Friday, December 30, 2016

137 Days and Finally a Bike Ride

Sheesh. Time moves slowly when you are in casts, braces, or otherwise immobilized. Between a broken foot and major shoulder surgery, I have been off the bike since mid-August. Well, that bit of enforced abstinence came to an official close today as I took the Stumpjumper, in Physical Therapy form, out for a short spin on wobbly legs and a wheezing cardiovascular system. The more upright position (I flipped the stem over to get a bigger rise angle), flat bars, and shocks on the Stumpjumper help me keep from putting too much stress on the recently rebuilt shoulder. The slicks make the bike feel more sprightly on the tarmac. In spite of my obviously terrible cardiovascular and physical form, it was nice.

I had to make one modification on the Stumpy from the last post. The disks on the Salsa Delgado Cross wheelset last weekend in anticipation of this ride were rubbing on the caliper pads.. Rather than messing with spacers on the calipers, I swapped the hoops out for the Speed City wheelset, which have a slightly different disk offset on the hubs for some reason. They worked fine. Last thing I needed in my present out of shape form is a drag brake. Since the Speed City set is shod with 700-28 Continental Gatorskins rather then 700-32 Panaracer Pasela Tourguards, they probably roll faster too. Right now I need all the help I can get.

As advertised, the Canyon Rim Trail was my destination from the North Mesa Estate. Nice. See you  back on the road. Finally.
DP Road crossing

New Bridge spanning DP Canyon

Bicyclist Impostor

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Canyon Rim Trail Grand Opening: Save the Date

Surprised they trusted me with those scissors!

 A Nice Way To Resume Riding After The Year From Hell

On Wednesday the 21st of December at 1 pm there will be a ribbon cutting at  the new bike/ped bridge that completes the Canyon Rim Trail, effectively bridging the West end of DP canyon. Refreshments will follow at Crossroads Bible Church.  The bridge is close to the intersection of DP Road and the trail, just east of the intersection shown in the picture here.

Properly marked crossing
This last section of trail, completed with bridgework and numerous rock cuts, fill, and rock wall installation to make room for the trail along the canyon edge, means the trail now extends from Smith's Marketplace to Pajarito Cliffs, the Holiday Inn, and food co-op. Thus, cyclists will be able to avoid riding on NM 502 if you wish. Just be careful as there will be plenty of other users sharing this trail.

There is also a plan in place to connect to an urban bikeway system in the historic district and a grant proposal submitted to construct a grade-separated crossing at the east end of the trail where it crosses the 50 mph NM 502 at the Food Co-Op. Stay tuned and stay engaged. We don't want anyone to have a nice safe passage to the east end and then get splattered by a speeding motorist.

These are the kinds of projects that should turn Honorable Mention to Bronze or better in BombTown's Bicycle Friendly Community quest. I think we are better than Honorable mention already but you already know that.

I am term limited off the Transportation Board in March, but am thrilled that I am still board chair when this is happening. Its a great way to ride off into the sunset! Don't worry though. You have not heard the last of me yet when it comes to bike stuff. Whether you like it or not...

I've been off the bike since August due to injuries and surgery. I think Canyon Rim will be my inaugural ride getting back on the bike! Well, not quite. I cheated a bit today.

A few more pics. Click to see at full resolution.

One view of the new bridge
Sharp curves marked and striped to reduce potential for conflict

I think the pavement is ten feet wide the whole length of the trail

Approaching bridge headed West

Massive ironworks. Even at my present weight I was safe
Nice views towards the Sangre de Cristos

Now, what was that I was doing before August 15th?

This was one of those years when, as my colleague Floyd Stanley reminded me, I should have wrapped myself in bubble wrap. Broke my foot (pseudo Jones fracture) in August (on the fifteenth) but back in May, I took a hard fall in the garage and as continued misery told me, I apparently tore my rotator cuff. So as soon as I was out of the foot cast it was into the hospital to let the nice surgeons at Taos Orthopaedics take a whack at my shoulder with the various saws, knives, grinding wheels, pop riveters, superglue, and other contraptions they use for reattaching rotator cuffs and other damaged parts; in my case, damaged biceps tendons as well. My personal tip of the brain bucket goes to Dr. Sean Marvil, who in addition to being an excellent surgeon is also a fellow motorcycle aficianado and outdoorsman. So it was out of the cast and into an arm immobilization device for eight more weeks followed by a deliberate healing process which is still on the steep part of the rebuilding phase.  Plays hell with one's fitness.

