Arizona Road Cyclist News
J
ack Quinn, Editor

 ¬© October 29, 2009

In this issue:
     The 100 Ride for Jim Stenholm a Great Success
     Why Do Male Cyclists Shave Their Legs?
     The Bullshifters' Heart of Arizona Century, November 7
     The Tour of New River, November 7
     ABC's McDowell Mountain Century, November 14
     Cave Creek Bicycle Festival, November 13-15
     Silent Sunday at South Mountain Park
     Wheezer and Geezer Weekday Rides
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News

The 100 Ride for Jim Stenholm a Great Success

If you weren't on the Ride for Jim Stenholm last Saturday, you missed a great cycling event. One of the Phoenix Police Officers who accompanied the 100-kilometer route as part of the motorcycle detail estimated the pack on that ride at 175 cyclists, although to some of the other participants and to me, that seemed conservative. My guess is that there were at least 200 cyclists. I do not have an estimate of the number of people who participated in the event's two shorter rides.

The event was held on the first anniversary of the death of Jim Stenholm, a former Phoenix Police officer and avid cyclist. Police stopped traffic along the route, so that the main group could roll through intersections, including red traffic lights, without stopping. The two sag stops were well supplied with fruit, delicious cookies, and bottled water and sports drinks. At the end of the ride, we were treated to cheeseburgers, hotdogs, soft drinks, chips, and delicious potato salad that had me going back for more. Riders also received a free baseball cap embroidered with the name of the ride. Best of all, everything was free, although many of us made a donation to the 100 Club to help the families of deceased police officers.

I don't know if the ride will be held next year or not, but if it is, this is one ride that you shouldn't miss.

Why Do Male Racing Cyclists Shave Their Legs?

Almost all male bicycle racers shave their legs. In fact, when I announce bicycle races, one of the corny jokes that I never tire of repeating despite load groans from the spectators  is that bicycle racing is the only sport where the men shave their legs and the women don't.

It's not only male bicycle racers who shave their legs, many hard-riding recreational cyclists do as well. But why? Ask the cyclists themselves, and you will get a variety of answers. One is that shaving their legs makes cyclists more aerodynamic, especially in time trials, where even a minimal reduction in aerodynamic drag is important. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support this view. In fact, wind tunnel tests have shown that slightly irregular surfaces have a lower wind resistance than do perfectly smooth ones, which explains why the rims of Zipp carbon wheels are dimpled. Paradoxically, professional male racers often ride with a few days growth of beard stubble on their faces but with smoothly shaved legs. Why do they believe that hair on their faces helps them win races when hair on their legs is a hindrance? If you want to be aerodynamic, don't shave.

Another explanation often given is that shaved legs are easier to bandage in case of a crash with resulting road rash. There is some truth to this, but why not shave the area around the wound after a crash instead of before? Additionally, cyclists also suffer road rash on their arms, backs and ..err... derrières, but to the best of my knowledge cyclists do not shave these areas.

Yet a third explanation is that shaved legs are easier to massage. This may be true, but who besides the top pros gets regular leg massages? Most of us amateur racers ride for clubs that can barely afford to give us a few bucks off the cost of our jerseys and perhaps pick up a few race entry fees. They do not have staffs of people ready to knead our tired leg muscles after a race.

The truth is that most competitive male cyclists shave their legs for the same reasons that most women do: vanity and peer pressure. Cyclists tend to have well developed leg muscles, and women tell me that a pair of shaved and oiled male legs rippling with muscles can be a beauty to behold.

Also, many men may feel out of place if they are the only ones with hairy legs pedaling in a pack of cyclists with smooth-shaven gams. My legs are as hairy as any you are likely to see on a two-legged animal without visiting a zoo, and I take some flak over it in the peloton. If you're going to race and you're sensitive to criticism, shave your legs.

PS/After writing the above article, I read the "VN then & now" section of VeloNews, where the magazine lists some topics that it reported on 15 and 35 years ago. In the 35-year-ago section, I found the following statement: "study finds hairy legs faster than shaved ones."

The Bullshifters' Heart of Arizona Century, November 7

If you're planning to ride the Heart of Arizona Century Ride, it's time to send in your application to avoid the $10 late fee. The price goes up if you haven't registered by November 1.

The Bullshifters sponsor this challenging ride each year and do an excellent job of support. The ride starts in Congress, near Wickenburg, heads out Highway 93, then loops east on SR-97. Highway 93 is the only unpleasant section of the ride. Some parts of this highway are two-lane with a very narrow space to ride on the shoulder to the right of the particularly rough rumble strip. However, once that section of the ride is over, the rest of the route is a joy, assuming you get your kicks by riding up long hills. Riders who sneak off before the official start time will have less traffic to deal with on the first miles of the ride.

Be sure to load up on liquids at SAG stop #2 at the corners of SR-97 and SR-96, because from there it's a 16-mile ride to the next SAG in Hillside, and this stretch is almost all uphill. The climb starts out innocently enough, but it goes on and on and on. Each time that you think you've reached the top, you'll round a corner or top a rise and see the next section of the climb ahead of you.

For those who survive the climb, there are rollers from Hillside to Kirkland Junction that hide the fact that the ride is still mostly uphill, and then a final climb to Yarnell that would be a piece of cake for a fresh rider but is torture to legs already screaming in pain from thousands of feet of climbing.

