A visit to Congress on behalf of cyclists has the potential to feel like an exercise in futility; for whatever reason, leadership in the House of Representatives decided to specifically target all-things-cycling for elimination from federal funding on the grounds that it’s frivolous. Frivolous?
Tell that to car-bound commuter stuck in traffic because it’s not possible to build enough roads and parking lots in a city and still have a place to live.
Tell that to downtown stores and restaurants that can’t stay in business because the lack of space has driven rents through the roof.
Tell that to a new generation that may become fat & lazy because it’s not safe for kids to ride or walk to school, so they’re driven everywhere.
Tell that to anyone paying nearly $5/gallon for gas because our need for fuel has driven up the cost.
Tell that to a cyclist who’s been injured by a car because the roads aren’t built to accomodate all users.
Fortunately, the two Representatives local to Chain Reaction, Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, get it. And fortunately, when the House leadership (Representatives Boehner and Mica) decided that cycling infrastructure and Safe Routes to Schools programs were frivilous, thousands of people responded. We heard that the kickback from cyclists was far beyond anything Boehner and Mica were prepared for and, as a result, there will likely be a 3-month extension of the current highway funding bill, keeping our programs intact. During that 3 months, the House and Senate will be getting together to hammer out a bill acceptable to both, and it is hopeful that, while we’ll share our burden of the current financial situation, we won’t be completely gutted as things originally appeared.
To all of our customers who responded to an earlier email request for help (by calling or emailing your representative), all 800 cycling advocates who worked “The Hill” in DC on March 22nd, thank you. We have proved ourselves capable of a good fight, and that alone is worth a lot of value when fighting for our rights to the road and our desire to make our communities friendlier to all who live there. The battle is not over, but with the help of the cycling community, we will prevail. –Mike–
Congress, in the next two days, may kill off virtually any expenditure having to do with making cycling a routine & safe activity, including-
Safe Routes to Schools, an amazing program that is getting kids to walk and ride to schools again, is going to be gone. And with it all hope of relief from traffic gridlock anywhere near a school in the mornings or afternoons. And this is a program that has had widespread bipartisan support.
- Efforts to make sure new road projects accomodate motorists, pedestrians and cyclists will be set back years. This affects everyone, even motorists, as all users will continue to fight it out on poorly-designed roads and intersections. Congestion, gridlock and road rage will only get worse.
What can you do? In 10 minutes, you can make a difference.
Call your representative’s office and ask them to support Representative Petri’s amendment to restore funding to Safe Routes to Schools and Transportation Enhancements. Tell them it’s important, to you, that we invest in the future. Tell them that you’ve used a bicycle to commute, to shop, or just for fun. Let them know that, when gas gets above $4/gallon again, you’d like an alternative that’s safe and easy to do.
How do I do that?
Follow this link to find out who your Representative is and their phone number. For example, when I go to that link, it asks for my zip code (94062) and tells me my Rep is Jackie Speier. I click on her link and at the bottom of her page it gives me her phone number (both local and DC; I called the local). I call the number, speak to a staff person in her office, explain that I’m concerned about the future and that cutting all support for cycling is not something I want to see. Please support Representative Petri’s amendment. They take notes, and report to the Representative that “x” number of people called today asking that she support Representative Petri’s amendment to save funding for pedestrian & cycling projects.
That’s it. Seriously, just 10 minutes of your time. You don’t have to know any details about Representative Petri’s amendment. They don’t expect that you do. They just know that the amendment supports cycling infrastructure and that you believe in that.
My personal pitch for investing in the future-
I get that people think the country’s deficit is too big and we’re spending beyond our means. I get that we have to prioritize and make painful choices sometimes. But what I don’t get is an insistence that we only spend what we have, and cannot afford to invest in our future.
Anyone who has kids knows that’s not how the world works. If you’ve made a decision to have kids, you’ve mortgaged your future, plain & simple. Anyone who owns a house knows this isn’t how the world works. You borrow against the future, believing that the investment will pay off. These are generally intelligent decisions supported by society. Not subject to naysayers telling you that’s crazy, you don’t have the money today to support what it’s going to cost you tomorrow.
