission Drive in San Gabriel.

CicLAvia returns to an expanded version of the original Heart of LA route on Sunday, October 6th.

Update: San Diego bike racer killed in velodrome fall

For the second time in less than a month, a Southern California bike racer has died — a reminder of just how dangerous it is to compete at the higher levels of our sport.

I began getting reports yesterday that a bike racer had died, but couldn’t find any confirmation. However, San Diego’s  Fox 5 now reports that Jackie Price Dunn has died following a fall at the San Diego Velodrome Tuesday evening.

Reports are she was left brain dead after touching wheels with another rider and hitting her head hard on the riding surface. According to the Fox report, she was kept on life support until her organs could be harvested for transplant.

She was 33 years old.

According to the Crank Cycling website, Dunn only recently began bike racing, rapidly rising to Cat 3 in less than two years after taking up the sport in 2012. The site reports she took up boxing after her naval officer husband was transferred to San Diego in 2008, losing over 80 pounds.

As she continued to get in shape, she discovered bicycling through competing triathlons, and started track racing in recent months. She was a member of the Catalyst Racing Cycling team, which offered a brief memorial on their Facebook page.

Her death comes less than a month after Chris Cono was killed during a criterium in Rancho Dominguez, leaving the tight knit racing community doubly shaken.

The San Diego Reader reports the San Diego Velodrome Association is currently being sued, along with the City of San Diego, by a cyclist who suffered a fractured skull and collarbone when the rider next to him hit a rough spot on the track and swerved into him.

The suit alleges that the group governing the Velodrome knowing allows cyclists to ride a dangerous and defective track. The outdoor track was last resurfaced in 2010.

This is the 37th cycling fatality in Southern California since the first of the year, and the fifth in San Diego County. She is also the 6th cyclist to die in the past week.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jackie Dunn and her family.

Thanks to David Huntsman and Stefan and jg for the heads-up.

Update: In a comment below, Matt Ruscigno says he was there on Tuesday night, and that there seemed to be nothing about the relatively slow-speed fall that seemed out of the ordinary at the time. And he notes there will be a memorial ride in Coronado this Saturday.

There has also been a memorial fund set up to help defer expenses for her family. 

Update 2: VeloNews offers a look at what happened, and who Jackie Dunn was. Then there’s this from the Catalyst Facebook page I linked to above:

In the past year Jackie decided that cycling was going to be her newest and greatest adventure. In that short amount of time Jackie made a huge impact in SoCal women’s cycling, quickly catting up from the 4s to the 3s, racing as much as she possibly could on the road & on the track. Along the way she recruited a ton of women into the sport with her contagious passion and positive attitude. This season almost every local women’s Cat 3/4 race podium has either been graced by Jackie’s presence or by someone who was encouraged into the sport by her. 

Update: Popular Pasadena bike racer killed in Rancho Dominguez

More bad news.

Word is slowly spreading that local rider Christopher Cono was killed while racing in the Carson area Sunday afternoon.

Other reports, including one from Michael Wagner of CLR Effect, identify him as Christopher Contreras of Velo Pasadena; he says the death occurred at the CBR Memorial Day Criterium in Dominguez Hills.

No word yet on why the discrepancy in identifying the victim; condolence messages are appearing under both names.

According Wagner, Contreras was injured when he hit a light standard at full speed in the pro race, and died after being transported to a hospital.

Sadly, H&S Bicycles reports Cono/Contreras leaves behind a wife and small child.

There is always an assumed risk in racing; we hope the worst will never happen, while knowing it can at any time. It is the chance we all take when we push the limits, and the loved ones we leave behind who pay the price.

So far, there has been no report of the death in the media.

Once confirmed, this will be the 29th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, over half of which have occurred in L.A. County.

My prayers and sympathy for Christopher (Cono) Contretras and all his family and loved ones.

Update: The confusion over the victim’s name has been cleared up; Christopher Contreras went by the name Cono. The H&S Facebook page reports he raced for Gruppo Velo, where he served as Race Director; plans are in the works for a ride to benefit his family. 

