Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Water bottle breakfast!

I was running a bit late this morning....ironically, since I was late because I went running.  While I had a lunch prepped and waiting, breakfast was looking a bit iffy.  So it was a water bottle breakfast at work.  Meaning one water bottle filled with a breakfast cereal of your choice (cheerios in my case) and one water bottle filled with milk!  All you need is a bowl and spoon left at work and you're set.  So if time is the issue for why you don't want to bike commute, here's a way to save yourself a few minutes in the morning.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Galena Fest and Galenacross.

I dutifully loaded up the camper and dog Saturday morning in the rain and rolled out fairly early for the Galena Fest happenings.  I managed to arrive a little before 9am and nab a decent parking place.  The first of the races, the Bloody Rose mountain bike hill climb had already departed and the first running race, the Wicked Thorn was queuing up. 

Given the cold, rainy start there was a large range of clothing options displayed at the start...ranging from shorts and no shirt to tights, jackets, gloves, and hats!  The cold rainy day also seemed (not surprisingly) to really put a damper on the number of people attending.  It didn't however, keep the band from playing most of the day and Ceol from serving up nice cold beer!

Later in the day the cyclocross events took place on a fantastic course with a lot of up and down, winding single track, UCI height (high) barriers, barriers leading into hill climbs, and some fast downhill on slick pavement.  Here's a bunch of pics....

Here's the run up that starts with a barricade you have to jump...shoulder that bike and climb!

....and climb...

....and climb...

...throw it down and remount!
The key to running the climb 8-9 laps...ignore the guy with a beer and camera yelling at you to go faster!
Final step of the day....get your medal!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ideas for the weekend?

The truth is I've got some other plans for this weekend.  But with the cooler weather, I'm thinking this might be the perfect way to ring in a Sierra Nevada change of seasons. 

Or if you're just looking for an excuse to enjoy the fall weather and run, ride, race, or just spectate....check out Galenafest this weekend.

What's in a your bag this morning?

Well, the weather is certainly changed a bit this morning, eh?  I hope you added an extra layer, shook your fist at the threatening sky, and promptly threw a leg over the saddle and headed out on your morning commute.  The slightly crisp weather makes it a new adventure even if it is the same old route.  A few adjustments to the gear in the bag or pannier should make the afternoon return a non-event.  Here's a shot of the "mandatory" things in my bag today.

Can you guess which item is the best add on for today?  Hint....it's not the delectable sushi....although you could make that argument.  It may be green in color and shed water.....

If you braved the ride today and I hope your bag included the rain coat.  It looks like it might be the accessory to have for the weekend ride as well!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Is bicycle advocacy / street design going to the birds?

Last night a small group version of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) gathered at Pigeon Head Brewery.  We were armed with a large (36x72) map focused on the Bicycle Blvd. and surrounding "feeder" streets and a lot of colored pencils and markers.  We were fueled by high quality Lager beer!  What a dangerous combination.

The result was a first pass where NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) style Urban Design Standards were placed to help control / limit traffic accessing the Bicycle Blvd.  Rather than try to explain exactly what these are....here are some examples:

Treatment #1

Treatment #2

Treatment #3

Treatment #4

 Now if you apply these types of street designs in the right places around this area....

Now this certainly isn't the true design we're looking for....it's just a starter example.  In theory it helps divert heavier traffic to primary streets like 1st or 2nd Avenue rather than along the Riverside while still allowing bicycle traffic to filter through.  At the same time it doesn't keep cars out....it just reroutes them a bit.  This way you can prioritize bike and pedestrian volumes while not hurting business traffic.

Cities that successfully complete this type of redesign in their neighborhood / business districts have shown significant growth in recent years (because it makes it nice to live there).  So if Reno want's to attract new people to town, this little area might be the perfect test case to show what a change it can really make!

Anyway, that's what the BPAC small group is up to.  As to whether it's for the birds or not....I'll let you decide.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Riding in "unhealthy" times

I'm guess you've noticed....the skies in Reno have been just a touch smokey lately.  After checking in on a friend's cat yesterday I snapped this picture while riding home about quarter after 6.

Oh yeah...there should be mountains back there somewhere.

