Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 Santa Fe Century Moving to Railyard and Moving to October--Save the Date


  I got an email today from the Santa Fe Century folks saying that in order to try to ensure that this year's Century Ride is not cancelled due to the pandemic, the Santa Fe Century folks are moving it to October 10th. Stay tuned, as this is somewhat up in the air due to situations obviously beyond our control. Also, according to the email, it is moving to the Railyard. That is awesome for me, as I can simply ride from home to the start/finish, saving at least some CO2 emitted from my car as would happen if I schlepped myself in the gas guzzler down to SFCC. That said, there are not acres and acres of parking at the Railyard so if you live here, please ride to the start and leave Old Belchfire home!

Stay tuned. Stay safe. Stay riding!

Friday, November 27, 2020

League of American Bicyclists: Enforcement No Longer One of the E's

 I was wandering through the League of American Bicyclists web pages the other day looking to see if the little fall newsletter was there as a pdf file. In the process, I found this article:

Pedaling Toward a More Just BFA Program: Removing “Enforcement” from our Framework

Bicycle Friendly America
by Amelia Neptune
"As of this week, the League of American Bicyclists has officially and permanently removed ‘Enforcement’ as one of the pillars of the Bicycle Friendly America program’s ‘5 E’ framework."
 I sent this email to Bill Nesper and Ken McLeod

"Of course (in the process of looking for something else), I got to reading other stuff, including the League of American Bicyclists decision removing Enforcement from the E's. I have mixed thoughts on that, having seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have read Radly Balco and other authors who point out the problems with racial disparities and prejudice in enforcement, policing for profit and how that targets marginalized communities, and of course the grotesque happenings of this year. Clearly, enforcement has not been seeing, as Churchill would say, its finest hour.

Enforcement pales in comparison to planning and design in controlling traffic and traveling safety, as we in the League and folks like Strong Town's Chuck Marohn (copied) have pointed out with regards to designing roadway systems that beg to be misused and then railing at their misuse. It makes no sense, for example, to bring St. Francis Drive into north Santa Fe as a freeway and then rail at speeding. Well, the road begs to be used to speed.

But accountability matters. If we are squeamish about enforcement, we cannot be squeamish about holding both government and individuals accountable for their behavior. It must be done in a just and equitable way. My concern with your ideas about automated "enforcement" is that in most cities, automated enforcement goes over like a lead balloon. Often, private companies are tasked with camera enforcement and this reeks again of policing for profit.

If any of us had the answers to this, we would be famous. I think community efforts based on traffic and community justice (to reach back to a set of talks that Charlie Komanoff and I gave at Pro Bike/Pro Walk in 2006), designs and policies that encourage the behaviors we want to see rather than maximize throughput, and community policing by police who have won the confidence of their communities all have to be fit into solutions."
Some afterthoughts. This is a contentious issue and part of a far bigger civil rights issue than bicycling alone but since the League promotes cycling, we are talking about injustice related to bicycling/walking.  If I were a Black or Latino kid in a city I'd probably write something different but that's just a reason for others to write about it too and the faces on the League Board and Staff certainly look more diverse than in previous decades. The high profile police misconduct we saw in incidents such the police killing of George Floyd, the rise of the Warrior Cop mentality, and the countless incidents of using police as revenue generators (which led in a straight line to the death of Philando Castile) have done enormous damage to police-civilian relationships and have put a dark pall of racism and violence over "enforcement".
Even if we redesign every road in America to Vision Zero standards, promote infill rather than stroad-worshipping sprawl, provide great connectivity for biking and walking, and ensure every inner city and every suburban "arterial and cul de sac" kid has a safe bike route to school and play (not to mention, good schools and playgrounds), there has to be accountability if we are to have both equity and safety for bicycling and walking. For example, anyone walking the streets of Santa Fe can see that its almost as common to see motorists with cell phones as steering wheels in their hands.
Finding ways of ultimately holding communities accountable for bad design as well as class based or racist policies, and holding accountable individual bad behavior cannot be overlooked, even if we take whiteout to one of the E's. The question is, how do we put the justice word back into the criminal justice system so everyone thinks they are covered by justice rather than having a knee on their neck, choking the life not only out of the individual but out of the community?

Interestingly, the Albuquerque Journal just weighed in on enforcement: Editorial: Its time for the APD to put the brakes on street racing.
And for every story like that there is one like this:
The Times identified 16 cases since 2005 where a stop for bike violations in Los Angeles County resulted in a police shooting, according to interviews and a review of public records from the district attorney, coroner and various court cases. Most of the stops occurred in communities made up largely of Black and Latino residents. In 11 incidents, including Kizzee’s, the bicyclists — all male and Black or Latino — were killed.
Send your thoughts to the League on this. All this ugliness aside, who you gonna call when some speeding, texting meathead runs you down? A social worker?