Well, I finally got a bike set up for next weekend, when I can officially start riding again, and took it for a short run around the block to check the setup. Basically, it is my dual suspension Stumpjumper with 700c wheels stolen from my cross bike lashed to it and 700-32 touring tires on those hoops. Between the shocks and the wide rubber, this should give my healing shoulder some shock absorption while I figure out how to turn the cranks again. Hopefully this will happen pretty soon.

Old Guy trying to look like a bicyclist again

Stumpjumper in its present "physical therapy" form

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My Letter to LAB about awarding Los Alamos Honorable Mention as a Bicycle-Friendly Community

Sent to LAB's State and Policy Manager Ken McLeod, Board President Karen Jenkins, and Exec Director Alex Doty

Hi, Ken, Alex, and Karen. I hope this finds you well and riding.

Thank you very much for considering the Los Alamos application to be a Bicycle-Friendly Community. As a bicyclist who has made this community my home since August of 2001, I appreciate this.

I wear various hats in these parts but am speaking for myself here. Although on the board of the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico and chair of the Los Alamos County Transportation Board, these are my thoughts, not either Board's. Now that I have that firewall out of the way, here goes.

Thanks for the feedback; we discussed this last night (12/1/16) at the monthly Transportation Board meeting. Frankly, I was a little disappointed in the League's decision to award honorable mention instead of a metal color. As former Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico President, the late Dr. Gail Ryba, once told me as we rode through Los Alamos a decade ago, Los Alamos is a great place to be a bicyclist--and it is far better today thanks to the dedication of our county government and professional staff at making improvements. The evaluation criteria on the League's application cover a small slice of reality.

Bike lanes and analogous stuff seem to be almost a litmus test. A decade ago as Vice-Chair of our County Transportation Board, I wrote and got passed the 2005 Bike Plan so that we had guidance to rebuild our major N-S arterial, Diamond Drive, with bike lanes and we did so with full support of County Council. Those lanes are great and as I said at several national meetings, connect many of our homes to many of our destinations. We looked at various designs for our E-W major arterial, Trinity Drive, for example, and adding bike lanes in most of the studied configurations would likely have made the road more dangerous to cyclists as there are numerous side streets and curbcuts that would complicate traffic. Instead, we have extensively traffic calmed the parallel street, Canyon/Central. The county has no control over the design or build of roads on the federal facility, our national lab, which is administered separately by the Dept. of Energy and its prime contractor, Los Alamos National Security. As far as urban design, we passed the 2010 Policy for the Design of Streets and Rights of Way that explicitly calls out multimodal transportation, including bicycling.

We are adding a mix of more pathways and quiet onstreet facilities. We just spent over a million dollars to bridge a canyon so that we can expand the coverage of the Canyon Rim Trail. This will add a key separate pathway to allow cyclists who are riding from downtown to new, eastern developments a safe way to avoid the 50 mph State Route 502. Ribbon cutting is not too far off. A set of bicycling facilities in our historic district is being designed as a result of a citizen initiative blessed by County Council.

The criticism of not enough Bike Month activities is a good one but will involve someone figuring out a way to get the county and the Federal facility that makes up half of town and provides many of our jobs on the same wavelength. I brought it up recently with the associate national lab director since I work at LANL.

I am perplexed by the criticism to "Improve public decision-making processes for transportation improvements, including bicycling improvements" as we have a very transparent decision making process involving a Transportation Board that holds monthly meetings, takes public comment on all planning and policy decisions, and advises Council.  The last several board chairs have either been dedicated bicyclists such as myself, who act not only as board members but as subject matter experts on cycling matters, or dedicated multimodal transportation advocates who support cycling. Bicycling improvements have been a key part of this planning process for as long as I have lived here--2001. I've been on the Transportation Board for more than a decade (with hiatus for term limits) and simply disagree, as the guy in the trenches, that this process is problematic.

Does the League still have a guy like Steve Clark on board who actually goes out and evaluates communities? I worked with Steve on the Santa Fe re-evaluation and am not aware if a League rubber meets the road staff evaluation was ever performed here as part of this application.

Once again, thank you and wish us luck. I suspect we will be back!

Khal Spencer
Chair, Los Alamos County Transportation Board
Board Member, Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico
League Cycling Instructor