That Dorky Mirror Saved My Life

OK, I admit that this is a misleading headline.  I was skimming through some news articles and started reading one where the headline had little to do with the article’s contents.  I thought I would try the eye drawing trick…

Jonathan and Jim Just Before Iowa Hill
I have been cycling with a rear-view mirror for several years and I believe it is one of the best safety enhancements I use while cycling.  The other day, another rider and I had fallen off the back of the main group by a few hundred meters.  I was doing everything I could to catch back up and was on a slight descent that let me carry some good speed.  A left turn was approaching and I was fixated on the approach because I would be going fast and I was looking out for debris in the turn.

While I was absorbed with making the turn and catching back up with the main group, I hadn’t realized a car was approaching from behind (I didn’t hear it) and it was about to pass me.  As I was about to start the turn I did a routine check by glancing in my rear-view mirror and spotted the car. Fortunately, I have developed a habit of checking my mirror when turning.

If I had not had that mirror, I doubt I would have looked over my shoulder and noticed the car.   The result would have been a bad crash and it would have been my fault.  So yeah, that dorky mirror helped me avoid an accident.

Many riders use a mirror.  There are ones that mount on sunglasses (what I use), helmet mounted and even ones that mount on the end of your handlebars.  I prefer the first two as I can move my head left to right and scan a wide area behind me.

The mirror provides a major boost to situational awareness.  The 180 degrees of view behind you is now available and can provide a greater insight to your ride environment..  You can see cars approaching, evaluate how tight the riders behind you are aligned and maybe even gain a little satisfaction in watching a few riders drop behind you on a climb. On the rare times I forget my mirror, I feel awkward and partially blind.

I had the opportunity to talk to Chris Mumma, one of the most prolific riders in Cycle Folsom, about his experience with a mirror. Chris says, "a mirror has become an integral part of my cycling and I feel naked without it."  After a review of our shared experiences with a mirror, he talked of an instance where the mirror was invaluable in preventing a accident.  Chris added, "I was riding a performance ride and we were overtaking a slower rider (not a Cycle Folsom rider) and a rider behind me neglected to follow the paceline, attempting to pass on the left into traffic. Fortunately, I was able to spot him before we collided. "

Give a mirror a try.  It might not "look pro", but it will open up your range of views and increase your situational awareness.


Death Ride Tune Up

Joe and Enrico applying bar tape
As the Death Ride nears, a group of Cycle Folsom's riders got together to give their bikes a final tune up to make sure their rides were in top working order.

Most of the work was similar - brake/shifter cable replacement and new chain installation.

Cable replacement takes some time and patience - especially when the cables are internally routed. This job includes:

  1. Replacing front and rear brake cables and housings.
  2. Replacing front and rear derailleur cables and housings.
  3. Adjusting the brakes
  4. Adjusting all shifting
  5. Jonathan's red/while/black cable color
  6. Replacing bar tape
Joe was a great help with the bar tape with his technique of starting on the top and winding it "backwards".  This gives a cleaner look to the tape and seems more secure.

Jonathan learned the hard way that regular cable replacement is important to avoid snapping a cable during a ride.  When a rear derailleur cable breaks, the only option is the smallest cog. During the Carson Pass Train for the Tours (TftT) ride, he lost his rear derailleur cable at mile 73. Fortunately, the last 27 miles were mostly a descent and he was able to finish the ride.
Jim's Felt getting new cables 

I learned this lesson as well about a year ago when my derailleur cable snapped during a ride.  I now replace my cables every 6 months.

This is actually very inexpensive.  A cable kit costs around $40 and new bar tape is about $20.

Vu working on his bike
Chain replacement is important in ensuring the drive train doesn't wear prematurely.  As the chain stretches, it can cause the cassette and chainrings on the crank to wear out more quickly.  In addition, a stretched chain makes for a degraded shifting response.

A new chain is about $40 and should be replaced when worn.  There is a simple tool that measures chain stretch.

To replace a chain, the easiest method is to simply remove the old chain with a chain breaker and lay the new and old chains side by side on the floor.  This will give you the chain length for removing the excess links on the new chain. Once trimmed, the chain is routed and a master pin is installed to secure the chain.

Eric installing a new chain
A preventative maintenance plan for your bike is a great way to avoid problems and keep your bike in top running condition. You can learn a lot of the techniques from youtube videos. GCN has a great set of maintenance videos that will give you detailed step by step instructions. A couple of inexpensive tools will go a long way toward enabling you to do your own maintenance.  This will also save a lot of time and money.

If you are considering doing your own work on your bike, Cycle Folsom has many members who are excellent mechanics and can help you with your efforts.  Be sure to solicit their advice.


What Does It Take To Be A Racer

The Tour De France is just around the corner and just a month ago we were able to experience the Amgen Tour of California in our own home town.  Seeing these amazing riders compete in such an epic way may fuel your own thoughts about taking your cycling to a new level - racing.  What would it be like to be a racer?  How do you start racing?  Cycle Folsom's Aaron Terrazas is a racer on Team Revolutions and has given us some great insight into these questions.

What Does It Take To Be A Racer by Aaron Terrazas

I had no real aspirations to become a racer when I first started road biking, I just wanted to lose weight, get fit and not get dropped. As my fitness increased I began to think about racing; it looked fun and terrifying. I started doing some research, talked to friends, read articles, watched YouTube videos and thought, "why not try it, if I don't like it, I can always quit".

So what steps do you need to take to get into racing? What does it take to get started and be competitive?

Get a Coach
Regardless of how serious you intend to be, I would recommend getting a coach. Having a coach to focus your training and guide you. A coach will not only help you improve your fitness, they will also provide you with direction and focus during your race season. Without direction, folks tend to flounder, and drop out.

Work On Your Fitness
Spend the winter season training, working on your fitness and learning as much as you can. I find that folks who don't train before the race season, tend not to last long in racing because they get discouraged after a few races. There is so much to learn, and while the level of fitness among racers various greatly, the serious racers are on a completely different level of fitness than your average / above average club rider. 

Find a Team
It is very important to have a group you can connect with, work with and be mentored by. When you race, it's very difficult to win a race on your own, unless it's a very small field. Bike racing is a team sport, with strategies, race plans, lead out trains, domestiques, climbers, sprinters, and each serves a role based on the type of race. 

Get Your Race License
You need to register and get a license to race. Get your USA Cycling license for the season: https://www.usacycling.org

Racing Categories
The women's racing categories start at Cat 4 and go up to Cat 1.

The men's racing categories start at Cat 5 and go up to Cat 1. 

There are several different types of groups for each category. Juniors (kids), Cat 1,2,3,4,5 (19-34) and Masters 35+, Masters 45+, and Masters 55+. The non-masters categories are the categories that can go pro (Cat 1).

