Arizona Road Cyclist News
J
ack Quinn, Editor

 © October 6, 2010

Published on an irregular basis and sent out by E-mail free of charge. To modify or cancel your subscription, click here.

In this issue:
     Driver Pleads Guilty to Traffic Violations
     100 Ride for Jim Stenholm -- October 23
     U of A Cracks Down on Scofflaw Cyclists
     Arizona's Bicycle Helmet Laws 
     Mountain Bike Move at MadCap -- October 7
     Cycling Double Feature at MadCap -- October 8
     Breast Cancer Awareness Ride -- October 9
     Tour de Fat -- October 9
     Cave Creed Bike Tour -- October 16 & 17
     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

Driver Pleads Guilty in Cyclist's Death

In the previous issue of this newsletter, I reported that the young female driver who was responsible for cyclist Doug Flynn's death a year ago had been charged with two traffic violations just weeks before the statute of limitations for issuing the citations would have expired. Doug Flynn was struck head-on and killed by an automobile coming from the opposite direction. The driver had pulled out to pass a tractor towing a farm machine despite the fact that the sun was in her eyes and she did not have a clear view of oncoming traffic. The accident happened in the small farming town of Somerton, just south of Yuma.

The driver was charged with "speed greater than reasonable and prudent" and "fail to pass safely on left." According to online court records, the driver pleaded guilty to both charges on September 27, and two days later the Somerton Municipal Court fined the driver. I do not know the amount of the fines, but typically the fines and surcharges for such offenses are in the neighborhood of $200 for each count.

100 Ride for Jim Stenholm -- October 23

The ride for Jim Stenholm is without a doubt one of the top cycling events of the year. I did not yet have detailed information about this ride when the last newsletter went out, so I'm giving it top billing in this issue so that as many readers as possible have the opportunity to participate. This is a ride with class-A sag stops, a police escort, which will halt traffic for the main groups so that they can keep rolling through stop signs and red lights, and a great feed at the end of the ride.

Jim Stenholm was a Phoenix police officer and an avid cyclist who unexpectedly passed away at a young age two years ago. Members of the Phoenix Consumer Cycling Club ride with an image of his badge, number 6206, draped in a black ribbon on each shoulder of their team jerseys.

The 100 Ride for Jim Stenholm is roughly a 100-kilometer or 62-mile ride in honor of Jim's badge number. (OK, the truth will out. The ride is actually a bit shorter than the advertised length.) The ride starts from the Desert Horizon Precinct at 56th Street and Paradise Lane in Scottsdale at 8 a.m. Riders are requested to arrive by 7:30 a.m. to sign a waver and receive a gift as thanks for joining the ride. (Rumor has it that the gift will be a pair of cycling socks.)

Although the ride is free, riders are encouraged to make an optional tax-deductible donation to the promoting organization to aide the families of deceased fire fighters and police officers. The suggested donation amount is $25, which has to make this ride the best bargain going. Because the costs of the ride are completely covered by its sponsors, your entire donation will go to its intended recipients. Considering the excellent sag stops, the free meal, the gift that cyclists receive at registration, and the police escort, riders will receive far more than $25 in value in return for their donations.

The riders who participated in this event last year were almost unanimous in praising it as the best cycling event of the year, and we expect the same quality of ride this year. The ride concludes back at the starting point, where Famous Dave's BBQ will be serving up free food.

To see the ride route, click here. If you have questions about the ride, send them to 100forJim@gmail.com. Although the ride has no official Website, it does have a Facebook page under the name "The 100".

U of A Cracks Down on Scofflaw Cyclists

The University of Arizona is cracking down on scofflaw cyclists who violate traffic laws on campus under the guise of a bicycle safety campaign. Violations to be targeted include running stop signs, failing to signal a turn (I wish someone would crack down on motorists who commit this infraction), riding on the sidewalk, and riding through crosswalks without stopping for pedestrians. The campaign is being funded by a grant and is reportedly motivated by a rash of accidents involving pedestrians and outlaw cyclists.

