Best laid plans

I had big plans for my ride today. I was going to combine a workout ride with an errand ride, something I never do. I planned to ride the Somersett Loop and stop at the Patagonia Outlet on the way back to check out their Labor Day sale. Then I was going to ride downtown along the river and stop at Aces ballpark to get tickets for an upcoming game. The AAA Reno Aces are hot, just like their MLB Affiliate Diamondbacks. Being a Giants fan, it’s hard to feel good about that, but my son has a chance to go to a Meet and Greet with the players before the game and get some autographs from future MLB stars. Then I would ride back home on some of the great new bike lanes.

I got a backpack out of the closet, filled my drink bottle, and went out to the garage to put air in my tires. My front tire was flat. It’s hard to believe, but you can actually ride pretty regularly and never have a flat on the road. I’ve ridden regularly for two years now and haven’t had a flat on the road since July 2009. Ok, so a flat in the garage is good practice in flat changing. I changed the tube and used the floor pump to pump it up. I called Stan and he told me to check the inside of the tire for sharp things. When I took the old tube out, I put air in it and the only apparent leak was the valve. So I put a new tube in without checking.

Ok good to go. Started riding and felt great. Oops, I forgot to bring a lock. Oh well, I can probably bring my bike inside at the Patagonia Outlet – they’re pretty laid back. Then 7 miles into my ride, my front tire went flat. Ok so I practiced in the garage – this shouldn’t be too bad. I got out my CO2, which incidentally I have never used before, and tried to pump it up and see if it would hold enough to get me back home. Ha! First of all, the CO2 cartridge in the dispenser had been in my saddle bag in the dispenser for 2 years. It was apparently all gone.

Trying to pump CO2 into the tire

I had another cartridge so I filled the tire and it immediately went flat. GREAT. Now I’m out of CO2 and I don’t have a pump. So I called my dad and luckily caught him between activities so he was able to pick  me up.

I was at the I-80 westbound entrance from West Fourth St. I went over the cattle guard and pulled over in a driveway.It was interesting, while waiting for my dad, to note the number of cyclists that rode by me. At least 10 ignored me or didn’t see me. Only one guy asked if I needed help and offered me CO2 but by then my dad was on his way. I guess to the other riders I didn’t look very helpless.

I also watched trains and traffic on I-80,

and noted the cool rocks on the hillside above me.

Best laid plans of mice and men…I did my errands in my car and now I have to go fix a flat tire – in my garage.


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more bike lanes coming

From the Reno Gazette Journal, September 1, 2011

Plumas bike lanes approved:

 The council gave its OK for the Regional Transportation Commission to replace parking on the east side of Plumas Street between Moana Lane and Urban Road with a bike lane. The west side of the street will get a bike lane, too. The east side of the street includes a series of multifamily and single family homes with anywhere from three to 10 vehicles parking on the street at any given time, said Steve Bunnell, a traffic engineer with the city. “It’s relatively light,” he said. The bike lanes will connect with existing routes south of Moana Lane on Plumas Street and nearby Arlington Avenue. Bikers will likely use Urban Road to get to Plumas. No one opposed the bike lane at the meeting.

I was riding on this stretch of road on a Saturday back in June. I was with 3 other riders and as we headed north I looked ahead and saw two other riders ahead of us. I thought, “if only I had my camera, this would be a great photo to show the need for a bike lane here”. This stretch of road connects to other heavily used bike lanes and will be a welcome improvement.

Comments on the Reno Gazette Journal website about this the day before the council vote included the usual grumpy drivers complaining about cyclists riding too far from the edge of the road. It’s nice to know that no one was protesting against this change at the council meeting.

I feel much safer riding on a road that has a bike lane. It may be a false sense of security, but I really think it helps drivers stay away from cyclists. It’s nice that Reno has put in so many bike lanes this summer. I now have my choice of more cycling routes where I feel safe.

