These days it seems that anything that is politically related is negative. However, for over 200 years our country has endured. At the U of A I graduated with a degree in Political Science, but was only a few credits short of a double major in History as well. Out of this fine educational experience I saw that the history and frustration with our government started before the ratification of the constitution, has continued to this day, and will be here as long as the US exists. The good thing is that each of us really do have the potential to create a change that will benefit your own believes.
So what does any of this have to do with a blog on bikes? I want to see how we can use the system, the one that has endured two centuries, to create laws that benefit cyclist, Mt. Bikers, Commuters, recreational riders and BMX both in safety and additional infrastructure. I’m not going to get into Right or Left, Liberal or Conservative or any of my thoughts on any political issue, unless it revolves around Bicycles.
Last month I met with Arizona House of Representative Ethan Orr to discuss bike laws. 3 weeks ago I coordinated having Ethan and Senator Steve Farley to Brendan Lyons hospital bed to talk about safety after Brendan and his girlfriend, Lorena Evans, were struck by a car. This morning I had breakfast with Senator Farley to ask his opinion on the best way to impact the state legislators.
Senator Farley is going to create a Bike Caucus in the state Senate. Representative Orr will be doing the same in the AZ house. Once we see who we have on our side we can start to focus on what is most important for Bicycling in the State.
We are going to need your help. If you, a family member, a boss or employee rides a bike and has a relationship with an elected official I would like to talk with them. If we can find the riders who have the personal connections with these Senators and Representatives our chances of accomplishing meaningful legislation will skyrocket.
The only way this will work is if cycling/MTB/BMX/Commuter enthusiasts from all over the state get involved. Will You?
Finally, If you have a huge pocket book and want to give me an outlandish allowance, I’ll dedicate my life to this. This a huge task and it warrants a full time “lobbyist”. As with most of you, I’m currently stretched very thin between being a full time Realtor, Father, Husband, This Blog, Photographer and Coach at El Grupo. I’m very fortunate that I have some overlapping between all of my passions and responsibilities, but know that this needs more effort than I can give.
So, Is Lobbyist a dirty word? Only if they are lobbying against what is good.
I have been in Tucson for over 25 years. Many times over that time I had had a feeling like there is nothing to do and we do live in the sticks. However, since finding the bike, this has all changed. Now the challenge is, what will I need to give up this weekend because there are so many fun events on the agenda.
This dilemma was on my mind today as I was looking forward to the weekend of November 9th and 10th. It is weeks away and I have not yet received my invitation for social rides and already have 5 “Must do” rides. Looking at the race calendar for the next 5 months, this is a typical weekend. What a great time to live and be a cyclist in Southern Arizona.
As an example, here are a few of the group ride options on the weekend of November 9th and 10th.
1-The Shootout. Only the best group road ride/race in the country. Since this is a weekly event, I decided this was an easy one to eliminate, but always fun and big the weeks leading up to El Tour.
2-Agua Caliente Enduro. Race from the summit of Agua Caliente over three punishing, high-speed EXTREMELY technical stages. You will earn your turn by way of a untimed, but very punishing push up an entire mountain. No entry fee. No prizes. Self-supported backcountry racing rules and guidelines apply. Limited to 75 entrants. This looks like fun. I want, I really want!
3- Cyclo cross returns to Tucson. Saturday and Sunday November 9-10 STORM THE BEACH brought to you by U of AZ Cycling – Christopher Columbus Park Tucson, Last year I rode a New Belgium cruiser and was told if I was lapped they were pulling me. I finished the race. The thought of doing cyclo cross on a more appropriate stead has me excited and this is where I’ll be Saturday Morning. Also, as El Grupo will have the high school kids at the NICA race, I’ll be there to coach the younger athletes.
4-It’s not in Tucson, but the 4th and final race of the NICA High School League is Sunday the 10th.. My boy is racing. El Grupo is racing. However, it is not local and I’ve spent many a weekend on the road away from the rest of the family. I have a calling to go, but think I’m letting it go to voicemail.
5- Here it comes again…riding down a Bunny Trail. Dirty Bunny (metric) Century. Sunday, Nov.10th. A Afat tire race at Fantasy Island where the entry fee is a 6 pack of craft beer and I personally know 40 plus of the 50 rider field. I’m told I get a special bejeweled number plate as the official photographer. You can guess my choice of ride for the 10th!
I freely admit, I like to get muddy! Riding in the rain and mud does not phase me and I’ll wear the brown racing strip with pride on my back. However, I do not approve of a dirty bike afterwards. I don’t particularly like to take the time to scrub my iron horses, but have learned that if you pamper you bikes, they last longer and run smoother. I’ve used various cleaners over the years and tried a new one yesterday.
The 16Oz bottle can be found on-line from $5.50-$8.99. The Gallon was $18.88.
For some time I have had a bottle of the ProGold degreaser and bike wash. I use the degreaser often, but for some reason had never tried the Bike Wash. For my experiment I used perhaps 3 or 4 oz max.
