Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For those days when human power isn't quite enough

Yeah. I finally did it. Its heaps of fun, and still on two wheels. So I guess it qualifies as "LA Bikes". As an LCI, it will be interesting taking a course from a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Instructor.
I used to live on motorcycles and bicycles back in the ninteen seventies and eighties when I lived in Rochester, N.Y. and out on Long Island.  I sold my last moto, a 1979 Honda CX-500 wearing a black Pacifico Aero XP faring (whatever happened to Aero farings?), when I moved to Honolulu to take a job after grad school. The roads in Honolulu were just too nuts for a motorcycle. Well, at least I thought so. It was/is a little easier to ride a bicycle--life is in slow motion compared to being on a big motorbike.
Its important as an old fart who has been off moto for a quarter century to start slow and ease back in, something I would highly advise for anyone entering a long dormant activity requiring a skill set needed to stay in one piece. Ride careful and build up slow, moto, bicycle, hang glider, or otherwise.Keep the rubber side down, as we like to say. Especially when the rubber is attached to 580 lbs of very fast bike.

1995 BMW K1100 RS
MSF instructor Frank Allen of Albuquerque 
traded it in for an F800R

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Climate Change: What We Know and What We Need to Learn

This from my PEEC e-letter. Make sure you ride yer bike to this one and leave Old Belchfire home.

Note to readers. If you want to leave comments on anthropogenic climate change or lack thereof on this blog entry, please do, but please make them substantive and sign them. Or, make the sarcasm obvious. I'm increasingly clueless lately when it comes to attempts at humor....

Climate Change: What We Know and What We Need to Learn

December 14, 7 pm at PEEC

The history of how scientists have pieced together the puzzle of climate change is also the history of critics' suggestions being examined and incorporated. Most informed critics now agree on some points, but disagree about the amount of human-caused warming. We'll look at where the science stands and the current uncertainties that worry critics. Free--no registration required.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Red Kite Prayer

click here to go there
I had not heard of this site, but it looks like an interesting one. No site that opens with a picture of a mud spattered Bernard Hinault riding a Paris-Roubaix can be ignored.

Besides, the owner has hired on Charles Pelkey, who, if you recall, found out he had cancer about the same time he found out that he had gotten the boot ride (i.e., "laid off") from VeloNews. Charles is a fine writer and his Live Update Guy site continues to grace the web. I guess some of his work, including The Explainer, will be moved to RKP. Owner Padraig tells us "... I’m not doing this to make my job easier, I’m doing it to make RKP better. In barest terms, this is a chance to stand up for quality..."

What a breath of fresh air in the stale halls of U.S. corporate decadence.

Patrick Brady, the RKP site owner, says this: "And that name? It came from a bit of code I liked to use with friends. My favorite moment in a race comes after passing the banner for the final kilometer—the red kite—and at some point you’ll see every rider look straight down. That look says something of their effort. Whether it’s Cavendish on his way to his sixth win of the week or some guy about to finish DFL on a mountain stage of the Giro, nearly everyone does it. It unites us; that look says volumes about how we each have something in reserve, how going hard is more than just legs, how our greatest efforts teach us about ourselves.
That attitude applies to far more than cycling, to be sure.It applies to Charles Pelkey's ongoing fight against cancer and each of our efforts in the daily Tour de Life in these hard times.  So I'll add this link to the list of stuff to read and look forward to dear reader's reviews. And thanks and a tip of the brain bucket to Patrick O'Grady for giving us a heads up.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Golf Course Expansion Report from Tuffriders list

Jerry Merkey cross posted this to Pajarito Riders. Original Author was Brian Larsen. In addition to Brian's comment about contacting cpfd@lacnm.us, I would suggest you copy countycouncil@lacnm.us and the County Parks and Recreation Board, which has an Open Space Subcommittee, which presumably should be involved in this topic.  Their email is prb@lacnm.us

-----Original Message-----
From: tuffriders-bounces@list.losalamos.com [mailto:tuffriders-bounces@list.losalamos.com] On Behalf Of Brian Larsen
Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 8:47 PM
To: Tuff Riders
Subject: [Tuffriders] Golf course improvement project

Hey all,

I attended the meeting and thought I would send a few notes around.

There were about 50 people, mostly golfers.

There are two options on the table:
A: Revamp of the current course, more or less in bounds, $6.2M
B: Re-build the whole course on site which would expand into parts of the Walnut Canyon rim (and trail), $8.6M There was some discussion of return on investment and it had not been studied yet, if this interests you it is worth a note.

Both options would re-vamp the irrigation system and build a million gallon water tank in the Woodland Trail basin.

