Arizona Road Cyclist News
Jack Quinn, Editor


 © November 17, 2010

Published every other Wednesday (normally). To modify or cancel your E-mail notification, click here.

The Tour de Tucson is this weekend. Those of you who plan to ride it may be wise to read French Thompson’s account of his crash in the Tour de Scottsdale for a few pointers on how to ride safely. These “Tour de” rides almost always have bad crashes, and I hope all of my readers avoid any crashes that occur in Tucson. Ride safely, please.

In this issue:
     Last Edition by E-mail
     Commuting Cyclist Killed in Phoenix Hit and Run
     Superrich Colorado Hit-&-Run Driver to Get Off?
     Crash on 9-Mile Hill -- a 1st-Person Account
     Riding Rollers
-- a Key to Better Bike Handling
     Traffic Skills Course for Free!
     PMBC's Kokopedalli Rides on Sunday Mornings
     November Third-Friday Ride -- November 19
     Link the Lake Ride -- December 4
     NYM Lake Pleasant Camping Tour -- December 10 to 12
     Casa Grande Century -- January 9
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News

Last Edition by E-mail

In order to avoid sending out large files by E-mail, this is the last time that the complete edition of Arizona Road Cyclist News will be E-mailed. Beginning with the next issue, the E-mail will contain only the headlines plus a link to the complete edition on the Website. That link will always be The newsletter will continue to be absolutely free to anyone who wishes to read it.

Commuting Cyclist Killed in Phoenix Hit and Run

A cyclist, apparently commuting to work, was hit and killed on Van Buren Street and 48th Street in Phoenix at about 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. As this was written, the Phoenix Police Department had not yet made public the identity of the 54-year-old cyclist, but from comments posted online, he was apparently riding to work when he was struck and killed by a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by 54-year-old Lora Lynn Muton, who fled the scene and whose picture is shown below. Police stopped her vehicle near 3700 East Van Buren Street and arrested her on charges of manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Further charges may be filed after police receive the results of a toxicology test. From reading between the lines in press reports, I assume that she was driving under the influence of alcohol. You can read a media blog entry on the incident, which may have updated information, by clicking here.

Accused hit-and-run driver Lora Lynn Muton

Superrich Colorado Hit-&-Run Driver to Get Off?

My thanks to reader Randy Garmon for pointing me to a Colorado news article about an alleged hit-and-run driver whose wealth may help him evade criminal charges after reportedly running into and seriously injuring a cyclist. Wealthy financial manage Martin Joel Erzinger is accused of striking cyclist Dr. Steven Milo from behind with his 2010 Mercedes and then fleeing the scene. Mr. Erzinger later stopped at a Pizza Hut where he called Mercedes auto assistance to report that his car was damaged and to request that it be towed. He did not report the accident to the police.

Dr. Milo suffered spinal-cord injuries, cerebral bleeding, and other serious injuries and faces multiple surgeries. Naturally he is anxious to see that justice be done. A hit-and-run is a felony, and Mr. Erzinger was originally to face felony charges. However, Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who I understand is an elected official dependant on campaign contributions, has decided to reduce the charges to misdemeanors. Although denying that Mr. Erzinger's great wealth had anything to do with his decision, District Attorney Hurlbert paradoxically added: "Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession and that entered into it." Mr. Erzinger is a private wealth manager who reportedly has $1 billion in assets under his control and who will not accept clients whose net worth is not at least $5 million. I can't help but wonder what his fate would be were he a plumber or a truck driver.

To read a more extensive article about the case on the Website of the Vail (Colorado) Daily, click here. You might also find the readers’ comments about the article to be interesting. To view Mr. Erzinger's Webpage on the site, click here.

Crash on 9-Mile Hill -- a 1st-Person Account

The following article by reader French Thompson is a first-person account of one of at least two serious crashes that occurred during the recent Tour de Scottsdale. His crash occurred on Dynamite, the long descent toward Rio Verde, better known to cyclists as Nine-Mile Hill. After the right turn at the bottom of the hill, another serious crash occurred. Traffic cones, which had been placed in the middle of the street, presumably for the purpose of keeping cyclists safely to the right side of the road, could not be seen by cyclists riding in the pack. One of the cyclists struck a cone, crashed, and was also seriously injured. I saw this second cyclist back on the bike yesterday riding in the opposite direction through the Camelback Country Club Golf Course, so he is apparently much farther along in recovering from his injuries than French Thompson is.