I was on the way out the door and noticed my Santa Cruz Tallboy was looking like it had been powdered in a fine dust from The Tour Of The White Mountains. I had about 5 minutes to clean her up and get on my way. With a cup in one hand and a toothbrush in the other I gave it a quick once over. I ran inside, grabbed my bike gear, came out and rinsed it off with the hose. I still had a little muck in the derailleur and gave it another quick brush over and hose down. I never used any elbow grease, just a gentle scrubbing to loosen the muck.
As you can see from the before and after pictures it really cleaned it up. I’d like to try and put the product through a more rigorous test, but don’t think I’ll ever let my bike get that dirty. If you have a bike that is disgusting, greasy, grimy, dirty, and are in the Tucson Area, I’d love to see what the ProGold Degreaser and BikeWash can do.
An aside, the rear wheel is a loaner. I will not be the ridicule of the dork disk, so just back off before you even start those comments. You know who you are.
I’m on a mission to make Tucson a better community. After the crash of the real estate market in 2007 I struggled to find my purpose in the world. I was very hurt watching friends skirt responsibility and give homes back to the banks with strategic foreclosures. The Real Estate sales industry often gets a bad name that puts us on the list of such notable “professionals” as used cars salesmen and ambulance chasing lawyers. Unfortunately, I saw cut throat behavior from agents that really did warrant the name real -a-snake agent. In the decade leading up to this I had the same passion for promoting the benefits and ethics of the Realtor that I now have for bikes. Honestly, being in the industry, most people are ethical and do a great job, but a few bad apples really did taint my opinion. Real Estate still pays my bills(now accepting referrals;-), but Bicycles fuel me.
As many of you know, last year I set out to ride my bike every day for a year. From May 5 2012 through May 12, 2013 there was not a day that the foot was not in the pedal. Having a daily goal like that was challenging yet very fulfilling. I’m not sure I’m up for that task as the price on the family was too high, but is it possible to do something every day for the bike community? Not much, perhaps it is just sharing a question about a cyclist who was recently diagnosed with diabetes and is looking for a coach who understands the intricacies of training with type 2 Diabetes, volunteering with El Grupo Youth Cycling, helping a friend in the hospital after an accident, telling others about new trails and roads, stopping to help someone with a mechanical, getting others involved, telling the stories of others who are doing the same things for the community or taking photos of a ride so the community has recorded shared memories.
To some extent this is what BikePilgrim was created for. To share the good word and highlight all the good there are in the Bike Community. I think 365 blog posts in the next year might be a stretch, but I am going to set out to do 365 bike related activities.
17- Photos of the Silverbell Century. GABA does lots of rides leading up to EL Tour and has options from a 30 mile to a century. I needed to go to the office, but made a detour to take a few hundred images. There are so many rides going on every day I do not know where to point the camera.
16- A friend of my wife purchased a trike in the hopes of becoming more physically fit. Unfortunately, like so many people it was never used. Now, three years later, it is collecting dust and she hoping to get her money back, or at least as much as possible. I posted it on facebook and would like to say that it sold it. However, it really is a specialty item and apart from a comment from one of the two people I know who ride trikes, Nada. If you know someone who is has some physical limitations, but is interested in still being on the road, let me know.
15- El Tour de Tucson opened its door to Brendan Lyons and Look! Save a life/ Arizona. I met with most of the Staff and Lorena and Brendan to see what we can do to promote Look! At El tour. Brendan is going to have the opportunity to talk at the dedication dinner and we will have a booth at the expo. We will not have much time to organize it, would love some help, and look forward to seeing you there.
14- A ride with my son, Sam. Is it really doing something for the community to go for a bike ride with your own kid? I’m going with a yes. If you are not spending time with your children on the bike, you are missing an opportunity.
13- El Grupo recovery ride in the park. We played games and worked on skills. I shared with the world what Zombie Tag looks like. What a great lead into Halloween. This is tag on the bikes. As soon as you tag someone, they are also it and so on until only one person remains.
12- The Business Builder Bike Ride. This is such a fun event to take pictures of. All riders dressed for Halloween and it ends with a keg from Borderlands brewery.
11- Pot Luck Dinner and Costume Party at The NICA race. Many teams showed up, we shared food, the kids got to know each other. Lots of images on The Damion Alexander Team. This is the start of something really magnificent.
10- Repeats today. Both on “A” Mountain and what was going on for the community. El Grupo, pushing the incorporation of Look! Save a life(seems to have stalled), and details for the NICA high school social. I would like to find creative new things each day to fuel the community and keep this interesting, but like so much of life, it is going to be the consistent grind that has the real impact.
9- This weekend in the 3rd race in the NICA season. Mike Perry ,John Shumaker and NICA Arizona have accomplished so much this first year, but the races are missing that “community” feeling. I expressed this to Mike and he said he agreed and asked me to make it more social. Apparently, no good deed goes unpunished. The plan is a pot luck dinner for a few hundred and a Halloween Costume Contest with prizes. How hard can that be with 5 days to plan.
