Arizona Road Cyclist News
ack Quinn, Editor

 © December 9, 2009

Published every other Wednesday and sent out by E-mail free of charge. To modify or cancel your subscription, click here.

In this issue:
     Armstrong Trains in Tucson
     Bicycle Haüs Racing
     Don't Get Hooked in Intersections!
     Hidden Hills Update (again)
     Not Your Mom Bike Tours
     The Casa Grande Century -- January 10
     Pinnacle Peak Pedalers Potluck -- January 1
     Christmas and New Year's Rides
     Arizona Bicycle Racing Association Annual Meeting
      Feedback on Paceline Riding -- Pedal and Coast
      About Arizona Road Cyclist News

Armstrong Trains in Tucson

Armstrong on Mt. Lemmon

Lance & Teammates on Tucson's Mount Lemmon

Lance Armstrong and several members of his new Radio Shack team are spending two weeks training in Tucson prior to the team's racing debut in Australia's Tour Down Under. The Radio Shack team has signed up 25 riders for the 2010 season. While in Tucson, Lance and his teammates spoke with a reporter from the Los Angeles Times.

Bicycle Haüs Racing

Many Phoenix-area cyclists know the Bicycle Haüs bicycle shop on 5th Avenue at Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale as a source of high-end bikes and bicycle accessories. Many are also familiar with Bicycle Haüs Racing, one of the larger bicycle racing clubs in Arizona. However, Bicycle Haüs racing, whose formal name is the Camelback Cycling Club, is only one of the three racing teams that The Haüs supports. The others are the Specialized Designs for Women/Bicycle Haüs Racing Team, which consists of mainly category 1 and 2 woman racers, and the Haüs Triathlon Team.

In preparation for this article, I spent several weekday mornings riding with members of Bicycle Haüs Racing, and I found the group, which was a mixture of seasoned and novice racers, to be friendly and welcoming. The club had 41 licensed racers in 2009 according to the USA Cycling Website, but the club is growing rapidly. Its roster for 2010 shows 62 members plus more than 80 members of the Triathlon Club. The Specialized Designs women's racing club had 12 licensed racers in 2009, most of them category 1 or 2 racers who compete in regional races as well as in Arizona. Total the numbers up, and Bicycle Haüs is sponsoring more than 160 riders.

Although all three teams are sponsored by Bicycle Haüs, all are independently managed by their respective club officers. One of the Camelback Cycling Club's new programs for 2010 is the sponsorship of an elite team to compete in regional races throughout the West. Sending a group of elite riders out of state to compete in top races is made possible by an impressive line of sponsors including empire Cat with its line of heavy machines, Liberty Mutual, F & B Management Solutions, Chapman Chevrolet, Arizona Business Bank, JT Building, and of course Bicycle Haüs itself. The new bicycle sponsor for 2010 is Colnago, which replaces longtime sponsor Specialized.

Why the switch in bicycle sponsors? Specialized is without question a top-line bicycle builder, but Colnago reportedly offered the club an attractive deal as part of its effort to upgrade its frames and regain the proud position that it once held as one of the top bikes in the racing peleton. Additionally, Bicycle Haüs is the only Colnago dealer in the Phoenix area, whereas there are many Specialized dealers.

The Bicycle Haüs Racing team roster was been finalized in October for 2010, but the team is open to all licensed racers. If you are interested in racing for Bicyclehaüs, it may not be too early to be thinking of getting onto the 2011 team.

Don't Get Hooked in Intersections!

One of the most common car-bicycle accidents is the "hook". The hook occurs when a car pulls up to the left of a cyclist and suddenly turns right. Fortunately, this type of accident is seldom fatal, due to the relatively low speeds and to the fact that the cyclist is struck a glancing blow. The most common injury is road rash, although broken collar bones also occur. By riding intelligently near and through intersections, it is possible to greatly reduce the chance of getting hooked.

Many drivers have no idea of how to interact with bicycles and treat them as pedestrians, who should be able to jump out of the way of a moving car. A surprising number of drivers also believe that a car has the right-of-way over a bicycle under all circumstances and that it is therefore the cyclist's duty to get out of the car's way.

Even right-turning drivers who understand the obligation to treat a bicycle with the same respect that they show other motor vehicles may have no understanding that he or she is about to cause an accident. Once the cyclist is behind the car's right fender, the cyclist is often out of the driver's mind. The right-turning driver may be completely oblivious to the possibility of sideswiping a cyclist.

Their are three tactics for dealing with the hook.

1. Avoid situations at intersections that could result in a hook.
2. Take evasive action if you are surprised by a hook.
3. Call the police and deal effectively with the police officer if you are hooked.