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needing endorphins

After ending my son’s summer vacation with two weeks of no camps, and with training for my first 5K running race in years, I did not have many chances to ride my bike. Well, I’ll take that back. While camping at Donner Lake with my son’s Cub Scout Den, I was able to sneak out on a road ride while the rest of the group went to the beach. I rode from the campground west along Donner Pass Road to the west end of Donner Lake and then up the hill to the summit. It was 7 miles to the summit and I decided I wanted to get 20 miles total so I rode 3 miles further, almost all the way into Soda Springs. I turned around for the short climb up to the summit and then began the descent. Although I had done the climb once before, this was my first time descending. I must say it was a little scary, especially when the drop off is on the right and the view of Donner Lake far below is in front of you. I didn’t have my camera but here’s a photo I took when I did the climb a year ago:

Taking a break above Donner Lake after the blustery climb

That climb a year ago was on a cold windy day and we called for a ride before going back over the summit. Last week I did the climb wearing a sleeveless top and shorts.

Now for the endorphin need. My last workout before today was the Giant Race 5K on Saturday in San Francisco. I’ve had a few busy days with the start of school for my son. I’ve been getting that familiar feeling of depression that hits me every once in a while. I know the antidote is exercise, so it’s frustrating when I don’t have time. Today, I went for a ride, even though I didn’t feel like it. I rode out to Mogul and around Cliff View then back toward Reno and climbed up Plateau and Caughlin Parkway, went around Village Green, then Cashill back home. It was not quite 20 miles but I noticed an uptick in my outlook after 45 minutes and I felt even better after 1 hour and great after 1.5 hours. Love those endorphins. It’s always best for me to ride in the morning – I know I can get my ride in before my son comes home from school, plus it’s really nice to come home to my shady driveway after a hot ride. (and the shade is gone by afternoon!)


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Signs of the end of the recession

Last week I pulled a muscle in my neck and ended up off the bike for a week. After a gym workout yesterday, I was feeling pretty good this morning and headed out to ride the Somersett Loop. I hadn’t been by the Mayberry construction in a few weeks so I was pleasantly surprised to see it completed. Between Hunter Lake and McCarran it has been put on a “road diet“, going from 4 lanes to 2 with bike lanes.

I rode out  to Mogul and took the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway bike path to Del Webb Parkway. I rode that up to Back Nine Trail. For the last two years, during the economic recession, Back Nine Trail was a wonderful ride with no traffic. But housing construction has picked up again and this is what I rode through today:

I felt good on this ride – 20 miles with 1777 feet of climbing.

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June Lake Loop in July

The last weekend in July we camped at Oh! Ridge campground at June Lake, California. The view from our campground was gorgeous with all the late season snow on the Sierra.

While our friends Catherine and Brian took our son out kayaking on the lake, Stan and I were able to ride the  June Lake Loop on our road bikes. From the campground we rode through the town of June Lake, at the south end of the lake and then turned north at the base of the Sierra. We got a great view of Horsetail Falls, which was flowing profusely! I forgot my camera on the bike ride so I took  photos the next day when we drove out in our motor home. The white you see on the mountain is actually a water fall.

After passing Horsetail Falls, we passed Gull Lake and Silver Lake and then Grant Lake, which we were told was the fullest it had been in 30 years. Saturday morning was a nice time to ride – not many motor homes or trailers on the June Lake Loop.

After Grant Lake, we got a nice view over the Mono Lake valley on our descent to US 395. We turned onto 395 and had about 6 miles to ride back to the June Lake Junction. There was a nice wide shoulder, so although there was a lot of traffic with a lot of motor homes and trailers, it was still a nice ride.

When we turned south onto US 395, we were able to look west at the stunning view of the Sierra. I was so mad I forgot my camera. Our ride was 25 miles with 1553 ft of climbing. We did it in 1 and 3/4 hours. Another option would have been to go west from our campground at the beginning of the ride. That would have been a little climb over a pass at the north end of June Lake. We drove that way the next day and we could see that it would have been a great ride.