Here is French's account:

Hello Jack,

I wanted to write you with a one-sided story of the crash on Dynamite during the Tour de Scottsdale, Sunday October 3, 2010. After reading the account of the crash in your newsletter and thinking long and hard about how it happened, I do feel that it was in part my inexperience that prevented me from understanding what was going on around me. I believe that now I would not allow myself to get into such a large group that was getting more and more compressed as the leaders were slowing and the riders behind riding at a faster rate.

I was the one person who was taken to the hospital and as far as I know the only rider who actually went down during the accident. The physical damage I sustained was 5 broken ribs, a collar bone broken in two places, a front and back fracture to my pelvis, and lots of road rash. Even with all that, I consider myself one very lucky rider whose helmet saved his life.

It was about a mile from the bottom of the Dynamite hill and there was a group of about 30 or so riders that were grouped in front and behind me. I had been following a larger rider for about 10 miles since we turned onto Dynamite from Pima and had been drafting him for about a mile before the crash. As a rider who normally rides alone and has only had experience with large groups like this during the Tour de Scottsdale last year and two other charity rides, I usually stick behind a single rider and stay away from groups of more than 5 or so riders.

However this time we (I and the rider I was following) were passed on the left by a group of ten or more riders with a distinctive logo on their jerseys. After they passed us, they slowed down during our descent on Dynamite. This caused us to pass them on the left as we were continuing with a very steady cadence, which we had sustained for several miles.

The group then passed us for a second time on the left, and again they slowed down in front of us. This again forced us to pass them although we were not speeding up but continuing our steady rate. I know our cadence was steady because I was watching my cadence and mph to track my stamina, and since I am a type 1 diabetic, I was also watching my blood sugar along the route to prevent any low blood sugar reactions. (After the crash, the EMT checked it and it was right in the upper normal range where I like to keep it while riding.)

Finally the group passed us a third time. At this point I realized that this group, while it seemed organized since they were riding as a group and many had the same jerseys, were not riding a smooth, even downhill pace. It is very easy to accelerate while going down a hill to pass but takes effort to continue at that speed.

I decided to hang back until we got to the bottom and would be riding the flats again. I cannot say why the one group of riders kept speeding up to pass and then slowing down after passing. It looked like there were three riders who were leading and the rest were grouped together behind them. Each time they passed it looked like the same lead rider, but I am not sure of that.

At this point I found myself riding in the middle of the larger group behind their leaders who still seemed to be speeding up and slowing down. I was behind three riders who were abreast of each other. I was following the middle rider for about ½ mile. I believe that there were at least 15 riders in front of me and based on a friend’s observation at least 15 riders behind me.

Just before the accident, as I remember it, the group started to slow down again and I moved over a bit to my right and my front wheel dropped into a gap between the middle and right hand rider.

I believe we were ever so slightly braking but I am not sure of that. The one thing I do remember is the right hand rider made a very sharp left hand swerve for no apparent reason. “What the hell is that person doing?” was my last thought before the rider's rear tire clipped my front wheel and I went down. I was aware that the person who swerved was either a woman or a small male as the body profile was small compared to the other riders around us.

I remember that there was no one in front of that rider making any drastic moves and the road where it happened was one of the smoothest sections we had been on while riding down the hill. Today I went back and with the help of my GPS and the My Tracks program on my phone I was able to check out the section of road where the crash happened. There were no road hazards in that section that I could find after walking (with the help of my crutches) about 1/8 of a mile.

I have been doing much analyzing of the event and realized that the leaders in the front who were slowing down caused everyone behind them to slow down because they were riding as a group. There were many riders still coming down the hill and catching up with this group. I believe by the leading riders slowing down and faster riders coming up from behind the group started to compress us into a tighter and tighter peloton. This compression from behind brought all the riders in closer and closer proximity to each other which then reached a critical mass where any mistake could cause an accident at that speed. There is not much room for error when a bicycle is going 33 miles an hour.