In addition, Michael Wagner has added more to his post, writing movingly about a fallen racer he did not know, but who was a member of the local racing family; he also identifies him as the founder of the popular Fortune 700 stage race.

Unless someone captured him during the race, this photo of Contreras and his son, along with L.A. Olympic legend Nelson Vails, may have been among the last ever taken of him.

Photo by Lynn Ingram, via Facebook

Photo by Lynn Ingram, via Facebook

Update 2: Kryxtanicole offers a touching tribute to a rider who touched her life, if only briefly, and inspired her to ride without fear.

I remember the night we met; when my first impression of him was that he was intense, in a good way. When you live with conviction it’s infectious, and that’s how he was. Cycling was not just a big part of his own life, it was something he was passionate about sharing with others.

It’s definitely worth clicking on the link and reading the full piece; thanks to H&S Bicycles for the link.

While I didn’t know Chris, his death hit me hard, as it clearly has many others. And the more I learn about him, the harder it hits.

By all accounts, we lost a very good man yesterday.

Update 3: Writing on the Wolfpack Hustle blog, L.A. cycling icon Roadblock describes watching the ambulance slowly round the final turn, not knowing his friend was inside. And the lesson learned to make time for the people and things that really matter in life.

Make time to ride with your friends and with future friends. You never know when someone will no longer be here especially with a sport as dangerous as competitive cycling. I feel like a pillar of LA cycling has collapsed. It’s just not real… it’s like looking at the familiar downtown skyline and seeing one of the skyscrapers now gone.

And Christy Nicholson writes on SoCalCycling that there will be a Memorial Service for Contreras next week, and that a previously scheduled criterium will be turned into a benefit for his family.

Memorial Service
There will be a Memorial Service for Chris at Cabot & Sons Mortuary in Pasadena on June 7th at 6pm.

Cabot & Sons Mortuary
300 Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA

3rd Annual Kool ‘N Fit Criterium Benefit Race
On June 9th, the 3rd Annual Kool ‘N Fit Criterium will donate all proceeds to benefit the Chris Contreras family. This is a great opportunity for the SoCal Cycling Community to come together and lend their support and help Chris’ family during this sad time. Race Flyer >

Update 4: A fund has been established to raise money for Contreras’ family.

Cheering on Brentwood Cat 1 racers, SaMo police catch a bike thief, and a weekend’s worth of links

Congratulations to Velo Club La Grange on another successful Brentwood Grand Prix on Sunday.

Even my non-biking wife, whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of bicycling, was highly entertained. As was the Corgi, who can be heard cheering the riders on in this brief clip from the from the Cat 1 and 2 crit.

At least, I think she’s cheering.

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When Santa Monica police saw a man using a bolt cutters to remove a lock from a $1500 Trek, he told them he had lost his key. However, using their Sherlockian powers of deduction, they quickly noticed it was a combination lock.

Needless to say, he is now under arrest.

Thanks to Stanley E. Goldich for the heads-up.

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The UCI, the agency governing international cycling, insists that USADA has no authority to pursue charges against Lance Armstrong; the question is, do they want to prosecute him themselves, or derail the charges?

Meanwhile, ex-Tour de France winner Alberto Contador says he’s grown up during his doping ban.

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The hit-and-run epidemic has become so severe even cops are victims. Beverly Hills may or may not discuss proposed bikeways, and may actually get bike racks in the hopefully soon-to-be-former biking black hole; thanks to Mark Elliott of Better Bike for the heads-up. La Cañada Flintridge becomes the latest local city to develop a new bike plan; link courtesy of Erik Griswold. A La Puente man suffers serious injuries in a fall on the San Gabriel Canyon Road after losing control on a descent and crashing into the mountain. A Bakersfield firefighter takes on the quarterfinals of Olympic sprint cycling, while a Temecula woman wins silver in team pursuit. A Bay Area cyclist faces deportation for riding on the wrong side of the street. Sonoma cyclists confront a summer of sorrow.

