Arizona Road Cyclist News
ack Quinn, Editor

 © October 20, 2010

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

In this issue:
     100 Ride for Jim Stenholm Looks Like a Biggie on Cyclist's Death
     Ed Beighe (almost) Wraps up 2009 Cyclist Fatalities
     Motorist Photoed after Buzzing Cyclists
     Bad Crash Mars Tour de Scottsdale
     Riding with a Mirror
     Memorial Ride for Safety XIII -- October 23
     Tumacacori Century -- October 24
     Tour de Tempe -- October 24
     Heart of Arizona Century -- November 6
     McDowell Mountain Century -- November 13
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News

100 Ride for Jim Stenholm Looks Like a Biggie

This Saturday's ride for Jim Stenholm looks like likely to be the cycling event of the year. Because there is no advance registration for the ride, it is impossible to accurately predict how many riders will show up, but the number informally committed to take part in the ride already numbers in the hundreds. For example, most cyclists who normally participate in the Saturday Wheezers and Geezers and BOS rides have promised to do the Stenholm ride this Saturday instead.

As most readers know, Jim Stenholm was a Phoenix police officer and an avid cyclist who passed away at a young age two years ago. This is the second annual ride held in his honor.

The 100 Ride for Jim Stenholm is a metric century (actually a bit less) that leaves from the Desert Horizon Precinct at 56th Street and Paradise Lane this Saturday at 8 a.m. Riders are requested to be at the start no later than 7:30 a.m. in order to sign a waver. There is no need to register in advance; just show up, sign the waver, collect your SWAG (rumor has it that it's a pair of cycling socks), and you're good to ride.

Although there is no charge for the ride, riders are encouraged to make a $25 donation, which will go to help the families of deceased police officers and firefighters. The donation, which is tax-deductable (ask for your receipt), goes entirely to its intended purpose. The cost of putting on the ride including the police escort, SAG stops, and a free meal at the ride's conclusion have already been covered by the ride's sponsors and by volunteer workers.

I intend to cycle to and from the event to get in some extra miles, but those who drive there may want to throw a plastic chair or two into the car. Last year at the free meal after the ride, places to sit in the park where the meal was served were at a premium and balancing a paper plate on one's knees while sitting on the ground is an art that not all of us have mastered.

Without exception, all of the cyclists I have talked to who participated in last year's ride called it the ride of the year. This year it should be even better, and it should be very safe. This is not a race; it is a ride. We all ride together in several informal groups based on ability under the escort of motorcycle-mounted police officers, who will stop traffic so that the ride and roll through intersections without stopping. on Cyclist's Death

Nancy Puffer of the Arizona Republic has written an article following the death of 36-year-old Jay Fretz who was killed while commuting on his bicycle at the intersection of Alameda and McClintock in Tempe on May 17 of this year. Ms Puffer interviewed Jay's widow, Angie, and details some of the hardships that Angie and her 5-year-old daughter have been going through since Jay's death. You can read the article on by clicking here.

Ed Beighe (almost) Wraps up 2009 Cyclist Fatalities

Ed Beighe, who manages the Arizona Bike Law Blog, also keeps track of Arizona cycling fatalities. According to Ed, there were 25 cycling fatalities in Arizona in 2009, of which 11 were judged to be the fault of the cyclist and 14 were found to be the fault of a motorist. Of the 14 motorists, 6 were issued a traffic citation, 7 were indicted under criminal charges, and there is one case whose disposition Ed is still trying to determine. To view his online spreadsheet with details of these fatalities, click here.

Motorist Photoed after Buzzing Cyclists

First let me say that I ride hundreds of miles a week in Phoenix, North Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley, and I seldom have a problem with motor vehicles. Hundreds of motor vehicles pass me every week, and the drivers of almost all of those vehicles seem very willing to share the road with cyclists. However, I do encounter the occasional driver who feels that it is the motorist's responsibility to frighten cyclists off the road, even if it means endangering their lives.

On Wednesday October 6 at approximately 8 a.m., the Wheezers and Geezers cycling group was buzzed (passed very closely) by a motorist on Mountain View in North Scottsdale near 90th Street. I was in the group. Because almost all police officers refuse to write tickets to motorists who violate the three-foot law (ARS 28-735), I have decided to begin photographing motorists who violate this law and post the pictures publicly. This was my first opportunity. I caught the motorist at the next stoplight, pulled up on the sidewalk beside the car, and photographed both the car and driver with my cellphone camera (my reflection can be seen in the second picture). The driver then rolled down the passenger-side window and informed my that cyclists should ride on the sidewalk.

Below are the two pictures I took. The driver looks inoffensive and not like someone out to get cyclists, but it seems that looks can be deceiving.