8- Two days in a row in Sabino for Bike Patrol. So here is the skinny of why I do Bike Patrol. I actually really don’t like telling people what to do. However, I really Really REALLY don’t want to see cyclist lose the privilege to ride in the canyon. I Said Privilege and not Right because it is by the grace of the Ranger we are allowed to be there. Here is my speech ” ride only on the times and days that are allowed. Never on Wednesday and Saturday and not betwwen 9AM and 5PM on the other days. Keep the speed under 15. Why? Because the people who are walking and popping on and off trails are not looking for bikes and if a bad collision occurs, we might lose the privilege.
7- Sabino Canyon Bike Patrol. Now that the Government is working I can do my volunteering. Interested in being a Bike Ranger. Ask me, I’ll tell you what we do.
6- A friend, Christina, asked me “Hi damion!!! My little sister and her two littles are coming to visit over Halloween and I am looking for either a bike burley or. Jogging stroller and also a Kelly pack to borrow…do you or anyone you know have either of those items I could borrow for a week! Hope you and your family are well!” My post on facebook found her what she was looking for. Making a difference can be as simple as just asking for someone.
5- El Grupo Coaching again. Road ride on the East side of Tucson. Nearly 50 miles. Challenging ride for me, road bike was in the shop and I took the MTB. These kids are almost to fast for me to keep up.
4- El Grupo coaching. This is likely the first of many that reference EL Grupo Youth Cycling. Today, we were at Himmel park. It is interesting to see hom many people are using the park these days. In August at practices in Himmel we were the only users. Tonight kids were everywhere. Multiple soccer practices/games. We had one father yelling at us to get off the grass with our bikes. I went to talk with him. He started the dialogue very aggressive and I let him explain his tell me how he felt. He had children playing and he felt that bikes were dangerous to their safety. He felt the bikes were dangerous to kids who were playing and we did not belong in the park. He pointed towards the Catalinas and said there were hills and roads all over the place and that Himmel park was no place for us. I don’t personally like confrontation. However, I really do love trying to calm a situation where everyone can have a better understanding of each other and walk away with a mutual appreciation. I think he had some very valid concerns. After a few minutes, I asked if I could talk. First, I asked his name and introduced myself. His name was Jeff. I explained that we have the blessing of parks and rec, we have been using the park for 7 years, our kids a very aware that others are using the park and that we are to give the right away. I appreciated his concerns and that is why I made the effort to come back and talk with him and that I would remind the entire team to be aware of pedestrians. He was still not a fan of us being there and said that he still had concerns that we were going to hit someone, but he was noticeably calmer then he had been. After I left him I did talk to the entire team about being aware and giving pedestrians the right of way, even if we are racing.
This really made me think about the perception that people have of cyclist. We had the right to be in the park. We were being safe. How many other people were watching and thinking bad things, but did not say anything? How do we engage the masses to understand we have as much of a right to use the parks, trails, roads as others? If we are intimidating people and reckless, it does not help our cause. At the same time, Jeff and his kids were playing 30-40 feet away from our crit course. There was no danger of them being hit, but even after our dialogue, I feel he walked away mad at bikes. I would love feedback on this. I’d love ideas on what we can do to make it better. 4/365
3- When Brendan Lyons was in the hospital after being hit by a car I asked what he would really like to see come out of his situation and if how I could help to make it a reality. He shared his vision for Look! Save a Life/Arizona and that seeing it incorporated as a Non-profit 501c3 so it can accept donations and spread the word for cycling safety would be his dream. Today, I made the first steps to make this a reality. The past week I have been looking for people with experience in incorporation and today started a dialogue with 6 interested cyclist. The First two steps, naming the director, Brendan Lyons, and the name, Look, Save a Life/ Arizona are complete. We have the forms for Incorporation and will start on that soon. We have asked a few cycling lawyers if they will assist pro-bono, but are still working on that. If you have experience and are interested, we would love to talk to you for the board of directors or to help get the documents for incorporation in order. 3/365
2- Ryan Roher with the Pima County Sherriff Dept said “I’m putting together a presentation for local high schools. It’s a broad presentation but it does have some relationship to cycling. We specifically talk about distracted driving/texting etc. I’d like to include the Look! Save a Life logo and perhaps some information on Brendan.” Logo sent to Deputy Roher and info on Look! Save A Life/ Arizona. 2/365
1 – A question from one of my elementary school teacher that was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and is looking for a cycling coach(that’s right- I’m so into community I still talk to most of my teachers from elementary school after 35 years). My facebook post received multiple recommendations and 2 of the coaches are also T2 Diabetics themselves. A few personal messages and some introductions and 1/365 is in the books.
I’ve heard people say they don’t support diabetes research as they feel people with diabetes made lifestyle choices that resulted in the condition. Not True!!! On the topic of bikes and Diabetes, one of the great fundraising rides each year is the Tour De Cure. It is community oriented multitasking at its best. Bike ride, help others.
I originally posted this on October 15, 2013. How much can we do for the community in a year. Can’t wait to look back in October 2014 and see this.