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I love my new speed coach!

My husband is a former bicycle racer who competed in Northern Nevada and California races. He still rides almost daily and he rides at a much higher pace than me. On Saturday, July 16, our 10-year-old son left for a week at a mountain lake cabin with his best friend’s family. I asked Stan if he wanted to go for a ride with me. He said yes but also said he would want to go for a workout ride later. I said, maybe we could find a ride where we could both get a workout, like a ride with a good long climb. He suggested Geiger Grade. The last time I climbed Geiger Grade leaving from home was 2 years ago when I was training for my first Ride to Defeat ALS and it nearly killed me! It’s about 40 miles round trip, with about 3000 feet of climbing. But I’m in better shape this year so I was game.

As we rode through the valley toward Geiger Grade (the road to Virginia City), Stan worked with me to try to get me to draft behind him. I have not learned drafting techniques before and I don’t really like riding right behind someone so I can’t see the road in front of me. When we started the climb, Stan worked with me on shifting up and down according to how I can sustain my pace as the gradient changes and as the wind shifted to and from a tail wind. I always used to just grind up hills in the easiest gear. He was still much faster than me and he would zoom ahead doing speed intervals and then he’d ride back down to meet me. When we got up to the false summit at the Virginia City Highlands turnoff, Stan decided to head back. I had never gone beyond this point but I felt great and for once I didn’t have to get back to pick up my son so I continued on to the summit.

It was a very windy descent and I had to stop to rest both at the Highlands turnoff and at the Scenic Overlook. When I got back down to the valley, I had to think of a way home with minimal climbing, since I was pretty beat. I ended up going over the Double R hill to AirCenter Parkway. I had to climb that hill but then got a nice high-speed descent as a reward. From AirCenter I turned on Meadowood Mall Way to Neil, thinking I would ride home on McCarran. But McCarran was all torn up for repaving so I continued on to Peckham. Then I only had to climb the hill to my house. After 3.5 hours of riding I was really glad to be done!

I used some of my speed coach’s tips when I did my hill repeats the following Thursday. Using MyTracks on my Droid phone, I was able to compare my speed and time to the week before. For the same distance each Thursday, the new techniques let me finish 7 minutes sooner and my average moving speed increased from 9.66 mph to 10.55 mph!  Oh yeah! Anything that can help me finish century rides sooner is a good thing!

Sign in for the Ride for RAVE at Sports West. Indoor spinning was an option too.

My speed coach rode with me again last Saturday in the Ride for RAVE. RAVE provides respite babysitting for parents of special needs kids, as well as volunteer experience for high school kids who provide the babysitting. We had used RAVE babysitting when our son was a baby. He was a preemie and had special feeding needs. The ride left from Sports West Athletic Club (where I work out) and the route was our tried and true favorite Verdi Loop. We rode at a high pace for me (our average moving speed was 16 mph). Stan kept urging me to ride closer to him. The pace was slow for him but since he pulled the whole time mostly into a head wind, he was happy with his workout. We ended up being the first to finish – a new experience for me! The ride had a great rest stop on Bridge Street in Verdi, and a really great buffet brunch after the ride.

The Bridge Street rest stop in Verdi

After the ride we went home and watched the Tour de France Time Trial which we had recorded. Then there was just enough time to shower before going to pick up our son, home from the mountain cabin.

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Summer Cycling Sojourns

How have I spent my summer so far? Traveling and riding my bike, although the former gets in the way of the latter sometimes. I spent the week of June 20 in Boston and did quite a bit of walking, went for one run, and rode a borrowed mountain bike (without enough air in the tires) through a leafy, hilly Boston suburb only to return and find out where the pump was.

I only had one week at home before my next trip. My son was in a short afternoon basketball camp (only 2.5 hours each day) and between doing laundry after one trip and packing for another, I was not able to ride that week.

