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 – http://www.bicyclesafe.com/ ”

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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Mom turns Bike to School into 29 mile ride!

It’s Bike to Work and School Week and while Dad has done a stellar job of bike commuting all week, no matter what the weather, my son and I had to wait until a day with sunshine and no before school commitments. Today was the day!

Finally a nice day to Bike to School

The temperature was 48 F when we left home. But since it’s all uphill to school, and a decent climb at that, my son soon stopped to take off his sweatshirt.

It's uphill all the way

 When his school bus passed us, we had an idea of the time. At the last stop sign before school, we heard the first bell. By the time he got his bike all locked up, he was a little late. We’ll have to leave earlier next time.

It's nice to see a couple other bikes in the rack today.

After my son went into school, I headed down Caughlin Parkway to Plateau, then headed out to Verdi to do the Verdi Loop. It was a beautiful morning and lots of other riders were out. One of the things I love about bike riding is that you see so many things you never would see otherwise.

It's not every day you see highway patrol has pulled over a helicopter!

  On the way back home, I decided to ride through the construction on Mayberry, between McCarran and Hunter Lake, to see how bad it is for riding. Traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction. The eastbound lane is very wide with plenty of room to bike, except for one short span of about 100 ft. where bicycles have to ride in the traffic lane. Going westbound, you’d have to be in the traffic lane the whole time. My whole ride was two and a half hours and 29 miles.

Since my last post, I have been diligent about Thursday morning hill repeats. Yesterday, there were some cable company guys working on my street the whole time I did repeats. On my fourth climb past them, one of them said, “Are you looking for the Amgen Tour of California?” I didn’t tell him that right then (the steepest part of my climb) I was thinking about Andy Schlek’s and Chris Horner‘s legs on the Sierra Road climb the day before.

Last Saturday, I tried the new Carmichael trainer workout from the 2010 Tour of California. It’s a good workout with lots of race footage from last year’s race.

Three days before the Tour of California was supposed to start, three members of the Garmin-Cervelo team visited our local REI store. We got a nice autographed poster and a chance to chat with three professionals.

My son with Christian Vande Velde, Dan Martin, and Andrew Talansky of Team Garmin-Cervelo

 I headed back up the hill to meet my son for the fast downhill home after school. The temperature was 70 F,  the downhill slide was sweet, and it’s Friday!

Another successful Bike to School Week



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3 times on the bike this week!

It says a lot about the kind of weather we’ve had so far in 2011: I can count my road bike rides on one hand. And if you add mountain bike rides then I only need to add one finger on the other hand. But, 3 of those rides have been this week so it feels like a new bike riding season!

When I had a fitting on my road bike on January 27, the technician asked me to come back for a followup check after 15 hours on the bike. Today I added up my total and I’m only at 6. But now that it’s May, I should get to 15 pretty quick.

I haven’t been sitting on the couch all winter and spring. I did regular gym workouts as well as downhill skiing to stay in shape. I have lost 12 pounds since Jan. 3 and am working on another 8. The first 10 came off the fastest though. Because of my gym workouts, each time I rode my bike I felt really fit.

Today’s ride was remarkable because of the absolutely ideal weather – temps in the high 60s to low 70s (F), sunshine, and no wind. I rode up my street and continued up to the top of Caughlin Parkway. Then I zoomed down that hill and climbed up Plateau. I decided to explore Woodchuck and see how far up the hill the pavement went. Cool! It’s paved all the way back up to the same elevation as the top of Caughlin Parkway, so I had another great climb. Then I headed back to Mayberry and headed east. I went to the river bike path and rode under McCarren then headed east to Idlewilde Park. I rode through the park, past the Peace Officers Memorial Service. Then I rode along the river to Arlington, observing all the people and festivities at the Reno River Festival. I had to walk my bike across the Arlington bridge, but that gave me a chance to snap a photo of a kayaker on the race course.I headed south on Arlington. I’m still loving that bike lane they installed last year. Then up Skyline. There were two guys riding ahead of me and I tried the whole climb to overtake them and I almost did except they continued on Skyline when I turned on Moana. It wasn’t a long ride – only a little over 16 miles but I did 1503 ft of climbing.

Yesterday I did my Thursday morning hill repeats (TMHR)on my street. We didn’t plan it, but my neighbor Amanda was out there doing hill repeats too. She was always climbing when I was going down and vice verse. We did plan to make TMHR a regular event from now until November. Amanda referred to the hill as “that damned hill” and now we’re calling it “our damned hill.”

On Sunday we had a great family mountain bike ride on the west part of the Steamboat Ditch Trail to the Hole in the Wall. We met our friends (another family) for this nice, easy, relatively flat ride. The weather was great!

The Hole in the Wall Gang!

I have some photos from one other winter ride with my husband Stan and our friend Lynne on March 5. This was one of those days that as long as you’re dressed for it, you’re out there riding and no one else is and it feels like your own special riding day. We did the Somersett Loop, along with the killer climb on Backnine Trail.

Stan the Man after climbing Backnine Trail


The top of the killer climb: Backnine Trail

I’m looking forward to cycling more regularly and blogging more regularly too. Here’s to a great bicycling season!

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Not riding but working toward a riding goal

We had some more gloriously warm springlike weather a couple of weeks ago, when I came down with a sore throat and fever. By the time I was healthy enough to ride again, this is what it was like outside:

Although I haven’t been riding, thanks to weather and illness, I have exercised daily since January 3 when I set a goal to lose a pound a week for 20 weeks. I have ridden my bike on only two of those days, but I have gone to the gym regularly and skiing and walking if no other workouts are available. I am proud to say that I am on track to achieving my goal: 8 pounds lost, 12 more to go. When I lose a total of 20 pounds, I will be a faster climber on my bike and will be able to complete century rides faster! And I will reach that goal just in time for my favorite riding season – summer!

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A Perfect Bike Fit

When I was riding a week and a half ago, a guy pedaled past me and said, “You should get your bike fit. Your seat doesn’t look right.” Thanks, whoever that was, because I got my bike fit and now it feels like it was made for me. I googled bike fit and found several different websites that told how to do it. My husband was going to help me but his schedule didn’t allow any time. So I called VeloReno and made an appointment with Rich Paul.

Rich had just returned from the Trek Bike Fit School, so he was all set with all the latest knowledge. He first had me lay down on a mat and he lifted my straight legs, one at a time until my pelvis tilted. Then  he pushed up on my bent legs until my pelvis tilted. This was to see if I had any limitations to normal pedal stroking. He measured my inseam by having me place a book between my legs and marking the height of the top of the book on the wall, then measuring from the floor. He also had me march in place and stop to see how my feet naturally align.  

He had me hop on my bike and saw where my hands were placed on the handlebar. I was not able to comfortably have my hands on the horns, but rather farther back. He measured my knee versus my shoe with a plumb line and my heel vs my toe at various pedal orientations.

I ended up with a seat adjustment forward and down, and shorter stem, and new women’s handlebars. Today was my first ride with the new setup and I was amazed at how comfortable my bike is now! I did my hill repeats which is my favorite Thursday morning workout. I had to dress in my shoe covers and skull-cap and full gloves because it was in the high 30s/low 40s. The high temperature was forecast to be near 60, but I had to ride in the morning before it warmed much. I did 4 10-minute climbs.

For any Reno area riders thinking about a bike fit, I highly recommend Rich Paul at VeloReno. He did an excellent job on my bike fit and he’s a really nice guy too.

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