Investing in a future that helps us fight health issues, congestion & reducing our dependence on resources other countries can hold us hostage for is, I feel, worth spending 1.5% of the federal transportation budget on pedestrian & cycling needs.
Thanks- Mike (& Steve) Jacoubowsky, Partners, Chain Reaction Bicycles
Motivation? Don’t look for motivation. Just do it! If you’ve decided to be a rain-or-shine kind of cyclist, then you find yourself actually looking forward to “epic” winter rides. Make sure you’ve got a separate rain/utility bike, with wider tires (it’s not about speed, it’s about not slipping on paint stripes or getting flats) and possibly a bit more relaxed riding position (because if you’re heavily bundled up you might not feel comfortable in your normal riding position).
It’s quite the challenge for my group, because our Tuesday/Thursday-morning training ride includes 3300ft of climbing and, of course, 3300ft of descending. What you learn is that it’s very important to keep up a consistent pace because if you relax the cold and wet will get to you very quickly. Dress in a way that you’ll remain warm even if soaking, because there’s no truly waterproof cycling stuff out there. The high-tech stuff (including GoreTex) won’t keep up with a cyclist at high output… you end up as soaked on the inside as things are on the outside.
You could, of course, just set up a trainer in front of a TV and watch your favorite races, but there’s a small number of us who would rather ride through a hurricane than sit on a trainer. Mental defect of some sort. Or just a refusal to believe that anything can stop you and your bicycle. Do keep in mind that I’m in Northern California so the worst winter will throw at me are a few 40 degree days with driving rain, or upper-20s but dry, or once in a while, snow at the higher parts of our ride. We also rarely see ice, because it’s typically dry when it’s that cold. –Mike–
It would be easier to skip this entry and not risk offending anyone, but there are cyclists out there making my time on the road more dangerous and more difficult because… they’re rude? Indifferent? Feel priviledged?
On Monday’s ride (the 94 mile figure-8 to Boulder Creek) Kevin and I were heading up 9 on the return to Skyline, about halfway between Waterman Gap and the top, when we came across a couple of guys out for their own ride in the same direction. Riding two across, they were taking up at least half of the lane on a road with very fast-moving cars. I understand the idea of being social and riding next to someone else; I do it often with Kevin, because it’s easier to carry on a conversation. But when I hear a car coming up, I immediately drop back and get in line behind him. Why? Because it’s safer, and because there’s no reason a cyclist should cause others to go out of their way or get delayed when there’s no good reason to. It’s called sharing the road. Continue reading
It sounded a bit odd as I said it, and yet it made complete sense. Kevin and I were at mile 65 or so of our 114-mile round trip to Santa Cruz, on the least-fun part through the San Lorenzo Valley, battling lots of traffic, a not-very-wide road and little junk climbs that just wear you down. Basically, a ride without rhythm. Once you get a few miles past Boulder Creek you finally get to the good stuff, the long climb up Highway 9, first to Waterman Gap and then on to Skyline. About 10 miles of relatively-serious climbing and dramatically less traffic than the valley floor.
Sometimes I wonder why I would want to get up earlier than I have to so I can go climb a hill on legs that often protest “Why me?” right from the start. I’m reminded of pro cycling extraordinaire Jens Voight, who, when asked how he keeps going when he’s tired, tell his legs to “Shut up!” His legs seem to listen better than mine. Still, cycling is easy compared to running, where every step connects to the pavement and requires force to push forward. No way to “coast”, downhills as painful as uphill (or even worse if you’re clumsy on your feet like me), and if you ease off the pace for a bit to rest, it’s obvious, while on your bike, you still look like you’re going places. Continue reading
A mild summer in Northern California… it doesn’t get much better than this. Sure, when it’s in the mid-50s at the start of the ride, you should be wearing leg warmers, but that’s not much of a complaint really. No jacket required, dry roads, spectacular views and good people to ride with. That’s what makes every Tuesday & Thursday-morning so nice.
