Archive for the 'trails' Category

Protecting brains is what counts, not statistics

New bicycle helmets
Image by prayingmother via Flickr

A Wall Street Journal article headlined The Bike Helmet Wars cited some interesting statistics but overlooked the most important point of the discussion.

It isn’t about numbers.

Say you’re a parent and you and your children don’t bother with helmets as you ride the trail. One of the kids slips on some wet leaves and crashes, hitting her head on the concrete.

Her brain could be injured pretty easily, maybe permanently and devastatingly.

Do statistics matter now?

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Jogger dies after collision with bicycle rider

On this morning is a story reporting the death of the jogger who was injured in a collision with someone on a bicycle the other day.

It is a sad, sad reminder to all of us.

Be aware of your surroundings. Among other things, that means being able to hear other traffic on the trail or on the road, whether you’re running, walking, skating, bicycling or driving a car or truck.

Cyclists have as much responsibility to maintain control as anyone else. Pass as safely on a trail as you want motorists to pass you on the road. Slow down if that’s what it takes to avoid hurting somebody.

You can avoid collisions.

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Warning: Knuckleheads on bicycles, others on foot

You may recall reading here that it’s best to assume all drivers are drunk and stupid when you’re out on a bicycle.

trail cycling

After reading a story on this morning (thanks for the link, @beautifulbicycl), it seems appropriate to add:

  • When you’re running, assume that someone fully capable of ruining your day (or worse) is closing in on you – a knucklehead on a bicycle, for example. Some will warn you, and you might hear them, and some won’t.
  • When you’re riding a bicycle and about to pass someone else, assume that person is not paying attention and is very likely to walk, run or pedal right in front of you at the worst possible moment.

Don’t assume that everyone else on the trail is courteous and alert.

In other words, be ready for anything.

The hazards and joys of night bicycling

You’ve certainly noticed by now, if you’re a Northern Hemispherian, that we’ve had fewer and fewer daylight hours lately.

While in reality the Earth goes in an orbit ar...

Image via Wikipedia

In a couple of days, in fact – around about September 23 – we’ll experience our annual autumnal equinox, when the days no longer last longer than the nights, and the darkness begins to rule.

You know what that means, right?

If you’re not prepared to bicycle in the dark, you’re going to miss out on some fun.

Nearly anyone can ride a bicycle in broad daylight. Only those bright enough to adorn themselves with a little reflective material, and their bikes with headlights and tail lights, can pedal safely into the night and the wee hours of the morning.

A few tips for those who haven’t already tried this:

  • Slow down, particularly when you’re riding on an unlighted trail. Since you can’t see as far ahead as you do during the day, and not very far at all off to the side of the trail where scary things wait to jump out in front of you, slowing down gives you a little more time to react.
  • You won’t see many runners, skaters and walkers pushing strollers on a trail in the middle of the night, but don’t assume they aren’t there. Stay alert.
  • Also be ready to encounter and dodge any dim-bulb cyclists who are out riding without fresh batteries or even entirely light-free.
  • Assume that every driver on the road is drunk and/or stupid. (This might be a good rule for daytime cycling, too, by the way.)
  • Enjoy the cool, quiet feeling of privacy and freedom that makes night cycling a unique, exhilarating experience.

Pedal on.

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CEMAR trail work a positive, if a bit late for some

As some Eastern Iowans just learned, it’s a good idea to pay attention to what’s going on in your neighborhood.

You won’t be surprised like they were the other day, as explained in this story about a Cedar Rapids recreational trail being built behind their back yards.

And no one will have to spend their time putting on yet another informational meeting.

The initial reaction of some to this “news” that has been around for years was like so many others that people have when something changes: This is a bad thing.

They couldn’t be more wrong. In a November 2008 post that has gotten a lot of attention over the past few days, I pointed out some of the benefits:

More people who live in the NE neighborhoods will pedal, walk or skate to those connecting trails rather than drive to them, as many do now. They’ll spend time and money downtown. When CEMAR is completed all the way to Marion, it will be an even more valuable and attractive link in our trails network.

Since Mrs. Smith and I decided to set our sights on Colorado a few months ago, I see as I re-read that post that something else I said has some new meaning:

The trail can’t get done soon enough.

Still, it’s a good thing, people. Enjoy it when it’s done. Maybe we’ll come to visit.

Pedal on.

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On the edge of a thrill…

Come on down, Mikey! It's not that steep...

Some good, cold beer and Kickaboo Road

A few notes from a weekend with friends and family in Madison and very close to it:

You missed opening night at the Capital Brewery Bier Garten in Middleton last Friday. Mrs. Smith, son Brady, his Charming and Very Significant Other and I did not miss it. Great beer (the seasonal Fest is a winner), tasty bratwurst and great music.

We had the pleasant opportunity to meet the generous Steve Nicks in person – the very same Steve Nicks who loans bicycles to UW international students. The world truly is smaller when you ride a bicycle.

If you leave the Fairfield Inn in Middleton by bicycle and find your way to the trail that parallels Highway 12 north toward Sauk City and Baraboo, after about six miles you will come across Kickaboo Road. A few miles farther on, the trail ends, so that’s where you might want to turn around and ride the rolling hills back to Kickaboo Road and stop in for a couple of cold beers at the Missouri Tavern, right there on your left by the big elm tree.

Why a “Missouri Tavern” right there in the heart of Badger country? Because it was built by Missouri Al Mefford and his wife, Mae, of course. No doubt there’s a great story behind the “Missouri Al” name.

Speaking of interesting names, I have to say Kickaboo one more time: Kickaboo.

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On getting buzzed … by a cyclist

Friends and I were zipping along on our bicycles on a trail this morning, but apparently not fast enough to please a fellow cyclist.

I first became aware of the guy when someone in our own group shouted that he was coming up on our left. At roughly the same moment, he flew by, saying something about getting over and out of his way.

Some angry words were exchanged.

Three things come to mind:

  1. Not everyone can hear you say, “Passing on your left,” even if you do bother to say it. Speak up.
  2. If I don’t get out of your way immediately, too bad. I didn’t hear you and/or I don’t want to knock somebody else over just because you’re in a hurry.
  3. Jerk.
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Why bicycle? Here’s why…

A brand new video for National Bike Month

Get out and ride!

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Water bottles will help pave Cedar Valley Nature Trail

Updated 4/21/10:

You need a new water bottle. You probably need more than one. Hydration, very important.

water bottle artSpecial deal: Buy a special “I Paved the Trail 2010” Specialized water bottle from Northtowne Cycling & Fitness and your $5 for each bottle all goes to the Linn County Trails Association to help pave a section of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

Through the Specialized Dealer Grant Program, the bicycle company and Northtowne made up hundreds of 500  “I Paved the Trail” bottles. At $5/per, that’s $2,500 Sales could generate more than $2,000 to help make the trail more accessible and more usable in wet weather.

Friends were just telling me about a bone-jarring bike ride they had on that trail, which apparently took a beating this spring. Good reason to go buy some new water bottles.

You’re thirsty anyway, right?

Drink up and pedal on.

* * *

Full disclosure: Your blogger helped write the grant proposal (a particularly fun one for a cycling/trails-advocating grant writer) and is hoping to be able to celebrate another win or two before long.
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