29/02: AIDS Lifecylce from the back ROW Z

Row-Z at the North American Handmade Bike Show in Portland, Oregon

Feet...firmly planted...in the air? I used to run...and run...and run...until one day my marathon worn body rang a wake up call to challenge..."what about the rest of us?! Now, its our turn...quadriceps out the way gluteus maximus and minimus and every in between...we are gonna teach you to DRAFT.

But first you will ride, a ride between San Francisco and Los Angeles. They call it the AIDS Lifecycle..and they ride...ride for family...ride for partners...ride for friends. But why this ride? David your inspiration and Barry the fallen will be there...in body...in spirit and we will be one.

I started cycling in December 2007. It was a bad snow year and I found a new...well, used...bike. So, I hung up my skis and running shoes for awhile and took to the road. The goal, to ride my first, then second century before the end of the year.

Somewhere along the way Dan and his brother David, inspired by birthdays most would rather forget, and a desire to do something as a "family of sorts" suggested the AIDS Lifecycle. In its 7th year and my first, I will ride for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

But before I can saddle up and pull away from the Golden Gate, I need to do a little fund raising...sweethearts for Valentines Day...Oscars for the Academy Awards...a brunch for St. Patrick...and oh what will I sell next to earn my way to the start. I will bike from one get rich quick scheme to the next...first 25, on to 50, then 75 dollars...no, miles... out to Frenchmans Bar, Chinook Landing and up Larch Mountain...following the Columbia River just outside of Portland. Follow me, as I move beyond the fund raising to the hair raising...training for the AIDS Lifecycle.

Check me out at http://www.aidslifecycle.org/2816 and stop back by to see where I am riding next week.

RowZ  Road 

06/06: I am getting tired of being hit by cars

I am actually beginning to tire of being hit by cars. I know that this is an unreasonable position to take for a Long Island Road Cyclist, but I feel it is worthy of talking about. So, here we go.

Among the list of things that annoy me, are:
Cell phones on the Long Island Rail Road.
The Long Island Rail Road itself.
People who can not talk below a locker room shout in a restaurant.
People who chew with their mouth open (see loud talkers above).
People who do not pick up after their dogs.
Civil Servants who actually believe that we the public are here to serve them.
Phone numbers to gov't agencies that are listed specifically to not be answered.
Being Hit by cars on Long Island Roadways.

The simple fact of the matter is that if one were to give the road cycling world an enema, the tube would be inserted into Long Island somewhere in Nassau County. Let's agree for the moment that once again it takes two drivers to create any accident. This is the reason for concepts such as relative fault in auto insurance. Each operator must assume at least some component of fault for every accident. If any operator were truly blameless the accident would not have occurred. So, I accept blame for a part of this.

This is how I got creamed this morning:
Dan and I rode out around 6:05 and he said, "Where to?" I allowed as I had no real commitment other than taking it easy. Dan suggested, "How about Sunrise Highway?"

So I said,"Fine." fully realizing that once we hit Sunrise he would pour on the coal and that I would not. So as Dan disappeared into the sun, I was keeping about 18 mph and thinking about Pedalpushers and our Ad campaign. I was approaching the Intersection of Sunrise Highway and South Bayview Ave, by the Hassel Motors BMW dealership in Freeport, with a clear green light and no traffic anywhere in sight, save the car in the left turn lane on the West Bound side. So I continued to pedal.

Suddenly, peripheral vision catches the blur of metal and rubber on a collision course with my body and bike about 15 feet away!

OK, perhaps I should have watched that left turner better, but gee wiz guys, I am wearing flourescent yellow, gaudy orange, a red white and blue Hemlet. I am visible, but I forgot the number one rule of the cyclist's bible, like it or not, the f--king cars DO NOT SEE YOU, PERIOD! Between their radios, Cell phones, morning coffee, newspapers (yes I have seen them reading them) they are in a steel cocoon and NOTHING EXISTS OUTSIDE!

I am braking and turning, but it is inevitable. I am surprise by the softness of the back passenger side door as I deform it with my body. I muse for an instant, "OK that part wasn't terrible!"

As I hurtle through the air, my thoughts turn to, "What was she thinking? Tried to beat me across the intersection and misjudged my speed? Just didn't see me? She must have hammered it to catch me here and yes she appeared to be going fast!"

The sky that I am looking at goes black for a second as the impact with the ground is felt. I hit fairly flat on my back, but I try to relax to ease the blow. I feel my buttocks and pelvis hit first, the shock to my spine as it hits (Thankfully cushioned by the Lara Bars whose wrapper split as the bars crush absorbing what could have been a spine breaking jolt), Hy head hits last! Thank God for my Rudy Project Ferox, I am greatfull as I hear its plastic and styrofoam rattling, cradling my presently hyper speed brain!