Bicycling looks at seven fast, fun and affordable road bikes; affordability being a relative term, of course. UCONN basketball coach Jim Calhoun breaks his hip falling off his bike, surgery was successful. Rochester-area cyclists gather to honor a pair of cyclists, one killed and one seriously injured. Lights, reflective clothes and a helmet aren’t enough to save an Ohio rider. A New York ethicist tries to justify running stop signals on a bike. Thirty years after graduating, a former Baton Rouge resident takes her first ride to school. A fleeing Florida criminal kills two cyclists in an attempt to get away from police; that would be two counts of felony murder, right? Is a Florida bikeway a bike path to nowhere, or a key link in a future bike system?

The family of the cyclist killed by an Olympic media bus asks that his death not be used for political point-scoring by pro-bike advocates. The next generation of British bike racers suffered a tragic loss as an 18-year old member of their developmental squad dies after crashing into a wall. Is this really a safe junction? British success in Olympic cycling has lead to an explosion in the MAMIL population. Brit riders are kicking ass in the velodrome. Bald, beautiful and an Olympic gold medal winner in track cycling. Once again, the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain offers a list of links that puts my modest efforts to shame. Salzburg, Austria suffers an increase in cycling deaths. David Hembrow demonstrates how to get parked cars off the streets.

Finally, in a breathtaking attack of rationality, Caltrans proposes lowering the speed limit — yes, lowering — on the Pasadena Freeway to 45 mph. Now if they can figure out a way to drop the limit on a few other roads. And a motorist chases down a hit-and-run driver who fled after hitting a bike rider, and captures it all on video; Cyclelicious speculates that it may have been shot here.

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Best wishes to Rick Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation, for a full and fast recovery; thankfully, he’s living proof that even serious cyclists like you and me need to take care of ourselves. And with luck, he’ll be around a long time to remind us all.

Bakersfield bike racer dies in Sunday stage race crash; Culver City gets an honorable mention

Bad news from Bakersfield, as top local bike racer Suzanne Rivera was killed in a Mariposa County stage race on Sunday.

Apparently, she rear-ended a support van that had stopped on the shoulder during a steep downhill. Rivera will be honored on Wednesday’s Bakersfield Ride of Silence.

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The League of American Bicyclists releases their latest list of new bike-friendly cities; congratulations to Culver City for getting an honorable mention.

And nice work to the hard work put in by LACBC-affiliate Culver City Bicycle Coalition to help make it possible. Thanks to CCBC member Steve Herbert for the heads-up.

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Peter Sagan keeps the leader’s jersey in the Amgen Tour of California, despite a spill and a flat; Cyclelicious captures his shadow crossing the finish line. Maybe Levi Leipheimer is just playing possum. And Sunday’s final stage finish at L.A. Live may lead to Sportsageddon as the Kings, Dodgers, Clippers and the ToC collide in DTLA.

Can we just call a time out on all the blank-ageddons for awhile?

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There are plenty of people who live car free in L.A. every day, so why plan a day around it? LADOT is hiring a Pedestrian Coordinator as well as an Assistant Pedestrian Coordinator. The 10 busiest bike intersections in L.A.; I ride four of them on a regular basis. Better Bike recaps the meeting that lead Beverly Hill’s Traffic & Parking Commission to reject two of the city’s five proposed underwhelming bike pilot projects. As if Bike to Work Day wasn’t enough, you can join in on Bike from Work happy hours, as well. A 50-something cyclist is injured after getting rear-ended by a car in Pasadena. A recap of last weekend’s Montrose Historical Bike Ride. New bike racks in Redondo Beach thanks to the Chamber of Commerce.

The California Department of Transportation offers advice on bike safety for Bike Week. San Diego endorses Scott Peters for Congress. A four-year old Palm Desert boy is hit by a red light running schmuck truck driver while crossing the street in the crosswalk with his mom. Santa Maria police question whether a cyclist was really hit by a car, as he claims. How cars should turn right when bikes are around.