Beginner Race Program
Every Sunday morning through the month of January,  before race season officially begins, classes for road racing are provided for beginning racers called the Early Bird Races or Beginning Racer Program (BRP). There are various classes provided throughout the state, but the closest one to us is in Fremont. Instructors run through various skills you will need to know for racing like sprinting, cornering, bike handling and more. Instructors will take you through drills and at the end of the class you will get to race a Crit for 20 minutes. Each class with a race is worth 2 points which count towards your 10 upgrade points to get out of Cat 5 to Cat 4.

These classes really are essential if you plan to race.

Do You Need a Race Bike
If you don't have a great racing bike, it is ok, try racing out first before you invest in a good race bike. Racing could also be a great excuse to get a new bike. If you do want to buy a race bike, here are a few things to consider.

Aerobikes are great for crits and flat races, but they tend to drop anchor on rollers and climbs, and many do not corner as well as an all round light race road bike that handles well, responds great on climbs and sprints. Consider purchasing wheels specifically for racing that you can use for all of you races (have a separate pair for training). I have a set of tubular all carbon 50s that I use only for racing, anything deeper would probably not be as great for a climbing race.

Types of Races

Criterium Races (Crits) 
These are fast paced short lap, usually 1/2 mile to 1 mile in length, with multiple laps around a closed small circuit within a 20-40 minute period. These are great for strong riders who might not have the fitness for a long endurance road race, are great sprinters or like to be in the red as riders attack and maneuver for position. Crits are known for bunch sprints, tight corners and crashes (crashes will happen in all race types).

Circuit Races
These are basically the medium between a road race and a Crit, where you race a longer lap of several miles for an hour or more several times. Usually these are not as fast as crits.

Road Race
These are the longer endurance races, which can be longer circuits of 4-9 miles; these are done several times (40+ miles). The duration of these races differ from race to race and category to category.

Time Trial (TT)
These are solo races on a time trial bike (TT). The duration can range from 6 - 20+ miles. These are basically, how fast can you go for 20-40 minutes.

Stage Race
These are typically a series of races over a few days that can have a combination of all the different race types.

Winning Races
Bike racing is one of the few sports where most people never win or podium. There are pros who spend their entire careers never having won a race because their jobs are to support their team leader. So why race?

Racing can be challenging, scary, exhausting, fun and require dedication of time and focus. Most of us who are older are certainly not going to make it to be pros or ride in any world tours, so racing is just something we do on the weekends because we love cycling, competition and pushing ourselves. Most of us don't take it too seriously (some do), and let's face it, we aren't getting paid or sponsored, at least not those of us who are Masters (older), so the most important thing it to just have fun.


A Tale of Two Rides

Yesterday, we completed the 10th and final century ride in the Train for the Tours (TftT) series for 2016.  This one was an out and back from Sly Park to Carson Pass and included more than 10,000' of climbing, riding at altitudes above 7,500’ for much of the ride and some tough climbs like Carson Pass and Mormon Emigrant.  A tough ride by any measure.

I did this ride last year and I thought it would be interesting to compare my experiences since they were so different.  Last year, I thought the ride was a brutal experience.  I was totally exhausted and wiped out at the conclusion.  This year I felt good the entire ride and had "gas in the tank" at the end. 

Why the difference?

Thanks to the Garmin Edge and Strava, I can compare statistics.

The differences between the two rides are very minor.  Moving time, average speed, cadence, and average heart rate are about the same.

The only significant differences are the ride temperature and overall ride elapsed time.  The temperature was 7 degrees cooler and I finished the ride 20+ minutes faster.

It looks like statistics do not tell the full story.  What about my ride game plan?

This ride I tried a few minor changes to my approach to a long endurance ride.  I didn't want to make any big changes as I thought it was a little too close to the Death Ride to make any significant changes.  But, I did have a few areas I thought warranted some "tweaks".

First, I had been having problems drinking fluids during the latter part of the ride.  I have been using electrolyte tablets such as Nuun and Gu. However, I have been getting so absolutely sick of the taste, that I dreaded drinking.  This was further exacerbated when the fluids got warm.

So, I decided to try using Endurolytes (electrolyte pills) and plain water when I was tired of the taste.  This was an amazing improvement.  I was drinking delicious cold water in the last half of the ride as if it were an ice cold beer at a baseball game.  Swallowing a couple of pills was easy when chased by the ice cold water.

Secondly, I tried eating in a snack mode the whole ride.  I added a small frame bag to my top tube where I had a mix of dried fruits, pistachios and seeds.  This allowed for easy access where I could simply reach down and grab a small portion as I was riding.  I also put some oranges with the SAG vehicle as I find oranges clear out that "dry mouth" feeling when breathing hard for long periods.

This approach also helped the 3rd of my ride tweaks - the minimal stop.  I noticed more experienced riders skipping breaks or making very quick stops.  I then looked at many of my rides and I noticed my break times seemed excessive.  Last year's Death Ride, for example, I had nearly 3 hours in non-riding time. My TftT breaks were about an hour.  I am all for breaks, but I don't seem to get much benefit after a few minutes.  I focused on replenishing my water, eating a few orange slices and then getting back on the bike - less than 5 minutes.  Since I was eating while riding, I didn't need to worry about eating during the breaks.  On this ride I had about 20 minutes worth of breaks (4 minutes per break) - 20 minutes below last year's net break time.

Finally, I focused on a manageable and steady pace.  I normally ride at a steady pace, but I made an extra effort to have gas at the end and thus be even more conservative in the beginning of the ride.  As one of the heaviest riders in CF, hills are especially challenging and I have to be careful not to burn out on a big climb. I may be slow, but I figured I would be better off minimizing total time vs. reducing just the ride time.  This also worked well.  Last year, I felt very good on the early Mormon Emigrant climb, but the Carson and Silver Lake (Tragedy Spring Rd) climbs were miserable. Brutal even.  I had to stop repeatedly to recover.  This year, the climbs were hard, but I only stopped once when some other riders were stopped as well.  Last year's "Tragedy Climb" was surprisingly easier. When I finished the ride, I felt good.  Tired, but not wiped out or exhausted.

Overall, I was extremely happy with the ride.  From a perceived difficulty perspective, I would rate the Iowa Hill, Loon Lake, and Rainbow and Roses rides as harder than this one.

I learned a few valuable lessons.  First, always be open to improvement.  While my changes were seemingly minor and the ride statistics were nearly identical, my perceived difficulty was dramatically improved.  Second, stick with your plan.  I could see riders not far ahead of me and I could have caught up.  Instead I stuck to my planned pace and caught up due to my faster breaks and ended up finishing ahead of about a half dozen other riders who actually had faster average moving speeds, but used more and longer breaks.

The Death Ride is less than two weeks away and I have a plan I think will work well.  I think I am ready!



Riders - Know Your Route

Several weeks ago, I was with a group riding a route that used very common roads.  I noticed the rider(s) in front looking back occasionally and asking "which way?"  We weren't in a remote area or on an unusual route by any means.  They clearly didn't know the route.  After a short while, I spent my time up front to ensure we took all the right turns and avoid any "bonus miles".

