Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Old Farts Need Bikes Too. Or, Mass Bike, Its Not Just About Infrastructure.

 Ken McLeod of the League of American Bicyclists, who I follow on Twitter, forwarded a link today.

"It's not depressing getting old, if you stay healthy", but infrastructure also has to change in line with the changing capacities of older adults. Older Adults should not be a footnote in the planning. @AARP #BikeSummit21"

That is certainly true and as an Officially Recognized Geezer of Social Security Age, I am increasingly aware of that. Plus, I got an email a few years back from my doctoral advisor noting that he was old enough and his bones brittle enough to not want to take a chance of being dinged by an errant driver busily texting at speed. The roads out near Stony Brook and Port Jefferson in Suffolk County, NY, once a glorious place to ride a bike, were getting downright intimidating. And, adding cynicism to the mix, according to county government its apparently the fault of the bicyclists. Infrastructure, not to mention paying attention, matters. In an aging population that hopes to remain healthy, we need to ensure that folks are not intimidated out of riding their bicycles in the places where they live.

But one also has to adjust the bikes. I spent a little time working on the drive trains and raising the handlebars of the road bikes this winter to make both less formidable. Typically by summer I am in good enough shape to ride the bikes using the drive trains and geometries I have been riding for decades. But during the winter, I might ride less due to inclement weather and if I don't adjust the bikes, its potentially a downward spiral of discomfort and less time on the bike. So, without further ado....

The Six Thirteen now has an ugly, but quite comfortable high rise stem on it. I might put the more normal looking Richey stem back on it as the weather warms but right now, it is easier on the back and I am more likely to ride the bike. 

Given the age of this bike, the handlebar is an old 25.4 mm (and having put fresh cork tape on it a few months ago, I was not willing to tear it apart) while the new stem was 31.8 mm as old stems are hard to find. While I don't recommend anyone else do what I do, I found a 25.4 to 31.8 seatpost shim on which I used a Dremel tool to fashion into a handlebar shim, making the old handlebar work with the new stem. Necessity is the mother of invention, as one says. But don't take chances you and your orthopedic surgeon are not willing to live with. A new system was no big deal. I just hate wasting old parts. Including my own...which I carefully hoard.

The older CAAD5, which has become the road bike test mule in my garage, was graced with a stem riser a while back after I herniated a disk. Now one set of wheels is set up with a mountain bike cassette in 11-34 trim. I replaced an Ultegra road rear derailleur with an XTR derailleur that mates with the Dura Ace 9 speed brifters allowing a huge range of gearing for off season riding and more likely, getting to the top of the Santa Fe Ski Hill as the weather warms.

Drive train on the CAAD-5 in close up. A 50-34 compact crankset and 11-34 cassette on this set of wheels provides a 1:1 gear ratio (27 gear inch low gear on a road bike) and ensures I can spin up the steepest climbs on my various routes in Santa Fe. It also ensures I don't call it quits on the local terrain due to old age or lack of training during the winter months. The XTR rear derailleur that I scored, used and abused from a local bike shop, needed some rebuilding, which I did from spare parts. It works fine with 9 Spd Dura Ace brifters and has worked on everything from an 11-34 to a 12-28 cassette with a twist of the B screw. That is good flexibility and encourages one to adjust the bicycle to one's season training plan and with a spare set of wheels, different daily rides. I hope that the new Shimano stuff remains this flexible.

As the beginning of this post suggests, its more important to design both infrastructure and the bike to ensure one stays active rather than to set up insurmountable obstacles, whether provided by government transportation planners or one's own choice of bikes. One does not want to encourage a retreat to the Barca Lounger as one ages. It takes longer to come back, as I found out in 2016-17 following multiple visits to the surgeon. Think outside the box, and keep turning those cranks.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Still Yellow, an E-bike Bill, and Some Other Stuff

 Well, we are still in Yellow Land in Santa Fe although my Bombtown bretheren just went to green. Maybe the light at the end of the Covid tunnel is not the oncoming train after all.

Some good news. Sen. Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez has introduced SB 369 to define e-Bikes in New Mexico law. Currently, they are neither fish nor fowl and deciding how to regulate them in such a murky enviroment is sure to cause more harm than good. Take a look at the bill and email the Senator your comments. I sent her some today and she was genuinely happy to hear from someone in the bicycling community. I don't know who she is working with.

Two motorist interactions this week and surprisingly, both positive. First one, I was bicycling into a left turn bay on W. Alameda to turn onto Guadalupe. Pickup truck pulled up on my right and stopped in the straight through lane and the window rolled down. Of course I was waiting for the usual "get off the road" stuff. Instead, this old guy (hey, I'm an old guy) in a round topped cowboy hat looking like he just rolled out of a silver mine complimented me on my left turn signal and predictability. Second one. A pickup truck passed me as I bicycled on Monterrey Drive towards the Rail Trail and then the pickup slowed to a crawl in front of me. I was waiting to be right hooked and slowed down but the motorist stopped and I passed the waiting motorist, who then turned right into a driveway.

Fascinated by this happy dance of cooperation, I did a quick U turn and thanked the lady getting out of her truck for not turning in front of me. She happily offered that she has biked in a lot of big cities and knew better than to apply the right hook.

Two for two in the win column! What more can you ask for?

And speaking of yellow....I've had enough of yellow. let's try for green?

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