The Sierra Club, which hasn’t always support cycling, seems to be coming around. AAA endorses a more bike-friendly America; does that mean they’ll stop fighting bike safety measures in California? Bike lawyer Bob Mionske looks at drunk biking laws. Walk Score rates the most bikeable cities; maybe L.A. can get a bike score of its own soon. Maybe they need an L.A.-style anti-harassment ordinance in my old hometown. Then again, maybe bike education would make for safer cycling and driving. Turns out riding a bike is the fastest way to get around Boston. New York uses liquor licenses to fight back again scofflaw bike delivery people.

Turns out that bike-unfriendly Toronto is even less bikeable than Saskatoon. A British motoring organization claims over half of all cyclists run red lights; turns out it ain’t necessarily so once you get the facts. An Aussie city considers a proposal to waive the country’s mandatory helmet law for riders on separated bikeways.

Finally, Alabama film maker Katie Rogers talks about her in-process film about going carless in L.A., which just got funded on Kickstarter today. And if this car runs you over, at least you’ll know why.

A press conference to celebrate bike racing in bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills

A high-end location for a bike race — or a press conference for one.

Maybe it wouldn’t seem as strange to anyone outside the L.A. area.

Yet somehow, I found myself on a sunny SoCal morning in the biking black hole of Beverly Hills, listening to some of this country’s best pro cyclists describe the city’s Tiffanyed streets as the ideal starting point for the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Yes, that Beverly Hills, with not one inch of bike lane within its jewel encrusted borders.

The day's guest stars make their way one very short block up Rodeo Drive.

The Bulgari burgh where West Hollywood and Los Angeles bikeways roll within blocks of its city limits. Then stop almost without warning, leaving riders to fight for road space with Ferraris, Bentleys and massive high-end SUVs of every make and measure.

Not to mention the midrange rentals of countless tourists, and low-end rides of locals just passing through.

A city that hasn’t updated its bike plan since the 1970s. And even then, proposed routing riders through the alleys of the Golden Triangle to keep us from impeding the progress of their many impatient drivers.

To their credit, Beverly Hills has formed an ad hoc committee to finally update that plan. Yet seem to be throwing up so many roadblocks and limitations that the final result is almost guaranteed to fail.

City Manager Jeff Kolin, Tom Danielson, defending champ Chris Horner, David Zabriskie, Patrick Dempsey and some guy with a camera.

Or at least likely result in something of little value to the everyday riders who mostly pass through on their way to somewhere else. Like sharrows on Charleville, which is already a relatively easy road to ride, and where shared lane markings would merely mark the space we already use.

And which wouldn’t have done a damn thing to protect me last week when I nearly did a face plant on the back of an SUV, courtesy of a door-flinging driver.

Yet there they were, biking and Hollywood royalty alike promoting the Tour of California, and announcing the route of this year’s multistage race.

Don’t get me wrong.

The ToC has made great strides in recent years, with last year’s race the most competitive and exciting yet.

And this year’s edition promises to be better yet, as it meanders its way through the late, great Golden State by way of Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Livermore and Bakersfield, et al, with mountaintop finishes on Mt. Baldy and Big Bear Lake.

Amgen Tour of California Executive Director Kristin Bachochin at the podium.

And followed by a final route that will start on Rodeo Drive before following Santa Monica Blvd — where Beverly Hills officials have been dragging their feet on a commitment to make the boulevard bike-friendly when it finally gets a makeover in a few years.

Then it’s up Doheny and off to Hollywood, reverse engineering the route of the L.A. Marathon before winding down to finish at L.A. Live.

As I, and a couple of other cyclists listened to the press conference, surrounded by confused tourists wondering who the hell these spandex-clad celebrities were — though they did seem to recognize Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey — it was hard not to get excited.

After all, what’s not to like about a race that will bring some of the world’s best male pro cyclists — though sadly, still no women — within walking distance of my own home. Even if it is a long walk. And one that leads to an alternate and much richer reality.

Hollywood star, cancer fundraiser, serious cyclist and bike advocate Patrick Dempsey.

And one that would be followed by a race through the same mean streets we all ride on a regular basis. Although it would be more exciting if the Amgen riders had to contend with the same careless, distracted and angry drivers we do.

Now that would be a race.