RITA ROAD (Cycling) IMPROVEMENT PROJECT -RAILROAD TRACKS TO SCIENCE PARK DRIVE
Crews from Southern Arizona Paving Co., under contract with the City of Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT), have begun improvements to Rita Road, from the Union Pacific Railroad Tracks to Science Park Drive. Work hours for the project will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Infrastructure improvements include reconstructing southbound Rita Road from the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to just south of Science Park Drive, a five-foot wide bicycle lane, a southbound right-turn lane and traffic signal upgrades at the Rita Road and Science Park Drive intersection. Work will also include new northbound sidewalks in locations where sidewalks currently do not exist. The improvement project is scheduled to be complete in January 2014.
During the work, at least one lane of travel in each direction will be maintained on Rita Road. The traveling public can expect delays when driving in these work areas. Please obey all traffic control signs and watch for construction personnel and equipment in these work areas.
This information was provided by the South East Rolling Reporter Ken Lenger. BikePilgrim would love to spend everyday exploring Tucson, but due to Life getting in the way of Life, it just is not so. If you know of some new road, path, trail, or anything that is bike related please let me know.
With everything that happened with Brendan Lyons this past week I never had a chance to write about the Tour Of The White Mountains. Better late than never?
Tour of the White Mountains.
Have you had that break through moment in a race that makes you look back on that event with fondness. The TWM was the first race where I pushed myself to a level that has in many ways defined me ever since. It was about a year after I really got into riding, my longest Mountain Bike ride going into the race was perhaps 30 or 40 miles. I signed up for the 60 mile race( Oh, for the record, I love him like a brother, but Epic Rides mastermind Todd Sadow can’t count- it was nearly 70 miles). Summary: Made cut off by only a minute, was a mile past the last checkpoint when I flatted, my saddle bag was open and I had no spare or tire lever, I pumped the tire, rode a mile, flatted, pumped it again, rain started, rode half a mile, flat, mud, could not get tire pumped, more mud, mud and pine needles, mud like peanut butter, tires not spinning as a result of mud, walk, soles of shoes fell off, carry bike 8 miles to finish. Loved every second of it!!!
At the Finish of my first TWM
This year I was heading up to take pictures and enjoy the company of the bike community. My good friend David Tang was good enough to drive and had an extra bed in his cabin. We also had in our company a UA med student, Seth Turner, and David’s dogs, Taco and Tamale. Mentally I was set for a mellow weekend and a short ride with thousands of pictures. Somehow, plans changed and I somehow found myself entered in the 50 mile event. I‘d like to tell that story, it’s a good story, but to protect my sources I will skip it.
Tamale and Taco at Casas Tang
David, Seth and I had a plan for the race. Ride together. Push hard in the beginning. Ride strong. Finish strong. Drink Beer. It was a good plan. It fell apart somewhere on the ride from the cabin to the start line when we missed the gun by 15 minutes. It quickly proceeded to a social ride. I would ride ahead, take photos, let them pass, take photos, ride ahead, take photos, take photos as we rode, take more photos, have David tell me how annoying it is having someone ride casually past you taking photos. It is my favorite type of ride. Put in 20-45 minute efforts and then relax for a few minutes. If we saw a pleasant meadow, we stopped and had a snack. Aspen trees-stop. Cows-stop. Heavy equipment-stop, climb, photos. After every stop we would catch the same riders who passed us throughout the day. We took time at every opportunity to chat and thank the volunteers and eat oreos, pickles, and sandwiches at the aid stations. Boys out playing on their bikes!
Seth ” get me a unicycle” Turner
About 10 miles from the finish Seth decided to pick up the pace. At about that time David busted a nipple and due to rubbing had to ride brake free. He was in a bad mental place as he was struggling with the bike and the long time in the saddle. I held back a short distance, offering the occasional encouragement and enjoying the scenery.
Happy Tang getting it done.
About 4 or 5 miles to the finish David passed a guy who was off his bike. I stopped to ask what the issue was (and to get a photo). His bike shirt was in the design of a tuxedo and he had one of the most stunning handlebar moustaches I’ve seen. He was a big boy, tall, solid and 240 pounds. His trouble was that due to his massive size he had broken his chain. He found a master link and fixed it once, but snapped it again.
It’s like a Strider for BIG people
After introductions, (his name is Jeff) I told him to get on his bike and I’d try and push him. On the flats it beat walking, but it was a struggle for me to keep him moving. It became especially challenging on the single track as I was forced to ride one handed, on the side of the trail and avoid rocks. On the uphills he had to walk. He encouraged me to leave him, but I was content to talk with him and make his ride pass faster. Every checkpoint we passed they told us it was 2 miles to the finish. 3 times we were told 2 miles. It almost became a joke (Apparently not only can Todd not count, but it is contagious and all of the volunteers are mathematically challenged). At one point I decided to try and pull Jeff instead of push. I was feeling it and was hoping a new position might help. It was awesome. It worked so well I was even able to pull him up the hills. I grabbed his camel pack under his arm, leaned away from him as hard as I could land was able to grind out the last few miles. At one point I told him I needed to put on my music and disappear. At the end of a 50 mile ride I admit I was feeling it. A few times we bumped handle bars and it felt like we were going down. However, we rode to the finish with me holding onto the camel pack as we crossed the finish line together.