Now after reading the account in your newsletter and thinking long and hard about how it happened I do believe that the person to the right and front of me must have swerved abruptly to avoid the rider in front of them, a condition caused by the increasing compression.

That does make sense and makes me realize my mistake in riding too close with riders of unknown skill sets, theirs and mine.

Several people stopped and helped me after the crash but from what I was told the rider that swerved into me did not stop.

Someone who saw the accident reported that it was the rider in front that swerved into me causing the physical crash itself.

I have been told that no one else went down. I cannot confirm that, but I do know no one rode over me or ran into me and the EMTs were not helping anyone else at the scene.

I am aware that I never lost consciousness. I sat right up and was holding my right arm to my torso with my left hand complaining that I probably broke my shoulder. I was also very concerned about my hip as it had been broken about 10 years earlier.

As I mentioned earlier, my injuries were extensive and it will be a long time before I am back on my bike, but the helmet saved my life. It was in two pieces held together by a single middle section. The entire right side front and back had broken completely apart from the rest of the helmet and yet the entire week I spent in the hospital, I did not have a single headache.

One thing I would like to do is to somehow thank everyone who stopped to render assistance to me after the crash. I was too stunned to register who anyone was, aside from my friend since he was someone I already knew.

Thank you for your newsletter and your report of the crash. I just thought you might like to hear my part of the story and that it might help others in the future.

You or anyone who stopped to help me is welcome to contact me. I appreciate your time in reading my story. This the first time I have written it down.

French Thompson

Anyone who wishes to contact French can send the E-mail to me, by replying to this message, and I will forward the message to him. -- Jack Quinn

Riding Rollers -- a Key to Better Bike Handling

When I first started racing, many decades ago, the home trainers were not yet widely available, and when the weather was unsuitable for riding outside, cyclists rode rollers. Riding rollers requires quite a bit of skill. The cyclist balances his bike on the rollers with the rear wheel of the bicycle on the dual set of rollers at one end of the apparatus and the front wheel on the single roller at the other end. A belt connects one of the rear rollers to the front roller so the front roller will rotate, in turn causing the bicycle's front wheel to rotate, which enables the cyclist to balance the bike. Steering is critical, because the slightest error causes the cyclist to ride off the rollers and possibly fall over. However, if the rollers are used on a soft carpet, the fall is more of an embarrassment than a danger. Because the bicycle has no forward motion, there is no danger of road (rug?) rash.

Kreitler Aluminum Rollers with 4.5-inch drums

The advent of "wind trainers," and the later magnetic and hydraulic resistance trainers eliminated the balance problem by clamping the bicycle into a fixed position, and these trainers also offered more resistance. As the popularity of home trainers increased, the popularity of rollers declined.

Resistance trainers do offer the advantage that the cyclist can concentrate on getting a physical workout without worrying about balancing the bike. Anyone can ride a trainer on the first attempt; there is no learning curve as there is with rollers. Still, rollers offer some advantages that trainers do not. Most importantly, they enhance bike-handling skills and improve balance. Anyone who becomes proficient at riding rollers can also ride a bike on the road in a very straight line. Anyone who progresses to being able to ride the rollers no-hands will be confident enough on the road to ride no-hands while pulling on or taking off a windbreaker or set of arm warmers. Riding rollers also encourages a smooth pedaling style. Riders who have the bad habit of shooting their bike backwards when they move from a sitting to a standing position will quickly break that habit if they practice riding while standing up on rollers. Shoot your bike backwards, and you'll find yourself off the rollers and in danger of falling over. In other words, many bad cycling habits are accentuated when riding rollers, which encourages the cyclist to correct those bad habits on the rollers and thus become a smoother cyclist on the road.

Rollers can also offer resistance. For starters, the smaller the diameter of the drums, the greater the friction with the bike's tires and the more pedaling effort is required. Smaller-diameter drums are also cheaper. Also, for some brands of rollers, a fan attachment is available, which is driven by a belt attached to one of the drums. The harder the cyclist pedals, the more the air resistance of the fan increases, which simulates the way wind resistance increases with speed on the road. In addition, the fan directs a stream of cooling air at the cyclist.