Up until now, campus police have been pulling over the scofflaws, issuing them a warning, and handing them a brochure explaining the rules of the road. Now, however, the gloves are coming off, and police are going to begin issuing traffic citations. Fines for traffic violations in Tucson can reportedly reach $220.

The official enforcement phase ends at the end of October, but campus police plan to continue issuing tickets throughout the school year. As most readers of this newsletter certainly know, cyclists are with few exceptions required to obey the same traffic laws and pay the same fines for infractions as motorists.

Arizona's Bicycle Helmet Laws

Almost all skilled cyclists wear helmets when riding, but the same is not true for many casual riders or for many who use a bicycle for basic transportation. There is no nation-wide helmet law for either cyclists or motorcycle riders, but there are helmet laws for minors in several Arizona municipalities. Some of the following information comes from the "Bicycle Helmet Law in Arizona" Web page.

Tucson and Pima County both have laws requiring anyone under 18 to wear an approved bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle on public streets, but there is no fine. Violators in Tucson receive a verbal warning.

Flagstaff has a helmet law with teeth in it requiring anyone under 18 to wear a helmet. The fine can vary from $25 to $75, but the fine will be waved if the cyclists purchases an approved helmet.

The City of Phoenix also has a law requiring all cyclists under 18 years of age to wear a helmet as do the Cities of Sierra Vista and Yuma.

In case of an accident, cyclists may also be affected by what has been called "Arizona's Secret Helmet Law." If you receive a head injury in an accident, even if the accident is not your fault, and you were not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred, you may find that the jury reduces or completely eliminates your damage award.

Mountain Bike Movie at MadCap -- October 7

The MadCap theater in Tempe presents the file "Ride the Divide" on Thursday, October 7. The movie is about what is purported to be the world's toughest mountain bike race, "which traverses over 2700 miles [from Canada to Mexico] along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains." The MadCap Theater is located at 730 S. Mill Avenue in Tempe. To access the theater's Website, click here.

Cycling Double Feature at MadCap -- October 8

Cycling cinema does not stop at the Madcap on Thursday. The theater will follow Thursday's mountain-biking flick with a cycling double feature this Friday. The first film is "RAD", which is a BMX cult film. The full-length feature is "I Got Work Strikes Back," which is reported to feature some local cyclists. The films are for people 18 years of age and older. Admission costs $5, and the films start at 7 p.m. For the theater's location and Website, see the previous article.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ride -- October 9

Trek Dealers across the United States and Canada will host family bike rides on October 9 to raise awareness of breast cancer research.  Riders and their families will have a choice of pedaling from 5 to 25 miles. The Phoenix-area ride is sponsored by Southwest Bicycles in Peoria and starts on October 9 at 10 a.m. at the shop, 8155 W. Bell Road #116. The fee is a quite reasonable $25, which will go toward fighting breast cancer. Riders are requested to arrive between 9 and 9:30 a.m. For more information or to register, please click here.

Tour de Fat -- October 9

This year's Tour de Fat will take place on October 9 in the Tempe Town Park. All proceeds benefit local cycling advocacy groups. The event includes a parade, a chance to buy a few beers, a show, and an area for for families with children with kids' bike checks, helmet decorations, melon-drop helmet demonstrations, and bike-powered blenders. Leave your $10,000 road bike at home and bring your clunker to this event. The emphasis is on having a good time, not on hammering. For a rather sketchy description of the event, click here.

Cave Creek Bike Tour -- October 16 & 17

This is not the Cave Creek near Phoenix! This Cave Creek is in New Mexico. GABA Tucson presents the Cave Creek Bike Tour on October 16 and 17 with a 42-mile ride each day. This is reported to be a very scenic ride near the Arizona-New Mexico border close to I-10 that is suitable for riders who prefer a somewhat leisurely pace. The night of the 16th, riders will stay at the Southwestern Research Station in the Coronado National Forest in dormitory-style cabins. The cost of the ride is $125 for GABA and ABC members and $140 for others. In return, riders get a SAG stop each day, a light lunch on Saturday afternoon and dinner in the evening, Sunday breakfast, and lodging with bedding, towels, and warm showers. To visit the ride's Website, click here.