This cartoon was a result of this story:

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A New Entrance to the La Tierra Trails, But Please Don't Be an Asshole

 As I was heading to the Tierra Trails this afternoon for a quick bit of mental health therapy on the mountain bike, I noticed a new bit of trail that connects to La Tierra trails from just to the west of the Frank Ortiz Dog Park. Riding west from the city and past the dog park on Camino de las Crucitas, just about fifty or so feet before you are about to veer right onto Buckman Road, there is a small trailhead that cuts to the right and marked by a white signpost. That small trail alleviates the need to ride on the roads until you get to the trail entrances on Camino de las Montoyas. The trail wanders hither and yon with some serious whoop de dos until you get to the trail crossing onto the concrete trailhead just to the east of the NM 599 intersection. Chapeau to the trail builders and I suspect Tim Rogers had something to do with this.

Trailhead sign to your right as you are riding west on Camino de las Crucitas, just past the dog park parking lot entrance on Crucitas and about fifty feet before the Buckman Road turn.

That all said, it is busy out there. I ran into about a dozen cyclists in my seven mile dirt circuit, which is a lot for me to run into on a weekday. One almost ran me over as I stopped to yield the trail to a couple walking their dog. So please, as Miss Manners in the Cycling Independent reminds us, don't be an asshole out there. The hospitals are full enough already and you don't need to add to the gang needing a bed. A lot of people are out trying to get some air, mental health, and exercise during this lockdown and we need to respect each other's space. Bottom line, be careful and courteous out there, leave a little more room for error, and save the "hold my beer" stunts for next year.

Indeed, the new bit of trail is narrow, with few places to yield, and a tad technical in places. I nearly had a kiss and tell moment tonight (Friday) with two oncoming riders but fortunately, we were all holding some speed back to account for oncoming traffic. Be careful and considerate out there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

11 November 2020

 Somehow sprained my back yesterday and this morning was no fun, but that's no excuse acceptable to the dog for not walking her.

First order of business was screw in the flagpole mount and raise Old Glory to honor those who served. Uncles Ralph and Roy who served in SE Asia and Europe, respectively, John Zeh Jr, my first wife's dad, who landed in Normandy on D+3, friends like RPD Officer Fred "Woody" Woodard who served in the 101st Airborne and had his fill of war in places like Bastogne, Pat O'Brien and Tore Knos who fought in the Vietnam War, Col. Harold O'Grady, who won a DFC flying transports out of New Guinea in the Pacific Theatre, and so many others. A moment of silence to honor those who returned, those who didn't make it back, and those who came back but whose internal wars never ended.

The turnaround for the hike for today was at the confluence of the Saddleback and Chamisa Trails, a very pretty saddle at about 8400 feet elevation. I thought of going on to Windsor but with the back not happy, felt it was wise to stop at the first junction.

Annie, of course, was happy to get out of the house and romp in the mountains.

The start and finish, at the Hyde Park pulloff, is at about 7800 feet altitude. So about 600 feet of climbing. A lovely day all in all, and my back even felt a lot better after bumbling along over hill and dale. Hope all of you had a pleasant and Covid-free day!

My mom's oldest brother, Ralph Bonati, during a lighter moment in SE Asia, where he was an aide to Gen. Raymond Wheeler. Uncle Roy Bonati, second of the five kids, had tougher duty, dodging German 88's on the way through France and Germany in a railway reconstruction battalion. Roy told me that his railroad job didn't insulate them from incoming fire.

On the Anniversary of D-Day: Making World War II Personal

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Cycling Independent

 Patrick Brady, aka Padraig, started Red Kite Prayer in 2009. I have always enjoyed it but have sometimes missed checking in for months on end. The usual excuses apply. Patrick and others have now started a new online magazine, The Cycling Independent. It looks interesting and as Padraig says, is geared towards a wide audience rather than a niche market, or in his words:

“…I care less about what kind of bike and what kind of ride we write about than I do the overall mission, the desire to affirm that cycling gives us so much more than a fun way to burn calories… ”

Cycling has always had a mystical quality for me. Or, remembering that overused story about the Zen master, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle”. Anything else sorta misses the point. Now what was the point?

 I'm glad Padraig, Robot, and the gang from Red Kite Prayer are continuing The Good Fight on the Innertubes. It was at RKP that I first read Padraig's wonderful description of The Prayer as I recovered from months on end of down time and increased girth as the result of multiple "fall down and go boom" events in 2016 and as I struggled to get back in the groove.

"Summoning the strength to make a final surge to the finish is as universal as the urge to finish; no one wants to roll across the line in defeat and that final effort is the chance to accelerate to a personal victory that comes from the satisfaction of knowing you left everything on the course." --Padraig

 Anyway, I've added The Cycling Independent to the blog roll and suggest you check it out. For an idea of what you may someday find there, I offer this snippet from a Padraig piece in a 2019 RKP essay:

There will be chaos—keep pedaling.

