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