Monthly Archives: August 2012

OYJ Petaluma ride report: Cyclist versus car

Since the hospital ER bays are separated only by curtains, we could clearly hear the ER doctor telling the man’s family that they had been doing compressions on the man for 25 minutes and had given him meds.  The doctor explained that they were running out of things that they could do and that it didn’t look good.

Jason and I were doing great, however.  I had had my xrays and was feeling much better.  We were pretty sure that the xrays would be clear and we were really just waiting to be released by the doctor.  Despite the dire situation occurring nearby, the doctor soon came and released me.  He warned me that my right shoulder would probably take longer to heal than I expected and that I might need some physical therapy.  I didn’t really believe him.  My shoulder hurt a little, but it did not seem that bad.  When we left, they were giving the cardiac arrest patient his third dose of epi as his family watched on.

Garmin trace showing ambulance trip

Of course, I hadn’t turned off my Garmin when I crashed.  I didn’t even know what had happened to my bike, but they had put it into the ambulance with me and the Garmin dutifully recorded the trip to the Petaluma Valley Hospital.

The OYJ (Oakland Yellowjackets) Petaluma ride is a great ride.  It goes over Joy Road and climbs the east side of the Coleman Valley Road wall.  The route then goes up the coast to Jenner, before returning along River Road and Bohemian Highway.  The official route has a bunch of climbing at the end, but we decided to cut out the final climbing and take the flatter way home.  Often on this ride, people cut out the jaunt up to Jenner and eat in Monte Rio instead.  I love Jenner and I wanted to go to the mouth of the Russian river to look at the seals.

To Jenner via Joy and Coleman

Don Mitchell and Jim Swarzman died in separate incidents after having been hit by cars.  Their deaths were awful.  Neither death should have happened at all.  There was absolutely no excuse for either incident.  I could go on and on, but the incidents were too upsetting.

Jack Holmgren, tired of having his friends killed, has embarked on a safety and high visibility crusade.  As part of this crusade, he gives lectures on how to be visible while you are cycling.  He also organized a mass buying of a high visibility neon-orange, day-glow vest with reflective tape on it.  In addition to the reflective tape already on the vest, Jack sewed large reflective tape on to the bottom of each vest.  When you lean down, the very reflective orange tape will still be visible.  “Moonbeams,” he called them.  People donated money in Don’s and Jim’s memories to Jack for him to buy the reflective tape.   I had bought one of these highly reflective vests with the Jack Moonbeam treatment and had been wearing the vest on my commutes.  Saturday’s ride was the first time I wore it on a regular ride.  Jack says that when cyclists are hit by cars, the car drivers say “I didn’t see him (or her).”  He argues that we owe it to Don Mitchell’s and Jim Swarzman’s memories to be as visible as possible.

Mavic vest without the special Jack Moonbeam treatment.

As I lied on the ground with a woman (an off duty nurse) holding my head to prevent me from moving, I could hear the woman who had cut me off, saying over and over that she hadn’t seen me.  At the time, I was happy that she was there.  I was happy that she had stopped and had not left the scene.  I was happy that she was upset that I was hurt.  Alexis told me later that she had been angry at the woman for going on and on about not seeing me as I lay there in my bright orange vest.

Moreover, I was happy that I was not seriously injured.  When the car had cut me off, I had not been able to see a way out.  I thought that this was it- this was going to be my bad accident and it was going to hurt a lot.   However, I was able to slow down the bike a lot more than I thought I would be able to and while my right arm hurt some, I knew that I was going to be ok.

The incident was not only witnessed by my husband and my friends, it was witnessed by an off duty deputy.  There were two off duty nurses at the scene.  I do not know how they could have gotten to me so fast.  As far as I can discern, I collided with the car and instantly this woman was there holding my head and telling me not to move.  The EMTs arrived immediately.  The policeman (David Gilman) who came and talked to me in the ER was very nice and helpful.  The woman who hit me did not leave.  She was loud and upset and she called 911.  The nurses at the ER were nice and the doctor was unhurried, nice and informative.  The XRay tech was great, very friendly and he made me very relaxed. Everyone at the Petaluma Valley Hospital was great.  Next time I crash, I want to do it in Petaluma.  As Jason drove home, he remarked about how great everyone was and that we should move there.

On Saturday evening, I was on a bit of a high.   I was so relieved that I had not been worse hurt.  I have moved past that stage and am currently a little annoyed that I cannot lift my right arm.  It does not hurt much, but the arm is weak and it lacks mobility.

I am also very upset that the vest made with “Moonbeam” reflective tape bought with donations made in Jim’s and Don’s memories still did not prevent me from getting in this type of incident.  I would not have been as upset if I had been wearing another high-vis item, but the wearing of this particular vest for the first time on a ride and still getting hit in this manner makes me unreasonably upset.