...“There will be chaos.” In that I hear the lesson of acceptance, that no matter how much I want to get through this particular chaos, the future will hold more chaos. Acceptance is my reminder to myself that I might as well chill; any plan I have isn’t going to it—the plan, that is.

The second half of the quote—”keep pedaling”—is an imperative. It isn’t an invitation. It isn’t a suggestion. It isn’t a request. It goes Nike’s “just do it” one better because in order to keep pedaling, one must already be pedaling. In as much as this is an imperative, it is also an assurance; you’re doing it right. Now just keep doing it...."

 Heh. Once again, the bicycle as a metaphor for life. Good advice, especially during this election season as well as in bike racing. Most of us don't do the Tour de Industrial Park. We all do the Tour de Life. 

Check out The Cycling Independent and consider a subscription.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Litespeed Gravel: First Offroad Impressions


Litespeed Gravel GRX 400 photographed in its natural habitat
Well, today, as Carl Duellman said over at the Maddogmedia site, was about time to get the Ti-bike dirty. Frankly, its such a pretty bike that getting it dirty seems a bit offputting, but after all, it is a gravel bike and can be washed. So off we went down the Santa Fe Rail Trail and a side jaunt down the Spur Trail just to get some actual gravel time in. First impressions.

The bike is fast and comfortable. A lot lighter than the Salsa LaCruz (no kidding) and it just wanted to be upshifted.I found myself down in Eldorado, starting at the house on the north side, in under an hour, which surprised me. The bike is efficient.

The cockpit fits well. I was a little worried about ordering a bike without a test ride but comparing my existing bikes to the specs on Litespeed's web site, they seemed very close. It worked. I had to do a few minor adjustments on saddle height and fore/aft position, and am still trying to decide on handlebar height, but the bike fits like a glove. I'm glad I took Litespeed Sales Engineer Sam Voigt's advice and added the 30 mm headtube extender. 20 mm would have been fine, too. I have leeway either way, if I want to drop the bars for a more aero ride or raise them to be more upright, perhaps on technical trails, there is room both ways.

Shifting the GRX 400 setup was precise and the hydraulic brakes were smooth and progressive. No surprises. The fine tuning trim on the front derailleur is nice to have going across ten cogs. I was a little concerned with getting the GRX400 setup rather than the higher priced stuff, but it clicks, shifts, and brakes as well as anything else I am used to riding.

The brake/shifter hoods are big, but that turned into an advantage. I found myself on the hoods a lot, especially pulling and climbing and in rough spots they provided plenty of support. Kinda reminded me of old fashioned TT bars, in a way.

 At least on this bike, there is a lot of Torx hardware, so I had to get a new multitool. No big deal, and Rob and Charlie's was well stocked with Park Tools.

The Rail Trail is pretty flat, only losing a couple hundred feet between Santa Fe and Eldorado, but has a lot of sharp ups and downs. I never did get into the low end of the cassette (the 32 and 36 cogs) with the small front chainring but its nice to know that with a low 30x36 combination, you are unlikely to run out of gear ratios on tougher climbs. For really strong riders, swapping out the chainrings for 48-32 might be an option.

Even the saddle, which I grumped about the other day, was OK for a two and a half hour ride. I still think the material grabs my lycra shorts more than I prefer compared to shiny leather saddles, but it was comfortable and the size, amount of support, and shape was fine. A leather Terry Men's Ti saddle just arrived from Arizona friend Pat O'Brien. I'm not sure I would want to do a century ride on the stock WTB Volt Medium as I think the constant rubbing on the higher friction surface would lead to chafing, but everyone's hind end is different and for shorter rides, the Volt is fine. I'm gonna swap out to the Terry Ti though.

As far as handling I think Nick Legan's Adventure Cycling review was spot on. The bike has quick, road like handling and encourages spirited riding. As far as my first impressions, it handled very well on the somewhat loose surfaces of the Rail and Spur Trails, even on deep gravel sections that tended to slew the bike around a little. I found myself taking curves faster than usual (and faster than I thought I would on a first ride on a new bike). Nick had said those wanting a slower handling bike might choose the Cherohala SE. I am glad I chose the Gravel. Also, the Panaracer Gravel King SK 700x38c Tubeless tires, which might not be the most awesome on pavement, were fast and sure footed on the Rail Trail. Those wanting a more road-like tire might want to experiment with other rubber.

Overall first impression? Awesome. All that talk about Ti frames having a magic ride seems to be true.

Added Monday afternoon. A quick change to the Terry Ti saddle and a nice ride. Picture taken down in Eldorado somewhere.