Arizona Road Cyclist News
November 12, 2008

Welcome to the second issue of Arizona Road Cyclist News. Thank you to all who provided feedback on the first issue. Feel free to distribute this newsletter to your friends. If someone has forwarded this newsletter to you, you can sign up for your own free subscription by visiting our Website, Arizona Road Cyclist News is a bi-weekly publication that attempts to cover topics of interest to cyclists who ride the streets and roads of Arizona.

If you wish to make any comments to the editor, Jack Quinn, simply reply to this E-mail.

In this issue:
                New Thoughts on Stretching
                VeloNews Cuts Back
                A Review of the Book Bicycling and the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist
                The Upcoming Arizona Bicycle Racing Association Meeting
                What is a Bicycle?
                The Heart of Arizona Revisited


New Thoughts on Stretching:

This past weekend one of the readers of Arizona Road Cyclist News sent me a New York Times article entitled “Stretching: The Truth.” The gist of the article is that the way many of us were taught to stretch, by forcing a muscle to its limit and holding it for 20 seconds or so, may do more harm than good. Some doctors and exercise specialists now recommend what they call dynamic stretching, also known as active stretching, in which a muscle or group of muscles is moved through its full range of motion. The claim is that dynamic stretching makes a muscle stronger and improves performance while static stretching weakens muscles, although some trainers continue to believe that static stretching has benefits.

Regardless of which stretching program you follow, almost all advocates of stretching now agree that it should not be done when the muscles are cold. Before stretching, the body and muscles should be warmed up and the heart rate should be raised by a period of moderate exercise.

I plan a longer article on the subject in a future issue of Arizona Road Cyclist News. In the meantime, you can see a video illustrating dynamic stretching on YouTube. Here’s the URL:

VeloNews Cuts Back:

The United States’ premier magazine dedicated to bicycle racing, VeloNews, announced in October that it will reduce its annual number of issues from 21 to 15. Until now, VeloNews has published biweekly during the racing season and monthly during the winter. From now on, VeloNews will publish once a month all year plus three special issues: the Buyer’s Guide, the Tour de France Guide and a new issue called the Race & Ride Guide. VeloNews will also lower its annual subscription price from $53.97 to $29.95. Existing subscribers will have their subscriptions extended so that they receive the number of issues that they contracted for.

Like many other news publications, including Arizona’s East Valley Tribune and the national newspaper The Christian Science Monitor, VeloNews will rely more on the Internet to get the word out by means of its Website,

To me, it is sad to see print media decline. The Web is a great place to read short articles about breaking news, but for longer, more in-depth articles, nothing beats print.

A Review of the Book Bicycling and the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist:

Bicycling and the Law (published by VeloPress, June, 2007, 368 pages [The VeloPress Website claims 384 pages, but there are not that many pages in my edition], $18.95 list price or $12.98 on in paperback) was written by Bon Mionske, an attorney specializing in bicycling law, a former Olympic and national champion cyclist, and the author of the column “Legally Speaking” in VeloNews. This book exhaustively covers the law as it applies to bicycling with an emphasis on traffic law and also includes such topics as insurance, what to do in case of an accident, harassment of cyclists, bicycle theft, defective cycling products, and the liability wavers that we are all required to sign to participate in races or other organized cycling events. I am unaware of any other publication that so exhaustively discusses cyclists’ rights and responsibilities under the law. Although the statutes are different in detail from state to state, Bob discusses as many variations as he can. For example, Arizona’s statute that requires motorists to give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing is discussed. The book also discusses the tendency of the police to take the motorist’s side in any conflict involving a motorist and a cyclist.

Now, after having praised the book, let me add that the book is excessively wordy. If a concept can be explained in a paragraph, Mr. Mionski stretches the explanation over several pages, repeating the same idea many times and bringing in concepts that are not germane to his argument. The book is a useful reference work, and I think almost any cyclist would enjoy reading sections of it, although few will have the perseverance to read it cover to cover. It would also be helpful if motorists and police officers were familiar with some of the topics that the book discusses.

Should you buy Bicycling and the Law? I can’t give a definite yes-or-no recommendation, but I do believe that every road cyclist should be familiar with the topics that the book covers The book is probably worth the price as a reference to keep on the shelf, although it is a shame that there is not a more readable book available about cycling law, one that is more direct and to the point.