Confession coming...  Toward the end of this ride, a little mean streak surfaced and I bet a fellow ride leader riding beside me that the rider up front was going to miss the turn. When the turn approached, it seemed as if he was going to take it, but then kept riding straight.  Here is where I should have yelled "RIGHT". Instead, I silently pointed the right turn and made the turn with the remainder of the group and let the "wrong way riders" figure out they goofed.

While winning a bet is always nice; this scenario, unfortunately, is actually all too common.  So why is it important to know the route?

First, and foremost, knowing the route is a matter of safety. If you are up front and don't know the route, you can endanger the riders behind you. I have witnessed several instances where a rider up front doesn't know what to do when a navigation choice is required.  All of a sudden they are slowing and weaving out of their line while they try to find out what to do.  The riders behind are then at risk of potentially running into the front rider or moving too far into the road.

Second confession... This happened to me once and I was the cause of a minor incident with one of the riders behind me crashing. Fortunately it was a minor incident and the rider and bike were OK.  In this case I knew the route, but there was construction and I didn't recognize the street until too late and I tried to make the turn anyway.  I slowed unexpectedly and caused a rider behind me to overlap wheels and fall.

Secondly, knowing the route is important should you end up riding on your own.  If you get dropped or even have a mechanical issue, you may find yourself separated from the group.  You should know the route so you can safely get home or catch back up to the group at a break stop.  Knowing the route may also allow you to take a shortcut to get back with the group.  Some riders are very skilled in using shortcuts to avoid a challenging part of the ride and still remain with the group for large portions of the ride.

In a later post I will talk about using electronic devices like a Garmin Edge cycling computer where it will display the route, cue sheet, and provide turn reminders. I have a Garmin Edge 520 and I love it. These devices are amazing and a great asset to a ride.  However, they are not a substitute for knowing the route.  I consider them to be an enhancement or an added tool for following the route.

Cycle Folsom makes it very easy to learn the route.  Every meetup notice has a Ride With GPS route linked that can be reviewed.  If you do not have an account, simply sign up - it is free.  Then follow the link in the meetup ride description and you can examine the ride.  I like to click through the cue sheet as this will show me all the turns.  I will also note the planned break location(s) and any climbs.

Ride leaders take the effort to provide a safe and well planned ride.  Part of that effort is creating a route and making it available to all riders in advance of the ride start.  Show them some courtesy in learning the route and doing your part to ride safely.


One Cool Loon

Mike and Brad at Loon Lake
Scott McKinney's Train for the Tour (TftT) series is Cycle Folsom's most grueling set of training activities.  These 10 progressively more difficult century rides from February to June will get you in condition to do almost any extreme endurance cycling event you can find - including the Death Ride. One of the hallmarks of this series is the camaraderie that the ride creates.  All participants, whether you are the fastest or the slowest rider, are embraced.  In many ways, this training creates more memories than the "big event" everyone is targeting.

Yesterday was the 9th ride in the 2016 series - One Cool Loon.  This is a 100 mile out and back from Cool to Loon Lake and features 10,000 feet of climbing with about 7500 feet of that being on the way out. This type of ride is always a challenge for me. Being a Clydesdale sized rider, a big climbing ride is always tough.  This is especially true of rides where the climbing is grouped into one section as this does not allow for recovery time.
One Cool Loon Elevation Profile

The first part of the ride is relatively flat as we headed toward Georgetown.  Georgetown is a great little town of about 2400 people that epitomizes "small town" America.  There is a small baseball diamond that reminds of the one where I learned how to play baseball as a kid in a small Indiana town.

Stumpy Meadows
On leaving Georgetown, we stayed on Wentworth Springs Rd for about 35 miles. Most of the effort is climbing. The climbing is not terribly steep, but there are a couple of challenging sections that make you take notice. A short break at Stumpy Meadows was a needed relief as we had climbed 4,000 feet and completed 29 miles.

Enrico near Loon Lake
From Stumpy Meadows, we continued climbing on Wentworth Springs Rd all the way to Ice House Rd where we pause for a quick break before the final 7 mile climb to Loon Lake.  This section of road is beautiful and there is an amazing view looking east into a picturesque canyon.  This 20 mile section from Stumpy Meadows to Loon Lake is mostly climbing with an additional 3500 feet adding to a total of 7500 feet.

Vu dunking his head in Loon Lake
At Loon Lake, the elevation is about 6300 feet, about the same as Lake Tahoe.  This is about a 5000 foot elevation gain from the starting point in Cool.  This alpine lake is beautiful and right off a postcard.  I was happy to get to the turnaround point and take a break.  While I felt good at this point, I was struggling to eat and drink. Neither food nor drink sounded good and I had to force myself to consume something.

Before we started heading home, Vu put his head in the water following Mike's pre-ride announcement of this head dunking tradition.

The trip home started off great.  The first 7 miles leaving Loon Lake were all down hill.  During this descent, we gained more appreciation for the actual climb.  Turning back onto Wentworth Springs Rd, we started a 5 mile climb that was very taxing.  A couple guys stopped for a moment, but I was afraid to stop as I wasn't sure I could restart.

10 miles later we stopped in Stumpy Meadows for our final break.  There is a small climb out of Stumpy Meadows and I had the misfortune to get a flat.  Both SAG vehicles stopped to check on me and I used a floor pump to fill my tire.  Unfortunately, this also meant I was on my own for the last 30 miles.  Being tired and aching when alone seems much harder than suffering with others nearby. Nevertheless, I was able to let my mind wander and the time went by quickly.  I kept a steady pace and was relieved when I arrived in Georgetown as I knew there was only about 10 miles to go.  When the remaining distance gets to single digits, it is a great relief.

When I finally arrived in Cool, I was fully spent.  This was a very tough ride and I think I underestimated the difficulty.  I think the 7500 feet of climbing to Loon Lake took more out of me then I expected.  The return trip, while a net descent, was much more difficult than I thought it would be.  There were several challenging climbs on the return portion that really tested my stamina.  It is probably a mistake to underestimate any ride that has 10,000 feet of climbing.  I built some mental toughness doing this ride.

Special thanks to the SAG support from Lois and Cindy.  We all appreciate the extra help in accomplishing these challenging rides.

Chris Mumma also made a video of the ride that I am sure you will enjoy: Link.


The "Swing"

I just finished reading Boys in the Boat the other day. 
It is a great story about the University of Washington crew team that won the rowing gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  There were many memorable things about the book, but one thing stuck with me that could translate to cycling was the “swing”.  In rowing, “swing” is a rare condition of harmony and perfection; where all rowers in the boat are seemingly in a state of perfect harmony.  They are so in tune with each other that they operate as a single entity of power, speed and grace.  Everyone is in “the zone”.

This “swing” thought has been with me for a while but I only put a name to it after reading the book.  A few weeks ago, I decided to help with a Gruppetto ride and I had the opportunity to talk with Steve Ward about group riding dynamics.  This was a great eye-opener as Steve shared some great thoughts about group riding that gave me a new appreciation of how fun a group ride could be when that group truly subordinated themselves to ride as one group rather than a bunch of cyclist riding as individuals in close proximity.  He talked about the idea of every rider working for the group and adjusting the effort to match the group’s capability.  This was fascinating as it opened up this new potential for elevating the enjoyment of cycling to a new plane; a breakthrough in understanding and clarity.

