Second coolest wedding ever

I’ve spent a few hours recently plotting and scheming about how to get my hands on an XtraCycle (and a steel frame to attach it to) when I stumbled across this set of photos.  This has got to be the absolute coolest weddings ever – well, aside from my own of course.  Although it looks like the wedding party came up a little short.  While they did a great job on the streamers and such – shouldn’t there be some more cans tied on the back of that Surly Big Dummy?

Sacramento to Portland – via Seattle

There are now only about six weeks remaining until the group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.  My wife Melissa and I will be doing the double century in two days.  This is actually a ride I’ve been waiting to do for quite some time.

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Why drivers and cyclists don’t get along

It is an interesting look into the nature of the strained relationship between cyclists and motorists that some of the most vehement, hate-filled arguments between the groups will take place in the comments of articles posted online on local newspapers websites.  It seems that whenever an article about a cyclist getting hit by a car and seriously injured or killed is put up, those that believe cyclists shouldn’t be on the road come out in force to voice their outrage at the situation.  In almost all cases, this ends up with statements about how the cyclist just shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place, and ties in many generalizations and stereotypes about how all cyclists are reckless and cyclists never follow the rules of the road.

So why do some motorists view cyclists in such a negative light?  Are cyclists out there, running rampant across our roads, looking for every opportunity to thumb their noses in the face of drivers and their “rules of the road?”  Well clearly  there are cyclists that do break the laws.  For many different reasons – which I will go into shortly – cyclists have been known to roll past stop signs without stopping, or creep through red lights before they turn green.  So there, I’ve admitted it right?  I’ve clearly acknowledged the motorists point of view that cyclists are a bunch of law breakers.  Not so fast…  The motorist’s argument suffers from two flawed assumptions.  First, by talking about what “cyclists” do the statement implies that all cyclists do the same things and for the same reason.  Any reasonable person would see this as a falsehood.  Secondly, the motorist making this argument states that cyclists don’t belong on the road because they are all lawbreakers.  However, this argument only works if motorists are not lawbreakers.  In fact on almost any trip down an interstate highway you will see numerous motorists breaking the speed limit.  Should we perhaps argue that the freeways should be shut down – cars banned – until motorists stop being “a bunch of lawbreakers?”  I’ve also noticed that, especially at the suburban 4-way stops that I may be likely to roll through on my bike, a fair number of motorists don’t come to complete stops either.   The term “California Stop” refers to cars – not bicycles.

Once we acknowledge that folks operating both bikes and cars can and do routinely break the law, where does that leave us?  At this point many of the anti-cyclist crowd will begin to cite unequal punishments for cyclists.  The first of these arguments is often along the lines of “cyclists don’t need a license, so there is no punishment for them.”  I bring this argument up first because it is the weakest.  In no state does the application of traffic fines or other punishments require the violator to have a license.  For example, in my home state of California I can receive the exact same fine for rolling through a stop sign on my bicycle as I can for driving through it in my car.  Furthermore, because I actually am a licensed driver, moving violations on my bicycle actually are recorded as any other traffic infraction – resulting in increased auto insurance rates and potential license suspension or revocation.

The more educated of our anti-cyclist debaters, however, will cite that police just don’t seem to stop cyclists that roll through stop signs or stop lights with the same vigilance they would with cars.  While I have no actual numbers, my own personal experience as both a cyclist and a motorist would be to agree with this statement.  Unfortunately the common human reaction is one of “if I can’t get away with it, why should anyone else.”  However, if we actually consider the job of the police officers we will see that this apparent lack of enforcement is probably not some sort of preferential treatment, but rather just common sense.

Our police officers obviously can not catch all crimes.  Instead, they have to make decisions about how best to use their time and limited resources to do the greatest good for society as a whole.  As an extreme example, if an officer sees a person jaywalking, while a fist fight has started across the street, no one would claim preferential treatment for law breaking pedestrians if the officer did not take the time to ticked the jay walker and instead dealt with the assault situation.   This is just common sense.

Even more so, it is about the actual damage potential to society.  Argue the fairness of it all you like, it is simply far less dangerous to society for a bicycle to be ridden through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop than it is for an automobile.  The potential for damage caused by a bicycle hitting something or someone is just far less.