The race is put on by Epic Rides and it lived up to the name “Epic”. New Belgium beer was pouring free beer, my favorite type, at the finish line. Jeff and I had a toast to his finishing and I ran off to watch the award ceremony. I was loving life as many of my friends were getting hardware. After the last award was presented, Todd Sadow said he had a special announcement. He called Jeff and I up on the platform and recapped the last few miles of our ride to the audience. I was on my second beer by that time(recovery fuel) and must say, physically and mentally, It really felt good.
A toast to my new riding buddy, Jeff.
I never expected that I’d have a ride in the TWM that would be more memorable than the day in the mud. However, I think this day surpassed that one for one reason. Friends!!! Both new and old. If you are reading my blogs, you might have noticed how much I value community and how determined I am to bring the cycling community together. Physically, this might have been one of the greater challenges I’ve ever had, but mentally this fuels me. I’d gladly have pulled Jeff another 5 miles and would do the same for any of you. We have something really special going on with the bikes and I can’t wait to get out there and meet you on the trail. Thanks for reading.
I post all sorts of event photos to facebook. Please like The Damion Alexander Team and check out the Tour of the White MTNS 2013. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153334746475154.1073741961.228735085153&type=3
I received a call today from Brendan Lyons. He was all choked up and asked me if I knew the news and had I seen TucsonVelo.com. He was fairly emotional and I have to admit that bad toughts came to my mind. Was someone else hit? Was there some bad news? I quickly pulled up he facebook page and saw it referred to an event that was created to benefit Lorena and Brendan(event info posted at the bottom of this post). In his typical form, he went off talking about how all he wanted to do was help out the community and how humbling this was. He was so touched the community would do anything like this to help him out.
I was aware of the event and had talked with Craig Honeker , who created the facebook event. He rides on the Tri-sport team and he and Ryan Hartman had been looking at some ways to help Brendan and Lorena. The event was created and some incredible donations have started to come in that will be raffled or auctioned off. According to facebook posts they include: CHECK BACK HERE AND I’LL UPDATE THE LIST.
Mike McKisson of TucsonVelo.com is offering up 6 months of advertising for the raffle. The person who wins will get a display ad on the site for six months with a link to their business or organization. In the last month they have had 19,000 visits from 13,500 different cyclists mostly from Tucson. The normal value is $1,200.
Looks like we’ll have some additional items to raffle courtesy of TriSports.com! Thank you Seton Claggett and Debbie Feldner Claggett
Jimmy Bees 20/24 black DT aero comp spokes. Sapin hex head alloy nipples. Rims are tubeless compatible. Shimano/sram 10spd
If you have something you would like to donate look up the page on facebook and comment, or if you are not on facebook, contact the BikePilgrim at 520-977-5664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put you in touch with the event organizers.
THE INFO FROM THE FACEBOK EVENT SAYS “Benefit for Brendan Lyons & Lorena Evans” https://www.facebook.com/events/595154987208909/595704070487334/?notif_t=like
“As many of you know, Brendan Lyons and Lorena Evans were hit by a car last Friday while riding, and Brendan has suffered severe injuries. We are going to have a very informal benefit this Sunday at Old Chicago to:
– Try to raise some funds for Brendan and Lorena, as they get through these difficult times.
– Gather well wishes for the two of them (we’ll have card(s) that you can sign)
– Brendan is going to need our support over the long term, so we’ll be talking about how we can all do that.
– Let them know that the cycling community has them in their hearts!
Please join us on Sunday at 6:00 PM at Old Chicago (Campbell south of Glenn) and offer whatever support you can. All monies raised will go directly to Brendan and Lorena.
We’ll also have a card and donation jar at TriSports (4495 S Coach Dr) on Friday and Saturday if you’re unable to make it on Sunday.
Please send the invite to everyone who rides a bike! Thanks for your support of the Tucson Cycling Community!”
This is a more of a mini novel than a blog. It contains the interview with Brendan Lyons and Lorena Evans about a collision with a car on October 4, 2013 . Also, interviews with Senator Farley and Representative Orr about what bike laws we might be able to create in the next legislative session.. My break down on why this all came together. Having been there for the entire time and seeing the final news reports, it is incredible how 45 minutes is condensed into a 2 minute segment. I tried to omit nothing to give a more in depth perspective (perhaps too much).
My good friend Brendan Lyons was hit by a car while riding his bike last week with his girlfriend Lorena Evans. Lorena got off easy with a broken wrist (at least that’s all that I know she hurt). Brendan on the other hand ended up In the Hospital and is still there.