It’s also long past time that the top women’s racers were allowed to compete on an equal stage alongside the men, just as the late, great Coors Classic did with great success decades earlier.

But it didn’t take long to be reminded that we were in Beverly Hills. And that cyclists aren’t exactly welcome there.

As the press conference was winding down, a gentleman came out of the exclusive haute couture store next to where we were standing, and firmly but politely asked us to move the bikes we’d leaned against the wall since there didn’t seem to be any bike racks around.

According to him, they were blocking the store windows — even though the seats and handlebars barely reached the window’s bottom ledge.

It is Beverly Hills, after all.

And they’re just not that into us.

Successful ThinkBike with the Dutch, a touch of racing news and lots of links to start your week

The ThinkBike LA workshops presented by the Dutch consulate reached a successful conclusion last Friday, with stunning suggestions to remake key sections of the city to be more like the bike-friendly Netherlands.

By all — or nearly all — accounts, it was an unqualified success. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate because the Dutch neglected to check with my wife’s plans for my birthday before scheduling the event.

And speaking of the Netherlands, experience in some Dutch cities shows that removing traffic signals from intersections can actually make them safer.

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Italian Giorgia Bronzini successfully defends her women’s world road championship, while Marianne Vos of The Netherlands finished second for the fifth  — yes, fifth — year in a row, cementing her status as the Susan Lucci of pro cycling; the UK’s Mark Cavendish tops the podium for the men. Alexandre Vinokourov unretires for the second time. As professional bike racing has become more popular, it has also become more dangerous; thanks to Georg Wolfberg for the heads-up.

Meanwhile, a little closer to home, Cameron Dye and Lisa Norden win their respective divisions in the L.A. Triathlon.

And a 93-year old San Diego cyclist sets an age record in the 90+ category that didn’t even exist until he created it; I swear, I want to be just like him when I grow up.

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A Chicago cyclist, who claims riding an average of less than 40 miles a week makes him an expert on urban cycling, is highly critical of Critical Mass while plugging his book at least three times on a single web page.

Unless you count plugging his book’s Facebook page, which makes it five.

Personally, I’ve known more than a few bike commuters who do over 40 miles a day. Not a week.

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Work is starting on rehabilitating a five-mile stretch of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail in the Southbay. The top eight bike commuting major cities please raise your hand; not so fast Los Angeles. The Eastside is about to get the city’s first green bike lane. Santa Monica Spoke writes about Tuesday’s successful vote by the Venice Neighborhood Council to support the Main Street road diet. Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu says he supports the road diet, but it could — and should — be a lot better, and criticizes the LACBC for calling for better cyclist education instead of fighting for better infrastructure. Santa Monica prepares to observe Bike It! Day on October 5th, as participation continues to grow. Bike Beverly Hills updates the limited progress on making that city safer and more inviting for cyclists. The Source asks if getting around L.A. without a car is easier than it was 10 years ago; I can say that cycling is significantly better than it was just a few years ago, while bus transit is worse. Tourists — and local residents — can now enjoy a one-day bike tour of L.A. Bike theft is up nearly 80% at Cal State Northridge.

The second annual OC Gran Fondo rolls October 8th. An Orange County pedestrian says she was injured by a distracted hit-and-run Huntington Beach cop; not surprisingly, the police claim it never happened. Cool new bike racks sprout in Escondido. Two cyclists are injured after being hit by a car on San Diego’s Mission Bay; just how hard is it to negotiate a simple curve along the beach? The new state Attorney General rejects the San Diego Association of Government’s proposed transportation plan as inadequate. A San Francisco bus driver is accused of rolling over a cyclist’s arm after passing her too close, then just driving away. A Chico teenager is in a coma after he’s deliberately hit by a truck while trying to stab the driver’s friend following a failed bike-jacking. An SF neighborhood group with a history of prevarication targets a three block link in a cross city bikeway. An Oakland cyclist is killed after losing control of his bike and hitting an oncoming car head-on. Once again, state law fails to support the victim in a fatal DUI case; thank God we’re protecting the rights of dangerous drivers to go out and do it again. And again.