When I think about these arguments, however, there is one fact that occurs to me that I believe might be fundamental to the differences between the sides – and hopefully key to bridging that gap.  The vast majority of cyclists on the road also drive cars.  This means that many cyclists see both sides of the issue, know what effect a cyclist can have on a driver as they share traffic lanes, and thus would hopefully have a more rounded and balanced viewpoint.  The reverse, however, can not be said.  The vast majority of motorists do not ride bicycles on the roadways.  They are not aware of some of the issues faced by cyclists trying to find safe space on the road.  Perhaps if we can increase that understanding and awareness all of those comments following the online news posts would be more about identifying dangerous intersections and pushing for improvements as opposed to the continued “cars rule, and if you bike you’re a fool” mantra.

Brand new name, same great taste

Well, after much soul (and web) searching, I’ve finally decided on a more proper domain name for this blog – finally codifying into Internet lore that Ross Del Duca is, in fact, Just Another Cyclist.  I could be many other things, but I am not.  I’m not the VeloFellow, nor am I the CycleGuy.  Heck, I’m not even sure I can call myself a VeloCommuter.  Nope – I’m JustAnotherCyclist, at http://justanothercyclist.com.  Enjoy.

Family leaves San Francisco heading south – way south.

I happened to run into a couple of heavily laden bikes with some rather interesting signage while on my commute home.  Signage that claimed these folks were on their way towards South America on bike.  I seized on the opportunity to get a quick interview with them.  The full audio is available here in mp3 format:

[Text transcript of interview]

Ross Del Duca: We’re here at the Caltrain station at 4th & King in San Francisco and we’ve got a couple of heavily laden bikes that just made their way off the train.  What are you names?

Jessica: I’m Jessica.

Antonio: I’m Antonio.

Ross: I see you’ve got a couple of other passengers, who are they?

Jessica: Twins

Antonio: Sophia and Tonio

Ross: And so, what are you guys starting today?

Antonio: Today we’re starting our way down the coast of the United States and the coast of Mexico through Baja and into central America.  And we’re not really sure how far into south America but that general direction.

Ross: Are you doing it entirely on the bikes I see in front of us?

Antonio: Both the same, yea.

Ross: So, have you done long trips like this before?

Jessica: This is our first one.

Ross: This is your first one?  That’s amazing

Antonio: We didn’t know much about bicycles like three months ago.

Ross: Oh really?  That’s incredible.  So what prompted you to take this on?

Antonio: We were running a hostel in Las Vegas.

Jessica: We had a guest named Mark Doherty, and he was cycling around the world.

Ross: Oh interesting…

Antonio: It was interesting to hear his adventures, and follow him on his blog.  We have our own blog now and also we want to start our own hostel.  We didn’t really like Las Vegas, it wasn’t for us.  So we’re kinda hoping that a South American beach somewhere will be our home.   We like that kind of living where we live at home and clean up after people and meet people…

Antonio & Jessica: laughs

Antonio: The cleaning up is just part of the job.

Jessica: It’s like traveling without having to go anywhere.

Ross: Nice.  Anything else that you’d like to let people know before we sign off here?

Antonio and Jessica together: Check us out on FunkyMonkeyFamily.com

Ross: Excellent.  Thank you very much.

Antonio and Jessica together: Thank you.

Don’t let their relative newness to cycling fool you though.  These are definitely not folks who just jumped on their bikes and started pedaling.  In fact, if you check out their list of gear purchased for their trip, you see some very smart purchases.  Their pair of Surly Long Haul Truckers are, to some, the very definition of touring cycling.  They have clearly done their homework.

Another interesting tidbit picked up after the recorder was turned off: they were actually starting their ride in San Francisco following a Critical Mass ride.

So join me in wishing Antonio, Jess and the twins a safe, interesting and enjoyable trip.  I know I’ll be following their blog with interest.

Landis creates another doping scandal – without a single positive test

It is with both frustration and great satisfaction that I watch the madness unleashed by Floyd Landis’s accusations of doping.  Despite my previous post to the contrary, I do in fact have opinions on this issue.