Today was (obviously) no exception, which was why it was a bit curious that, at the start, it was just myself, Kevin (my son, not the pilot), Karl & Karen. We were soon joined by Chris, Jim & Marcus, although we didn’t see much of them as we were experimenting with Kevin, keeping his heart rate as steady as possible in an attempt to see if we could avoid him having his now-usual seizure on Kings Mtn. It worked!
As we rode across Skyline it became a ride of attrition, not from the pace but pre-planned early departures. That work & school thing I guess. We’re not sure when Jim disappeared, but on previous rides he just climbed Kings and went back down. Marcus likely dropped off at his house near Skeggs, and Karen, Kevin & Chris all headed down 84, skipping the west-side Old LaHonda loop. Which left… just me and Karl.
Karl was kind to me today as we rode across west-side Old LaHonda and back up to Skyline, seeing a pretty large rabbit along the way and the usual beautiful views of the coast.
We’re going to do 4 more rides keeping Kevin’s heart rate steady and below 180, and if there are no seizures, the next step will be to go back to full-speed mode and see what happens. If they come back, then we can be pretty sure that adrenalin is a significant trigger for his episodes.
But what about France? It was only a few short weeks ago that I was thinking I’d take a year or two off from visiting France and the ‘Tour, but now I’m already thinking about getting in shape to do even-tougher rides than we did this year. We’d be in the Pyrenees in 2012 and now that we know we can knock off a 100+ mile ride with over 13,000ft of climbing, I can look at France in a whole new way. Previously, I’ve done rides centered around watching the ‘Tour come through, but now we can really see France at the same time. For so many years I was mostly self-limited to rides of maybe 100k, but no more. It’s time to step things up a notch. Just 11 months to go!
It was so cool, like I was a pro myself! Trek sets up some of their dealers on a 25 mile ride with Jens Voight and Andy Schleck, with a van in front taking pictures of us as we spend some face time with the guys, and then about 10 miles in I flatted and the group goes on but they send Jens back to pace me back up, and the two of us time-trialed our way back to the group despite Andy’s instincts taking over and driving the speed up to an insane pace, taking advantage of my misfortune in an attempt to keep me out of the final sprint.Well, it could have happened. Yes, they set us up on a fun ride with the guys, as you can see in the photo, and yes, I got a flat, but no, they didn’t send one of the best cyclists in the world (possibly the best cyclist in the world to call upon if you need help getting paced back to the front) to help out. Instead, I watched as they faded into the distance as I quickly work to repair the tube (dang, wish I had a frame pump ‘cuz C02 doesn’t cut it for getting just a small amount of air in at first to aid in proper installation) and chase. Fortunately, a Trek rep, Dustin, dropped back to help get me going, and fortunately for Dustin, a support guy in a van dropped back to help Justin figure out how to make it back to Trek’s facility in Waterloo, where the ride started.
Never did catch back up, which was surprising to me because we were pushing fairly hard, vs a large number of people not all of whom were in the best of shape but did have the benefit of drafting behind Jens, Andy, and a car. I’m not convinced they didn’t take a shorter route back than we did though. All in all, a nice ride, beautiful day (by Wisconsin standards; probably low 80s and high humidity by bay area standards but pretty moderate out here) and best of all, they were serving Brats at the end!
I was hoping to have Jens or Andy sign my brother Steve’s jersey as we were riding though, something they wouldn’t buy into, thinking it might be a bit too risky. Even had a wide felt tip pen with me! Would have made for a great photo, but maybe some other time.
One interesting memory from the ride- shortly before my flat, Andy drops back for a “natural break” (taking a leak). When he returns, instead of riding up the left side of the group, he’s out there in the gravel on the right shoulder. Yikes. No big deal to him. I’m thinking shredded tires, crashing in gravel, nothing good comes from riding off the side of the road. But these are the same guys you see putting on jackets while flying downhill through corners at 50mph. –Mike–