Brendan is a fire fighter with rural metro and the founder of Look!Save a life/ Arizona This is what Brendon says s the purpose of Look! “Look! Save a Life / Arizona is a campaign to promote cycling safety and awareness. Many cyclists are unaware of, or choose not to ride according to the laws which govern the use of public roads. Most drivers only expect to see other cars on the road, or even deny the right of cyclists to be on the road at all. (Or worse yet, feel cyclists should not be on the roads at all.) That creates a disconnection between what drivers expect and what cyclists do on the road. These problems culminate in at best, apathy towards cyclists, and at worst, deliberate, hostile, unsafe, and possibly fatal confrontations between drivers and cyclists. My hope is to “Realize that we can not change personalities, but to help in better changing the “attitudes” drivers and cyclists have for one another.”
I went to visit Brendan at UAMC Diamond’s Children in his hospital room. For some time I have helped him manage the facebook page for Look! Save a Life. I have known many cyclist who have spent time in ER and the hospital, but this is the first time I went down to see if I could help (I’ve never been a huge fan of hospitals, I was told as a kid the best way to stay healthy was to avoid hospitals and I have been living that lifestyle).
Even with the pain meds, I could see the grimace on his face every few sentences, but his mind was clear and we had a very long conversation. We talked about what he remembered from the crash, nothing. My favorite topic after a bike crash. How was his bike? Shattered in 13 plus pieces. Where it happened? Sunrise heading East before Kolb. One point was very clear. He wanted to find a way to make this into a positive experience. The question he wanted to know was how could he help save even one life or prevent one collision as a result of his current situation. The conversation went to how Look! Save a Life could get recognition and use his misfortune for the benefit of the community. We went over the downside to being public, but he was set on doing anything that could to save someone from the anguish he was going through.
Together we discussed what he wanted to see. Laws that really protect cyclist! A state wide no texting while driving law! A hands free law!!!!! Expanding the 3 foot to a 5 foot wide passing law and more teeth and penalties for cars who hit a cyclist.
After we had the idea the rest fell on me. Fortunately, I have great political connections on both sides of the isle in the state legislator and know the Representatives and Senators who believe in protecting the safety of cyclist. ( If anyone has 1ooK and want’s to support me for a year I’ll become a full time bike lobbyist for the state of Arizona) Both Senator Steve Farley and Representative Ethan Orr were willing to shuffle their schedules to meet with Brendan to talk about the laws we discussed.
With the assistance of Katie Riley from UAMC and Grant Cesarck from Rural metro we were able to coordinate the logistics of bringing news crews in the hospital and to get a press release out. THANK YOU Katie and Grant!
Everything went very well and KVOA and KGUN both sent crews out. KOLD was not able to make it, but we might do another interview in a few days. AZ Daily Star sent a reporter as well. Senator Farley, Representative Orr, Karen Mlawsky, CEO of UAMC, Andy Theodorou, MD, Chief Medical Officer of UAMC all attended the meeting.
Senator Farley, Representative Orr, Lorena Evans, Brendan Lyons, Karen Mlawsky, Andy Theodorou, MD.
Prior to the media being allowed in Brendan had an opportunity to talk to the others about what he wanted to accomplish. What hit me was that everyone in the room except Dr. Theodorou ride bikes on a regular basis. The conversation was really preaching to the choir and it seemed that not only was everyone in agreement but that it was more of a brainstorming session. Dr. Theodorou had many points to ad from his prospective in the hospital and seeing so many patients who were in collisions. One point everyone really agreed on, WEAR A HELMET! Brendan would be dead, no question, if he was not wearing his lid.
Even before the actual interview began it appeared that Brendan would grimace in pain while talking. I thought, What type of a person is willing to expose themselves to this when they are hurting so much? My answer is, a public servant of the highest caliber. He is the fire fighter through and through. A man who is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the many. I cried a few times listening to his passionate speech.
The interview: Surrounded by Farley and Orr with Lorena next to him on the bed the news crews took turns interviewing Brendan. I TOOK THE BEST NOTES I COULD. I DID NOT EMBELISH AT ALL, BUT I’M NOT A GOOD SECRETARY AND EXACT WORDING MIGHT BE OFF.
KVOA: Can you walk us through what happened?
Brendan Lyons: On Friday, We were on a training ride for El Tour de Tucson in the bike lane, a very wide bike lane, Lorena was on the left of the lane and we were struck from behind. That is all I remember.
KVOA :A picture tells a thousand words, How are you doing with all of this?(she pointed at the bike)
BL: As you can see I suffered some serious injury and I’m very fortunate to be here to talk to you. Because I was wearing a helmet I’m here today.
KVOA: You mentioned you were a fire Fighter.
BL: It puts taking care of people on a whole. I need to take care of myself and my girlfriend now. Hopefully, by talking to you today, I can help save lives and I can help people.
KVOA: What do you want cyclist and drivers to take form this?
BL: If I was not wearing a helmet, hands down, I would be dead. My helmet was crushed in and I would be dead. Follow the rules of the road. Don’t oppose traffic. Ride in the bike lane. Ride with the flow of traffic. For drivers, Most important, keep your hands on the wheel and pay attention. Get off the phone, don’t text , two seconds with your hands off the wheel can kill someone.