My recommendation to people especially in light of losing a lot of trails to the fire is to send some comments to the county, cpfd@lacnm.us (they become public record so be thoughtful) telling them that trail users and open forest habitat have to be a bigger part of any decisions made about the golf course. To have impact, include your name and address in your email.

The presentation given by the golf course "architect" was well done and I think there is a path forward that will make us all ok (and better) but we have to be involved.

There was discussion about forming a trails committee for the remainder of the process, I suggest supporting this in your note to the county, along with a self-nomination :)


Tuffriders mailing list

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Golf Course Expansion Plan could kill Walnut and Woodland Trails??

Note that the first Wednesday meeting has already happened.  The 2nd meeting is tomorrow, 11/16.  It would be a shame to lose these two trails for many reasons.

According to June Fabryka-Martin, there will be a public meeeting on 16 Nov, 5:30-7:00 in the Training Room of the Community Building regarding the Golf Course Improvements Project. According to June, this will be an expansion project that could block trails along Walnut Canyon and Woodland Trail. Details are not available, but will be presented on Wednesday at the public meeting. 

The agenda will be to present a business plan, conceptual designs (including changes based on comments recieved from the first meeting), and the costs associated with the proposed improvements.

If you mountain bike around here, you should probably be there. From what I can tell its a very popular route. I've ridden it quite a few times. Would be tragic to lose it.  

What follows was copied off the County page linked above.

Golf Course Improvement Study 

The second Public Meeting is scheduled for November 16th, 5:30-7:00pm, in the Training Room of the Community Building. The agenda will be to present the business plan, conceptual designs (based on comments from the first meeting) and the costs associated with the proposed improvements. Please attend!

On December 7, 2010, County Council authorized staff to move forward with the CIP Phase I Study for the Golf Course Improvements project at the existing facility.  The proposed study includes reviewing the current irrigation system, water storage, the feasibility of practice facility expansion to mitigate safety concerns, the re-routing of holes, cart path replacement and potential renovation of fairways, bunkers, greens and tees.  Based on this physical review, a plan of course improvements will include but not be limited to: the cost of each of these components, a recommendation as to the most efficient and least disruptive and finally timing and phasing of the various components of the course improvements recommended.

The study team will also include a golf course analyst to review golf and maintenance operations, provide a market and economic assessment should these improvements be made as well as the number of rounds these improvements may generate.  This analysis will also review what the appropriate maintenance budgets should be, in order to maintain the course in good condition.

A public meeting was held September 21, 2011, which primarily focused on gathering public feedback based on basic conceptual designs.The study, which is budgeted at $75,000, will provide planning, schematic design options, programming and a cost analysis for each of the tasks listed above.

What’s Next:
The intent is to complete and submit the CIP Phase II Application to the CIP Evaluation and Oversight Committee by January 2012.

To be notified on project upates, email us at cpfd@lacnm.us

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tell the Senate that bikes have a right to the road

The draft of the Senate's transportation authorization bill, S. 1813 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, includes language that would introduce a mandatory sidepath law on roads in our National Parks and other Federal lands. It requires cyclists on Federal lands to use a path or trail, instead of roads, if the speed limit is over 30 MPH and a trail exists within 100 yards, regardless of its condition or utility of the path. The provision sets a terrible precedent. Passing it would send the wrong message to transportation agencies that these policies are acceptable. Laws like this have been taken off the books in states over the past 30 years. This takes us in the wrong direction.
For more information, read Andy Clarke's blog post.
The League is working on many other aspects of the transportation reauthorization bill. This petition relates specifically to the mandatory sidepath law, which we felt deserved special attention. Stay tuned for news and action alerts related to this and other aspects of this critical legislation.
Please join us in telling the Senate that the mandatory sidepath law is a bad idea -Go here to sign the petition.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Transportation Bill Includes Draconian Mandatory Sidepath Provision

I suggest folks read this bill and be prepared to call our Senators. I don’t know with any degree of certainty how this could affect us but it could reasonably be expected to apply to our Federal roads (which could include Dept of Energy, National Park Service, possibly other roads). I’d like to hear from LANL whether this would apply to DOE roads.

I see no safety benefit to cyclists in proportion to the drastic restrictions this could put on bicycling if passed and mismanaged, since to my knowledge, there is no real good definition of what would constitute an acceptable sidepath. John Allen is pretty cynical.

Recall that those of us who live in Los Alamos are at the mercy of DOE and Park Service roads (East Jemez, W. Jemez, our work routes to our jobs, Bandelier National Park)

Those of you who are normally apolitical but whose cycling is dependent on access to the open roads might want to wake up and smell the coffee this time.