One brand of rollers even has a flywheel built into one of the rear rollers. This flywheel can be disengaged for an easy spin or engaged to simulate the inertia of a bike on the road. With the flywheel engaged, when the cyclist stops pedaling, the rollers continue to spin to simulate coasting on the street, and extra effort is also required to accelerate. The combination of a flywheel and a roller-driven fan with the airstream aimed at the cyclist simulates very closely the feeling of a bike on the street with one exception: Rollers are unforgiving of sloppy bike handling.

In addition to the fact that it takes time and effort to learn to ride them, rollers also have the disadvantage of being a bit pricey. A decent set of rollers will set a cyclist back $300 to $500, and some of the fancier roller sets can run over $800. $300 or perhaps a bit more is a reasonable investment for a cyclist who has the discipline to keep riding them, but once the novelty wears off, riding rollers can be just as boring as riding the home trainer. Just as most home trainers end up sitting in the corner gathering dust, a set of rollers can end up spending years tucked away under the bed. However, cyclists who have the discipline to work out regularly on the home trainer will probably also have the discipline to do workouts on the rollers. (Apparently I do not have the discipline, because my rollers spent more than 20 years under my bed until I drug them out, replaced the decrepit belt, and started riding them again in preparation for writing this article.)

Few riders will be able to balance on the rollers at the first attempt, so it's best to start with the rollers located in a narrow hallway, in a door opening, or next to a table or counter to be able to catch oneself and prevent a fall. Also make sure there are no sharp surfaces to fall on or places where you might hit your head, just in case. Adjust the rollers so that the center of the front drum is just ahead of the axle of the bike's front wheel. Then mount the bike on the rollers, get on the bike while holding onto a fixed object. Pedal to get the bike up to speed while holding onto the handlebars with one hand and holding onto the fixed object with the other. With practice you should be able to let go of the fixed object, put both hands on the bars, and steer the bike so that it stays on the rollers. Once you get comfortable, try shifting gears. With time you can work on standing up while pedaling, riding with one hand on the bars, and riding no hands.

A word of caution, don't be tempted to ride a fixed-gear bike on the rollers. If you let up on pedaling, the momentum of the rotating drums will shoot the bike backwards off the rollers. Also NEVER touch the bike's brakes while riding rollers for the same reason.

If you would like to view an instructional video by cycling coach Mark Evans on how to ride rollers, click here. I find his explanations very long-winded, and if you feel the same way, you might want to fast-forward through the first seven minutes.

To see a very skilled rider work out on rollers, click here. This second video shows the level of skill that you can aspire to with lots of practice.

By the way, the choice of what to ride at home isn't between a trainer and rollers. A cyclist who is determined to improve will probably have both; a trainer to use for hard interval workouts and a set of rollers to improve bike-handling skills while doing less-intensive workouts.

Traffic Skills Course for Free!

The League of American Bicyclists offers a course called Traffic Skills 101, which teaches beginning cyclists the skills necessary to ride safely in traffic. In the Phoenix area, the course is offered by the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists for a fee of $25. The course consists of a theoretical portion, normally taught in a classroom, and a practical portion, which is conducted on the bike.

Residents of Pima County can find information about free bicycle safety classes by clicking here. Riders who take the course in Pima County also receive a packet of free goodies including a patch kit, tire levers, safety reflective tape, and a choice of two safety items from the following list: free helmet and a rear bike light set, free helmet and a bicycle U-lock, or front and rear lights and a U-lock.

Now there is a way for all to take the theoretical part of Traffic Skills online 101 for free. The City of Houston and the League of American Bicyclists have jointly developed the online course. After taking the online portion, cyclists are still expected to contact a local certified instructor to take the practical portion. For more information on the online course, click here.

PMBC's Kokopedalli Rides on Sunday Mornings

Phoenix-area cyclists have a plethora of regular rides to choose from on weekends, from rides featuring elbow-banging 35-mile-per-hour sprints to leisurely cruising. One of the rides, targeted at cyclists who prefer a leisurely pace, is the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club's Kokopedalli  series on Sunday. This is a no-drop ride, which may appeal to those new to group riding or getting back into cycling after a layoff. The ride distance is 20 to 30 miles at a pace of 10 to 14 miles per hour with an occasional stop to regroup and an optional brunch after the ride.