As I wrote in a previous edition of this newsletters, helmet video cameras have become cheap and very lightweight. Perhaps some cyclists would be interested in riding with a helmet camera, and when they are buzzed by motorists, post videos of the event online. Such videos might let drivers know that they are not anonymous when they endanger the lives of their fellow human beings and also motivate the police to be more conscientious about enforcing the law.





Bad Crash Mars Tour de Scottsdale

The various "Tour de" rides seem on the surface to be inoffensive events. Unfortunately, they are billed as races, and riders are timed and therefore motivated to ride the course as fast as they can. This means that riders who go all out take chances in large packs, putting themselves and the riders around them in danger. Too many cyclists in those packs have little or no experience at riding very fast in very tight groups. As a consequence, these rides are frequently marred by bad crashes and serious injuries.

I am sorry to report that this year's Tour de Scottsdale was no exception. The one bad crash that I was told about occurred as the riders were descending toward Rio Verde on a stretch of road that is known to most cyclists as Nine-Mile Hill. According to one of the riders, there were repeated sounds of screeching brakes as the cyclists descended at approximately 30 miles per hour. Then one cyclist hit the brakes, another swerved to avoid him and thereby hooked the front wheel of the rider behind him, and a number or riders went down.

My advice to anyone who wants to ride on of these Tour de rides is to ride it as a fun ride and to avoid the groups that are riding it as a race. For those who want to race against the clock, I suggest either riding time trials such as those promoted by the Arizona Bicycle Racing Association or those held in conjunction with triathlons. These races tend to be very safe, because riders who race against the clock in these events are not permitted to draft and ride in packs. For those who want to race in mass-start events, I suggest buying a USA Cycling license, joining a racing club, and learning the skills of high-speed pack riding before entering a mass-start event. Racing in USA Cycling events does not guarantee that you won't get involved in a crash, but racing against skilled riders makes crashes much less likely.

Riding with a Mirror

Few of us would think of driving a car without a review mirror, but most cyclists ride in traffic in blissful ignorance of what is approaching them from behind. Time after time I see cyclists pull out in front of cars in absolute unawareness that they just cut off a car. Luckily, most motorists would rather hit the brakes than run down a cyclist.

Why are most cyclists reluctant to use a mirror? Is it because cyclists with a mirror mounted on their bicycle, helmet, or glasses are often regarded as nerds or perhaps as mere "bicycle riders" and not real cyclists?

Of course, skilled cyclists can turn around and look back when they need to know that the coast is clear before changing lanes, making turns, etc., but that's not the same as always knowing what's going on behind. Also, as one of my cycling friends learned when he turned around to look behind, hit a pothole, slid headfirst into a post at the side of the street, and broke his neck, taking one's eyes off the road ahead is not always a good idea. Many cyclists tend to swerve when they look back to the annoyance of those riding behind them.

There are two main types of mirrors: those that mount on the bicycle and those that mount on the cyclist's helmet or glasses. Once bicycle-mounted mirrors were clungy and heavy, but now there are small mirrors available that mount where a handlebar end plug would normally go and provide an adequate view of the road behind. A disadvantage of this type of mirror is that the cyclist must look down, which means that the cyclist is momentarily not looking at the road ahead. The mirror cannot be aimed while riding without turning the handlebars and swerving. Still, bicycle-mounted mirrors a good option for those who cannot adapt to a helmet- or glasses-mounted one.

Helmet- and glasses-mounted mirrors take some time to get used to. When a cyclist first uses one of these mirrors, which are mounted close to the left eye, looking into the mirror is distracting. It takes time to condition the body to take periodic quick glances into the mirror while simultaneously watching the road ahead. Some cyclists claim that even with practice, they can't get used to this type of mirror. The advantages of a helmet- or glasses-mounted mirror is that it is lightweight, and it can be aimed by slightly turning the head.

A helmet mounted mirror has the advantage of always being there unless you ride off and forget your helmet. However, there is a risk of setting the helmet down carelessly and breaking off the mirror, and the helmet with it's attached mirror tends to vibrate slightly when the rider is cycling on a bumpy road. There are many brands of helmet-mounted mirrors to chose from.

I prefer a glasses-mounted mirror, and at my age, I don't care if my fellow racers think it makes me look "un-cool". There are two main types of glasses-mounted mirrors, those made out of plastic such as the Third Eye and Heads Up!, and those made from a metal wire. The plastic ones tend to be less conspicuous a perhaps a few grams lighter, but they have the disadvantage that the piece that clips onto the eyeglass temple fatigues and breaks. Spare mounts can be ordered from the manufacturer for a few dollars each, but having the mirror break on a ride and having to periodically order replacement parts gets old after awhile. For years, I rode with a Third Eye mirror with a plastic clip, but I finally made the switch to a mirror with a wire mount.