The picture doesn't capture it very well....but the sun appeared absolutely blood red through the thick smoke and haze.  It also looks like it's about 8 o'clock at night with the diluted light making it's way through the smokey mess.

So, what is a bicycle commuter supposed to do?  Do you hang up the bike, avoid exercise, and crank the AC to clean the campfire smell out of your house?  That's pretty much what every newspaper article and news report on TV advises.  I'm here to say that this is only a short term view (typical of media) and you might just want to ignore it.

Here's why...the studies the media cite do show immediate issues when strenuously exercising in these unhealthy (a.k.a. smokey) conditions.  The evidence behind these warnings is solid. Breathing polluted air triggers inflammation and oxidative stress that increases your risk of asthma, stroke, and heart failure. Because exercise means deeper breathing, more particles bypass the nasal filtering (a.k.a. nose hairs and mucus membranes) that trap noxious particles, and they get into your airway. A ride on a smoggy/smokey day makes a bad situation worse.

The problem with the studies is they only look at the short term effects.  Meaning the mice run on the wheel while sucking on a tail pipe for 30 minutes and are tested immediately after for "health" issues.  Obviously, issues are found.

What those studies overlooked were the benefits of exercise that accrue over time (daily bicycle commuting....ahem). When you stretched the timeline of these types of studies out to a few weeks. Mice that were exposed to diesel exhaust without exercising saw a dramatic spike in lung inflammation and oxidative damage, as expected. In contrast, mice that exercised five days a week during that period were almost completely protected from the pollution damage!

Not convinced by the mice sucking on tail pipe emissions....Another study found these results:
Researchers in the Netherlands, using epidemiological data, estimated that the air-pollution effects of switching from a car to a bike for short daily trips in polluted cities would subtract between 0.8 and 40 days from the average life span—but the additional exercise would extend it by three to 14 months.
 So....if you're a regular commuter (e.g. someone who exercises regularly), and you're not trying to win the Tour de France on your way home, keep riding.  The long term results are still positive even in the smokey weather and you'll have a pleasant campfire aroma on your cloths when you get home!

Monday, September 22, 2014

1st Sagebrush Cyclocross Race.

Well, Saturday was quite a day.  It was the kickoff race for the Sagebrush cyclocross series and I thought I knew exactly what to expect having raced in it last year.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

While sucking down my first cup of coffee, the surprises began.  The course that had been the venue for the days race had been deemed to be too full of goats heads for an official race.  I was not amused as I spent about 4 hours of time helping to rake, pick, and prune the layout of the course and I'd done several test laps.  I had discovered the goat head issue and filled each tire with 4 ounces of stan's sealant the night before as my "race winning strategy"!  Dam it....now I'd have to fight fair!

The actual move wasn't too big of a deal as it is literally across the street at Clayton Middle school.  At least I knew the course and figured I'd still have that advantage (or so I thought).  So I rode down to the coarse at a leisurely 9:30 am hit the registration booth and made a strategic decision to race the men's B series (rather than the B 35+ series).  This was strategic because there were only 4 guys in the men's B series and about 30 in the B35+.....they all race at the same time but are scored and place separately, so I figured my chances were far better to make a podium finish in the B's (although I'm more than a few years past 35 at this point)!

Registration....well organized, no muss, no fuss.

Surprise #2!  The course layout.
After registering I chatted with some of the folks I've gotten to know from last year...including the two guys who laid out the course.  Turns out my previous experience is a non-factor as we'll be running the course backwards and in a highly modified format (surprise #2).  While this might not sound like a big deal....it means the first 1/4 mile plus of each lap is soggy wet grass coincident with  200+ feet of climbing.  This section is usually my recovery zone (aka downhill) and a time to get my heart rate below 200 beats per minute...it will now be a redline zone where I eventually pop.  The rest of the course consists of significant amounts of soft grass, tight 180 degree S turns that go up and down 30 foot high hills, a lot of off camber riding on wet grass, and just generally brutal unrelenting suffering.....or a perfect cyclocross course!