But our second trip was all about bikes! We packed 5 bikes on top of our Audi – it looked like a Tour de France support vehicle and needed someone hanging out the window adjusting a derailleur! We brought road bikes and mountain bikes for mom and dad and my son’s mountain bike. It was a long drive across Nevada, up through eastern Idaho, and up through western Montana all the way to the top. We had rented a condo at Whitefish Mountain Resort. This beautiful area of Montana offers both awesome road bike rides and mountain bike trail rides on the ski hill.

On Tuesday July 5, we went to Glacier National Park. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have come to Glacier 4th of July week and have it be the week they were close to opening Going to the Sun Road to car traffic but because they were still plowing through a 50 foot drift near the summit, an 11 mile section was open to cyclists and hikers only – no cars. This normally would occur in May, but the snowfall totals were extreme this year. Our friends Jim and Peggie were with us. They rode up Going to the Sun Road while Stan, Andy, and I rode on a bike trail through a campground (every loop!) and then to West Glacier and back. When Jim and Peggie were done, they took Andy so Stan and I could ride. It was so nice riding without car traffic. I could hear birds singing!

At Whitefish Mountain Resort, you can put your mountain bike on the chairlift, ride the chairlift to the top, and bike down. Since we are used to climbing hills, we rode up the mountain on our bikes. The bike trails went through the woods and across the ski slopes.

With the epic snowfall of the 2010-2011 winter, July mountain biking in Montana included a snowball fight. From the top of the mountain you could see Glacier National Park to the east,

and Whitefish Lake and Flathead Lake to the south.

We also did a great road bike ride from the bottom of Big Mountain Road around the north end of Whitefish Lake. There was hardly any traffic and the scenery was lovely – lots of trees and glimpses of the lake through them. The road ended in an area of really nice homes and what seemed like a peaceful rural setting, until a train came through the woods across the road. When I got back to Big Mountain Road, I rode up the hill – about 4 miles and 2500 feet of climbing. Thankfully, I had been doing weekly hill repeats on my street. This was as steep as the steepest part of my street – probably 8 to 10 % grade. Also, thankfully, a cold front had come through the night before so I wasn’t climbing in 90 degree heat.

Then it was time for the long drive back to Reno.


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Riding season with riding weather, finally!

I’ve had some really great rides in the last couple of weeks. On June 11 (Saturday) my husband and son hopped on the tandem and I rode along with them south on Lakeside and all the way to Saddlehorn and up the hill to our friends’ house above the very top of the loop. It was a beautiful day for a ride and the downhill ride back home was quick.

I did my hill repeats on Tuesday that week, since I had another ride planned for Thursday. On Wednesday I met Tracy for a nice little Mogul loop ride, with a return route along the river with lots of chances to see the high water from the snowmelt runoff. We finished the ride with a cruise down Arlington’s wonderful bike lane.

On Thursday I drove to Auburn, California and met my friend Erika who drove up from Sacramento. We started at the Fairgrounds and rode the route of the Auburn Century ride that was held the week before. The arrows were still visible on the pavement. The entire route was nice riding with adequate and nicely paved shoulder on all roads. We rode just over 23 miles with over 2300 feet of climbing. We made plans to ride the same route again, but start above Foresthill and avoid the ride through town.