KGUN: You said you advocate for riders safety with Look! Save a Life, did you ever think you would be in this position?
BL: I never believed this. I hoped that I could help share the mission of keeping people safe. This is a two way street. This is not an attack on drivers. I want drivers to pay attention. Give a little extra space. Even if it is a 3 foot law, give five feet. There is no reason not to give space. To have a big truck blow by you in a bike lane is hard to comprehend if you are not a cyclist.
KGUN: Why are you doing this?
BL:I’m doing this to potentially save lives. I’m a fire fighter. I care about people. I genuinely care about people. I don’t want to see anyone else hurt or killed. I’m doing this to save lives.
KVOA: Anything else you want to say?
When I see my bicycle I do not know why I am here. I should be dead. I keep thinking that over and over. We are both incredibly lucky to still be alive.
KGUN: Fellow riders are they offering support?
BL: Fellow riders, fellow fire fighters, people I don’t even know have been coming forward. Put a smile on your face and pay attention to the road.
KVOA: You have been working with some local leaders. Can you talk about this?
BL: People don’t understand why there are so many cyclist here. We have the weather, we have the infrastructure. There are hundreds of mile of roads in Tucson and Pima county with adequate bike lanes, but there needs to be more, there is a 55 mile loop being built, if we don’t have the laws that support this we are doing a disservice to not only cyclist, not only to cyclist but to Firefighters, Doctors, Police offices, Mothers, Fathers, sons and daughters, we are doing disservice to your family members. There is a law that if you hit a cyclist in a bike lane that it is a $500 fine, if you kill him it is a $1000 fine, but in part of Arizona you can be fined $2500 for feeding a wild animal. Where is the human element? It is really disheartening.
KVOA: And this is something you are going to work on changing?
BL: Absolutely. Perhaps Arizona can adopt the California law on no texting and hands free devices only? There is no reason not to be paying attention to the road
KVOA: So what are you going to do now? You obviously focus on recovery
BL: I’m going to focus on my recovery, and advocacy. Focusing on helping people and getting better. Focus on Tucson being better. We don’t need to follow other states. We can step up. We are a huge cycling Mecca. We can set the example for other states. Take care of your brother. Pay attention to drivers as well.
KVOA: Lorena, Do you want to say anything on your experience or hearing him say he should not be here?
LE: It’s hard, I remember everything and he does not. I saw him on the ground and honestly thought he was dead. I’m thankful we are both alive and here and able to heal to move forward from this.
KVOA: I’m getting the impression from listening to you that this is not going to stop you from getting on the bike?
BL: Still going to get on a bicycle! Still going to ride! Still going to be safe! Still going to look out for traffic! I’m a driver as well. I pay taxes. I helped pay for these bike lanes. It’s wonderful to have a means to be healthy and ride to work, It’s good on the economy. Absolutely, I’m still going to ride a bike.
KVOA: Anything else you want to ad?
BL: I’d also like to see any laws that are implemented to be added into the driver education test. Many people just don’t know the laws. It needs to start in the high school.
END BL Interview. Start Steve Farley Interview.
KVOA: Tell me what brought you here with us today?
SF: Traffic safety has been one of the top priorities in the legislator. Jan 2007 I was the first legislator in the country to introduce a bill to ban driving while texting for anyone, Here in Arizona we are now one of the last state in the county that has no law for texting while driving for anybody, but we also collect no data on our accident reports. I’m tireless on this because over the course of my seven years in the legislator I’ve had many families and people who were hurt, injured, killed, come to my office and tell me about inattentive driving. We have to stop this. We have to save lives.
KVOA: What does Brendan and Lorena’s story show us?
SF: There is a huge problem. If you talk to anyone in the ER here ,firefighters, first responders, they have seen countless examples of the carnage that happens when people indulge in distracted driving. There is nothing that says you can’t stop distracted drivers right now, and that is one thing I want to emphasis. Every time you are doing a story out here about these types of things, you are saving lives, But when you put a law in place against certain practices that are dangerous then you strengthen that little cop in our head that says “don’t do it.” You put in in the driver education curriculum, So that every kid and every person who learns to drive understands it is unacceptable to do and we need a law, we need everyone to look at the road ahead of you. We have to get that message to everyone we need a law, we need education and we need enforcement.
KVOA: And those will be the basis of laws as we see going into the next legislative session?
SF: I will never stop that effort. I have seen the type of pain you have seen here today. It is so preventable. It does not need to happen.
KGUN: Tucson is one of the best cycling community, isn’t it ironic our laws don’t reflect it?
SF: It is ironic. Too often you have seen peoples ideology, partisan stuff get injected into this, this is not a Republican or Democrat thing, this is a life saving thing, The distracted driver does not look at your political ideology when he runs you over.
End Steve Farley Interview
KVOA You mentioned you are a cyclist yourself. This must have hit close to home for you.
