Monthly Archives: January 2014

Just be Nice :-)

In the past few weeks I’ve been having many conversations with other riders about being nice when you are on the bike.  This conversation is coming up in response to tacks on the road, cars buzzing us, the sheriff pulling over the shootout.  To define nice, I’ll explain what I have been seeing that in Not Nice.   Stopping anywhere and everywhere to urinate, running red lights and stop signs, leaving tubes and CO2 cartridges on the side of the road, littering nutrition wrappers, groups blocking traffic and taking the entire road, and many reckless acts of riding into the road.

A friend warned me not to blog anything bad about the Shootout or “suffer the consequences of alienating the cycling world”.  As a Real Estate agent trying to appeal to the cycling world as the base of my referral network ( yes- I will show homes on bikes), I really don’t want to do anything to call out this group in a bad way, but it is so clear that some of these actions are hurting our overall credibility in the community.


This afternoon I saw a post on facebook from Chloë Black that addressed this exact issue.  I love seeing it come from someone who is a transplant to Tucson, was once a visitor, has raced as a pro, is a coach and has given back as much to Tucson as a Bike Ambassador as anyone I know ( and I know everyone).  Her post was:

Dear Visiting Cyclists to Tucson (“Pro” or not),

It’s super awesome to have you all here during the winter. I use to be just like you, escaping harsh winters for the lovely roads of Tucson. I just have a small request, but it would make a HUGE impact on our community. Tucson & Pima County work really hard to make life better for bicyclists. I mean REALLY hard! There is a massive effort from some really dedicated people to keep improving our experience here as well as our safety. This community is actually a national leader in this area!

Every time you blow through a red light or stop sign, or pee in front of someones home like the world is your toilet, or throw your trash & punctured tubes on the side of the road, or cut off traffic in a way that is really super rude & dangerous (for yourself, mostly), and you know how it goes…..we are all ambassadors of our cycling community. And while you are here, you are part of our community.

Anyway, I know this is preachy, but it’d be super awesome if while you are here, your presence elevates our image like I know it can! Cheers!

I think Chloe left off one important part.  If you are a local, this should count double for you. Also, if you are a local and wear a team kit, it should be triple.

If we want others to respect us and allocate more infrastructure for cyclist it has to start with us being good stewards of the sport.   So please, play nice:-)


Can’t we all just get along

In the past few weeks I have seen a rising tension between cyclist, pedestrians and cars.  This is both on roads and trails.  This weekend I witnessed my first collision when a car took a left turn in front of a cyclist.  Last week I found a pile of nails on an urban trail.  A cyclist who leads a Tuesday morning ride called and told me they are having more flats from tacks and have even been picking them up on the decent.  The Shootout was pulled over twice by the Sherriff Dept. this past Saturday.

This is nothing new.  As more and more users are taking advantage of our incredible climate and infrastructure it is not surprising that some tension exists.  On the trails this has been going on for generations between equestrian users, and hikers.  Mountain bikes have added a new dimension to the mix.  Bikes fly down trails, around blind corners, buzz hikers, and spook horses.  Riders chasing Strava KOM’s and personal bests segments are disrespectful and not willing to slow down.  An overall feeling of entitlement from everyone seems to be the norm.  On the roads group rides are acting like they are the only people on the road and are riding 4 across.   People are urinating on the side of the road without making any effort to find a bush.  Cars ignore the 3 foot laws, speed pass riders and make sudden right turns, throw things out the window, lean heavy on the horn, scream, and even mace cyclists( yep, it happened to me).

As new trails spring up or are getting more traffic home owners are becoming angered by the actions of those using the trails that cut close to their homes.   I’ve been confronted by owners on washes where I have been riding for years telling me not to ride there.  I try and have engaging and polite conversation and ask what their objection is.  I’ve heard “It will bring a bad group of people”, “The bikes and hikers will trash the wash”, “It is not our property, but It is private property”, and my favorite “you will get bite by a rattlesnake and sue us”.  I could go on and on about how most hikers and bikers leave the trails better than they find them.  From a crime prospective, I think bikes are a good thing.  We come down trails at speeds that thieves don’t like.  We are the neighborhood watch program.