I won't give a blow by blow account of my race....but since I entered the B category it's now 45 minutes of riding (about 9 laps) rather than 30 minutes.  The start went off without a hitch....with men's B, B35+, and Women's A all starting at once, I rolled out about front third of the pack.  The course proved to be unrelenting with very little time to ever ease off....constant on and off the bike, S turns on hills, barriers to jump, stairs to climb, wet soul sucking grass, and long hill climbs every lap!  By the 3rd lap I popped on the hill climb and had to back off (Surprise #3....I'm not in good enough shape).  I lost a few places but hung in for a 3rd place finish in the men's B category.  Not good, not bad....but the season is underway! 

***See official results here***

Anyway....how about some pics.
It doesn't look like much here because the climb is a series of benches....but these guys are suffering!

Run those stairs!

Remount and ride....faster, faster!

An open downhill....time for the pass.

Catching a bit of air on a step down....

Strategy decision....do you bunny hop the barrier or dismount and run.  Noah chose bunny hop and almost crashed!

Sometimes it's faster to dismount and run.

But the bunny hop just looks cooler!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Daily Motivation...or One hot rider!

The bicycle is an amazing machine.  You can use it for transportation, fun, or art.  I'm guessing this example this covers at least 2 of the 3!  So which of the three did you use your bike for today?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cyclocross prep work.

Ok kids, you missed a good one this weekend.  Saturday morning the Sagebrush cyclocross series kicked off with a clinic run by some of the regions top riders, followed up with building a new course for this coming Saturday's season kickoff race.  I took a bunch of pics for your pleasure.  However, I'm not going to reveal all the race winning knowledge they imparted upon us!

The group working on dismounts and remounts above the previous lesson on how to ride slippery side hills.

Once you have the running dismount....let's add barriers and split second timing to the mix!!

Nick (yellow helmet) makes it look smooth and easy!

Barriers aren't enough....now it's a dismount, shoulder the bike, run the stairs drill.

If all these drills weren't enough for you (and it was hot)....you were cordially invited to meet up in the parking lot after a lunch break to go dig, rake, scrape, pick, and manually remove rocks, dirt, and goat heads for next weeks course!  Being a glutton for punishment (and having no real plans) I foolishly agreed!

Having raked the previous 1/4 mile of course....picks were employed to dig out the lead in to the first run up.

Yeah, this isn't a photo shopped perspective....the picked out trail leads into a "run up" (as in no one can ride this incline) that goes pretty much straight up the rockiest hill you can find!

A look back down for perspective.

The red outline shows the rough shape of about 1/2 the course.  Every inch had to be racked, cleaned of goat heads, cleared of brush (the dotted line) and otherwise made rideable!
Three hours later the course had been beaten into shape.  It was goat head tested by several dogs (dog paws are magnets for goat heads)!  The 10-12 dusty, tired workers gave it an official one finger salute and officially called it a day by cracking open a beer....Ok, so that's what I did.

Any way you look at it, it's a completely awesome new course that is going to beat the tar out of even the best riders out there!  So join us next week as a rider or spectator to see all the spectacular misery this course will inflict!

Here's a complete overview of the basic course.

Verdi Loop Night ride....well, kinda.

This was the route I took home last night from a house warming party out in Mogel.  Basically, it's a portion of the Verdi loop.  I had the advantage of driving out in the car with Wifey.  However, she headed out a bit early because she has been power working (20 hours) over the weekend and was ready for bed.  I stayed on to enjoy the home brewed hard cider and company.  Fortunately, this problem had been anticipated and I had strategically stashed a bike in the back of the car for the trip home.  I ended up departing about 8:15 just as it was going from dusk to dark.

Fortunately there are really good bike lanes along the entire route.

It was actually fun and relaxing to do a solo night ride.  The bike lanes are great in this section and with good front and rear lights and light traffic it's kind of a zen ride.

A blurry picture that illustrates you are definitely riding in a non-lighted area.  A good front (and rear) light makes this a non-issue.
Good light or not...there are some really dark areas out here.  However, the bike lane makes it a little better.

And just so you don't feel alone while riding at night....you get to pass this other rider every 1000ft or so!
So don't let the early darkness keep you from sneaking in that late evening ride.  You might be surprise how enjoyable it can be!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sagebrush Cyclocross time!!