Could cycling have its “swing”?  Could we develop group riding to the state where we all ride in perfect harmony with each other?  The pulls up front are just the right duration.  The lead rider pulls off just as everyone expects.  The pace is perfect for the distance to go and matches all riders’ abilities.  The dropping rider catches back on without any wasted motion.  The group sacrifices personal needs and subordinates absolutely to the group.  Could this happen?  Could I ride in a group for a long effort in a cycling “swing”? 

I have experienced some great group rides where this seemed to happen in moments.  Some of the best rides were the night rides on the South Canal led by Vu and Mel.  I have had many other experiences like this in various group rides, but the moment of perfection is usually broken by a single act of personal need.  A rider pushes the pace, misses a turn, does a “hero” pull, has bad group riding skills, or many other reasons.

Many times I have experienced the “non-swing” rides were everyone seems like strangers on the same road.  Rider leaders are trying to “herd cats” on bikes who have left their group riding skill and knowledge at home.  Well organized pace lines get busted by self-minded individuals looking for a few minutes of rest on someone’s wheel.  You get the idea.

We have all learned the skills and techniques for group cycling, but the more I ride with a group the more I realize how much I have yet to learn about the true potential in a group of cyclists working
in harmony.  I think this will be a new goal of mine – to find some CF riders who want to ride in the “swing”.  Maybe riding in the “swing” could be the norm.  It will be interesting to find out.



As I get older (and maybe a touch wiser), I realize that what inspired me in my younger days is not the same as what inspires me today.  I remember the 1981 49ers having a phenomenal season and winning the game against the Cowboys where Dwight Clark caught the winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana.  The 49ers then went on to win the Super Bowl.  And, I remember the “Miracle on Ice” when the US team beat the USSR and go on to win the Gold Medal.
Today, I realize that overcoming life’s challenges is more inspirational than sporting accomplishments.  While I still enjoy my favorite teams doing well, I find those who take what life throws at them and then keep going to be truly inspirational.  Two members in our club are examples of inspirational character that stand out to me.
Debbie Vogel

Debbie Vogel – Debbie joined Cycle Folsom last year and has been a regular rider since.  She is outgoing and always has a smile and positive outlook.  What you may not know is Debbie was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in November 2013. While battling cancer, she also filed for divorce. She refers to this as “I got rid of two cancers in 2014”. Debbie joined Cycle Folsom in April 2015, starting with the Gruppetto training series.  I remember the Gruppetto ride where I first met Debbie and she was wearing sneakers while the bike had SPD pedals.  She is also a sponge for cycling knowledge to improve as quickly as possible.  That determination left an impression.  Debbie has since replaced her old bike and has pedals and shoes that match one another.  Debbie’s own words sum up why I think she is an inspiration – “the cycling club and its ride leaders, through their support and leadership, helped me to change my identity from cancer patient to an athlete.”
Chris Mumma

Chris Mumma – After suffering a serious head wound in Panama as a Navy corpsman, Chris had many obstacles to overcome including hearing loss, grand mal seizures, and temporary paralysis.  These challenges proved difficult and Chris became depressed and his weight went to 300 pounds.  However, Chris knew he had to make a change and he did, “knew that if I wanted to continue to live I needed to lose the weight.  I changed my diet and I joined a gym.”  After joining the gym, Chris took up cycling where he lost the weight.  He then encountered Cycle Folsom at a Ride2Recovery event and he joined soon after.  Chris has become one of the most prolific and fastest riders in the club.  Chris and I became friends shortly after he joined Cycle Folsom.  It turns out we have a lot of common interests such as our mutual enjoyment of Science Fiction and Blue Moon beer.

In 2014, Chris was diagnosed with cancer in his shoulder.  He has undergone two full rounds of chemo-therapy and is 75% done with the third round.  Shortly after completing his second round of chemo, Chris completed the 2015 Deathride.  For Chris, cycling has been a key to overcoming life’s challenges – “cycling has kept me going and I cycle when I would rather sit on the couch and be sick. Cycling has been the best part of my treatment to beat this disease and I plan on cycling until I can no longer do it.”  Q'APLA, my brother!

For me, Chris and Debbie are an inspiration for overcoming the obstacles life throws in your way.  I think we all can take their example as a guiding light for courage in facing those challenges.


On Tuesday evening (May 3rd), there is a fundraiser being held at Pete's Restaurant & Brewhouse in Folsom from 5:00 - 8:30.  Free buffet from Pete's Restaurant and silent auction.  Please join in helping to raise funds for Chris.

See the Facebook Event for more info.

I hope you can join us!


Nutrition 101 - Fuel For The Ride

One of the great things about this time of year as Spring takes hold, is the great cycling events coming upon us.  For many of us, we have big goals being realized in the Summer.  Maybe it is the Death Ride or the Davis Double Century.  You might have plans for your first century or metric century.  Whatever your goal may be, it is likely to involve a big ride with lots of miles.

2016 - Dutch Flat
Just over a week ago, many Cycle Folsom riders joined in the Train for the Tours (TftT) ride - TftT #5, Not Flat to Dutch Flat (a perfect ride description if there ever was one).  In the TftT series, I think this is where the rides go from difficult to hard (and then insane).  In this transition in difficulty, it is important to make sure you are prepared to with a good hydration and nutrition plan.  In the last post, we gave you a good rundown on hydration - Hydration 101.  This time, Aaron Terrazas gives us a great rundown on nutrition.