O:\DEC\DEC11671.xml [file 2 of 7] S.L.C.
8 ‘‘(d) BICYCLE SAFETY.—The Secretary of the appro
9 priate Federal land management agency shall prohibit the
10 use of bicycles on each federally owned road that has a
11 speed limit of 30 miles per hour or greater and an adja
12cent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards of
13 the road.

Andy Clarke, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists, has written an excellent analysis of this bill here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Los Alamos gets sharrows, and some actual biking stuff

Pardon my combining what would have been two posts. Sharrows and touring bikes are a little orthogonal, I suppose. Unless you ride your touring bike on a road with sharrows.

It was my day off, and given how lousy I've been feeling lately (having re-aggravated a herniated disk), I decided to actually forgo work for a change. But prior to a 4:15 with my M.D. and after an 0900 taking the cats to the vet, I decided to check out some fine tuning I had just done on the new Surly Long Haul Trucker and take it for a second ride up the Col d'Pajarito, riding up the 4 miles of hors fat guy Camp May Road to the Pajarito Mountain ski lodge.
The Las Conchas fire was not kind to Pajarito Mountain
On the way through town, I noticed that the County road crew was erasing some of that worrisome bike lane at Canyon and Diamond Drive. I had packed the small Olympus digital camera, so I planned on checking back on the way down from the mountain (and got a ping on the Blackberry from Jon on the way up--thank you, Jon). The plan, as discussed Thursday night at a T Board meeting, was a variation on a combined bikelane/right turn bay that, while not idyllic, would eliminate the constant hazard of right hook crashes. I wanted to see what would actually be painted on the road when spray can met asphalt.

Back to a bike ride. The climbing on the Trucker, albeit without a full load of panniers (just a rack trunk with camera and spare heavy clothing), felt pretty good.  The frame tubes are sturdy enough that I did not feel any flex or wasted energy while climbing, including on that first "wall" one hits at the bottom of the climb and during some out of the saddle stuff later. It feels more like a good hardtail mountain bike and is happy being ridden hard. But it is comfy. My last touring bike, a Univega Specialissima (good example here), a lovely bike with thinner, elegant tubes and a Cadillac of touring frames, would have groaned and flexed noticeably under similar conditions (or conversely, I was a stronger rider then...). The ride was almost uneventful for a shakedown. I had to fine tune the front derailleur, since with the 115 mm bottom bracket I put on this morning, had some adjustment available in the trim screw and sure enough, dropped the chain off the granny ring first time I tried it on a ride rather than on the workstand. Out with the screwdriver.

Summit, stage right.
Thankfully, not every tree burned

Last pitch. Almost there.
Gasp, cough, wheeze. 
Long Haul Trucker gets fat guy to the top
Once at the top, it was time to descend. Those who know me have commented that I descend pretty fast, using skills learned while riding motorcycles during my misspent youth and usually limited by the interplay between gravity and wind resistance. The LHT, amazingly, handled quite well on fast switchbacks. Yes, the bike lets you know that the wheelbase is LONG. But once I made some mental adjustments, it swept through high speed switchbacks gracefully. Whoever designed this bike did a good job.

Getting back to town, the Public Works crew was busy reconfiguring that troublesome intersection. County staff and I had discussed a shared right turn lane, similar to that shown in the new  National Association of City Transportation Officials guidebook.
Work in progress. What will it look like?
Note the downhill slope, which is the source
of the problem here
Sure enough, that's what we have. It should be a huge improvement in not having cars overtaking bikes on their left and then turning right, i.e., that dreaded "coffin corner bike lane". Like any other traffic control involving bikes vs. cars, this one will not be perfect, but it looks intuitively a heck of a lot better. You will STILL HAVE TO USE YOUR HEAD! And, of course, someone is bound to get behind you and honk the proverbial horn. 

This NACTO stuff is slightly outside the box when you consider how conservative traffic engineers are (and they SHOULD be conservative). If it doesn't work well, we need to hear from you. And, if you are flying north off the bridge at the speed of traffic, this doesn't mean you cannot take the lane--use your best judgement. Just do us all a favor--don't weave in and out inconsiderately as neither fish nor fowl.
Not quite NACTO, but MUTCD 
compliant and pretty intuitive
Many thanks to DPW Director Kyle Zimmerman, Traffic Manager Nancy Talley, Pavement Manager Tom Roach and his crew, County Administator Randy Autio, Asst. County Administrator Ann Laurent,  and others who worked on this. This sort of cooperation and willingness to make things better surely shows that Los Alamos is a Bicycle Friendly Community. Rumor also has it we may be seeing more sharrows. Plus, we will need some educational efforts to ensure everyone knows what they mean.