At Home on the Road

Today was a special day.  The last day of the Tour de France, but more immediate in my life, it was a beautiful rain touched Arizona summer day filled with conversation, bicycling, and friends.  I started out the day with Macy’s Costa Rican coffee and breakfast with Mai.  I rode over to Louis’s for his Champs-Elysees party.   While Louis was introducing me to his dog named Buddy, Buddy pressed his soft furry head to my leg.  Right, you’re Buddy!  Then I met the whole family and was handed a hot plate of food.  I said I’m trying to lose weight but they said you’re training today, you’ll need this.  Right!  We watched the Tour’s final stage with Corky and talked about ways to better support bicycling here at home.  The conversation, coffee, and special drink with orange juice were so good before I knew it I had to fly to keep my training commitment with Eric.  That was an awesome party for a Sunday morning.  Thank you Louis and Louis’s family!

Eric is training for the Tour of Colorado.  We met at Late for the Train Coffee and I said I’m game for whatever kind of workout.  On our way out Hwy 180 we crossed paths with Shawn, who told me he was almost hit by someone’s trailer the other day on this same stretch of road.  So close he was shaking for the rest of his ride.  Hard to tell why it happened (they forgot they were towing a wider trailer or did not see Shawn) but a related point came up with Corky earlier in the morning, and would come up with Eric later–if motorists were cross trained as bicyclists prior to drivers licensing,  a stronger connection between people would be forged that would bridge the gap of understanding across mode types.  Better training creates stronger mutual understanding and enhances reciprocal respect.   For bicycling to seem alien to anyone is not normal, but we are encountering a regular insensitivity for bicyclists.  I am working on Bike Yogi Consulting to implement action plans to change this.

Eric wanted to do two eight minute power efforts during a ride up Snowbowl Road.  He has a power meter on his bike so he could dial in the efforts and hold them exactly at the threshold he wanted to train.  I never use a power meter so this was a new kind of workout for me.  I learned efforts on the slighter grades felt harder for me than the same power output on the steeper sections.  This is basically because I’m a climber I’m guessing, and I naturally want to push harder when the mountain is pushing harder against me.  The first interval always feels kinda cruddy, especially after a day of relatively hard training the day before.  The second interval felt better.  My body must have flushed out some of the lactic acid and other leftovers from yesterday during the first effort.  We filled up our water bottles at the resort thanks to AZ Snowbowl’s complimentary cooler.  I told Eric I got married at the Grand Canyon four years ago and loved coming up here, looking out there, and remembering that turn in my life.  He had a wondering look on his face.  The paths are many, enjoy the one you’re on!  We descended and he said let’s climb it again.  Yeah, an easy one would be great.  Then Eric said same routine.  Oh mercy.  It was good gulping down all that pure blue mountain air a second time.  We kept the same power up over both runs and all four intervals.

Between efforts in the middle part of the climb we discussed ways of building a better understanding with drivers of what bicyclists’ experience.  We hear a lot of people lamenting that bicyclists are riding too far left or over the white “fog” line, but most often there are excellent reasons.  Most bike lanes and shoulders are not regularly maintained and glass, steel wire from burst tires, other puncture hazards, bad pavement, rocks, deceased animals and miscellaneous debris can cause a crash or blow out a tire.  Wind and wind gusts from passing vehicles can push one off the road.  Those “right edge” hazards are the number one hazards for bicyclists.  Motorists don’t necessarily think about that.  Riding too far right reduces one’s visibility, leaves bicyclists vulnerable to squeeze passes, and creates more lateral movement when cyclists have to move over to pass slower cyclists, runners, walkers, parked cars, and avoid road hazards.  The number one rule for bicyclists is to ride a predictable line.  If the pavement is not consistently good towards the right, one cannot ride there without creating a weaving in and out pattern to avoid the hazardous spots.  Motorists can help by developing a default disposition for respecting a bicyclist’s position in the road, slowing down, and navigating a pass only when it is safe to do so.  We are all the same, simply people using the road to get to somewhere important to us.  There are no classes, or priority categories.  We are all one.  When we act as equals, and treat one another as equals, we all feel more at home on the road.  This is good.

Kudos to Dave A. and his daughter who rode all the way up Snowbowl Road on their bicycles together, and then rode back down.  How old is your daughter Dave, nine?  That was amazing and inspirational to share the road with you today!  Way to go!


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