Fuel For The Ride by Aaron Terrazas:
There are two ways to eat, fuel for your body (breakfast, second breakfast if you are a Hobbit, lunch and dinner), and fuel for your ride. Let's talk about fuel for the ride.
When, what and how much you eat, is a little different for everybody, so it's important to know what your body needs for different types of rides. I find it best to eat small, not big, and spread out your fuel intake over the entire ride. This allows your body to digest food easily, rather than having a brick in your stomach while riding. 
It is very important not to wait until you are hungry or feeling fatigued by staying ahead of your body and eat every 40-50 minutes. If your are pushing the pedals hard, you may find it beneficial to eat every 30 minutes. On the opposite spectrum, if you are on an easy recovery ride, you may only need to eat once an hour. Your ride intensity and ride duration will determine what and when you need to eat and how much fuel your body will need on a ride, so have your ride fuel plan and food ready the night before.
On a long endurance ride of 80-100 miles, I have found it beneficial to double up your food intake at 40-50 miles and again around mile 80. On longer rides, don't not to wait for the rest stops, eat on the bike. This is where planning ahead with a ride fuel plan and having your food organized in your pockets comes in handy. You will find it much easier to eat while on the bike by having your food open and ready to eat (just don't do this with gels or it will go bad really quickly - just saying).
Choose ride fuel foods that are natural, easy to eat, low in sugar (NOTE: pro-racers do drink soda, but they are on a different level than we are) and offer fuel that your body can process quickly during a ride. Fuel for the ride is the key here because it's about fuel your body can use during the ride. This is why it is better to stay away from anything heavy like sandwiches and hamburgers because our bodies tend not to process the sandwich or hamburger during the ride quickly enough to be used during the ride.  
Some food bars may seem healthy, but are basically candy and do not offer a lot of nutrients your body can use during a ride. It is best to stay away from junk food like cookies and candy because our bodies need real food, nutrients and fuel that it can process and use quickly. 
Here are a few things I eat on the bike and why I eat them. 
I typically eat Enduro Bites (http://endurobites.com/why-enduro-bites/) because they are easy to eat on the bike quickly, they are healthy and easy to digest. I found that eating Cliff bars while on the bike can be challenging because they do not go down easily, while Enduro Bites are much easier to get down at 20-30 mph. 
I also include some gels on my rides, I personally like Cliff Shots, but there are many too choose from (http://www.clifbar.com/products/Athlete-Series/clif-shot/razz). These are great to get quick sugar into your body and get your energy back up.
Honey Stinger (http://www.honeystinger.com/), but they can't be eaten while in the bike, so I only take them if I know there will be a rest stop.
Kind Bar (http://www.kindsnacks.com/store/types/kind-bars), l are one of my favorite pre-ride fuels and mid-ride fuels. They can be a little tricky to eat while riding because they stick to the wrapper.
On a long ride, I love a banana and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 
Pre-Ride fuel (the day before) is also important and what you eat depends on the type of ride (long vs short, hard vs easy). For the sake of discussion, let's stick to the long endurance ride fuel. Depending on what you like to eat, you can go with pasta, veggies, and/or protein (steak or fish). Some people like to eat eggs, a bit of steak or potatoes right before a ride; personally I am not a morning person, so usually just have a Coffee Late, a banana and a Kind Bar.
Here are a few tips help you on your next long endurance ride:
TIP: Always take more than you will eat, you never know when your body will just need more fuel.
TIP: Plan ahead; know what you will eat and when you will eat it. 
TIP: Don't wait to eat until you are hungry or your energy to drop out.
TIP: Listen to your body, learn how it responds to different foods on a ride, we all are a little different, so find what is right for you.
TIP: Eat every 45 minutes and double up midway through a long endurance ride and a again in the last 20 miles so you can have enough to finish well.
TIP: Eat real food that is easy to digest and avoid processed foods and junk foods with high sugar, and corn syrups (HFCS).


Hydration 101

As we start moving into Spring and everyone is thinking of the big rides they have planned for the Summer, one of the key things to consider is your hydration game plan while on long endurance rides.  In 2015 as I was preparing for the Death Ride, I had dialed in a hydration system that worked well for me and kept me out of trouble.  The Train for the Tours (TftT) series leading up to the Death Ride let me make some mistakes, try different options and gain confidence that I had solved this part of my riding tool kit.

A recent ride, the 2016 TftT #4 to Plymouth, Union Mine and Prospector, served as a reminder that following that plan is vital as I was a little over confident and a tad arrogant about this key preparation and I had a near miss on the climbs up Union Mine.

My time tested plan for hydration is relatively simple.
  1. I like to use large, well insulated water bottles.  I have the 24oz Camelbak Podium and the 20oz Camelbak Podium Ice bottles.  The Podium Ice bottles are worth the extra few dollars.  Last year, Rob Pucci showed me this bottle and, more importantly, he showed be the unmelted ice cubes still in the bottle after a 50 mile ride.  On a hot summer ride, cold water is an amazing treat and actually helps you to drink more frequently.  Warm water is not very quenching.  Add a lemon-lime flavoring from a Nunn table to that warm water and drinking becomes a real chore. 
  2. I use  Nunn or Osmo as an electrolyte supplement.  The Nunn tablets are very portable and I will have extras in a "pill purse" or a plastic baggie.  The Osmo also comes in single serving containers for easy handling.  I am sure there are other excellent products.  For me, these two options work fine and I have not found a reason to try anything else.  I like any flavor other than lemon-lime.  This is what I used for the Carson Pass TftT ride.  I still remember that taste.
  3. The most important thing is to actually drink from your bottles.  I've read a lot about how much you should drink and various factors impacting hydration.  The important point is to figure out how much YOU should be drinking.  Everyone is different and reacts to the cycling conditions differently.  For me, I found that I should be consuming about 1.5 - 2 bottles an hour depending upon the cycling conditions.  
  4. The route is an import influence on your hydration as well.  I like to look at the stops and see where I can refill.  I've had to take 3 bottles on rides where there were larger gaps between stops.  This also helps me gauge my water consumption.  For example: if there is about 25 miles between stops, I know both bottles should be empty when I get to the rest stop.  If they are not empty, this serves as an "alarm" that I am off the plan. 
  5. Water stops are a good place to actually drink water too.  I know this seems obvious, but people will start explaining how their brake was rubbing during the last climb, using the facilities, cleaning their sunglasses, or eating a snack.  Then, before you know it, that sadistic ride leader is yelling "60 seconds" and you barely have time to get your helmet and gloves back on and you haven't had any water.  So, make drinking water and refilling your water bottles a priority at a water stop - after you adjust that rubbing brake, of course.
  6. While on the bike, you obviously need to drink.  It important that you get comfortable grabbing a bottle, taking a drink, and returning the bottle to the cage while maintaining good order in a group.  This includes keeping your pedals turning so you don't make the rider behind you nervous (see Paceline Skills).  If you are not comfortable drinking while in a group, then you run the risk of skipping vital water consumption and run the risk of getting dehydrated.  So, practice this valuable skill so you stay hydrated in a group situation. 
  7. One "trick" I like to use is to have my Garmin 520 remind me to drink on plan.  I set the Garmin's Auto Lap feature to beep every 5 miles which prompts me to drink.  As a general rule, I want to consume about a 1/2 of a bottle every 5 miles.  This helps me stay on plan, especially early in the ride, to avoid problems later.
  8. I also like to use Hammer Endurolytes.  I usually take 2 tablets at each stop and carry them in a pill box or plastic baggie.  To be honest, I am not sure these tablets do anything.  But, I haven't  cramped while using them so I hate to mess with a successful formula.
  9. Preparation is an equally important component to good hydration.  I have a spreadsheet I use that helps calculate how much fluid I will probably consume.  This uses a formula based on your weight, ride distance, and climbing.  I use this information to identify the number of water bottle refills I will need so I can make sure I carry enough electrolyte supplements.  The day before the ride, I will get them all counted (with a few extras) and packaged and then put them with my cycling gear.
  10. Be well hydrated before the ride.  I like to ensure I am well hydrated the day before and the morning prior to the ride.  I will make a concerted effort to drink plenty of fluids and continue this all the way up to the ride start.  I don't overdo it so that I am constantly heading to the bathroom.  A few hours before the ride, I will drink 16 oz with an electrolytes supplement. There is little benefit in being behind on fluids even before you start the ride.
  11. Cooler riding weather can be problematic as you can be fooled into drinking less than you need.  We always think heavy sweating is how we become dehydrated.  However, exhaling is a big source of fluid loss and cooler weather actually makes your perspiration evaporate more quickly.  So, don't get careless about hydration when it is a cool day.
  12. Test your plan and make changes to optimize it for your needs.  Get the knowledge you need and test your hydration plan.  What works for me may not work for you - maybe you like warm lemon-lime flavored water.  One thing I would caution you on is making big changes in a targeted event.  The Death Ride, for example, is not a good place to try something new.
  13. Finally, watch for subtle signs that you are dehydrated.  Dehydration will degrade your performance and failing to replenish your electrolytes can lead to cramping.
As I mentioned above, I didn't follow my plan during the last TftT ride.  I had turned my auto lap feature off and the cool weather tricked me into not drinking enough.  By the time I got to Plymouth, about 30 miles into the ride, I should have consumed both water bottles.  Instead, I had almost 1.5 bottles of water remaining.  Thus, I had only consumed about a half bottle.  I felt fine and didn't worry about the big departure from my plan.  Shortly after the stop in Plymouth, we were heading up one of the steep grades on Union Mine.  I happened to look down at my Garmin and noticed an unusually high heart rate. My first reaction was my chest strap was not aligned or the sensor was not snapped in well.  The next part of the ride was mostly descending and my heart rate quickly declined but not down to normal levels.  After thinking about this for a few minutes, the two data points clicked - low water consumption and my slightly elevated heart rate.  I was starting to dehydrate! Fortunately, I was upon a rest stop and was able to take a long break while we regrouped.  I drank a healthy portion of water and relaxed for a while.  The remainder of the ride, I was very diligent in drinking on plan and recovered from my mistake.  I was lucky.