The frustrating/satisfying part for me, however, is the sheer number of investigations that have started as a result of his allegations.  I find it frustrating that the major headlines on cycling are again broadcasting to the mainstream audiences the idea that cycling is a drug-riddled sport.  However, it is satisfying to see the ghusto with which the cycling governing bodies are moving to address the accusations – to either confirm or deny the claims being made.  As stated in a VeloNews.com posting:

For Armstrong the U.S. anti-doping agency (USADA) has been mandated to carry out a probe while McQuaid has also asked the Belgian federation to probe the claims concerning Bruyneel.

The federations of Australia, Canada and France have also been asked to investigate after Landis’ claims respectively implicated professional Matthew White, Michael Barry and John Lelangue, Landis’s former manager at the Phonak team, who now manages the BMC team.

That’s a whole lotta organizations, doing a whole lotta investigation, all without the impetus of a single positive test taken from a rider at this time.  If this doesn’t show that the cycling world is serious about stamping out PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) than I’m not sure what will.

Family takes it “easy” biking along the California Coast

You may not have heard of them before, but you’ve really got to check out The Woodward Family.  I honestly do not recall how I found these folks initially, but their blog details a ride they did together across the United States – from the east coast to the west coast.  Right now (yes – possibly this very minute) they’re at it again – only this time they are traveling the California coast line.  They are posting blog entries, videos and photos along the way.   You can also keep track of their travels via twitter feeds @zachwoodward and @somewhereonabike.

Join me in wishing them the best of luck, no flats, safe roads and tailwinds all the way.

Orgy of cycle racing over. Now what?

Well, we’ve wrapped up both the Amgen Tour of California, and the Giro d’Italia.  Both had some amazing stages, with final results that could easily be thought of as surprises by some.  But now that I’ve gotten somewhat accustomed to catching the live Giro footage uber-early, and then following that up with the California events, I can’t help but feel like I just got fired and am now unemployed.  I mean, how will we all spend our days now?

Well, I’m sure we’ll adjust.  For me, it is time to ramp up the training for my wife and I’s Seattle to Portland ride in mid July.  And of course there is my real job.  I’m sure I can put an hour or two a week into that now that I’ve got more free time (Yes, coworkers, that was a sarcastic joke.)

I think more than anything, however, I’m going to begin plotting and scheming about the possibility of traveling to every stage of the Tour of California next year.  I learned a thing or two about following, capturing and writing about a major stage race.  I’ve got big ideas for next year – so we’ll have to see how things pan out.  So to all of those that enjoyed the california sun (and rain) with me this year – good times.  Hope to see you next year if not before then.

Safe riding, and keep those cow bells ringing.

Chechu Rubiera with significant road rash after crash

The evening after the crash that completely disrupted the start of Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California, reports were coming in about some of the other riders.  Of course, news of Lance Armstrong was quick to come to light.  In fact, Bicycling magazine even came out with video of the conversations between Lance Armstrong and Johan Buryneel – filmed from the team car – from the point of the crash to the decision for Lance Armstrong to abandon.

Unfortunately – but not surprising for the Lance-centric American media coverage of cycling – details on the other riders were few and scarce.  Sometime after 9pm, details on another Radio Shack rider that was taken out in the crash – Chechu Rubiera – appeared on twitter from the @TeamRadioShack stream:

Update: Chechu is very banged up & covered with road rash, but he was managing a smile at dinner and looked to have a good appetite!

Not long after that – Viatcheslav Ekimov posted a photo of the very much road rashed Chechu:

Chechu's road rash after Stage 5 crash.

At this point I’ve not been able to find out the status of Stuart O’Grady – another rider that abandoned – or to get a list of all the riders that were unable to complete the stage due to injuries in that crash.  Unfortunately I think the noise created by Floyd Landis and his accusations of pretty much anyone in American pro cycling that he has ever had contact with probably derailed the coverage of thiseven more than the fact that Armstrong involvement normally would have.

Chrissie Wellington to make guest appearance at Tour of California time trial

Triathlete & champion chrissie Wellington

Yup – you read that right.  According to IronMan champion Chrissie Wellington’s blog, she has secured herself a guest slot in the time trial stage of the Amgen Tour of California to be held in LA.  Very cool….