As with everything, we as trail and road users need to take responsibility for our actions and do what we can to improve relationships.   Use your common sense.  Give people extra room when passing.  Let them know you are there with a bell or say “rider back” and “passing on your left”.  Slow down and say hello.  If you really need to go to the bathroom, hide behind a tree.  If you are hiking in a group don’t take up the entire path.  Move over when someone says they are passing.  Turn the music down so you can hear the outside world.  Pay attention when you are behind the wheel to what bikes do that piss you off and don’t do that when you ride.  Go for a walk on the trails you ride so you can understand what it’s like when a bike is passing and darts in front of you at speed and then quickly veers back into the other lane.  If you are a walker, get on a bike and see how walkers blocking the road can stop your rhythm.  Basically, walk (or ride) a mile in others shoes so you can understand we all have the potential to make improvements.

always show courtesy when passing path users

If we all take the time to be more patient and sympathetic we can make this a great community for everyone.  I look forward to seeing you on the trails and remember, Please say rider back when you pass me.

Loop improvements north of the Rillito from La Cholla to Campbell may cause temporary path closures

Beginning this week, Pima County will be undertaking a river park improvement project on the north bank of the Rillito River from La Cholla Boulevard to Campbell Avenue. This 4.5 mile section of river park is the oldest and most highly used section of The Loop.

This improvement project will include widening and resurfacing of the existing asphalt path, geometric improvements to the path alignment, handrail modifications, path restriping, shoulder grading and vegetation maintenance/augmentation.

During this two-month improvement project, path users can expect to encounter occasional complete path closures in areas with active construction activities. This will be a very dynamic and fast-moving construction project so closure locations along the river park may vary throughout the course of each day.

Path users should exercise caution along this segment of The Loop and adhere to any advisory, detour or construction signing. Your patience during this project is very much appreciated.

Pima County has been developing The Loop around metro Tucson with links to Marana, Oro Valley, and South Tucson for residents and visitors on foot, bikes, skates, and horses. When completed, The Loop will total 131 miles and connect the Rillito, Santa Cruz, and Pantano River Parks with the Julian Wash and Harrison Greenways.

Visit The Loop online for more information and for the latest maps and news about The Loop.

loop work on rilitto

Houghton Road: Irvington to Valencia construction update 1.07.14

From M.J. Dillard City of Tucson Construction Project Manager.  From the facebook page of the rolling reporter Kenneth Lenger.
Paving:… We just wrapped up placing the base paving on the north end of the project, and hope to have the top layer (before the rubber) completed by the end of the month. The first week in February we hope to have that traffic adjusted so we can add the Florida T intersections. We are discussing the temporary striping we want to use during this time, and until we can get the rubberized asphalt down in April (must be 60 degrees and rising for a long enough period of time in the day so we can use up a full plant batch of asphalt within the same day).
We also have the smaller paver on site so the east side path will start going in very soon.
Landscaping: We want to avoid planting anything if it might freeze, so we are holding off on plant installation until February, or when we are certain we won’t get a freeze. In the meantime we continue to install the irrigation lines and will perform testing on all of those.
Rip rap and rock mulch: You may have noticed that during last month’s rains, the site experienced some unexpected erosion in places. We are evaluating these areas and are planning to add rip rap and smaller rock mulch (2″ or 3″ and smaller rock) in various areas to make sure things will look good for a long time. We are glad the rains showed us where the existing soils were not going to hold up so we can get fixes done while we are still in construction.
We continue to appreciate your patience. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
M.J. Dillard City of Tucson Construction Project Manager 520-837-6616
………. This comment was added to my facebook post by Kenneth Lenger Additional info for east side cyclists:  Construction has completed the Houghton Rd northbound lanes from Valencia Rd to Irvington Rd.  This new pavement is about 45 feet wide, and as is noted in the construction update above, traffic will not be moved to the new pavement for a few weeks.  What this means is that, for now, cyclists have almost exclusive use of a 45 foot wide bike path along Houghton Rd, which can be used for northbound or southbound cycling.  One work of caution, as you cross the intersecting side streets, cars using those streets are not expecting any traffic on the closed off pavement, so be very careful crossing and yield to crossing vehicles. 