On a final note, don't forget your post ride hydration.  A pitcher of beer at Pete's will make that ride more memorable when you share your epic effort with your cycling mates.  Hey Chris, did I tell you about my brake rubbing on the Union Mine climb?


Thoughts About Performance and Nourishment for Your Soul

This is a very lengthy post, however, I hope you’ll consider it a worthy investment of time.

As the leader of this club, I am tasked with creating and nurturing a culture for a group of more than 800 people who have a variety of divergent opinions about cycling, respect for others, the law, what constitutes "fun," what's okay and not okay, etc. It's a real challenge to find a middle ground.

Ultimately, I rely on a couple of things: "life's golden rule" and "soulful pride." When I focus on those two things, I am able to extract fulfillment that has more nutrition for my soul than if I allow myself to be nourished by adrenaline and testosterone alone.

I received a lengthy e-mail from a member who I will not name. It really doesn’t matter who it is. I simply appreciate that this person invested the time to carefully and respectfully share their thoughts about a variety of problems they witnessed during one of our rides (Miller Time, 3/26). I did not attend the ride so I cannot judge, however, more than a half-decade of club leadership experience allows me to gauge validity pretty well.

I have posted the content of that e-mail in a reply below. Our ride leaders have provided very good feedback, but I'll rely on them to post their comments here as I want to give them the opportunity to edit as desired.

My goal here is to provoke thought and highly respectful discussion. More importantly, I’d like to foster immediate change to our collective thinking BEFORE and during rides.

Speaking on behalf of ride leaders, we do our best to plan routes that are safe and predictable. We try to set the tone with pre-ride announcements that touch on safety. However, these announcements are often given the same attention as pre-flight safety announcements on a plane. Also, some members join us en route, so they miss this effort. In the end, we rely on each member who is riding that day to bring safety—and an awareness of others around them—to the forefront of their minds.

As cyclists, we naturally get a LOT of satisfaction from increases in our performance and endurance. It’s exhilarating to know that we achieved our goal of keeping up with “Jim” or “Bob” or “Monica” or “whoever” this week. Speaking for myself, after a great ride my brain keeps pumping its fist for hours—relishing its ability to command my entire physique to disregard conflicting thoughts of fatigue, aches, shortness of breath, and more, all to get me to keep riding hard and finish strong!

Frankly, each of us—and our brains—deserve kudos. Riding at the level of many CF riders is truly amazing and awe inspiring. Those of us who are committed to challenging ourselves each week should be incredibly proud. Most mere mortals can’t understand what it takes, and why we can be so proud of our accomplishments.


As a group, most of us can relate to having an “innate urge” to improve. To challenge each other with friendly competition. To push ourselves and each other while we ride. It contributes to the sense of camaraderie and support we have for one another. It creates bonds and friendship—and pride.

The problem is that the rest of the world can’t relate at all. When they see us riding down the road, they have zero understanding of the exhilaration we’re experiencing as they drive behind us. They simply see a group of cyclists that are causing them anxiety, or perhaps frustration. The rest of the world doesn't have a clue about the fulfilment a cyclist feels while waiting at a stop light after tackling a really tough hill or stretch of rollers. They just see an annoying “pack” of “people” on “bikes” taking up a lane that is meant for cars. They aren't aware of the years of cycling experience that we have as we “carefully” zip past them on the trail as they try to unwind, relax, and soak-in nature. They simply see a bunch of crazy-ass cyclists who scared the bejeezus out of them as they rode by wayyyyy too fast on a multi-use trail that is intended for ALL members of the public.

Consequently, when our focus is PRIMARILY on performance, fitness, and keeping up, we become less aware of the world around us—especially others who may be affected by our antics. We also miss a major opportunity to nourish our brain with more sustenance.


I’m not a nutritionist or scientist. The following is provided for imagery, but as with most things, there are some elements of truth.

As cyclists, most of us pay attention to our nutrition on and off the bike. We learn very quickly that eating the wrong things can have adverse effects, and eating the right things can lead to more enjoyable, fulfilling rides.

The same is true for how we conduct ourselves on our bikes. The Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is easy to forget when you’re faced with the daunting challenge of keeping up with a CF ride. But think about it. When someone you encounter demonstrates a proactive awareness of you and your perspective, is thoughtful, courteous, and respectful towards you, your natural response would likely be to act in kind. You’ll likely extend the same courtesy to them, and you’re more likely to be respectful and courteous to others who may be like that person in the future.

And, whether you know it or not, in those moments your brain experiences similar chemical reactions. It generates chemicals that make you feel good. Proud. Fulfilled. These chemicals possess much more nourishment than testosterone and adrenaline alone. The “brain juice” generated by respecting others, by being kind and considerate, and from working to ensure the safety for all, well, it also nourishes your soul. It creates a much deeper sense of pride than physical achievement alone. And the feeling lasts longer too. But here’s the BIG bonus, non-cyclists can understand this type of fulfillment. They can relate to and respect it. So you can more openly bask in that pride and feel really good about it.

