Category Archives: Training

The crazies out there

Here’s an example of what some bicyclists have to contend with when they ride on rural roads.
Check out this YouTube video of two cyclists riding on a quiet Sunday morning near Longmont, Colo.

The cyclists were pedaling on the right-hand side of the right lane when an SUV driven by an elderly male came up behind them and repeatedly honked at them for more that two minutes, even though there was little traffic on the road and the driver had plenty of room to pass.
“At least we kept our cool,” one of the cyclists, Dirk Friel, told the Boulder Daily Camera.
Both cyclists were experienced road riders. But Friel pointed out that the constant honking, which seemed to amount to nothing more than harassment, could have distracted less experienced cyclists and even caused a crash.
He said that when the SUV finally did pass, it sped by so close to his companion that he pushed off the vehicle.
Fortunately, the cyclists got a video of the incident with a smart phone and the driver’s license plate number. The Colorado State Patrol said it is investigating the incident for possible “enforcement action.”
So be careful out there. There are a lot of crazies on the road.



Filed under Americana, Cycling across America, Training

An obligatory stop

BOULDER, Colo. — A visit to Boulder wouldn’t be complete without a stop at University Bicycles, the oldest bike shop in this university town and one of the best I’ve ever found.

Cruiser bikes at University Bicycles

I dropped in the other day, not so much to shop but simply to soak up some of the thriving biking culture in this fitness-concious town, where my youngest son spent four years at the University of Colorado.
It’s the sort of town where, on a Sunday morning, say, throngs of Boulderites are out at sunrise, biking, jogging or hiking. It seems as if a city ordinance requires all residents to engage in early-morning physical activity, with heavy fines for slugabeds.
A focal point for the fitness buffs is University Bicycles, on Pearl Street in downtown Boulder. The shop opened in a small basement on Pearl Street in March 1985. Within eight months, the growing business moved to its current location at Pearl and Ninth streets.
For any cyclist visiting Boulder, University Bicycles is an obligatory stop.

Mural on the side of University Bicycles

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In memoriam …

The somber, gray skies reflected the mood of more than 100 bicyclists on Sunday as they turned out in Hurst, Texas, for a tribute ride in memory of Megan Baab, a local cyclist who was killed during training near her college in North Carolina.

Tribute ride for Megan Baab. Photo by WFAA-TV/Channel 8

Megan’s father, Chris Baab, also a cyclist, led the ride, which began at the Hurst store of Bicycles Inc. and followed one of Megan’s favorite training routes when she was growing up in Texas.
“There’s people showing up here that I haven’t seen in years,” Chris Baab said. “It’s just so comforting, and to know that they loved my daughter just as much as I did.”
Megan, 19, was killed on Thursday afternoon when a truck struck her head-on while she was doing a training ride on a rural road in Altamont, N.C., near Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., where she was a freshman. Megan competed on the national recognized Lees-McRae cycling team.

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‘So sad, so young’

Some sad news for local cyclists: Megan Baab of Euless, Texas — in the Mid-Cities between Fort Worth and Dallas — was killed on Thursday during a training ride in Altamont, N.C.

Megan Baab

She was a freshman at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., and a member of the nationally recognized cycling team at the college, nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.
Megan, 19, and her father, Chris, also an avid cyclist, are well know among cyclists in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. News of Megan’s death prompted a flurry of condolence messages on Facebook and cycling Web sites.
“So sad, so young,” said one comment on Facebook.
A news release posted on the college Web site said Megan had competed on the national level for Lees-McRae in the USA Cycling National Championships (track and mountain bike) and was planning to compete in January for the college at the USA Cycling Cyclocross Championships.
The college cited news reports as saying that Megan “was traveling north on U.S. 221 in Altamont, N.C., when a southbound truck crossed the center line and struck her.” She was airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center, across the state line in Tennessee, “but was pronounced dead soon after arrival at the medical center from the injuries sustained.”
A report on the Winston-Salem Journal Web site said: “It’s the second time in a year the Lees-McRae community is mourning the death of one of their cyclists while on a training ride. Senior Carla Swart, the most-decorated cyclist in collegiate history, died in her native South Africa after a collision with a truck while she was on a training ride in January. She was 23.”
Let’s all be careful out there.

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‘Are you crazy?’ ‘No, I’m a cyclist.’

Every serious cyclist almost certainly has had conversations with puzzled friends and relatives about why they engage in a sport that can be physically demanding to the point of pain and usually offers only a meager reward – the satisfaction of accomplishing something very difficult, and maybe a cheap water bottle and T-shirt.
“Why would you want to spend two months riding a bicycle across the United States, hauling all your stuff on the bike and camping out in seedy RV parks?” a friend might ask. “If you want to do a bike trip, why not do it, say, in the Napa Valley. Ride a few miles a day from one winery to another, taste some wine and good food, and then spend the night at a nice bed-and-breakfast?”
A few years ago when I used to ride regularly in the annual Bicycle Tour of Colorado – five times between 1997 and 2002 – a work colleague was baffled that I would choose to spend my vacation torturing myself by riding more than 400 miles in a week through the high passes of the Rocky Mountains … and pay to do it.
“I’d be glad to beat you up side the head with a 2-by-4 in exchange for that ride fee,” he once joked.
So I got a kick out of a video animation called “Cycling Explained.” (Click on the link below.). It reminded me of all those conversations at work, with friends and at family gatherings.
“Bike rider. Cyclist. What’s the difference? You still ride a bike,” says the woman in the animation. The answer: “True. But ‘bike riders’ ride their bikes for fun, while a ‘cyclist’ rides to suffer and feel excruciating pain.”
There’s more than a grain of truth in that.