On Saturday June 18 I rode in the Tour de Nez Truckee River Gran Fun-Do. I had made plans to ride with my friend Michelle. She injured herself running the day before the ride. She had recruited her brother to ride with us. Tim is also an old friend of mine so we did the ride together. We started at The Hub on Cheney Street and rode to Lake St. and the river and got on the river bike path. We rode east along the river to Sparks Blvd. It was good to get caught up with Tim as we rode. Our first rest stop was in one of the parks along the river. We got a poker card at each stop. We rode north on Sparks Blvd. and had our next stop at the Vista Grille. Crossing I-80, we stayed on the west side of the bridge, where there was a place to ride outside of the jersey barrier away from traffic. There was a large group of riders on the other side of the bridge, riding in the traffic. After the bridge we hooked onto the large group. The didn’t turn off to our stop at the Vista Grille and we found out that they were a shop ride, and not part of our Gran Fun Do. We continued north on Sparks Blvd., crossed Pyramid, and began the climb up Highland Ranch Parkway and into Sun Valley, where we encountered our 3rd rest stop. From Sun Valley we turned west on Seventh St. I was kind of worried about the climb up Seventh because there is no shoulder and it’s a winding road. But it turned out to not be a problem because there were about 5 of us climbing it at the same time so we were very visible. Traffic was good about giving us a wide berth. We rode North Valleys Road to Lemmon Drive to Military Road and on into Stead. Then we wound our way through the industrial streets of Stead and emerged on Red Rock Road. We rode west, under US 395, and turned south on N. Virginia. Our 4th stop was at Sierra Safari Zoo. From there we continued down N. Virginia all the way to McCarran and then headed west. We missed a stop at the Squeeze In, which made the next leg long and painful. We turned west on Mae Anne and rode that all the way to 4th St. Then west on 4th for the standard Verdi Loop. We were fighting a headwind all the way west. Our next stop was way down the hill in Crystal Peak Park. We sat for a while and rehydrated and popped a Gel Block, then got back on the bike. I felt like a new person with a downhill road and the wind at my back . We were cruising so well that we missed another stop at Eclipse Pizza. We headed back downtown for the post ride BBQ at Craft Wine and Beer  on Martin St.  It was a 64 mile ride on a pretty nice route, much of which I hadn’t ridden before. Riding with Tim made it fun too!  Since we missed a couple rest stops, we were short a couple poker cards. But then it turned out you had to stay until 3pm and be present to win. Both Tim and I had to leave for other obligations so it didn’t matter anyway.

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Cycling leaders discuss bicycle safety at busy interesection following fatality

Leaders of the Reno, Nevada cycling community met with members of the Reno Police Department at the scene of the fatal bicycle collision on June 7. Noah Silverman (Reno Bike Project), Janet Phillips (Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway) and Terry McAfee (Nevada Bicycle Coalition) met with Sgt. Stegmaier and Lt. Newman (Reno PD) Wednesday afternoon at the site of the fatal bicycle collision, Mill Street and Kietzke Lane.

Terry McAfee shared the following comments:

“It was an emotional experience to be at the site of a fellow bicyclist’s so recent death. When there is a fatality, the police do an exceptionally detailed and thorough investigation and this fatality is no exception. The final report will no doubt be several weeks in coming. Here’s what they think so far, based on the testimony of a couple of witnesses:

The bicyclist was westbound on Mill Street traveling not very fast. The garbage truck passed her about 1,000 feet before Kietzke without incident. There’s a wide bike lane on Mill Street there. The garbage truck stopped at the traffic light, behind about 5 cars. The bicyclist continued on Mill Street. The bike lane ends about 200 feet before reaching Kietzke. From there to Kietzke there is no shoulder and very little room for a bicyclist between the motor vehicles and the curb. The light changed and the cars and garbage truck started to move forward. The timing was such that the bicyclist and truck ended up side by side as they approached Kietzke. The garbage truck turned right on Kietzke and crushed the bicyclist. The garbage truck stopped immediately.

I could cite the various laws that might apply in this situation but I think it would be better to throw out a couple of ideas for strategies to get through this intersection and ones like it. You can decide who would be at
fault, if this is actually what happened.

Noah suggested that he would probably go up on the sidewalk. This works pretty well in this situation, IMHO. To be really safe, he should dismount and become a pedestrian to cross Kietzke. If a bicyclist pedals from corner to corner in the cross walk, he does not have the same rights as a pedestrian. If he gets hit by a motorist there, the motorist will not be cited.