Living—and riding—according to the Golden Rule is a skill, just like every other skill in cycling. It takes conscious practice. In fact, it takes more deliberate effort than any other skill because there is no pre-cursor brain chemical to promote it (i.e., adrenaline or testosterone). It requires absolute discipline and forethought. It also often requires you to lead others in the same direction.

To me, one’s ability to perform at the level of a CF cyclist while also living by the Golden Rule represents the epitome of Top Level Cycling. It’s something that is even harder to do than to simply focus on performance alone.

So how about it? Will you pack your jersey pockets with a few servings of patience, respect for others, awareness of your surroundings, caution for laws? To me, this “nourishment” is just as important to have with you as an energy bar or electrolytes. Perhaps more so.

Feel free to post comments here. Please keep them respectful and absent of profanity. More importantly, talk about this concept BEFORE each ride. Help create an awareness BEFORE each ride. Set the stage for yourself and for others BEFORE each ride. In the end, your soul will become as powerful and beautiful as your physique, and it will generate more respect from others around you.

If you’ve read everything above, you represent the kind of cyclist we want to have within Cycle Folsom. Thanks for investing the time. I really appreciate it.


Stan Schultz

[Email from Club Member]
I joined CycleFolsom in January 20XX.  I was attracted the club’s mission statement, commitment to being good neighbors as cyclists, and by the large number of riders with whom to ride.  At the pre-ride gathering for a Peloton ride on January 6th, you spoke about the importance of being good cycling citizens, singling up when cars are around, of being good ambassadors of the club and of cycling in general.  I liked that.

Before I get too far ahead, let me preface what I am about to say with a confession:  I was at least a small part of the problem I will be describing.  Today I am writing specifically about the “Miller Time” ride on Saturday, March 26th, but I have noted some of the same problems on other rides, including the March 19th TfT Union Mine/Prospector ride.  On the TfT ride I simply dropped off the back and rode on my own until catching up with a smaller and much more manageable group on Prospector.  That being said, let me lay out what I observed on the Miller Time ride last Saturday.

This first point is something that I was a part of most of the day.  I do not know how many actually attended the ride, but it was at least 30 and I heard the number may have exceeded 50.  Whatever the case, a group that large is really just a difficult-to-control mob and the ride was not difficult enough to force the break-up of the group into smaller similarly experienced groups, which would have been easier to manage.

When I am riding alone, or with just a few riders, I will slow and ride through stop signs as long as there are no cars within ~100 yards of a 4-way controlled stop intersection.  I will make a complete stop, or near complete-stop at an intersection where the cross-traffic is not controlled, depending on the traffic (or when I can’t see clearly in all directions that are controlled by the sign).

On Saturday, at most intersections the brakes were barely applied.  I am not sure what to do about this, really, because it may be more the size of the group that presents the problem than what’s being done at the front of the group.  It’s just something that makes me nervous and fearful that, at some point, we are going to be called to task for the infractions (until CA can adopt ordinances similar to those in other states regarding bikes and stop signs that allow for roll-throughs).  In addition, I then become the problem due to my hesitation while everyone around me isn’t ready to hesitate.  I do know that Placer County Sheriff’s deputies have, in the past, been ticketing stop sign runners, and perhaps it’s only a matter of time before they, or the CHP, witness our activities.  I know that if law enforcement was in sight we would stop.  We did do much better at traffic lights.

The Coffee Republic ride, aka the Chick Ride, was the subject of much scrutiny in 2009.  Blair Anthony Robertson of the Sac Bee wrote a much more effective article on the subject I am trying to convey, which you can find at this link:


I have also copied the article to a Word doc, which is attached.  Without modifications to our pack riding style, I am afraid we may some day soon be the subject of similar scrutiny.  Perhaps the only saving grace being that we are not riding the same route every Saturday at the same time and, therefore, may be harder to find. . . except they can remember the CF jerseys.

What comes into play, of course, above and throughout my note, is ego:  no one wants to be left behind, no one wants to be the slowest one out there.  Some, in fact, want to prove that they are the fastest one out there.

Enough of that, on to the next point.  One thing I have noted on numerous rides is a seeming obliviousness to what is going on around us as a group.  We tend to not pay attention to the impact of our presence.  For example, we stopped at a red light on Penryn Rd. at I-80 (see, we did stop at signals).  At that intersection is a right-hand turn lane for cars to enter westbound 80.  What we ended up doing is congregating as close to the front as possible which included taking up the entire right-hand turn lane prohibiting several  cars that wanted to make that right turn from doing so.  We could have easily cleared the lane but enough of the riders were not paying attention to the fact that they were withholding access unnecessarily.  I and a couple of others called out to clear the lane, and why, but everyone was busy talking and were clueless.

In another case of obliviousness, on the short climb on Mt. Vernon from Millertown Rd., there was a series of cars backed up behind us.  I called “car back”, and several riders ahead of me either didn’t hear me, or didn’t care, because they stayed right where they were in the middle of the lane.  While it is true that even if the riders had “singled up” it is doubtful the cars would have been able to pass us safely anyway, but these guys were out in the middle of the lane making it utterly impossible for anyone to attempt to pass and it reflected poorly on the club.

The road widens at the top of the climb and visibility improves and the three cars that had been hung up behind us were able to safely pass.  After the crest of the hill, on the downhill side, the leading car of this group of three needed to make a right turn onto Enterprise Drive.  The driver put on his right signal and then had to stop and wait as rider after rider passed him on the right (the other two cars had gone around him on the left, and I passed him on the left—which is what I would have done had I been in a car; who would have passed on the right, right?).  I did not see what the driver experienced when he approached the right turn, i.e. I don’t know if there was already a stream of riders along the right, or if he had simply done the safest thing he could do by stopping since he knew we were nearby because he’d been stuck behind us coming up the hill.

Enterprise intersects at Nevada St, where there is another 3-way stop.  Bikes were running the stop sign despite the fact that there was a car waiting to turn right onto Nevada Street from Enterprise (and there were cars in the oncoming direction).  The group was split up enough at that particular point to allow for a stop to be made.  I had slowed down and dropped off the back by that time, due to the confusion we were causing, and I could clearly see what was happening.  I did stop and let the car go through. 

That same car, however, got caught behind the pack at the signal at Fulweiler Ave. (we stopped for a red light).  Here, again, the pack was not lined up behind one another on the right, but bunched up together taking the entire lane.  When the light turned green the Prius from the previous stop sign was stuck behind us because, again, we were across the entire lane and riders were not singling up after clearing the intersection.

The next stop sign at Placer St. is a difficult intersection because it is difficult to see if cars are coming from the left until you are very close to the intersection and because it’s coming at the bottom of a downhill there is usually some speed to contend with.  We blew through this stop sign, me included, despite cars coming from the left which were close enough to the intersection to warrant a stop on our parts.  We went through at full speed.

At Union and Maple in Auburn a woman yelled from a car, “hey, you’re supposed to stop”.  One of the women in our group yelled back “we did stop!” (to self satisfying chuckles within the group).    No, we clearly did not stop and we had not been doing so all day except for the red lights.  I can remember one stop sign where we did stop—at Ophir and Wise.  To my recollection, that was it.