In case you missed it, this is what dooring looks like — and why it’s so dangerous. How to bike in heels; not normally a problem I have to deal with, though now that I shave my legs, who knows? A new rear-view camera projects the images behind you onto a handlebar-mounted LCD screen so you can watch in real time as a driver runs you over. Hawaii cyclists push for a vulnerable user law. A cyclist in my home town witnesses a fatal hit-and-run; the victim this time was a female bear cub. That New York study showing 1,000 pedestrians are injured by cyclists every year is called “pretty thin” by a colleague of the authors, while an NYC woman asks the cyclist who hit her to contact her to pay for a new pair of pants and a doctor’s visit; good luck with that, unfortunately. An all-night bike ride by hundreds of cyclists is part of a Columbia class on the history of New York City. Reports are that D.C. police are being urged to fight crime by stopping cyclists in largely minority areas and impounding their bikes if they can’t prove ownership. Nine DC council members introduce a proposed anti-assault law based on L.A.’s new bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. NPR reports that biking infrastructure has hit some speed bumps on Capital Hill.

Ottawa police charge the victim for not having rear reflectors after an 18-year old rider is hit by a car. A British Columbia rider wants to thank the cyclist who cared for him and his young son after he blacked out following a bad fall in an off-road park. A British cop is killed while riding drunk after downing a few pints with his fellow officers.

Finally, ever feel like flying when you ride? No, I mean really flying; thanks to KCRW’s always charming and elucidating Kajon Cermak for the link. Though I don’t know if these DIY kitty liter panniers would work with that bike.

And a Downey reporter follows a cyclist being recorded riding naked in Long Beach; though if the rider was in fact wearing a cape and helmet, I don’t think he was technically naked.

The rules of the peloton won’t pass on the street

Let’s take one more quick look at common bike courtesy. Which seems to be pretty uncommon these days.

A few weeks back, I was riding on the bike path above Santa Monica when I came up behind an older woman riding slowly on an old beach cruiser.

Normally, I would have just passed her and been on my way, but there were a couple of joggers coming in the opposite direction. And there wasn’t enough room to complete my pass without posing a risk to her or the runners.

So I settled in behind her, matching her speed until I could safely go around her.

Meanwhile, a couple of riders entered the bike path behind me. One I recognized as a local amateur racer; judging by his jersey, the other appeared to be a member of a mid-level pro team.

As they rode up behind me, I positioned myself just behind and slightly to the left of the woman rider, making it clear that I was waiting to pass. But once the runners passed and I began to make my move, the two riders behind cut me off, without a word, passing so closely that our arms nearly brushed — something that could have easily taken out all four riders at once.

I had no choice but to squeeze my brakes and drop back, then offer my apologies to the woman I’d been trying to pass, who was nearly caught up in a dangerous collision through no fault of her own.

And once I caught up to the other riders, I was mad as hell.

I’m the first to admit that I handled it badly. Instead of calmly discussing the matter, I gave them both a piece of my mind. Not that I have that many pieces left.

But here’s the thing. There are different rules for racing and riding on the roadway. And what works in the peloton doesn’t work on the street. Or on the bike path.

From their perspective, they saw their opening and took it; it was up to me to respond more assertively. And in the peloton, passing closely is a sign of a rider’s skill — not the dangerous rudeness I perceived.

From a non-racer’s perspective, though, it’s just the opposite. The rules of the road dictate that you wait until it’s safe to pass, and allow the rider in the superior position to go first. And then, and only then, you give other riders the same clearance you’d expect a driver to give you.

In other words, three feet when possible. Or roughly the length of a grown man’s arm.

If the situation dictates that you have to pass closer than that, for whatever reason, you should always announce your presence by saying “on your left” or “passing left.” And always, always, always pass on the left.

The only exception is the rare instance when the rider is so far to the left that passing on that side just isn’t possible. In which case you may need to pass on the right, but only after announcing that you’re going to — and waiting a moment to make sure the other rider doesn’t respond by cutting back in front of you.

After all, some people seem to have trouble with advanced concepts like right and left.