Click here to link over to the Sagebrush Page.
The official calendar starts off this weekend with a riding clinic and some trail building at the newest course location (the Reno Dam).  Even though it's a race series, it really is just a fun set of events with a really friendly (family) feel.  I'd never entered a bike race in my life prior to last year and I ended up having a lot of fun both riding, helping with the course layout, and just meeting some great people.  So if you've ever remotely considered racing this is the perfect way to give it a try.  Hope to see you all out there this weekend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

4th Street and Prater Corridor is going to be getting some bikey (and bus) improvements!!

This project has been in the works for a couple years.  Basically to give 4th St. / Prater way corridor a remake with complete streets in mind and improve bus service along the route.  The planning has been done and public input was conducted (on mass)....but the funding for such a large project kinda left it swinging in the wind.  I just came across the article below over on KTVN's page, which says the grant $$$ have come in and we'll be moving forward on the project!!

Congrats to all the hard work by the RTC!!

RTC Receives Grant To Improve 4th Street/Prater Way Corridor Transportation

Posted: Sep 09, 2014 11:34 PM PST Updated: Sep 09, 2014 11:38 PM PST
Regional Transportation Commission Media Release:

Reno, NV (September 9, 2014) – The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County was notified it will receive $16 million for transportation and transit enhancements for the 4th Street/Prater Way RAPID Transit Project in Reno and Sparks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had a major role in securing the funding from the US
Department of Transportation under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

The RTC 4th Street/Prater Way RAPID Transit Project will better connect downtown Reno and downtown Sparks and revitalize the 4th Street/Prater Way corridor. The project will extend the RTC RAPID service to the 4th Street/Prater Way Corridor between RTC 4TH STREET STATION and RTC CENTENNIAL PLAZA transit terminals. Four new all electric buses will also be purchased to serve this route. The improved transit service will create ladders of opportunity for the financially disadvantaged, connecting people to employment centers and educational institutions.

“This funding is critical in moving this project forward. When it begins, the new transit service will link people to nearly 39-thousand employment opportunities in the area already served by RTC RAPID transit and improve mobility access in the corridor for everyone,” RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson said. “We very much appreciate the support from our congressional delegation and Senator Reid's leadership as well as the support from our community partners,” Gibson added.

“Investing in and further developing Nevada's infrastructure will create jobs and promote economic growth, said Reid. “I am pleased southern and northern Nevada have been awarded more than $29 million in TIGER grant funding, which will allow us to update our transportation network,” said Senator Reid. “We must be able to meet the demands of the ever-increasing amount of travelers coming to our state. I remain committed to improving transportation in Nevada and will continue to fight for federal funding to improve our roads, bridges, highways and other infrastructure needs.”

“Congratulations to the RTC for being the first to bring a taxpayer-funded grant of this kind to Northern Nevada,” said Congressman Mark Amodei (NV-2). “At a time when our regional economy is poised for big things, these funds will help to grow transit options between Reno and Sparks,” Amodei added.

The project includes features to accommodate all modes of transportation. There will be wider sidewalks for pedestrians and dedicated bike lanes. The project will support businesses – many of which are taking root in historical buildings. As part of the project, RTC partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno and Nevada Humanities to
chronicle the stories of long-time residents of the corridor. Information on the rich history of 4th Street and Prater Way, which contributed to the early growth of the region, may be viewed at: http://RenoHistorical.org.

Planning, preliminary engineering and environmental clearance for the project have been completed. Final design will be completed in December 2015, and construction can begin as soon as early 2016.

More information on the project may be found at: http://4thprater.com.
Letters of Support for the project were sent by: US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the City of Reno, the City of Sparks, Washoe County, Washoe County Health District, Nevada Department of Transportation, The Chamber, Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living, Northern Nevada Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, University of
Nevada, Reno, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency, Washoe County School District Police Department, Truckee Meadows Tomorrow.

In addition to the funding for the 4th Street/Prater Way RAPID Transit Project, $13.3 million dollars in TIGER funds will go toward upgrades to the Flamingo corridor in southern Nevada.