We had a short re-group at the Valero in Newcastle.  The whole bunch took over the station blocking any car’s ability to pull up to half the available pumps to refuel, clearly interfering with the business.   The clerks didn’t say anything, but if it was my gas station I would have been ticked.  Fortunately no cars came in to get gas while we were there.  It is the same thought as before, we simply do not pay attention to the impact our presence can have.  I know that had a car entered to get gas it would have dawned on the crowd to clear the way.  My point is that it shouldn’t come to a collective realization that we are in the way.  We have to be mindful of where we are and what we are doing at all times.  I, and two others, instead of descending into the Valero lot waited up on Chantry Hill Rd. for the folks to get back to the road.

Once we got going again, on Newcastle Rd. riders were riding as though we were on closed roads riding nearly to the center line and, for some reason, feeling the need to move up.  What is THAT all about?  All the way on Newcastle, Brennans, and AF Road, we had riders who are evidently not pleased with the pace and were clearly faster than everyone else (roll of the eyes), moving up on the left as though they are contesting for position in the bunch sprint to come.  I just do not get it.  Is it a group ride?  What is all the jostling for position about? 

Coming down AF Rd. there were several riders that didn’t think the bike lane was enough room.  Personally, I think the shoulder on AF Rd. is one of the best in the area.  Plenty of room.  There was one dude in a VW Trek jersey—one of several riders noted on Mt Vernon earlier—that could not manage to stay out of the traffic lane.  I don’t mean riding right on the line, he was wholly over it in the traffic lane.  

At Douglas and AF Road we stopped at the light and evidently someone in a pick-up truck said something about staying out of the roadway and questioned the sexuality of the riders.  One of our number, a guy in a CF jersey, I don’t know his name but I have seen him around before, picked up on it and was having a shouting match with the guy in the pick-up (across the hood of another car with two women in it).  “Come on, get out of the truck and say that” kind of stuff, for the duration of the signal.  Nothing more came of it then (the truck did not pull over after the signal), but I am sure several people will remember seeing the CF jerseys.  And, truth be told, we probably were in the road.  In fact, I KNOW we were in the road on numerous occasions coming down AF Rd.  When called out—by the woman in Auburn and the pick-up driver on AF @ Douglas—everyone seems to have collective, and selective, amnesia.  It was an embarrassment.

A woman in our group chuckled and said “I’ve never seen that side of you before”.  CF dude responded , “well he told us to stay out of the road and called us f---ots.”   Our CF friend was returning the compliment.  Thanks dude, way to represent CycleFolsom since 90% of the group was wearing CycleFolsom jerseys (I was not, I am waiting for mine to arrive).

Coming up the last rise on AF Rd before Beals Point a dude in a non-CF race jersey pushed his way up on my right, nudging me into the traffic lane.  I said “on your left”, and he said “I see you”.  So why are you nudging me into the traffic lane?  My only conclusion was he was positioning for that all-important final sprint back to FB after cresting that little hill.

I apologize for the length of this note.  As I mentioned earlier, the Coffee Republic ride was called out in 2009 over the group’s comportment and I can envision something similar happening to us.  The groups are too big, too out of control and we are asking for trouble, be it running stop signs or interfering with traffic, either of which leads to bad feelings with our biggest potential enemy—drivers and their cars.  We can be ticketed and it has happened before, particularly in Placer County (sheriff’s dep’t); or worst case, of course, there is an encounter with a vehicle or someone/thing else.

One thing I remember from the Grupetto rides, and the first time I rode with you out of Folsom Bike—be good citizens, single-up, be a good neighbor, represent well, wave occasionally, do not antagonize autos and other road users. . . we did not live up to those standards Saturday (and we did not at the March TfT ride).  

There were at least four CF ride leaders on the ride.  I do not know if any witnessed what I did or, if they did, whether they said anything or came to the same conclusions I did.  Maybe I am overreacting.  Feel free to let me know if you believe that to be the case. 

My fear is that we are going to be the focus of specific complaints and eventually censured in the same manner that the Coffee Republic ride participants were a few years ago.

Well, I have made a bunch of observations, do I have any suggestions?  I guess the only thing we really can do is be clear at the start of every ride, as you did in my first ride last month, what the expectations for behavior are and, during rides, to call out any actions that deserve mention. 

Thanks, Stan, for wading through the entirety of this message.  CycleFolsom has been a revelation and welcome addition to my cycling life.

[Stan's Reply to his E-mail]
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I understand the concern and have found myself constantly trying to build and reinforce a culture that is absent of stories like these.

While I don't want to discount anything you've stated, I know from experience that different people experience situations in different ways. I sometime share letters like these with other ride leaders who were on rides together with me, and we often have different perspectives as to what happened and why. I admit, I am probably the one who leans most toward being extremely courteous to others on the road. It makes me feel proud, like I'm fulfilling life's golden rule. Others sometimes have a bit more lenient approach. But all of us Ride Leaders truly do care about safety. Our challenge often comes from trying to calm the adrenaline and testosterone of a bunch of members who get caught up in the moment—especially if it's a beautiful day and they're feeling fast and frisky.

Since I did not attend the ride, it creates a greater challenge to determine the best way to handle it. With that in mind, I am forwarding your e-mail to the other ride leaders and ambassadors who did attend. I have removed your name from the message, as well as the references to when you joined. Truthfully, those things shouldn't matter when it comes to their assessment.

Speaking as someone who was once a normal member, I recall being called out by a few seasoned members in my early days when I made some bone-headed moved or rode unsafely. As I became more experienced, I really appreciated those who had grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and provided deliberate, candid feedback. As a result, I became more vocal about it after rides—which prompted discussion, but it was also awkward at times. I later figured out that it's much easier to try to set the stage before the ride, and then to try to reinforce those thoughts during the ride at times when I sense things are building for some bad behavior. I've had pretty good success. Other ride leaders are less comfortable doing that. I also try to get other members to take the same approach. More voices tend to shine a light on bad behavior. With that in mind, try to get comfortable calling things out if you see them. I try to do it without judgement and instead present it as, "Hey, would you be open to hearing an observation about what I'm seeing? I think there is a bit of a safety problem here." People don't always respond positively, but if they don't it usually just results in a smirk and a shrug, not an argument.

The other approach to take is to hang out with the group after the ride and raise your concern(s) as an observation without judgement or calling anyone out, and say, "Guys, today was a beautiful ride and route, but I have to tell you, I had some serious problems with the way we all conducted ourselves out there. Here are some things I observed..." Again, that will usually spark a discussion and you'll find people start to admit that they let adrenaline get the best of them. I think it's very important to be open and objective to their opinions about why they did what they did, and to try to account for their perspective about the experience.

I recognize that these approaches call for you to potentially put yourself in an uncomfortable position, but members who do it successfully help reinforce the culture of the club.

With all of that said, I'll wait to hear back from the ride leaders who were there. I'll be curious to get there take, and possibly their recommendation about how to handle it.