And when the shoe is on the other foot — when a rider comes up behind you and announces “on your left” — remember that he’s not being rude, obnoxious or aggressive. He’s being polite and showing concern for your safety, as well as his own.

So just respond by continuing to ride straight, or if there’s room, move over to your right to let the other rider pass. And it couldn’t hurt to nod your head or say thanks as the rider passes.

It might encourage him or her to show the same courtesy to other riders down the road.

And who knows, this courtesy thing might just catch on.

………

L.A. prepares for its first ever bike count, there’s still time to sign up if you’d like to volunteer; Nashville just did it. Fellow cyclist Russell Crowe braves the traffic on Sunset Boulevard; note BOA and Chateau Marmot in the background. As usual, Joe Linton takes the high road and encourages Santa Monica to make positive changes to maintain its bike friendly city status. Another stolen bike alert in L.A. A new study suggests that bike lanes may encourage drivers to pass closer that they would otherwise. A man who dedicated his life to providing bikes to disadvantaged children passed away this week; most of us can only hope to do that much good in this world. A Colorado man is convicted of letting his dogs attack a cyclist during a race last year. Boise gets new bike lockers. Turns out the Vatican has long supported cycling, as well as other sports. An elite Aussie cyclist drives drunk, crashes into his former training partner and flees the scene. Budapest Critical Mass riders plan to encircle city hall in protest. A Middle-Eastern cyclist demonstrates the origin of the Camelback brand. Finally, two teams face off in a Gotham Iron Chef-style contest to raise New York cycling to Amsterdam-ish levels. Maybe we could use something like that here.

My latest post, in which I admit to doping

There was a time in my life, not so long ago — okay, maybe longer than I care to admit — when cycling was my life.

It was right after my starving writer phase, which, as it turns out, isn’t nearly as romantic as it sounds when you’re the one starving. And since no one wanted to read my writing – or more precisely, no one wanted to pay me so other people could read my writing (whoa, déjà vu!) – I shifted my focus to something that paid every bit as well.

So for the next 6 months or so, I rode my bike.

I built my own wheels. Stripped my bike down to the bearings and rebuilt it from the ground up to make sure every part was lubed, tightened and adjusted to perfection. I stretched. I read about cycling. I dreamed about cycling.

And I rode. At least 50 miles a day, every day. Other than the occasional attentions of a cute little pastry chef, that was my life, from the time I got up until I slid my aching thighs back into bed.

And I would have snorted peanut butter, black tar heroin or thermonuclear waste if I thought it would make me a better rider.

I’ve been thinking about that lately, after our local Bike Snob pointed out yet another cyclist caught doping, on a team dedicated to riders with questionable reps.

I’ve written before about my disappointment when Floyd Landis lost his appeal, even though my initial reaction, as I watched him race, was that he had to be on something to rebound the way he did after bonking so badly the day before.

It also broke my heart when fellow Colorado boy Tyler Hamilton was busted. And I’ve long wanted to believe that Lance Armstrong is merely super-human, despite the insistence of the French, as well as Greg LeMond’s apparent insistence that he was the only clean Tour de France winner since Maurice Garin crossed the finish line in 1903.

(Am I the only one to notice that only Americans with names starting with L are allowed to win le Tour? Which means I’ll be putting my money on Levi Leipheimer if Astana can get back in.)

Then again, who’s to say that the great racers of the pre-testing era, like Bernard Hinault or the legendary Eddy Merckx, weren’t on something themselves? There’s no reason to believe they were, of course, just as there’s no proof they weren’t, other than the fact that they dominated their eras every bit as much as Armstrong did his.

But they weren’t tested, so we’ll never know for sure. And even getting repeatedly tested over a seven year period doesn’t seem to convince some people.

But then, that’s what we do. We take things.

Because if there’s something we think will make us ride a little better, a little farther, a little faster, we’ll try it. Whether it’s Lance Armstrong’s energy drink or a shot of gel for that extra boost in the middle of a ride.

Don’t believe me? Just check out the checkout counter of your nearest bike shop, and count the number or gels, bars, shots and other assorted sugar-based supplements. Or pick up a copy of any cycling magazine and see if the supplement ads outnumber the bike ads this month.