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, which is yet to be announced. 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 is $25 for members of PMBC, GABA, ABC, and CAzB and $30 for others who pre-register by October 11th. Tandems are $35. After October 11, a late fee 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 register by October 20, the fee is $25 for members of GABA and ABC and $40 for others. After than date, the fee jumps to $40 for members 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 on 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. The ride is free, and 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

It's not too early to begin thinking about one of the toughest one-day cycling events in Arizona, the Heart of Arizona Century, which 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.

From Congress, riders head west for six miles on Arizona State Route 71 and then turn right on Highway 93. Highway 93 is the only touchy portion of the ride, because sections of this highway are narrow with high-speed traffic heading for Las Vegas, and the shoulder is often narrow and separated from the traffic lane by a particularly nasty rumble strip. I find it very helpful to wear a glasses-mounted mirror on this 11-mile stretch so that I can ride in the traffic lane when the coast is clear and jump the rumble strip to the narrow shoulder when traffic approaches from behind. After this stretch, the rest of the route is a dream -- if you are a masochist, that is.

At 33 miles into the ride, shortly after the first SAG stop, the route turns right onto state route 97, and traffic is never again a problem. The real fun begins at 45 miles into the ride, as the riders approach the dreaded 10-mile climb on state route 96 to Hillside, Arizona. I have seen riders get off their bikes and push on this stretch. It's not outlandishly steep, but at ten miles in length, it doesn't have to be. The climb also has multiple false summits. Just when you think you've reached the top of the climb, the road turns and continues upward.

After Hillside and its welcome SAG stop, there is a refreshing downhill, which is punctuated by jarring bumps in the road. From there, the terrain appears to be rolling, but the up-and-down road disguises the fact, that there is more up than down. Riders are once again climbing.

At SAG stop #4 in Kirkland Junction, the ride seems to be almost over with a little bit of a climb to Yarnell. However, appearances are deceptive. The stretch from Kirkland Junction is what those announcers on the Tour de France keep calling a "false flat". In other words, it's a long climb that doesn't look like a long climb. Even through the town of Yarnell itself, the road heads relentlessly upward.

Finally, at almost 95 miles into the ride, the descent comes. The descent of Yarnell Hill is thrilling and is a suitable reward for hours spent in the saddle pedaling uphill. Take it easy on the sharp turns and switchbacks, however. You don't want to crash now that the ride is almost over.

From the bottom of Yarnell Hill, it's a short and easy ride back to the finish line where the Bull Shifters will be cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs and serving ice-cold cans of soft drinks. As you pedaled up the final climb through the town of Yarnell, you probably vowed never to do this ride again, but as you sit around and exchange lies about your exploits with the other riders at the finish line, you will probably already be making plans to do next year's ride.

If you like an easy pedal though the country, this ride is not for you. However, if you want to spend a good part of a day testing your meddle against some of the worst climbs that the area northwest of Wickenburg has to offer, this ride is a must.

A word of caution about driving the Wickenburg bypass on the way home from the ride: Wickenburg, despite its rustic appearance, is a corrupt little town that runs an infamous traffic-ticket trap. The favorite trick of the Wickenburg police is to circle the first roundabout in an unmarked tan SUV and speed up to drivers who merge into traffic in the roundabout and claim that the drivers failed to yield. My advice is to come to a dead stop and let any traffic in the roundabout proceed while keeping an eye peeled for the brown SUV. The other advice is to reduce your speed before you pass any speed limit signs. Driving legally doesn't guarantee that you won't get a ticket in Wickenburg, but the tactic is to make yourself a less-inviting target than the motorists around you. Drivers with a cellphone video camera might also want to start the cameras recording as they approach Wickenburg in order to have evidence to fight a possible bogus traffic ticket.

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.) The route was still not published when this entry was last reviesed (October 5), but the  60- and 100-mile versions usually include 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.

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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Jack Quinn, Editor