I lie there for a moment taking inventory, looking to the left at the car who has seen the entire episode as she stopped for the light. Its woman driver inquires as to my life state, I assure her that I am still conscious and not yet dead. I look between my knees to see if the driver of the car that hit me has slowed and I see brake lights come on, some 150 feet or more down the road. Was she asleep or deciding wheter or not to stop?. The New York plate reads Brendan. She is stopping. I get up, slowly! The inventory continues, I am old and tired and I fully expect the brittle agony of broken bones, but I am blessed. My back hurts like hell, but it seems to be muscular soreness. I am surprised that I have not had the wind knocked out of me, I am surprised that I am still alive. I look East down Sunrise and Dan is gone.

I look south at the offending vehicle and the rage begins, I reach my water bottle lying in the curb. I pick it up and hurl it at the car. As it arches through space in a reprise of its owner's flight. I swallow my rage, surprised that I am not more angry. I realize how absolutely unsurprised I am at the turn of events and how I have grown to expect getting hit by cars as inevitable. I then realize how totally sick that is.

I am walking toward the car. The driver emerges, she is a mature woman, perhaps retired.. She asks, "Are you alright?"

"Am I alright?No, I am not alright! A cyclist does not get hit by a car and wind up all right! I am hurt, I am in pain! Will I die? Probably not right now!"

"Do you want an ambulance?"

"What I want is for you to go home and think about this. Think how lucky you and I both are that I am not dead! Think about the fact that you could easily have killed me. Think about the fact that I had a green light and the right of way and that you hit me. I want you to think about that, and I want you to think about seeing, about being aware of bicyclists, about seeing bicyclists, about the fact that we are on the road. Then I want you to think about the fact (Screaming at this point) THAT IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE (expletive deleted) CARS!

"Is your bike alright?"

"No my bike is not alright it has been hit by your car! I am not alright I have been hit by your car!"

"Oh I have a broken window!"

I look at her door and there is a nice impression of a body, a broken window, and a door handle that looks oddly placed, perhaps that hooked my bars? Or is it damage from another similar left turn based upon prayer in lieu of observation. I am secretly happy. Vindictive yes, but viscerally satisfied. Mostly I am happy to be alive. I say once more, "Be glad it is a broken window, and not a dead bicyclist!"

I look once more a the plate, "Brendan." I mount the bike, I adjust the front brake not to rub, and ride off with my bars doing a left turn. I am amazed that the the thing works at all.

I am home, I feel like hell, but I am glad that I do not feel worse. I examine my gear, the bars are twisted, but OK. Fork and wheels are good. I straighten my bars, and I see the black from her tires on my front wheel. I recheck the trueness and it is off ever so slightly, but totally rideable. I will get it trued. God Bless DT Swiss, God Bless David Fike master wheelwright. God Bless Cannondale Carbon Fibre. God bless whatever kept me alive.

My jacket is torn, where the Lara Bars were crushed. The wrappers are burst but I eat them. I drink from my bottle which is now rough from the road. It is a beautiful morning and I am happy to be alive.

I leave my helmet home and spin around the neighborhood side streets to enjoy the quiet of the morning and the beauty of my bike! We are at peace.

05/06: A week in the mountains...

Ahhh a week to train in the Mountains...
The training was going well until... Sunday, I visited Mike Fraysse Sports camp and spoke with the Director. Since I had my bike with me, I decided to do a ride after I left the camp. I started off the ride on a sweeping, 4 mile, speedy downhill. I actually had to hit the brakes a tad because I was encroaching upon 50mph into some really tight turns and eventually when I got to the bottom of the hill I would need to come to a dead stop.

I came racing up to the bottom and a stop sign. Errrrrr.... nice dead stop.... look around no traffic.... bolt across the road and make a left. Now I am on my way out to Hawk's Nest, a twisty snake shaped road that is frequently used in car commercials. The ride would be about 7miles of flats and small rollers along the Delaware River. Nice scenic ride, I am cruising... all is right in the world. I race out to Hawk's Nest and pull over near about 40 Hell's Angels. They are all parked along Hawk's next admiring the View. I sit for a moment to relax and then pull out to head back to where I left my car, at the top of that nasty hill. I am holding a steady pace, relaxing a bit, just sailing smoothly down the flats, saving some energy for that hellish climb that is coming. The hill is approaching..., closer, closer, closer...

Ok, I am mentally prepared to spend the next 45 minutes climbing in brutal agony. At the bottom, I set my stopwatch to see how long this is going to take.

It only took 5 minutes...
So, I am climbing, climbing, climbing, sweat is pouring down my face. I am out of the saddle, drenched in sweat. A slight cool breeze blows up off the river down below but, it does nothing to cool me down. I bare down to pick up the speed to get up this torturous hill faster... I sit and spin for a moment to give my muscles a break. Then a terribly steep section of the hill comes up. I jump out of the saddle and bare down on the pedals even harder then before...

::Clunk:: ::Crack:: ::Chunk:: The whole bike goes soft... I can't pedal forward, I try to hold my balance, the bike sways violently.... I fall over on my side. I clip out, and look at my bike. Front wheel is good.... Rear wheel has had a nervous breakdown... At least 2 spokes are broken... I had taken my old wheels upstate because I wanted to get extra training pushing the heavier wheels. Well apparently, these wheels just couldn't hack the hill that I was climbing... Shoulda brought my other wheels. Time to call tech support.