Monday, August 14, 2017

Standing With Charlottesville at Ashley Pond Tonight



Voices of Los Alamos in conjunction with other local organizations is hosting a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. today at Ashley Pond Park and invites the community to attend in solidarity with Charlottesville.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Situational Awareness and the First Week of School

Next week starts school. Lots of inexperienced students behind the wheel thinking about the First Week, some texting more than driving. Harried parents suddenly realizing that they are running late for work after dropping off Dick and Jane for the first time in months. Did anyone walk Spot? Did Hubby remember his lunch? Even trained drivers can goof, as I describe in this story about my duel with a school bus. You on your bicycle. What to do?

Don't forget to put gas in it
 Well, some will consider parking the bike for a couple weeks in favor of driving the Main Battle Tank to work. Sometimes I don't blame them. For the rest of us, the Five Layers of Safety are especially critical as we ride, shell-shocked by the sudden mass of unskilled traffic, to our destinations. I'll refer you to that NY bike link for the Five Layers and do a little elaboration here.

Situational awareness 
doesn't mean terror
 The most critical (and often overlooked) part of the Five Layers is situational awareness. Without situational awareness, it is hard to stack those layers of safety in your favor. Situational awareness is, to paraphrase this Coast Guard document , the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening around you as you go about your ride and how those elements impact your safety. In addition to that, situational awareness requires you to be able to categorize, think about, and react in a competent manner to unfolding hazards, i.e., it requires active thinking and training on your part. Here is another set of examples from a motorcycle publication.

In one of my other circles, we have the WYOR definition of awareness (with acknowledgement to Mike Grimler) where these letters mean White, Yellow, Orange, and Red. These are as follows: In Condition White, you are off in your own world and blissfully aware of what is going on around you. An example is reading a book with the stereo on at home or sadly, riding through an intersection with the earbuds on and not watching traffic. In Yellow, you are continually scanning and paying attention and watching for hazards. When in traffic, one should never drop below yellow.  In Orange, you have identified a potential hazard and are actively observing the situation and planning a "what if" response. In Red, you have a fully developed hazard on your hands and are required to implement defensive measures that you have hopefully practiced, mentally and actually. For example, executing an emergency stop or quick turn.

As far as the techniques of these bicycle maneuvers, learn them. Unfortunately, as an older and wiser League Cycling Coach once quipped, many people think they learned everything they need to know about bicycling by the fourth grade. Complacency creates danger. As far as situational awareness, I think it is safe to say that next week should find commuter cyclists in a yellow-orange state of alertness given the likelihood of mistakes being made. Try to time your commute for a safer hour if you can or at least be aware of what is around you, do your "what if drills" routinely, and practice, practice, practice. Holler if you want a tutorial. Hopefully you won't need to use it.

Note added in review, motorcyclists too (I land in both camps) have their own serious issues of staying safe in traffic.  Their training can be found with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

LA Bikes Bloggers All To Be Fired For Disagreeing on Policy

In keeping with the Google corporate policy (since Blogspot is owned by Google) of firing anyone who strongly disagrees with accepted corporate opinion, all of the bloggers on this site will shortly be fired. Since we don't have an official opinion on bicycling issues, that means we have to fire anyone with any opinion on bicycling issues because we don't know which opinion is official and which opinions are impostors. Especially, say, if we go down the rabbit hole of paint 'n path vs. VC. So, they all gotta go. Take that, LA Bikes.

Here is a transcript (and here is another source) of the actual "manifesto" that got Google software engineer James Damore shitcanned. Since many news outlets are opining on it rather than referring to the original, I will post the link to the original and you can draw your own conclusions rather than mine.

The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Now, Surgery on the Bike

We decided to get outa Dodge for a few days and headed up to Boulder, CO for a mental health break. I brought the CAAD-5 as I worry less about tossing the aluminum bike around on the car than I do with the carbon-aluminum Six-Thirteen.

On Monday I went for a short 20 mile ride and noted that the rear wheel had gone out of true so on returning home, touched it up a little bit. Tuesday morning had me kitted up for what would hopefully be a longer ride but on getting a few miles down the road, the bike seemed to go slower and slower and on inspection, the back wheel was seriously outa round and rubbing on the brake. I stopped to adjust the spoke tension again and one spoke was really loose. On closer inspection, I observed that the hub had cracked at one of the spoke holes and the spoke had pulled through. Oops. So much for putting the lightweight wheels on the bike for a road trip.
Front hub intact.