However, then comes the exhilarating nine-mile descent of Yarnell Hill. By the time you finish freewheeling through mile after mile of switchbacks with no need to turn a pedal, you'll arrive at the bottom of the hill refreshed. From there, it's just a short, flat pedal to the finish line where hamburgers, chips and soft drinks will be waiting.

During the climb to Hillside, you'll curse yourself for signing up for this ride, but as you munch your hamburger at the finish line and swap lies with the other riders about your exploits on the ride, you'll already be planning your strategy for next year. Oh, and I described the 100-mile version. If you plan to ride the 120-mile version, add in two more climbs.

The cost of the ride is $40 for members of the Bullshifters, ABC and GABA and $45 for others. Add a $10 late fee for entries mailed after October 31. To access the ride's Website, check out the map and profile, and print registration and release forms, click here.  

The Tour de New River, November 7

This is a fund-raising ride promoted by the Scottsdale Bible Church to benefit the poor in Africa. The ride starts at Pinnacle Peak Patio at 10426 East Jomax Road in Scottsdale and has 40-mile and 72-mile options. The cost of the ride is $80, and riders are encouraged to raise additional donations. Any rider who raises at least $650 in donations will receive a free ride jersey. (Jerseys are also to be available for purchase.) Riders who raise at least $2,500 will be entered in a drawing to receive an unspecified valuable prize. For additional information, to register for the ride, or to make a donation, click here.

ABC's McDowell Mountain Century, November 14

The Arizona Bicycle Club's annual McDowell Century takes place this year on November 14 in Scottsdale, Rio Verde, and Fountain Hills. The ride starts at Serano Park, 56th Street and Sweetwater in Scottsdale. There are three versions of the ride: a 100-mile century, a 62-mile metric century, and a 30-mile half-metric century.

Almost all long rides these days have a section that many riders would rather bypass. On this ride, the bad section is the descent of Nine Mile Hill into Rio Verde, which forms part of both the 60- and 100-mile routes. The long descent might be welcome during the week, but on weekends, there are often long lines of pickup trucks towing trailers laden with off-road vehicles on their way to McDowell Mountain Park. Many of the drivers pass cyclists far too closely as they go careening downhill with one hand on the steering wheel and with a can of Bud Lite in the other hand.

Members of ABC, GABA, and Bullshifters pay $35 for the event. Non-members pay $45. Tandems are $45 for members per bike and $60 for non-members. After November 1, there is a $5 late fee for individual riders and a $15 late fee for tandems. (The ride's Website confusingly gives the late fee dates of April 15 and August 10, both of which must be incorrect. I reported that to the ABC, but as of this Monday, no one had corrected the error.) The entry fee includes sag stops with lots of munchies and insurance. The first 130 riders will also receive ABC logo insulated Polar water bottles.

Check-in and late registration open onsite at 6:30 a.m. The century ride leaves at 7:30, and the metric and half-metric century rides leave at 8:00. (Cautious riders will sneak off a bit early and avoid the dangerous mass starts.)

To access the ride's Website and/or to register online, click here

Cave Creek Bicycle Festival, November 13-15

The Cave Creek Bicycle Festival takes place on November 13, 14, and 15. As part of the festival, there will be road and mountain bike rides, music, free food for registrants, a beer garden, and a vendor fair. The mountain bike and road rides individually have an entry fee of $50 or you can register for both for $80 until October 31.

Anyone who is interested in participating can download a registration form or register online for an additional processing fee. After October 31, add a $15 late fee. The event organizers are also looking for volunteers. For more information, click here.

El Tour de Tucson, November 21

The Tour de Tucson, often simply referred to as "The Tour," is an annual happening that attracts thousands of cyclists and whose fame has grown to almost mythical proportions. The ride is famous for its competitive nature and infamous for its frequent crashes and subsequent lawsuits. (Just because you sign a waver saying that you ride at your own risk does not necessarily mean that you can't sue someone if you crash.) The route features 102- 80- 67- and 35-mile variations for adults and a 4-mile and 1/4-mile fun ride for kids and their families.

This ride is not cheap. The entry fee for adults and teens is $70 plus a $15 contribution and  a registration processing fee of $30 for registrations received during October rising to $35 or $45 after November 1. For that fee, riders receive an event T-shirt, SAG stops, police support for the ride, first aid support for those riders who suffer accidents, and the right to brag all year long about completing "The Tour".

To visit the Tour's Web site, click here.

Silent Sunday at South Mountain Park

There are two Silent Sundays remaining at Phoenix's South Mountain Park in 2009. On Silent Sunday, the park is closed to motor traffic, leaving the roads open to hikers, skaters, and, of course, cyclists. The next Silent Sunday is November 22 and the final Silent Sunday of the year falls on December 20. 

Wheezer and Geezer Weekday Rides

Phoenix's Wheezers and Geezers are best known for their Saturday ride, but a small group also rides on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The current starting time is 7:30 a.m. from the traffic circle at Northern and Invergordon in Paradise Valley (both streets also are known as Hummingbird). The ride heads out to Hidden Hills in North Scottsdale. Anyone with the skill to ride a paceline and who is free weekday mornings is welcome to join us. All cyclists ride at their own risk. This is an impromptu ride, and there is no organizer. (Note: It is supposed to be very cold this Thursday morning, so there is a chance that this Thursday's ride will be scrapped.)

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Jack Quinn, Editor