EO: You are incredibly vulnerable out there and what a lot of drivers don’t understand is a bump or tap that might scratch their paint may kill someone.
KVOA: So what are you hoping to accomplish here by getting Brendans story out there?
EO: We have been working in a bi-partisanship way with the South West Community on a series of bike safety protection laws. Had these laws been in place, now, we might not be here today.
KVOA: And what sort of laws are we talking about here?
EO: The laws we need to look at are expanding the 3 foot rule passing law to 5 foot rule, allow helmet cams to be used as evidence, looking at how cyclist start and stop at 4 way stop signs to make sure you don’t create wrecks among groups of cyclist (A very nice way of saying Idaho stop- way to sneak that one in there Ethan. Love the way you worded it.)
KVOA: Is that what you will be focusing on come the next session
OE: I will. But the other thing I want to do is meet with cyclist around the state to work on platinum recognition and international standards and to get other cyclist ideas to incorporate them into legislation.
KVOA: And you said this is a joint effort and it does not matter on the party. Are you in this together?
EO: It does not matter what party you are in. Doing the right thing, that knows no partisanship. And when it comes to saving a life, when it comes to protecting our community, and enhancing our quality of life, It’s just common sense.
KVOA: Have you had any close calls when you are on the bike?
EO: Certainly. I have had cars that will literally pass within a few inches of me and then go around a pot hole 10 feet in front of me., if a pot hole is more valuable than a human life, something is wrong.
KVOA: We talked about drivers. Do you feel there is some improvement that can be made on the cyclist side as well?
EO: I think it is about communication. If we are building all of these bike lanes. We need to connect all the bike lanes. We have the infrastructure. There has to be an understanding of what cyclist bring to the economy and what we bring to the quality of life.
KVOA: And when you said economy, we have el tour coming up, it’s a huge community here.
EO: When you think of it, all of our resorts, they need amenities that bring people here and cycling is big business. We need to understand what the cyclist bring to the economy.
End of Ethan Orr Interview.
Some of the video was not as clear as I would have likes. I tried to be as accurate as possible, but omitted some points that I could not make out or were overly redundant. It has been a long day, both pulling this off as well as selling real estate. I do appreciate any feedback, especially if you read everything and made it this far;-)
It’s Tuesday. I’ve gone nearly a week without going for a bike ride. Before that, I don’t think I’ve gone two consecutive days without riding is the past two years. At one point I rode every day for over a year. So how is it possible a guy who was riding every day can find himself off his bike? Am I hurt? No. Was I super busy at work? No. Did I opt to swim, hike, climb, ski? No.
I just had a few days where I did not ride and then I found it hard to get the motivation to get back on the bike the next few days.
The last time I experienced this was after a Solo 24 hour race a few years back where I was really burnt out. What was incredible was how 5 days can quickly become 5 weeks. Months later you look in the mirror and realize you are really in shape, the shape of a pair that is.
Today I’m writing this as much as a memo to myself to get back on the bike this afternoon and not repeat the mistakes of my past. If you have been out of the saddle for too long, I challenge you to get back on the bike tonight. The weather is cooling down in the late afternoon and the light is still up after work. If you get home after dark, Ordinary Bike Shop has 200 Lumen lights for around $50 and 300/400 lumen lights for around $100 bucks. This really extends your riding options.
When I made the commitment to ride every day that ends in a ‘y” for an entire year, I found a few tricks that made riding much easier. At the end of every ride, make sure your bike is ready for the next ride. If you have any mechanical issues, take care of them immediately. Never, ever leave a bike with a flat tire!!! Those pesky squeaks need attention. It will cost more later, so keep your steel horse running in the best condition. I have a few bikes, so in the case that something does break on the way out the door, I grab another bike. I’ve also come home and swapped out bikes just to make sure I get a ride in. Leave your bike clothing out and ready for the ride. This should include everything from socks, shoes, road I.D., shorts/bib, butt butter, sun screen, jersey, music, gloves, helmet, nutrition bars, and water bottles. Keep a saddle bag full of Co2(I have 3 cartridges) 2 tubes and a patch kit and a multi-tool with a chain tool. Learn at least the basics for maintaining your bike and fixing flats. Get the rides in before work, as the day moves on, it gets harder and harder to get on the bike as more distractions present themselves. Join teams, group rides or friends to add a level of accountability. Commute to work. If you are feeling a little sick or low on energy, go for a recovery ride or quick easy spin. Often times this will clear your head and lead to a longer ride, other times it just makes you feel better.
After typing this I’m pumped. How about you? I’ll be on my bike today at 4:30 with El Grupo. Time set, clothing is ready to go, LETS RIDE!
I’m typing this at 8:52 PM. I wrote the post above this morning. So life got in the way today. I had a party at 3:30 at 5 palms. Free food, free booze, networking. It would have been so easy to give up on the ride and stuff my face. Choices. Life is full of choices. I went to 5 palms, said hello to the people I needed to see, gave my free drink tickets to a friend and went and rode my bike.