Limping back to our host's house in Lafayette with the quick release fully open, I checked  online and found an endless supply of bike shops in the Boulder area. Boulder Bicycle Works had high web ratings and they told me that they had a used rear wheel in excellent shape.  I headed over there to look at it. Sure enough, when I arrived, the wheel was in the wheel truing stand ready to be checked and tuned up if I wanted it, which I did. I decided while I was there to also get the matching front wheel and the attached cassette for what amounted to a very economical parting with currency. I think they are ShimanoWH-R540's.
Whew...my vacation was saved. The only complication was I had to run back out to a nearby shop and get new brake pads because the paired spoke Shimano wheels have the spokes attaching to the rims on the sides of the rims and my brake pads were worn down so much that the brake shoe guides were tapping the spoke holes.
Hub flange fractured on non-drive side as shown 
by the arrow.  Stock picture from web. 
I forgot to photograph the original part.

So today found me on a longer ride on the Cannonball sporting shiny newish Shimano wheels that ran fast and true.  Many thanks and a tip of my brain bucket goes to the great folks at Boulder Bicycle Works. They definitely get the Los Alamos Bikes "save the vacation" award.
Cannondale sporting replacement wheels
Eldorado Springs in the background.
 I sallied on to Rocky Flats to search for glowing animals.
No luck.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Surgical recovery program at 10,300 feet

As a sixtysomething, recovering from two surgeries and a broken foot last year sometimes left me wondering if I should trade in all the bikes for a newer motorcycle and a barca lounger. Psychologically, getting back into Serious Cycling© was difficult. For a while, just riding to work took mental, if not physical effort. That mental hocus-pocus is what really surprised me, since I've been riding since, well...since I can remember.  Meanwhile, the blood pressure and numbers on the bathroom scale were inching up. Time to get seriously off my ass.

So there was this bucket list item....done yesterday. The Ski Hill road in Santa Fe, aka NM475, aka Hyde Park Road. Last time I broke 10k altitude via human two-wheeled power was around 2007 during the Red River Century. (That pic on the masthead was taken on the Red River circuit, with me on the Six-Thirteen and long dormant co-blogger Scott following closely on the Litespeed).

The Santa Fe Ski Basin route goes sinuously up into first the Sangre de Cristo foothills and then into the high peaks. From the home base in Casa Solana its about 1.5 miles of flat warmup to Artist Road, followed by about 16 miles of relentless climbing. Suitable for a TdF stage, I suppose. Probably not Hors Categorie (the average grade is about 4%; the 4 mile NM-4 climb into the Jemez is about 7%), but perhaps Hors Old Fat Guy. The Strava page here shows the gritty details better than the NM Touring Society illustration below. As far as my time compared to folks like Ferrara Fortunato, don't even ask.

Santa Fe Ski Basin profile, courtesy of the New Mexico Touring Society

Aside from getting enough oxygen to these old legs as I pushed towards 10,000 feet, the only other problem on the uphill was that my recently rebuilt right shoulder still fatigues before my left when pulling on the bars in hard climbs. But the psychological lift on hitting the imaginary red kite near the top (see Patrick Brady's beautiful description of the power of the red kite here), and then my personal finish line was enough to convince me to do the happy dance out of the saddle and then my usual Fates to the Damn Wind Screaming Descent. Fortunately, there is not another Fabio Casartelli style memorial on the road resulting from my ride back down the hill yesterday.

Ok, bring it on...whatever "it" is. I feel whole again, albeit still a little overweight.

If the city limit doesn't end, does the city go on forever? Another rider, in picture, tackling what Patrick O'Grady calls The Big Hill

Around 8500-9000 ft you go through Hyde Park

End of the road, circa 10,250

Road actually tops out at about 10,300 ft a little before the ski basin at Vista Grande Overlook

I'm not dead yet...

Sturdy and efficient Cannondale CAAD 5 back at normal, 7000 foot altitude.
Yep, that is a compact (50-34) and an Old Guys Special 13-30 on the back. 

I'm still using this bike rather than the Six-Thirteen because I could put a steerer tube extender on this steel steerer tube and that was a must during post-PT recovery. 

Unintentional self-portrait...



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

County Council Approves 2017 Los Alamos County Bike Plan

Got this email this morning.



Good morning T-Board and Bike Plan Subcommittee,

Just a quick note to inform you that Council adopted the bike plan last night.  Thanks for the great cooperative effort from all, the hard work of the subcommittee, and Desirae’s diligence with the details to see this through.  All in all, great team effort!


Eric Martinez

(Eric is the Los Alamos County Engineer, Dept. of Public Works)