I stole this picture from Willy’s facebook site. It shows Willy (wearing the hat) and Don Mitchell.

Picture stolen from Chris Kostman of AdventureCorp

I am glad we went to Jenner.  I love Jenner.  The cafe is great.  Jason and I split a chicken sandwich, but not any ordinary chicken sandwich.  It was a chicken sandwich on focaccia bread with red pepper compote.  It was sooo yummy.  We  also split a hot chocolate to ward against the lingering fog and we sat outside watching the wildlife on the Russian river through a glass screen that protected us from the wind.  We listened to live music; a reggae singer was preforming.  It was one of those perfect moments that occur regularly on bike rides.  All the senses are delighted, you are surrounded by friends, and you sit there and think about how lucky you are.

After lunch, we rode up to see the mouth of the Russian river.  We saw a bunch of seals and two otters and that was nice, too.

Day three! Touring in Oregon: Crater Lake

Crater Lake

On day three the prescribed course was from Fort Klamath to Mosquito Lake  (better known as Diamond Lake) via a trip around Crater Lake.  To get EFI credit (every fabulous mile), one also needed to do an out and back to the pinnacles.  Michael did not want to go completely around the lake or do the out and back to the pinnacles.  Instead we went part way around the lake and then retraced our steps, in order to stay next to the lake the entire time.  Michael’s goal was to be the lantern rouge and he did not care about EFI credit.

Route around lake without out and bak to pinnacles. We did not go completely around lake.

Altitude! and steep at times!  Oregon roads are gently sloped and beautifully maintained.  The gentle slopes are lovely on a tour, since you can always just go slower if you are tired.  However, I am better at shorter, steeper climbs and I liked having something to sink my teeth into on this day.

I never remember this stuff when I get home, so I took a picture. However, “crater formed by volcanic explosion” really is not that hard to remember.

Wizard Island

Mosquitos preyed on us as we rode and every time we stopped.  I got 9 bites on my ass.  The little suckers bit me through my shorts.  I got bitten as I climbed.  They saw me and thought “she’s not used to the altitude- let’s go get her,” and they chased me down and sucked me dry.

Crater Lake, blue rim, and me

I love my blue rimmed front wheel with purple nipples.  The purple nipples create a lovely purple haze that delights me and cheers me up on gloomy days.

Mary, Diane, Michael, me, Andrea. Picture by Steve Rogers.  I am not really that short. 

Diane could make this very loud seal barking noise.  She first demonstrated it on this ride.  At first, the noise was really quite annoying, but after a couple of weeks, it grew on me and I found it amusing and somewhat endearing.

“Take a picture of me by this snow bank!”

I was so excited to see snow.  I scoured the landscape, looking for a snow bank in order to have my picture taken in front of it.  Poor Andrea took this picture.  She hadn’t even had a moment to catch her breath after climbing a somewhat longer than expected and steep hill (at altitude), when I accosted her, shouting orders at her to take my picture.  I have been living in California so long, that I now find snow exciting.  I am glad it does not snow where I live.  I thought of my friend Charleston as this picture was taken and thought about how much he hates the cold.  I was happier than I look.

View looking away from the lake. I should really know what these mountains are, but I don’t.

Imagine a lot of loud seal barking noises being made as this picture is taken.

Crater Lake, clouds, and pollen

I grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia and my fifth grade teacher went on a trip to Crater Lake.  She treated us to a lecture and a slide show of her trip.  As a kid, the west coast seemed a world away and an impossible place to ever go, but I wanted to actually see the lake and I never thought I would.  I was very happy to have had the opportunity to see it.

Crater Lake and peaks

View from our camp site at Mosquito Lake (Diamond Lake)

The campsite was not as mosquito ridden as I thought it would be.

2010 Census: Please, please understand me and make me count

I wrote this article in March of 2010.  Jean, my neighbor, has since died.  

During the 1990 census, my aunt was asked to fill out the long census form. I am not sure what the long form asks now, but in 1990 it asked a lot of questions about type of housing: building types, size of building, indoor plumbing, heat, electricity, water, etc. The longer form also asked more detailed questions about the inhabitants. It queried regarding occupations, health, disabilities, education, methods of transport to and from work (biking, walking, carpooling, mass transit?), etc. I want to fill out one the long forms. I want to be more than a number, sex, race, and age.

