Monthly Archives: January 2016

Learning from Trails

“It is sometimes assumed, explicitly or unconsciously, that an individual’s tendencies are naturally purely individualistic or egoistic, and thus antisocial…But there is no ground for any such view. Individuals are certainly interested, at times, in having their own way, and their own way may go contrary to the way of others.  But they are also interested, and chiefly interested upon the whole, in entering into the activities of others and taking part in conjoint and cooperative doings.  Otherwise, no such thing as a community would be possible.”
Democracy and Education by John Dewey, p. 23, The Echo Library 2007

“Boulder’s multi-use paths work just like our roads.”  —The Way of the Path, Boulder, Colorado

Bicycling on trails and shareduse paths is great fun.  I used to take the beautiful path along the Truckee River in Reno as part of my commute.  Listening to the water flowing from Lake Tahoe gushing through town was a perfect way to start and end my work day.  Here in Albuquerque I try to incorporate the Rio Grande Bosque Trail into many of my rides, even if it means adding some extra distance.  These paths create ready access for citizens to high quality experiences.

When I talk to people there is a strong sense that the calmness of the trail is one of the key elements making for an attractive journey.  The first concern is always regulating the fastest vehicles, bicycles, to make sure they don’t take away from others’ experiences.  That makes sense to me because the level of service a road, trail or pathway provides is not about top speed, but comes from an inclusive sense of the whole experience of all users.

Applying this perspective to roads is helpful.  The FHWA says, “For most of the second half of the 20th Century, the transportation, traffic engineering and highway professions in the United States were synonymous. They shared a singular purpose: building a transportation system that promoted the safety, convenience and comfort of motor vehicles.”  Because of the way the built environment was constructed, many people have dropped the notion that walking and bicycling matters.  But evidence has shown that walking and bicycling does matter, and must be taken seriously.  We’ll have better roads when we take into account the experiences of people who are walking and bicycling there, and by promoting safety, comfort and dignity for all.


Deer along the trail at Bandelier National Monument

Ned Overend Never Grows Old

I don’t know if you’ve ever cycled in Durango.  If you have then you know what it feels like to ride with the whole community behind you.  That is a great feeling.  Ned Overend is one of the reasons why Durango is an epicenter for Southwestern bicycling.  Outside Magazine just featured Ned in an article that includes a great video. Here’s a summary of Ned’s top ten tips for riding your bike and never growing old.  Ned makes bicycling more fun.

Keep it fun (“I use Strava and Group Rides”–Ned)
Mix it up
Pay attention to your health
Understand training theory and recover completely from your training
Be able to adjust your bicycling equipment on your own
Keep it within the envelop of control
Focus your competitiveness on yourself
Don’t assume age will slow you down
Stay positive and trust yourself
Find the right ratio of intensity to recovery
Mold your training program to your preferences and racing plan

Here’s the whole article from Outside Magazine:
Ned Overend is the Champion Cyclists Who Never Grows Old
Here’s another article on Ned’s training regime for masters
On Ned’s Fat Tire bicycle that won him the 2015 Fat Tire National Championships

PS that reminds me, I’m a little bit behind on naming SBI’s bike org. of the month.  For November 2015 it is the place called Durango that is the bike org of the month.  It’s the complete chemistry there–the riding, the people, the way the racing community is integrated with the identity of the place–that makes for greatness.  Bicycling is a place maker in Durango.  Durango wouldn’t be the same without bicycling.  The inverse is also true.

Bicycling Hog Wild in Arkansas

Ark biking

The welcome center on I-40 as you enter Arkansas near Ft. Smith makes you want to move there.  They do their job well.   Oak and hickory woodsmoke from the stone fireplace percolates through the air as you make your way across the lawn to the front doors.  The shelves are full of promotional materials to browse.  I walk up to the counter and there are two hosts.  I say I’m interested in bicycling and she reaches and gathers up three or four brochures as thick as magazines.  Lots of cycling here.  By the free coffee, a flat screen plays bicycling videos.  Riders glide on trails through the woods underneath sheets of layered rock with waterfalls running over them.  On the next scene road bicyclists ride socially on Ozark country lanes.  Then the video shows families and friendly groups cycling together on the Razorback Greenway.  It made me feel very excited and welcome to bicycle, and showed Arkansas is set up for bicycling.

ARK Botanical

ARK Fay fun trail

ARK Fayetteville Lake mirroring

We stayed with my Aunt in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Her neighborhood connects to the Razorback Greenway.  The Razorback Greenway is a 36 paved multiuse trail between Fayetteville and Bella Vista.  It’s a game changer for making the region a bicycling destination.  I want to go back and ride the entire length.  On this trip I had a chance to explore the loop around Lake Fayetteville.  It is one of the many spur trails in local communities now interconnected by the main trail.

ARK Fay the Greenway hog

ARK NW trail count

The Walton Family Foundation has built strong partnerships with regional agencies to get this trail completed.  When my Aunt moved here the trail was in progress, and because it was one of the reasons she relocated to Fayetteville, she followed up with the Mayor to let him know what an important foundation it was for quality of life.  They must have heard from a chorus of voices because they finished the project in May 2015.  The is one sweet trail.  It took me into parts of the woods and revealed nature that would otherwise be hidden.  Quiet and still.

ARK Fay layout

The trail speed limit is moderate out of courtesy to the wide range of users.  We modify our speed based on conditions, the presence of people being the most important factor.  I don’t mind slowing down and I found the trail design and culture quite suitable for a satisfying cruise with the road bike.  When I want to ride faster I use public roads.  Pedestrian safety comes first, and bicyclists always yield to pedestrians and equestrians.  Building up this culture of sensitivity, inclusiveness and patience is key on our trails and public roads.