My strategy is to get in line behind the vehicles waiting at the light. I ride in the center of the right hand lane to prevent anyone interested in turning right from getting next to me on my left. I may slightly delay those motorists behind me but I’ve successfully avoided the potential for a “right hook.”

Janet suggested that she sometimes stops well back from the intersection and waits for the traffic to clear before trying to cross the intersection. This works pretty well, too.

As an urban bicyclist, you need to think about this situation and plan your strategy in advance. This is a VERY common way for bicyclists to get nailed. Look here for more good ideas about how to avoid the most common bicyclist /motorist collisions – ”

This additional information about the bike lane at the accident scene brings to mind a scenario that would lead a cyclist to danger from a “right hook” or collision with a turning vehicle: if the bike lane continued to the corner, it would feed cyclists into the blind spot of large vehicles. I guess that explains why bike lanes often end before busy intersections. I have often wondered where they expect bicycles to go. At an intersection as busy as Mill and Kietzke, I agree that going up on the sidewalk and walking your bike across as a pedestrian would be the safest option.

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Biking weather at last and another Reno cyclist fatality

We tried to beat the rain last weekend with a 29 mile Somersett Loop ride. There were 6 of us and the raindrops started as we headed west through Mogul toward the mountains of Verdi. Two members of our party bailed out and turned around. Four of us decided to head up into Somersett where the road turns back east because it looked drier up there. We had a nice climb and the rain hit us again as we passed Somersett Town Center.  There were some giant gusts of wind that seemed to threaten to knock me off my bike. It was a chilly downhill back to 4th St. We stopped for a coffee break at Waldens. Then we headed home in the rain.

On Monday, due to a busy schedule while my son was at school, I hopped on the trainer after school and did the Tour of California workout.

I have added the Truckee River Gran Fun-Do to my ride schedule next Saturday. This ride is put on by Tour de Nez  as a fundraiser for the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway and Tour de Nez Outreach. It will be a mini fun version of Levis Gran Fondo and includes an almost metric century, an almost half metric century, and a family ride. We finally have some nice riding weather in the forecast so it will be fun to get out there this week to get ready.

Sadly, there was a bicyclist killed in Reno this week. From the Reno Gazette Journal, Tuesday, June 7, 2011:

“A bicyclist died this morning in Reno after being run over by a trash truck, the Reno Police Department reports. The accident happened at about 9:33 a.m. at Mill Street and Kietzke Lane, according to Reno police Sgt. Jim Stegmaier. Stegmaier said both the bicyclist and the garbage truck were heading west on Mill Street at Kietzke Lane. The bicyclist was in the far right lane for bicycles. “The bicyclist had a green light and was trying to go across Kietzke Lane,” Stegmaier said. “The trash truck turned and didn’t see her because she was in a blind spot and ran right over her.” The woman’s name is not being released at this time. Stegmaier said in a news release that she was 45 years old and from Sparks. The driver was 28 and from Reno. Justin J. Caporusso, a Communications Manager with Waste Management issued the following statement: “Waste Management extends our extreme sympathy and sorrow to the family and friends of the victim, and we are working closely with local law enforcement on the investigation.” Alcohol and speed do not appear to be a factor, Stegmaier said. Police continue to investigate the accident and ask any witnesses to call traffic detectives at 775-334-2141.”

Bob Mionske discusses the dangers of bicycles at intersections in his book Bicycling & the Law. One of the safety strategies he recommends is to avoid being in a motorist’s blind spot while waiting at a traffic light. He recommends waiting behind vehicles or passing on the left. In some cities, bicycle boxes are painted at intersections. These boxes place cyclists in front of other vehicles waiting at the intersection. We can’t wait for boxes to be painted, so in the meantime, avoid blind spots and be especially wary of garbage trucks because their blind spots are huge.

My condolences to the family and friends of that bicyclist. All road cyclists know the dangers we face from sharing the road with motor vehicles. It’s sad when something as fun and healthy as bike riding turns deadly.

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