I want to be described and understood. However, even with the long form, my apartment is not exactly exciting. It is typical- nothing unusual or interesting. A number would probably describe it adequately. (I would, however complain about my lack of central heating.) I might simply have to lie. “I live in a wigwam that is off the grid and has no indoor plumbing. The wigwam, however, does have central air energized by the manure-powered generator out back. I live part of the year here, but for 2 months I live in Sweden, 1 month a year in Morocco, and each July I take a month long retreat on Minnesota, focusing on fly-fishing and meditation. I have several vagrants hanging out in my front hall closet until the rain stops.” I have never been offered the long form.

I am not sure what the long form is asking these days. Do they still ask about carpooling, buses and whether you are on the grid? Are they now asking about internet access and phones? “Do you or anyone living with you have a Twitter account?” I am curious about internet access and how many people actually own computers. I think having a home computer with an internet connection is akin to having a diamond ring- a fun luxury. Being a little on the overindulgent side, I have both. However, so much of life these days seems to be done over the internet and not having home internet access now would be a large hassle (as opposed to a diamond ring, the lack of which leads to no real inconveniences at all). Many businesses and services act as if everyone has easy access to these expensive items and services. I wonder how many people actually do.

When I lived in Baltimore, people lived in run down condemned houses with lead paint, no heat, no water, and no electricity. Houses burned down regularly from the kerosene heaters people used to heat themselves. Now everyone I know has a cell phone. I seem to be further and further away from the squalor these days. I wonder if everyone in Baltimore now has a cell phone.

My husband has one of those handheld computer phones. The cost of running one of those things for 2 months is equal to the cost of a dinner for 2 at Cesar’s. I would much rather have the dinner at Cesar than 2 months of email going to my back pocket. The point is not quite valid, however, since my husband’s email still does go to his back pocket and we go to Cesar’s a lot more than once every 2 months.

I am going to try to find the Irish/English/Portuguese/French/German/etc box on the form. One of the doctors at my work asked me about my ethnic background and I said Irish and Portuguese (my answer for this question varies depending on my mood.) He replied “oh- a fiery combination.” I don’t think anyone has every described me as fiery and my husband was highly amused by the descriptor. The census form, however, offers me only “White,” which is hardly descriptive either. I think I prefer fiery, however inaccurate the adjective may be.

My neighbor came over to my apartment this morning and gave me my census form. I am apparently an 85 year old Chinese woman with very poor hearing and poor understanding of English. She mistakenly filled out my form. (Actually a kind neighbor filled it out for her.) She also filled out her own census form, so we have double the number of old Chinese ladies living on my floor and my husband and I are clearly absent.

She was given the regular short form, too. She keeps catching her kitchen on fire and I think we are going to have to insist her stove be turned off soon. She forgets that she is cooking and then goes off for a nap. She is just getting old and is forgetful. The census questionnaire doesn’t have a box on its form for that either.

Day two! Touring in Oregon: Ashland to Fort Klamath

79 miles. Ashland to Fort Klamath

It has been two weeks since the completion of the Oregon cycling tour and I haven’t unpacked yet.  However this morning, I finally hung my tent up on the balcony  to air out and dry and then decided to write up day 2 of the tour.

It rained overnight, so everything was wet and clean in the morning, except my chain, which was slightly rusty.  Michael was the last person to get his stuff on the truck, so he continued to meet his goals.

I had never actually packed up the tent on my own and it is a task at which I do not excel.  Jason packs everything up tightly and gets all the components onto a teeny tiny sac.  He has figured out the best and most efficient way to pack the tent.  “Follow the fold lines,” he instructs.  I loosely folded the wet tent in the air trying not to get it more dirty and paid no heed to fold lines.  By the end of the 2 week trip, I simply stuffed as much as possible in the sac with no time wasted on any silly folding process.  Every time I packed up the tent, I could feel Jason’s disapproval.  When Jason and I were first together, he, with disapproval in his eyes, would watch me pack my own clothes and then he would unpack everything I did and repack it “correctly.”   After about 20 years, Jason decided that doing everything himself was more work than having me do things not quite right.  In general, I could be said to have won.  Our apartment is a disaster.

We left camp a little after 8 am and arrived at the restaurant with pie at 0930.  The little cafe was full of cyclists and 3-4 of them were already drinking beer.  I thought it  a little early to be either drinking beer or having another breakfast, so I asked Michael to order me a hot chocolate (with whipped cream) and headed off to the bathroom.  This restaurant has amazingly slow service.  I believe that only two people were working there: the cook and a very pretty female teenager who served.  I really didn’t want to miss my opportunity to order the hot chocolate, since who knew when my next ordering opportunity might occur.  Michael, of course, forgot my hot chocolate.    I was annoyed and Michael was annoyed to be causing disappointment.  “You should have known I wouldn’t remember and not have trusted me.”   Michael got over his annoyance of having been forced to disappoint someone, by realizing that the missed hot chocolate order gave him a chance to go and talk to the pretty teenager again.   He gleefully ran off after the pretty girl and placed my order.