Filed under Americana, Cycling across America, Journeys, Training

Cycling in the news

Nearly every day I troll the Internet in search of snippets about bicycling. Here are a few from today’s cull:

— After John Markoff crashed on his bike while riding downhill at 30 mph on the back roads of the San Francisco Peninsula, he was alert and oriented when the medics got to him. But he had no memory of what led to the crash. “Ultimately,” he wrote for The New York Times Science section, “I was able to put the puzzle together with the cyclist’s equivalent of a black box: the digital record of my speed, location, pedal rate and heart rate that was stored in the Garmin cyclometer on my handlebars. I also learned that other cyclists involved in accidents have been able to use similar data to prove what happened in their crashes.”

Neighbor and fellow cyclist Josh Lindsay checks out the Velib system during a bike ride in France this summer

— Since Paris Mayor Bernard Delanoe introduced the first Velib rental bikes in 2006, Parisians have embraced the bicycle in numbers not seen since World War II, says Bicycling magazine. Today no less than 20,000 Velib bikes, can be found a hundreds of stations on the city streets of Paris. As a result, cyclists can simply pick up a bike from one of the stations, go for a ride, and drop it back at any station they choose. But this quiet revolution would not have possible if it weren’t for the expansion of bike lanes or bike-friendly lanes. Currently the mayor’s office claims 645 kilometers of protected or semi-protected routes.

— “I learned long time ago that my body is what I have to work with,” writes Dennis Wyatt, managing editor of the Manteca Bulletin of Manteca, Calif. “I’ll never be an athlete but I can maximize the body I was dealt in the DNA sweepstakes. So what if I can’t even throw like a girl? And just because I’m a klutz who could give Chevy Chase a run for his money doesn’t mean I have to sit on my tail. Exercising and your health should be about you and not about anyone else whether it is Jack LaLane, Lance Armstrong, or some chain-smoking mountain biker.”

— The Leopard-Trek cycling team is joining forces for the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the RadioShack team formerly led by seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, according to news service reports.

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An epic ride dedicated to Mom

His name will be entered in Le Grande Livre, an enduring chronicle of one of the world’s oldest and most grueling of sporting events.
That was the simple goal for Jeremy Shlachter, neighbor, longtime friend and custom bike builder, when he began training for PBP 2011, this year’s edition of the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycling event, an endurance ride of 1,200 kilometers from Paris to the Atlantic Coast and back to Paris. The ride — equivalent to more than 745 miles, nearly the distance between Chicago and New York — had to be finished in 90 hours.
“Paris Brest Paris time 78 hours and 31 minutes,” Jeremy posted today on Facebook from Paris after his finish, more than 11 hours before the deadline. “Whole new kinds of hurt mixed in with some old ones.”
In a later Facebook post in response to congratulations from well-wishers, Jeremy wrote: “thanks everybody. it was so hard. nearly all hills. 3.5 hours sleep total. rode through a thunder storm. but the scenery and experience was beautiful. glasgow bound tomorrow, london on the 7th, texas on the 10th. and yes i did have a paris brest pastry and it was delicious.”
Riders in the PBP are an elite breed of cyclists called randonneurs, French for “ramblers.” They train their bodies to ride ridiculous distances of hundreds of miles during a single weekend.
This year’s Paris-Brest-Paris event, held every four years in August, began on Sunday and ended today after 90 hours had elapsed.

Charles Terront , winner of the first Paris-Brest-Paris ride in 1891

Each rider finishing within the allotted time receives a PBP finisher’s medal and has his or her name entered into the event’s Le Grande Livre (“The Great Book”) along with every other finisher dating back to the first Paris-Brest-Paris ride in 1891.
All participants in PBP had to qualify by doing a “super randonneur” series of “brevets,” or rides, of 200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometers in the year of the event and complete the series by mid-June.
The qualifying rides are overseen by the governing body of randonneuring in each participant’s country. The governing body for the United States is RUSA, or Randonneurs USA. The club for North Texas, which organizes and monitors randonneuring events, is Lone Star Randonneurs.

Jeremy Shlachter after 24 hours in the saddle during his 600-kilometer "brevet"

During a randonneuring event, the clock runs continuously. Participants ride through the night, sleeping as little as possible, sometimes catching a brief catnap beside the road before continuing.
On one weekend in the spring, the last of his qualifying brevets, Jeremy rode 600 kilometers (375 miles) in 27 hours and 6 minutes on a course mapped out around Italy, Texas, south of Dallas.
In his last major weekend ride before PBP — not needed for qualification but to keep his physical edge — Jeremy rode 800 kilometers (497 miles), broken down into two separate brevets of 600 kilometers on June 11-12 and 200 kilomters on June 13. From then until shortly before leaving for France, he rode shorter routes in the heat of this beastly Texas summer.
In a post on his blog today, Jeremy wrote of the Paris-Brest-Paris ride: “This will definitely go down as one of my greatest sporting accomplishments and most sensastional experiences. I don’t think I would want to even know what is a harder event then PBP.”
But then he put things into perspective:

Vintage PBP poster

“I have been extremely quiet about this in the public realm of my business, but now I feel it is necessary to share. Though this was a tough experience it does not compare to the pain and suffering my mother has been experiencing for well over a year now fighting brain cancer. My grand randoneé is completely dedicated to her. It would not have been possible without her love, support, and guidance. She has approached her situation with the same class, dignity, and compassion that has always defined her as a person. Her perseverance has been the greatest influence on my success and determination.”
Jeremy’s parents and brother had hoped to travel to France for his epic ride. But Amrita Shlachter’s illness made that impossible.
Well ridden, Jeremy, and well said!

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