ARK Fay trail speed

ARK Fayetteville Lake passing signs

ARK zoom Fayetteville Lake trail

It was a peaceful morning ride and helped me focus before Grandma’s birthday.  The way the world moves feels right on a bicycle.  Let’s build more of these and welcome more bikes.

ARK Fayetteville sunset

ARK Fay water fall down

Walmart’s support
Walmart’s Bike Friendly Headquarters
Arkansas Wild, Bike Volume 2
NW Arkansas Regional Bike Ped Master Plan
Arkansas Outdoors, Bicycling
Bike League report card 2015
Tim Ernst Photography

Red Earth and Blue Sky

Grandma’s 100th birthday on January 6th gave us special occasion to travel this winter.  Grandma and Grandpa retired 30 years ago from Dickinson, North Dakota and chose Bella Vista, Arkansas to make their new home.  And make a new home they did.  We had good weather for our drive across the Southwest to the Great Plains and on to the Ozark Mountains.  The unfolding American Experience becomes visible during a road trip crossing the country.

I bicycled in Oklahoma City, Fayetteville AR, and Bella Vista AR during the trip.  Oklahoma City has a Trails Master Plan envisioning a 208 mile multipurpose trails system.  In 1997 the City Council approved the plan, voicing the citizens’ desire for “a Beautiful City, a Healthy City, a Friendly City known for its Community Spirit” (quoting the Trails Plan, from the introductory section entitled Imagine).  We stayed at a hotel on Meridian Ave. and I rode the river trail.

OKC action sports

OKC river trail

The hardest part was riding from the hotel a couple of blocks through a busy business district.    I took my time and followed my instincts and the rules and made it fine, quite easily actually.  So maybe the hardest part was the anxiety about crossing those busy streets.  Once on the south river trail I had seven miles of uninterrupted pedaling heading east toward downtown.

OKC river trail downtown view

OKC boathouse

OKC downtown

It’s a pretty skyline across the river.  The trail’s eastern terminus is the Boathouse District, which is decked out with glassy architecture for spectators and gatherings.  The Oklahoma river is an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site for rowing, canoeing and kayaking.  There’s another trail on the northern shore and dedicated bridges for human powered transportation are in the works to link the trails.  Then there will be a nice 16 or so mile loop that people can use for a powerful dose of the best medicine there is, liberating free-flowing movement.

OKC Boathouse finish

OKC boathouse infrastructure

OKC oil donkey

OKC Stockyards

OKC under the train

Oklahoma’s traditional industries are visible from the river trail, too.  A set of oil pumpjacks bobbing like donkey heads worked away on a Monday morning.  The Stockyards district is right there, now more easily accessible by bicycle.  You see mining, industrial rail, and development spanning the continuum of time that people have been active in this great Midwestern city.

OKC tree shadow

OKC red berries

OKC habitat

On the western shores natural habitat abounds.  There are many hotels that literally back up to the river trail.  It would be a great place for bike share.  Some of the clients working locally and staying at the extended stays could easily unwind with a relaxing bicycle cruise along the river.  It’s soothing for the mind and rejuvenating.  OKC already has eight bicycle share stations downtown.  I’m sure the original Okies could not have imagined their offspring would be developing all these fun, practical and healthy things to do in the city, but the dream keeps expanding, and we pursue the truths becoming more evident, seeking a good and satisfying life.

Texas the breaks

Oklahoma loves

OKC windpower

The strong El Niño brought huge snows and drifts and the white snowfields made the landscape vivid.  We saw new wind power installations spinning all across the Texas panhandle.  We stopped at Love’s travel stores and filled up with fuel and coffee and we sang “all you need is Love’s”.   Love’s is headquarted in Oklahoma City.  I like driving long distances.  You see a lot, the driving focuses you, and there’s plenty of time to contemplate things. See the work in progress on this unfinished Nation.  Take time to enjoy it.  Wonderful we have this land to love.

Summary References:

Oklahoma City Trails Master Plan
Oklahoma River Trail
Oklahoma City Bikeshare
OKC Boathouse District
The Red Earth museum and festival
Panhandle Wind Project

Inspired to Ride

Here are a couple videos that I really enjoyed watching.   Thanks for sharing them friends.
Peter Sagan, the World Road Cycling Champion, knows how to have fun.  I remember hearing on the radio in 1992 about Miguel Indurain winning the Tour de France.  I didn’t know anything about cycling culture then, but I had a nebulous curiosity.  Indurain spoke through the bicycle and was pretty mellow off the bike.  A Basque biography of him is called Indurain: un Templado passion, or, a well-tempered passion.  Sagan’s passion speaks many languages and seeks many forms.  A quintessential millennial, cycling around the world.  His dancing is improving some.

David Eyer Davis from Provo Utah’s Bicycle Collective discusses how bicycling changes lives in his 11 minute Tedx talk.  We have a bike collective in ABQ called Esperanza.   David sees the bike as a tool for empowering people towards self sufficiency and learning.  Bicycling moves people out of a rut and gives a way to progress over perceived limitations.  With support from bike collectives, people can build critical thinking skills and find confidence.  “They bring together…everybody…and people pitch in because they see the benefit in their own lives.”

This three minute trailer sat in my inbox for awhile because I was afraid of the controversy implied by the title.  I like bikes and cars.  But then I watched the trailer and it inspires critical thought.  ‘The way I feel on a bicycle is the way car advertisers suggest cars can make you feel.’   Young people are opting out of car culture and divesting from carbon based transportation.   Everyone wants to use their time efficiently and be more socially connected.  There is new transportation greatness we have yet to develop and discover.  It looks equitable and diverse, and has more to do with the way things fit together than any one travel mode.

“Sagan pulls a bit of a wheelie across the line, now that’s happiness.” –Phil Liggett