We were at this stop for what seemed like hours, but we eventually did hit the road again.  The roads were beautifully smooth.  I don’t think that I have ever ridden on roads that aren’t full of pot holes.  It was a nice experience.  The cars were very polite, since being polite is an easy thing to do in such a sparsely populated area.  Much of the trip was in tall trees.  I appreciate trees in theory, but I am fond of large open vistas and I was really happy when we came out of the trees into open ranch land between the mountain ranges.  A yellow street sign along this stretch warned of “congestion.”  The congestion consisted of 4 farm buildings.

View from the top of the climb out of Ashland

Trees and smooth pavement

congestion ahead

Ashland got a huge quantity of rain after we had left.  Everyone, but Mary, enjoyed a completely dry ride.  Mary got drenched.  It rained in Oakland.  It never rains in July in Oakland.  We however, lucked out and I arrived dry and happy with my unused rain jacket.

I liked the camp grounds.  I was awoken again and again by the howling of wild dogs (coyotes?) and that was kind of cool, too.

Response to “lost art of the group ride”

Last year Peter Wilborn’s article lamenting the current state of group riding was spread about the country through a variety of cycling list groups and facebook postings. I first ran across this article when a fellow club member posted it to the Oakland Yellow Jackets email list and the poster agreed with the article and also bemoaned the current stated of club riding.  I responded with the following letter, which I am reposting here.

Begin quote:

I have several issues with the yellowjackets group riding habits and people who know me will be familiar with my rants.  I like riding in groups and I like the yellowjackets, but I prefer not to paceline with them.  The advanced group vacillates between being aggressively fast pacelining or chatting pacelining.  The aggressively fast version is often hostile and unfriendly game playing, not simply fast.  We would be faster if we were behaving in a more efficient manner.  During the chatting pacelining, people are simply not paying enough attention to the road and other riders and is dangerous for the obvious reasons.  However, if that is what the group wishes to do, then that is what we will do.  I will just ride off the back.

Despite these reservations, I have received a huge amount of support, information, skills from other cyclists and continue to do so.  I do not think that the art of a group ride is lost.  I have learned so much from other people and still do.  I am very thankful for the cyclists, with whom I have been lucky enough to ride.  These people are still around; they didn’t disappear 10 or 20 years ago.

I spent Sunday riding with my friend Jack.  Jack is like the color white; he hits every frequency.  He is constantly irregular.  His speed varies greatly and he often coasts, though at irregular but very frequent intervals.  You try riding 100 miles with him and not become a more attentive cyclist.  Despite these quirks, Jack is a great cyclist.  He has put down about 10,000 miles a year for the past 10 years.  He knows a lot and you can learn a lot from him.  He is friendly and interesting.  The route I rode this weekend is one I would never have known about or done.  He figured out the route and did the reconnaissance.  It was 111 miles of beautiful roads and not a foot of “junk miles”.  We actually had a stream crossing.  Jack wanted to cut out an ugly and slightly dangerous section of road (dangerous due to boat trailer traffic).  He found the site of an old, now missing, bridge and we crossed a stream by foot at that point.  The route was unbelievably pretty and the roads had almost no traffic.  It was one of my favorite rides ever.  I would never have done this route on my own and I am very grateful for knowing Jack and for him inviting me to do this fabulous ride.  I don’t recommend pacelining with Jack, but he has many other redeeming qualities and my world has been broadened by knowing him.

I ride weekly with a gpc group.  Bob is a font of knowledge about rides and routes and riding with him is great.  Mark is my favorite wheel.  He is the most constant and steady wheel I know.  I do whatever Mark tells me to do and that policy hasn’t lead me wrong yet.  He has been helpful to me in both hints on how to be a better cyclist and by demonstration.  He has been very supportive of my cycling and I am grateful to know him.  Michael, my regular partner in crime for during-the-week short rides, has also been very supportive and enthusiastic, introducing me to other groups.   Riding with this group has made me a better cyclist, a faster cyclist, and a happier person.

Despite my complaints about the yellowjackes, I love riding with them.  The group is full of people I like and respect.  Alexis, Chrissie, and James immediately come to mind.  However, I would like to especially thank Charleston, who literally taught me how to be a cyclist.  Other than Jason, my husband, Charleston has been the most supportive of my cycling.  Charleston is also one of the smartest cyclist I know.  He reads traffic well, he picks good lines, and he is constantly paying attention to the situation and environment.   He was very kind to me when I first started cycling and I will always be thankful to him.


Group ride: Duros West without Bob, our fearless leader. Alpine Dam. Me, Michael, George, Mark, Sabi