1. The best way to prevent the hook is to avoid being to the right side of right-turning car. Try to be in front of, behind, or to the left of any car that you suspect might be about to make a right turn. If you are going to cycle straight through an intersection that has a  right-turn lane, move into the lane for through traffic well before the intersection, giving right-turning drivers ample opportunity to pass you on the right instead of passing on the left and cutting in front of you. Most drivers (but sadly not all) will get the idea. And for goodness sakes, don't commit the error that so many traffic-unaware cyclists commit: Don't ride in the right side of the right turn lane unless you are going to turn right.

If you are approaching an intersection and you hear a car approaching from behind (or better yet, see it in your mirror), move out into the lane to discourage the driver from passing your before turning. Also put your left hand down with the palm pointing behind you to signal the driver to slow down. Unless they are drunk, drivers are not going to run into you from behind, and they will not hook you if you convince them to turn behind you.

At an intersection where traffic is stopped for a red light, avoid passing cars on the right just before the light turns green. If there is a line of cars waiting with their right turn signals blinking, either stay behind those cars or pass them on the left. Of course, most drivers never signal right turns, so a car with dark turn signals may still turn right. Always assume that any car  may make a sudden right turn and plan accordingly.

2. If you are hooked despite your best efforts to avoid finding yourself to the right of a turning car, it is time for evasive action, which consists of braking and turning sharply to the right. Racers, especially criterium riders, are practiced at making sharp, sudden turns, but many bicycle commuters and casual riders are not. The League of American Bicyclists at the national level and the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists locally have seminars that teach beginning cyclists a technique for making a sudden, sharp right turn. Basically, the technique consists of quickly turning the bike's handlebars slightly to the left, which causes the bike to lean to the right. The bars are then turned to the right to maintain balance while making a sharp right turn. This is a technique that must be practiced repeatedly for it to become instinctive in an emergency.

3. If despite your best efforts you are hooked and knocked to the ground, it is time to call and deal with the police. Hopefully the driver will have stopped, or if not, some other conscientious driver will have pursued the vehicle and gotten its license number. Ask the officer if he or she has been trained to deal with bicycle-car accidents. If a trained officer cannot be sent to the scene, you'll have to make the best of it and deal with the officer who is there.

It's a sad fact of life that in any incident involving a car and a bicycle, some police officers ignore the law, assume that the cyclist is at fault for being on the street in the first place, and refuse to ticket the driver. If you have to deal with such a police officer, it is best to not argue and to be as polite as possible while insisting on getting the driver's license number, address, and insurance information. Informing an armed police officer that he or she is incompetent will only raise the officer's hackles and make the situation worse.

You may also want to note down the officer's badge number for future reference. Then contact the driver's insurance agency. If you incur medial expenses or if your bike is damaged, you may want to have a lawyer do this for you, as insurance companies tend to adopt an adversarial attitude when dealing with accident victims. There are attorneys who have developed expertise in representing cyclists in injury cases.

Hidden Hills Update (again)

In the last issue, we brought you an update on the situation in Hidden Hills in North Scottsdale, where some local residents have been attempting to ban cyclists. After failing to persuade the City of Scottsdale to abandon an easement through the community for non-motorized traffic, the community's homeowner's association used Scottsdale tax money to install speed bumps on their private street Those speed bumps are of a type that is particularly nasty for cyclists riding narrow, high-pressure tires. Cyclists have been slowing for the speed bumps, but they have been riding around rather than over them by taking to the gutter. Tuesday of last week, workmen eliminated this option by installing reflectors in the gutters beside speed bump.  The reflectors are arranged in a zigzag pattern making them difficult to avoid for anyone who takes to the gutter and high enough to make riding over them unpleasant.

Because cyclists slow even if they take to the gutters to bypass the speed bumps, the bumps seem to have been accomplishing their job. Putting the reflectors in the gutters does nothing to slow cyclists further. The motive for the reflectors' installation seems to be to "get them drat cyclists" and make exercising their right to ride the street as unpleasant as possible.

The Hidden Hills anti-cyclist campaign, for that is what it really is despite all attempts to disguise it as a safety issue, is financed by a $70,000 grant from the City of Scottsdale, at taxpayer expense at a time when some of Scottsdale's publicly-owned streets are sorely in need of maintenance. If I were a Scottsdale resident, I would be outraged at this misuse of public funds.

Not Your Mom Bike Tours

Not Your Mom (NYM) is an loose organization that conducts leaderless, self-contained, weekend bicycle tours to state and county parks in the Phoenix area. Well, it was a loose organization until recently when it became a chapter of the Arizona Bicycle Club (ABC). NYM conducts one three-day bicycle tour a month from fall through spring with the purpose of getting people to develop the skills necessary for self-contained bicycle touring. The organization's next tour will be the weekend from January 15 to January 18, 2010, which is the weekend of the Martin Luther King holiday. The tour goes to McDowell Mountain Park and features a short 21-mile ride each way, which should be short enough for even first-time bicycle tourists.