Arizona Bicycle Racing Association Meeting:

The annual meeting of the Arizona Bicycle Racing Association (ABRA) takes place on November 30 at the Hotel Casa Grande (Holiday Inn) at 777 North Pinal Avenue in Casa Grande beginning at 12 noon. The meeting will discuss the 2009 racing season as well as take care of other business. All racing teams should send a representative. I hope to attend and write a report on the meeting for a future edition of Arizona Road Cyclist News.

The schedule for the first and second tier races for 2009 has already been set. The racing season starts early in Arizona these days, beginning with the McDowell Circuit Race on February 2, a time when racers back east are still shoveling snow and dreaming of the first training ride of the season. The schedule is available online at

What is a Bicycle?:

All of us know what a bicycle is, don’t we? After all, we all ride them, and some of us have far too many of the these two-wheeled contraptions cluttering up the house. Most of us picture a bicycle just as it is defined in the Radom House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary: “a vehicle with two wheels in tandem, usually propelled by pedals connected to the rear wheel by a chain, and having handlebars for steering and a saddlelike seat.” That sounds reasonable. After all, the prefix “bi-“ means two, doesn’t it, and a cycle is something that goes around and around, in other words, a wheel. However, Arizona’s legal definition of a bicycle is not the same as yours, mine and Mr. Webster’s.

According to paragraph 28-101 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, a bicycle is “a device that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride and that has either (a) two tandem wheels, either of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter [or] (b) three wheels in contact with the ground, any of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter. Under that definition, that bicycle.. err.. I mean that two-wheeled thingamajig that you were planning to buy for your kid for Christmas is not really a bicycle, because the wheels are too small. On the other hand, the tricycle.. opps.. I mean three-wheeled bicycle may qualify if the front wheel is at least sixteen inches in diameter. Adult tricycles? Well, they are legally bicycles in Arizona. How about those three-wheeled racing wheelchairs that we sometimes see on the streets? They are also legally bicycles in Arizona, and they have the same rights to the road as any other bicycle.

The Heart of Arizona Revisited:

I had not planned to discuss the Heart of Arizona Century ride in this issue, but because I plugged it in the last issue, several riders asked me how my ride went and whether they should consider doing the ride next year. First of all, let me say that they ride was even tougher than I remembered it. However, everything went well, and the ride was very pleasant until the “big climb.” When I started up the climb, I thought “This is a piece of cake.” I was sure I could see the summit just a few miles ahead. How tough could it be?

Well, the summit I thought I saw was one of several false summits on the climb. The “big climb” goes on and on and on for mile after mile with false summit after false summit. You look ahead and think that you see the top, but when you get there, the road continues up. I saw young men standing beside their bikes gasping for breath, and I have to admit that I, too, stopped and momentarily got off my bike to catch my breath and get a proper drink from the water bottle.

After the town of Hillside, the ride again turned pleasant with rolling hills, but I think most of us were too blown by then to admire the scenery. The ride became a matter of gritting the teeth, fighting the inevitable headwind, and getting to the top of Yarnell Hill for the glorious descent back to the starting line.

Now that I’ve complained about how difficult the ride was, would I do it again? Yes, I’ll probably be back next year to drag my 67-year-old, overweight body up the climbs. Why? I can’t tell you the sense of satisfaction we all had at the finish line as we sat around eating hamburgers, drinking sodas, and telling each other lies about our exploits on the road. Later, as I drove out of the parking area and hit the highway back to Phoenix, I was also pleased to see that there were still riders coming in, meaning that some people on the ride endured pain for much longer than I did. After a period of suffering, it’s always pleasant to learn that others are suffering more.

Finally, I can’t finish this article without praising the support offered by the Bull Shifters Bicycle Club. The SAG stops were superb with chairs for tired riders, plenty of eats and Gatoraide, and helpful people. On the road, it seemed that every time a cyclist stopped, a car appeared whose driver asked if the rider needed help. There was even someone on the “big climb” handing up bottles of water to struggling cyclists. I don’t believe I’ve ever been on an organized ride that was so well supported. The Bull Shifters all deserve a big thank you. I hope that the club puts on the ride again next year.

Incidentally, photos from the ride are on the Web, Photos PB10055.jpg and PB10056.jpg are of yours truly.