The mirrors with a wire temple mount are much sturdier, a bit heavier, and feature a larger viewing area. They tend to come in two sizes, one with a short stem for use on standard glasses and another with a longer stem for use with wrap-around glasses, which is the style of most cycling glasses. On the downside, they look very nerdy. When you see a rider coming in the opposite direction who is using one of these mirrors, you can spot the mirror almost a block away. I prefer this type of mirror, because it is sturdy and gives a good view of the road behind, and since I look like a nerd with or without a mirror, for me there is no downside.

However, for those who want to hide the fact that they are using a mirror, there is one more option. There are small mirrors with an adhesive backing that glue to the inside of the left lens of cycling glasses. I have not tried this type of mirror, but I am told that using one requires some experimentation to find the proper mounting spot. Also, this type of mirror is said to be even harder to adapt to than the helmet- and glasses-mounted variety.

Memorial Ride for Safety XIII -- October 23

The Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club and the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists will jointly promote the 13th annual Memorial Ride for Safety on October 23. There will be three ride distances, 100 kilometers, 35 miles, and an intermediate ride. The ride starts and ends at AJ's at Pima and Pinnacle Peak Roads at 7:30 a.m. for the 100-kilometer ride and 8:00 a.m. for the other two routes. Registration opens at 7:00 a.m. The cost of the ride was $25 for members of PMBC, GABA, ABC, and CAzB and $30 for others who pre-register by October 11th. Tandems were $35. For riders who have not yet registered, a late fee of $5 for single riders and $10 for tandems will be charged.

In exchange for their entry fees, riders will receive a route map. two to three SAG stops, and a barbeque meal at the ride's finish. To visit the ride's Webpage, click here.

Tumacacori Century -- October 24

GABA's Tumacacori Century takes place on October 24 and starts at the Sahuarita Town Hall. Riders have the choice of 24 miles, a 64-mile metric century or a full 100-mile century ride. The long ride takes riders south to the Tumacacori National Monument from which the ride derives its name.

For those who registered by October 20, the fee was $25 for members of GABA and ABC and $40 for others. Now, the fee has jumped to $40 for members of these clubs and $50 for others. The fee covers three SAG stops, and food at the finish line. For more information, click here.

Tour de Tempe -- October 24

The 15th annual Tour de Tempe bike event will take place this Sunday October 24 from 7 to 11 a.m. in Kiwanis Park, 6111 S. All-American Way, Tempe. The event features a free, short bike ride on the new multi-use path along the Western Canal. Riders will be provided with a free breakfast and free snacks donated by the event's sponsors. The first 800 registrants will also receive a free T-shirt.  (What a bargain!) To connect to the event's Website, click here.

Heart of Arizona Century -- November 6

If you're woman or man enough to ride one of the toughest one-day cycling events in this state, the Heart of Arizona Century, it is time to register. The ride features two distance options: a 104-mile century ride and a 125-mile (200-kilometer) Brevet ride. Both rides start and end in Congress, Arizona near the foot of the infamous Yarnell Hill. Both rides follow the same basic route, but the longer Brevet adds two out-and-back side trips to make up the extra distance. The century features almost 7,000 feet of vertical climbing, and the Brevet adds even more climbing to the ride. The ride features excellent SAG stops and a free meal at the ride's conclusion.

The cost of the ride is $40 for members of most cycling clubs and $45 for others. After October 30, add a $10 late fee.

To view the ride's Website and to pre-register, click here.

McDowell Mountain Century -- November 13

The Arizona Bicycle Club (ABC) presents its annual McDowell Mountain Century Ride on November 13. The ride starts at Serano Park at 56th Street and Sweetwater with 100-, 62-, and 30-mile options. Registration opens at 6:30 a.m. with the riders off at 7:30 a.m. (Hint: Smart riders avoid the silly mass start and sneak off early to avoid the risk of accidents in the mob.) Although there is supposedly a map of the route on the Website, I was unable to figure out how to view it, However, in past years the  60- and 100-mile versions have included a ride down Nine-Mile Hill to Rio Verde. Part of Nine-Mill Hill now reportedly sports new bike lanes, which should improve safety on this stretch of the ride. The problem with Nine-Mile Hill, especially on weekends, is the long train of pickup trucks towing trailers laden with off-road vehicles that race down the hill in the mornings on their way to McDowell Mountain Park. Many of the drivers steer with one hand while using the other hand to sip a beer, and some seem to take delight in passing cyclists as closely as possible. Also, as riders on the Tour de Scottsdale learned this year, descending Nine-Mile Hill in a pack is not a good idea unless you are very sure of the skill of all of the riders ahead of you in the group.

A second safety tip is to ride off as soon as you have checked in and not wait for the mass start, which can be dangerous.

The cost of the ride is $35 for members of ABC, PMBC and GABA until November 5. After that date, registrants should add a $5 late registration fee. In exchange for the fee, riders will have SAG stops en route and a feed at the conclusion of the ride. For more information, click here.

About Arizona Road Cyclist News

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Arizona Road Cyclist News,
Jack Quinn, Editor