It just seems to me that there’s not a lot of difference between the creatine & amino shakes I downed back then, and doping with EPO or testosterone. One is legal, while the others aren’t. But they all build strength and boost performance.

It’s just a matter of degree.

Timur explores downtown, while a group of riders take a slightly longer tour around the city. Will manages to get back home from Newport Beach car free, despite a series of rail-based misadventures. And this just in, Damien and Gary announces that the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights has been passed by the L.A. City Council, not that it will mean anything if our local bureaucrats don’t pay any attention to the city leaders. Still, we all owe a big round of thanks to the Bike Writers Collective, who not only kicked it all off, but pushed it over the goal line.

Thank you, guys. We owe you.

My latest post, in which I admit to doping

There was a time in my life, not so long ago — okay, maybe longer than I care to admit — when cycling was my life.

It was right after my starving writer phase, which, as it turns out, isn’t nearly as romantic as it sounds when you’re the one starving. And since no one wanted to read my writing – or more precisely, no one wanted to pay me so other people could read my writing (whoa, déjà vu!) – I shifted my focus to something that paid every bit as well.

So for the next 6 months or so, I rode my bike.

I built my own wheels. Stripped my bike down to the bearings and rebuilt it from the ground up to make sure every part was lubed, tightened and adjusted to perfection. I stretched. I read about cycling. I dreamed about cycling.

And I rode. At least 50 miles a day, every day. Other than the occasional attentions of a cute little pastry chef, that was my life, from the time I got up until I slid my aching thighs back into bed.

And I would have snorted peanut butter, black tar heroin or thermonuclear waste if I thought it would make me a better rider.

I’ve been thinking about that lately, after our local Bike Snob pointed out yet another cyclist caught doping, on a team dedicated to riders with questionable reps.

I’ve written before about my disappointment when Floyd Landis lost his appeal, even though my initial reaction, as I watched him race, was that he had to be on something to rebound the way he did after bonking so badly the day before.

It also broke my heart when fellow Colorado boy Tyler Hamilton was busted. And I’ve long wanted to believe that Lance Armstrong is merely super-human, despite the insistence of the French, as well as Greg LeMond’s apparent insistence that he was the only clean Tour de France winner since Maurice Garin crossed the finish line in 1903.

(Am I the only one to notice that only Americans with names starting with L are allowed to win le Tour? Which means I’ll be putting my money on Levi Leipheimer if Astana can get back in.)

Then again, who’s to say that the great racers of the pre-testing era, like Bernard Hinault or the legendary Eddy Merckx, weren’t on something themselves? There’s no reason to believe they were, of course, just as there’s no proof they weren’t, other than the fact that they dominated their eras every bit as much as Armstrong did his.

But they weren’t tested, so we’ll never know for sure. And even getting repeatedly tested over a seven year period doesn’t seem to convince some people.

But then, that’s what we do. We take things.

Because if there’s something we think will make us ride a little better, a little farther, a little faster, we’ll try it. Whether it’s Lance Armstrong’s energy drink or a shot of gel for that extra boost in the middle of a ride.

Don’t believe me? Just check out the checkout counter of your nearest bike shop, and count the number or gels, bars, shots and other assorted sugar-based supplements. Or pick up a copy of any cycling magazine and see if the supplement ads outnumber the bike ads this month.

It just seems to me that there’s not a lot of difference between the creatine & amino shakes I downed back then, and doping with EPO or testosterone. One is legal, while the others aren’t. But they all build strength and boost performance.

It’s just a matter of degree.

Timur explores downtown, while a group of riders take a slightly longer tour around the city. Will manages to get back home from Newport Beach car free, despite a series of rail-based misadventures. And this just in, Damien and Gary announces that the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights has been passed by the L.A. City Council, not that it will mean anything if our local bureaucrats don’t pay any attention to the city leaders. Still, we all owe a big round of thanks to the Bike Writers Collective, who not only kicked it all off, but pushed it over the goal line.

Thank you, guys. We owe you.

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