Update on two other unrelated construction projects: 

Rita Rd / Julian Wash:  New bike lanes are being added along Rita Rd between the UPRR tracks near Old Vail Rd and I-10 on both sides of the road.  For the last couple of months, the pavement along Rita Rd and the Julian Wash bike path has been torn up, making it difficult to connect from Rita Ranch to the bike path.  Within the last week, construction crews laid the base pavement lift connecting the bike path to Rita Rd, allowing uninterrupted cycling to the bike path.  Again, use caution as traffic can be congested due to lane closures.

Colossal Cave Rd between Pistol Hill and Vail:  Construction crews are installing new bike lanes along Colossal Cave Rd, temporarily causing a loss of cycling shoulder in that area.  The bike lane on the eastbound side (Vail towards Pistol Hill) has been completed from near the Pantano Wash to Pistol Hill, but the westbound side is still under construction.  If you are making a loop using Camino Loma Alta, Colossal Cave Rd, and Old Spanish Trail, I suggest making the loop in a counterclockwise direction to take advantage of the new bike lane along Colossal Cave Rd up to Pistol Hill.

Keep the rubber side down

Year end Stats… what really matters

My Friend Mark Flint made the following comments based on the facebook status posts about mileage, feet climbed, average speed, hours in the saddle and dragons slayed.  My comments are below his quote.


“A perspective from one whose cycling days have been laid to rest by self-inflicted damage to my internal pump system…

I see year-end posts by some who measure success by miles ridden and elevation gained on the bike. I was never much into tracking that data because it’s a meaningless metric, and often more about ego than anything else. Sometimes those numbers mean time with family blown off, spiritual practice pushed aside, balance tilted way out of kilter. I say this as one guilty of all of the above, at one point nearly destroying my marriage.

Obsession with miles and average speed, now enabled by programs like Strava, can lead (have led, in fact) to lack of courtesy on the road and trail, a cult of egotism in the saddle. You see yourself as a marvelous cyclist; others may see you as a self-absorbed jerk.

You want meaningful metrics? How many cyclists did you stop and help with mechanical problems? How many times did you slow down to ride with someone who was struggling and offer encouragement and perhaps an energy bar? How many hours did you spend teaching and encouraging children? (Hint: if you can equal Damion Alexander you are doing very well indeed.)

Stopping to appreciate the beauty around you will do more for your soul than keeping your head down and pushing yourself to your limits will do for your body. Having done both to extremes I can assure you the former is the more lasting benefit. It was pushing myself that put me into heat exhaustion that led to permanent damage to the system that regulates heart rate. That’s what ego can do if you don’t keep yourself in mental and physical balance.”


I really appreciate that Mark thinks I have done a good job, but the reality is the bike does take me away from my Wife and daughter and I do use Strava to record every ride.  I know exactly were many segments start and end and burst my lungs and light the fire in my legs to beat my own best time.  I even made a post about my statistics.

Personally, I do not think there is anything wrong with these metrics.  We all find our motivation in different ways.  Some people like to race while others are just out for the ride.  However, both are enjoying bikes and being outside.  Is that not what matters?

I do agree with Mark on many points.  If you are racing along and a cyclist is off their bike, I think we should always slow down and ask if they need assistance.  If you are riding and chasing a KOM, but you will need to buzz someone, or run a light, or any other factor that you know makes you an A$$, don’t do it.  Many of my best rides have been when I decided not to pass a slower rider but pulled up and rode with them.  As I said, I have not been the best father to my daughter and husband, but I have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of miles (really slow miles) in the saddle next to my son.  Many of those hours were coaching and mentoring other kids as well.   If you have a kid, go for a ride.  If you on’t have  akid, mentor one, and go for a ride.  I get a real thrill when I call friends who have stopped riding and invite them to go for a ride and then to see their year end stats where they rode x miles, and climbed x feet, and went x speed and slayed x dragons.

By the way, I rode over 5000 miles and had nearly 500 hours in the saddle and climbed a quarter million feet.  I put that not for ego.  I put that because I like to know what I did and where I went.  I use Strava to remind me of all the great times I have had and where I went.  I like to see improvements and strive to beat my best times and do get a small thrill when I get a KOM(even though I know it is meaningless and the tailwind is more responsible than I).  Just looking at my rides reminds me who I met and what new road I explored.  It, like facebook, and this blog, are my virtual diary.