On the first and third Sundays of the month, the Kokopedalli ride departs from Chaparral Park in Scottsdale. The ride on the second Sunday of the month leaves Kiwanis Park in Tempe, and the fourth-Sunday ride leaves from Desert Breeze Park in Chandler. The starting time varies according to the time of the year, but I believe that the ride currently starts at 10 a.m. The fifth Sunday? Well, in months when there is a fifth Sunday and the group decides to hold a ride, it is announced by E-mail.

For up-to-date information, check the ride's Website by clicking here. Then click on the message links in blue at the bottom half of the page to read the current ride gossip...err information.

(The Kikopedalli ride is presumably named after Kokopelli, the Indian humpbacked fertility symbol and flute player depicted in ancient Indian pictographs throughout Arizona and Sonora.)

November Third-Friday Ride -- November 19

This is an evening ride, so dig your lights out of the closet and mount them on your bike. The ride starts this Friday at Tempe Beach Park near downtown Tempe at 7:30 p.m. I have no idea where the ride is heading, but the promoter writes "We'll be out in search of Pumpkin Ales and other harvest refreshments." I guess you just bring your bike and some beer money to the ride and allow yourself to be surprised.

Link the Lake Ride -- December 4

The Link the Lake ride is promoted by Not One More, an organization dedicated to ending cyclist-motor vehicle accidents. The Link the Lake event is a fundraiser to benefit the family of Jay Fretz who, as reported in an earlier edition of Arizona Road Cyclist News, was killed on May 17 in an accident with a motor vehicle while commuting on his bike in Tempe. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and will feature rides from various points around the Valley to Tempe Town Lake, which, I am told, has some water in it again. As this is being written, I am unable to ascertain where the various rides will start or just how the fundraising part of the ride will work. Perhaps more information will soon be posted to the Not One More Website, which you can view by clicking here.

NYM Lake Pleasant Camping Tour -- December 10 to 12

The Not Your Mom (NYM) chapter of the Arizona Bicycle Club will be conducting a self-contained cycling and camping tour to Lake Pleasant from Friday December 10 to Sunday December 12. Cyclists will spend the weekend in a campground and will be responsible for carrying their own equipment on their bikes. There is no fee for the ride, but there is a nightly fee of $17 to $25 per night for camping, depending on the amenities in the campsite. The camping fee can be split among various cyclists.

 As this was written, the route and starting point for the ride had not yet been determined. For updated information on the Web, first click here and the click on the "Lake Pleasant Camping Tour" link on the Webpage.

Here are the dates of some of the upcoming NYM tours:

     January 12 to 23 -- McDowell Mountain Park
     February 18 to 21 -- J&P Tucson Tour
     March 11 to 13 -- Lost Dutchman State park
     April 8 to 10 -- Picacho Peak
     May 20 to 22 -- Mormon Lake

Casa Grande Century -- January 9

The Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club (PMBC) will put on its annual Casa Grande Century ride on January 9. There are three distance options available: a full 100-mile (actually 102 miles, I believe) century ride, a 100-kilometer (62-mile) metric century, and a 34-mile ride. This is a flat century that passes through the desert and farmlands between Chandler and Casa Grande.

The rides start at the Safeway store at 4970 South Alma School Road in Chandler with check-in from 8 to 9 a.m. There is no mass start (very sensible), so riders may depart as soon as they check in, although riders doing the full century are requested to depart by 8:30 a.m.

The ride fee for the full and metric centuries is a very reasonable $20 for members of PMBC, GABA and ABC until January 1. Non-members should add another $10. The 34-mile ride costs $15 until January 1 with a $5 adder for non-members of the three cycling clubs. After January 1 everyone should add a $10 late fee. Tandems should add $15. All riders get SAG support, and early registrants also receive a Polar water bottle. In addition, participants of the two longer rides get lunch in Casa Grande.

To access the ride's Web page for more information, click here.

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Arizona Road Cyclist News,
Jack Quinn, Editor