February brings two rides. The first is the annual Phoenix-to-Tucson tour over President's Day weekend of February 12 through February February 15 and features "motel camping". Riders will pedal about 80 miles a day starting in Scottsdale and proceeding to Casa Grande, Tucson, Florence, and back to Scottsdale. There will be a sag wagon on this ride, which will carry one piece of luggage for each rider. There is no ride fee, but riders are expected to make their own motel reservations, to drive the sag wagon for 10 to 20 miles and to kick in $10 toward gas money.

The second ride in February goes to Lost Dutchman State Park and is self-supported with 40 miles of pedaling each way. Ride dates are February 12 through February 15.

For more information, visit the NYM Website by clicking here or peruse the upcoming ride schedule by clicking here. You can get onto the NYM E-mail list by sending a blank E-mail to

The Casa Grande Century -- January 10

The Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club holds its annual Casa Grande Century Ride on January 10 with 102-, 62- and 34-mile options. Traditionally the first century of the new year, this ride includes sag stops and a hot lunch at Dave White Regional Park in Casa Grande.

Due to the cool January weather, riders get to sleep in and start the ride at a civilized hour. Check-in is from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Safeway story at 4970 South Alma School Road in Chandler. There is no mass start (I wish all century rides would adopt this practice), so riders can leave as soon as they are signed in.

The cost of mail-in registration for the century and metric century rides is $20 for individual riders who are members of the PMBC, GABA and ABC and $25 for others before December 29. The 34-mile ride costs only $15. Tandem teams should add $15 for the second rider, and after December 29 there is an additional $5 late fee. Those who prefer registering online at will pay an additional processing fee.

To access the ride's Website and to find links to the ride's flyer, registration form and release form, click here.

Pinnacle Peak Pedalers Potluck -- January 1

The Pinnacle Peak Peadalers will hold their annual bike/hike/potluck event on New Year's Day this year at Ramada D-1 at Usery Mountain Regional Park, 3939 North Usery Pass Road in Mesa. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Pinnacle Peak Pedalers, it was founded decades ago by Gurnelle Jones as an informal cycling group for people who had Wednesday mornings free and wanted to spend them cycling with friends.

The potluck starts at 10:30 a.m., but arrive earlier to get in some hiking or cycling. Cyclists will leave at 9 a.m. and head for Saguaro Lake in time to be back at the park for chow. Hiking is informal; hike where and when you want within the park. Attendees are requested to bring a dish to share. Those arriving by car will have to pay a $6 per vehicle admission charge.

Christmas and New Year's Rides

I am aware of a few Christmas and New Year's rides, and I will be glad to add others to the pre-Christmas and pre-New Year's edition of the newsletter, if people will let me know about them.

The Wheezers and Geezers will be riding on both New Year's and Christmas mornings, leaving at 7:30 a.m. from the traffic circle, aka the roundabout,  at the corner of Invergordon and Northern in Paradise Valley. This is an informal ride with no leader, and if you participate, you are responsible for your own safety. Helmets are strongly encouraged, and aero-bars are discouraged. Riders should be able to safely ride in a paceline. For more information, visit the ride's Website by clicking here.

Although I haven't received formal word, the Granada Chapter of the Arizona Bicycle Club almost always holds a breakfast ride on holidays, leaving from Granada Park at 20th Street and Maryland at 7:30 a.m. This group rides in five groups ranging from the leisurely Cruisers to the rapid Swifty groups. For insurance reasons, non-members may ride with the group once before joining. When I checked while writing this article, the chapter's Webpage was out of date, but you can check by clicking here to see if the December rides have since been added.

There are also a number of rides beginning every year on New Year's morning in Apache Junction and proceeding out the Apache Trail to Tortilla Flats. I don't have specific information, but the rides generally start about 9 a.m. Tortilla Flats is a scenic and challenging ride, which Phoenix-area racers used to do every Saturday morning as a training ride, but I would suggest that New Year's Day is not the best time to do it. In recent years, this route has also become the New Year's ride of choice for many motorcycle and automobile groups. Traffic is very heavy, and the noise made by long lines of motorcycles can become quite annoying. Nonetheless, if riding in traffic with loud noise doesn't annoy you, you may find this ride exhilarating.

Arizona Bicycle Racing Association Annual Meeting

The road-racing teams that make up the Arizona Bicycle Racing Association meet once a year to plan the coming year's racing calendar and to discuss other issues of interest to the road-racing community. This year's planning meeting will be held on December 20 starting at noon in the Holiday Inn at 1200 Sunrise Plaza Drive in Florence. All Arizona road-racing clubs are encouraged to send a representative.

Feedback on Paceline Riding -- Pedal and Coast

The article in the previous issue of Arizona Road Cyclist News on how to properly pull off the front of a paceline drew more reader response than any other. Several of the writers mentioned that I should have criticized the pedal-and-coast syndrome: the rider in the paceline who alternately pedals and coasts, speeds up and slows down, thereby making the paceline jerky for all of the following riders.

About Arizona Road Cyclist News

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Arizona Road Cyclist News,
Jack Quinn, Editor