Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's coming...

Paris-Roubaix is coming. If you have never seen it, you have no idea what you are missing. It is a race that can only be appreciated in terms of suffering and tragedy. It is a race that no amount of training and dope can ensure a finish, let alone a victory. I know many cyclists who dream of being Lance Armstrong and winning the Tour de France, but for me, my dream was to FINISH Paris-Roubaix.

There are not many moments in your life that can be recalled with crystal clarity, especially with the distance of time, but I can tell you what I was doing 2 weeks after Easter, 22 years ago. I was watching this:

on CBS Wide World of Sports. That cheesy John Tesh music still makes my heart beat faster with the thrill of bike racing. You think cycling is obscure now, try the 80's. The cyclists I hung around all seemed to be in on a big secret that nobody else knew about. All I know is that I fell in love with cycling watching Sean Kelly win the Paris-Roubaix. My friend Jason loves Kelly to this day, but back then he worshipped him. He emulated everything he could about Kelly (except for the atrocious position on the bike). I emulated Andy Hampsten who seemed like doomed quicksilver from the moment he set foot in Europe, but managed to win the Giro d'Italia in such an epic way that no one will ever forget it. I long for the less antiseptic racing of that era and Roubaix still offers glimpses of that greatness.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Early season inaction

Saturday was the first race of the season for me. A nice little road race near Albemarle. A nice rolly course, but with some seriously narrow roads that would make moving around pretty difficult.

I toed the line as one of the biggest non-threats in the peloton. Few could fathom how indecisive a role I would play in the days events. All went well as I rolled around, until the 500m mark. The moto official rode up the left side of the group and warned some riders to watch the yellow line. A flick, a touch and a little cascade of riders started breaking my way. I tried to avoid it but just couldn't. A biggish guy came right across my line. I caught him square, went over the bars, and somehow caught his top tube across the shins. With a presence of mind that reflects my experience, I chose to tuck and land on the big guy and surf him rather than the pavement. At this point in the crash cycle I began laughing loudly. We came to a stop, me laughing, big boy looking shaken and another guy faintly going "Unhhhhhhh" and clutching his arm to his chest in the international sign for "I have messed up and broken my collarbone."

Well, who'd a guessed you could crash in a Cat IV race for no good reason? Well, color me surprised! I ripped a hole in my new shorts, but no scrapes. The bonus is that I have definitively proven that my left shoulder is the heaviest part of my body. Throw me up in the air and I'll land on it first every time. I'm sore directly underneath a big scar from another road racing crash which is right on the point of collarbone that sticks up from my shoulder separation suffered during a mtb race many years ago. I've guess I'll have to do another one soon just to redeem myself...

In the "Will the idiocy never stop" department, check out the latest EPO scandal to rock the european sports world here. WTF indeed.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Your voices were heard!

Thank you to all of you who emailed and called to voice your concern over the incident involving Todd Brawell! Also, thank you to Lenoir Chief of Police Joey Reynolds for taking our concerns seriously enough to meet with Jeff first thing this morning at the shop. But the real attention should focus on Todd's interaction today:

I just wanted to let everyone know that I also have been contacted
by the Chief this afternoon. We had a very positive and lengthy
discussion about this matter. It is obvious that our voices have been
heard on this issue. The chief mentioned several times about all the
calls and emails he has recieved over this issue. I told him that the
cycling community feels strongly about this issue. I explained to him
that my issue wasn't seeing someone "get a ticket" but that I was
very concerned that this sets a very dangerous precedent. The chief
explained that even in automobile accidents they do not always cite.
I do not think this is a wise policy but it is the policy
nonetheless. He did go on to say that in all accident cases a report
is filed which shows the "contributing factors" to the accident. In
other words it declares "fault" in a round about way. I asked had
that report been filed in my case and did it show fault. He said he
would pull the report. I also asked if I could have a copy. I
explained that I thought a declaration of "fault" would be a step in
the right direction. Within 10 minutes I had the report delivered to
the church office. It does indicate that the driver of the
vehicle "failed to yield the right of way." I feel much better about
this situation after talking with the chief, receiving the report,
and seeing how they responded to this issue after so many voiced
concern. I ended the conversation by assuring the chief that I
support the very difficult work they do in law enforcement and that I
appreciated him contacting me personally. Thanks to all who voiced an opinion in this issue. Your voices were heard loud and clear.


Chief Reynolds voiced some concerns with Jeff in their meeting this morning that I would like for us all to address. Let us be very clear in acknowledging the support that the Lenoir Police Department and Chief Reynold in particular have shown towards cycling and cycling events in our community. The police department has always been helpful and courteous whenever we have approached them with regards to an event. One thing that was foremost in the conversation was the question posed by the police, "What would you like us to do?" This seemed to be posed in a way as to what would we ,the local cycling community, hope to gain from voicing our concerns in this matter. That is a big, weighty question...

Jeff and I have both had friends who were killed by drivers who "didn't see" the cyclist that they ran over. In all of these instances, the cyclists were obeying the laws and were killed by drivers who were guilty of some minor traffic infraction, such as failure to yield the right of way. I would hope that by our vocalizing concern for how this situation was handled, that the police department might take these "minor" traffic infractions a bit more seriously. It is important for all of us to realize that the only protection that we have while riding is from the code of safe conduct that is embodied by the traffic law. I hope that the message we gave to the police department is how disheartening it is to feel that the apparent protection of the law might not really be there for us. I for would like to see our voices of concern heard now by those who are charged with protecting our safety, rather than having to wait for more sorrowful circumstances. For me, ghost bikes are too late.

We are all loved by someone, be it our parents, spouses, children or friends. We all deserve to be safe. We all deserve to be seen.

Let Chief Reynolds know that we appreciate his attention to our concern and that we hope to maintain a meaningful dialogue with the Police Department over matters of cycling safety.

Monday, March 03, 2008


I have been putting this post off in the hopes of having a nice ending for it, but that ship has apparently sailed (for the time being). Last week, everyone's favorite bike ridin' preacher, Todd Braswell, had the unfortunate experience of being hit by a car while riding his bike to work at Lower Creek Baptist Church.

Todd was in the middle turning lane on Hwy 18 waiting for traffic to pass in order to turn left onto a side road. A car was at the stop sign of this side road waiting to make a left turn on to Hwy 18. Traffic cleared and Todd began to make his turn. The driver at the stop sign initiated his turn at the same time and hit Todd. Todd was lucky in that his injuries were minor. However, the police officer who responded to the accident decided not to cite the driver of the car because the driver stated that "he didn't see" Todd.

This is a very bad situation. It is my (and many others) firm belief that had this been two cars, a citation would have been written. What the driver in this situation did was fail to yield the right of way to another VEHICLE. Todd was lucky, but we must do everything in our power to voice our concern over this situation. We can't let the precedent be set that as long as a cyclist isn't too badly injured it's okay to hit them with your car. We must BE VOCAL!

Cycling is very popular in our area. We have two major cycling events that bring 500 to 800+ riders each to this area. Cycling is closely associated with our area and contributes a great deal of money to our local economy. We must preserve the safety of our roads.

Get involved.

1. Write a letter to the editor of the New Topic (Here is the contact link)

2. Email the Lenoir Chief of Police, Joey Reynolds (also a cyclist):

3. Email the Sheriff of Caldwell County:

Don't take this lying down! Let your voice be heard!