About Flodizzle

Another cyclist toiling away in graduate school. Go figure. Tucson, Arizona, USA

6 thoughts on “Bikers down.

  1. The thing that floors me is this waste of skin is allowed to go free after hitting 8 cyclists from behind. And after hitting 8 cyclists from behind at this point she hasn’t even gotten a ticket yet.

  2. Yep. I’m pretty sure that if you plow into a mail box, you get a felony. but a couple hoods in clown suits?

    Man, how about them apples.

  3. …amazingly fucking sad that the “the law” has so little regard for the lives of cyclists…

    …”how about them apples ???”…crab apples…sour n’ bitter…

    …just sayin’, from the heart…

  4. How is it when cars have a wreck someone is cited on the spot, but if they hit a cyclist the driver leaves the scene with nothing “Pending an investigation”?

  5. Folks, I always use these instances to remind people: Buy as much underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage as you can, particularly if you don’t have health insurance. It will cover you on your bike (usually) and even when you are a pedestrian. If you are in a group and there are multiple injuries, there is a very high likelihood the driver’s insurance coverage will be exhausted. And, in Arizona, most drivers only carry 15k in liability insurance anyway.

    My recollection is that it was UIM that took care of Jonny when he got hit from behind. It’s not expensive and bicyclists of all people really need to have this stuff.

  6. No cyclist hit from behind by a driver not paying attention (or just saying that’s what happened) shall forgive. Each and all shall live to litigate, and demand that the laws be changed, for the majority drive and the minority cycle, and that does not mean that cyclist’s life, limb, liberty are any less valuable. Civil court – make the damages so very very high. Taking away a rich person’s freedom is not the worst you can do – sue sue sue.

    I used to ride the shootout, religiously. My memories of it are a sunnier story. (hey, I don’t got no blog, can I borrow yours?) READ:

    The Shootout

    I leave my small room carrying my racing bike on my shoulder and my cleats clanging on the steel stairs ringing into the silent early morning. At this grayish brown, chilly time I mount my bicycle and very slowly ride away from the other life I live, off of the base and onto the inviting bike path. Fifteen miles per hour is effortless in this still air. The morning comes out of a still brown haze. Conserving energy as I eat a banana and a cookie, I ride mostly no hands towards the UA campus like a bee that’s dialed in to the location of the queen. I can’t wait for The Shootout – the ride of all rides, the unofficial race every week year-round-no-matter-what in Tucson. Every time I ride it, The Shootout never fails to kick me to a humble rung. It’s the best local training ride in Southern Arizona an amateur cyclist or aspiring pro wanna-be can get into. I have to admit – I’m addicted.
    A small group of brightly clad folks are arriving at the base of the campus clock tower. Some regulars like the old guy with the old Italian Masi and an American flag attached to his seatpack, and some new to the shootout like the couple on a fat-tubed aluminum tandem, sharply dressed, sporting matching jerseys and three hundred dollar cleats.
    Ralph arrives, and everyone says hi to the old General. That’s what I call him because when he talks, his tone and stature gives one the impression that he is in command. He’s the owner of Fair Wheel Bikes, the best road bike shop in Arizona, and the only Colnago dealer in the area. He rides a bike with a paint-job worth more than you would consider in the realm of sanity. His girlfriend, Sherri, is also ready to ride on a $4k Colnago he gave her.
    Ralph gives the order “It’s bike time!” and everyone heads out towards University Ave. There are about 25 of us until we get to Euclid. People start coming out from their parking spots, en-route casas, and cafe tables to add to the mass. We’re taking up a whole lane, 5 riders across with some speeding up alongside to get to the front or slowing down to niche into a spot to chum with a friend. The warm-up period is very easy and social, and people are in high spirits as usual. We all have been looking forward to The Shootout all week, some of us have been riding hard in the morning weekday group rides and training alone. We have this time in common: Republicans, greens, and democrats; supermoms, working folks, and single rich types. We forget our differences to unite for this ride.
    Hah. Not for long. They call it The Shootout because for no little reason. Once you get dropped, you’re on your own. It’s the ride where no one waits, in the spirit of bicycle racing and as a function to let people know from the get-go that it’s not a ride for newbies or the faint of body. Still, I can’t help but feel part of something so great when I’m in the back and looking up at a hill full of cyclists coming up on the intersection of Ajo Way, about 120 riders all clicking their way out of the pedals after mobbing the line at the red light. The amber sunlight crests up from over the Rincon mountains to make us a magnificent, dynamic menagerie of angles and shadows on the rock wall as we pass.
    I break off the front and ride hard for a few minutes to get away from the pack. With a sense of urgency, I pull off onto a side road and empty my bladder. The pack edges by me just as I head back to the stream of wheels and bodies, still going only 17 mph for the warm up. I edge myself into a position close to the front, where 4 other riders wearing my jersey are talking. I feel the esprit de corps among these men and women of my team: I never got that feeling in High School. I Never played on their teams. During those years I was always out riding the bicycle, alone.
    There’s Greg, a very outspoken and skinny fellow, 36 years old and a very strong climber. There’s Eric, a quietly egotistical but supportive man, a hard-edger who isn’t usually easy to talk to unless it’s a question. There’s Bill, a motorcycle mechanic who just bought a $5000 titanium bike; a smiling, friendly guy to talk to. There’s Mary Jo, a thirty-something woman with a very distinct voice and a kind, yet somewhat frazzled demeanor. Then there’s Norm – “The coach.” An older guy who still rides very, very strong and still wins the sprint often. It’s been said that he has won more races than any other amateur in Arizona. He gives advice and it’s listened to with great respect. I feel connected with Norm because I’m riding a bicycle that was built for him, he’s the same size as I. He sold me the LaBan frame and I put together a racing bike that is sweet enough to get looks from the bike snobs, yet inexpensive enough to have been frugal.
    Less talking is taking place now as the battle is about to begin. We’ve reached the Indian reservation and three guys following Jimmy Ricotello’s lead have already jumped the gun and are way up front. I watched Jimmy, the pro triathlete, whiz by turning an unusually large (looked like at least 60 tooth) chainring. The pace of the pack quickens rapidly with a resonance of tension, like the winding up of a guitar string, then slows a bit as the adrenalin wanes, causing a dangerous accordion effect in the back of the pack. Many rides in The Shootout have taught me that It’s smarter to be up front. We’re going two abreast in the core of the front pack, with more riders working hard to get in the front early. A few have already dropped off.
    It goes like this for miles on a gradual, barely noticeable climb. The group morphs and flexes with no set form, leaving a rider stuck close to the edge of the road or with riders to the front, left, right, and rear of him. Nowhere to go if something bad happens, and we’re pushing the envelope of sanity at 26 mph now. The look of pain is starting to creep up onto many of the riders’ faces.
    I just saw Dale, a teammate, swerve hard to the left into the opposite lane, pushed aside by a skittish or aggressive rider. A lot of people out today have strong legs, and the cardiovascular endurance to stay in for quite a while, but very little experience on a bicycle and/or in a pack. These idiots hit brakes first and think later, or keep their elbows stiff so when a bump takes them by surprise they shimmy with loss of control and panic. I’ve already been leaned on and tapped twice. You touch someone’s butt lightly to let you know you’re right beside them in the blind spot; you push back with your shoulder when someone tries to steal the wheel you’re on. Drafting, or “sucking wheel” is very important. Only the truly stout riders, like Gord Frazier, a Team Mercury pro rider, can stay up front “pulling” for an extended period in a furiously fast ride such as this.
    Gord trains here in the winter. Wintertime in Tucson is pretty warm, but you still get cold ears in the morning. You can tell which one is Gord because he’s wearing a team stocking hat instead of a helmet. It’s a very interesting phenomenon that a large number of professionals don’t wear helmets. One would tend to think that, because of their experience and the likelihood that they’d been in some gnarly crashes, they’d want to protect their skulls. One pro woman told me that spending 7 hours on a bicycle, day after day, makes it a comfort factor. I responded with “I’ll bet brain damage is pretty uncomfortable, too.” She also told me that some of the pack crashes that happen in pro races are so bad that you wouldn’t want to live. She was one of that frame of mind when she races. It’s a form of bushido for them.
    Filling up the whole lane on this old stretch of pavement, the motorists get angry, passing us on the left very aggressively. Oncoming traffic is infrequent yet frightening. Mostly trucks – they blast by us at a ridiculous speed sending a collective shudder through the tightly formed pack. As The Shootout’s leaders progress towards “The Bridge” I’m working hard to hang on. I’m in a great deal of pain, my lungs are on fire. A surge in speed drops even more people off of the back, and then a lull allows me to recover. I gather my strength and break away from the wheel that I was on to get a position closer to the front. That notable landmark, the bridge, is in view. We’re in an area that is being heavily mined for copper, and a strange chemical smell lurks in the air. I brace myself. To ‘make it to the bridge’ is an achievement for a shootout rider, to stay with the pack beyond the bridge is even greater. After a year of riding the shootout I had finally reached this level. Unless you waited there for a long while, once in a blue moon, you may see an unbelievably massive dump truck pass underneath, one so big that the wheels can only be carried by train, and not more than one per car, and the rest of the beastly machine needs to be built right where it is used. After we cranked up and over the bridge, there was no letting up Due to the strength of the men in front we were still hauling ass. I rode right behind Ralph who was showing obvious signs, as most of us were, of being in an extraordinarily uncomfortable physical state. Going anaerobic and Pushing it to max heart rate. I looked behind me and saw no one. In front of me was no more than twenty cyclists. Norm and Bill were behind somewhere in the chase group. Eric, Greg, Ralph, and I are the only Fairwheel riders who “made it” this time. After a brief and painful hill we were flying down towards helmet peak. Helmet peak road is the 50 mile option, to take a left and do 10 miles less. Most people do this, and then catch up with the front group on the return. The lead group goes all the way around. It was something to be proud of, going all the way around in The Shootout. At this point I had only done it four times. After Helmet Peak there’s another nasty hill, and I always blow up on it. Today, I am dead last to make it up to the top but I don’t rest, I hammer down to catch up with the rest. Gord and Jimmy decide it’s time to slow down. I eat an apple as I regain control of my torn lungs.
    We’re now in Green Valley, a sprawl town south of Tucson. Mostly retirees live here. The pavement is new on Old Nogales Highway. On the long downhill back the paceline gets suddenly incredibly fast. 40 mph and I’m just two feet away from the dude in front of me. To the left of me is the only woman I’ve ever seen make it all the way around out of my limited four times. I don’t know her name. I’ve never heard her say a word or smile. Right now she is a riding machine. When we were about a half mile from the first traffic light I let up a little, and someone was behind me. I was advised by this gentleman soon after to not “soft pedal” when I’m pulling someone. I’m still in “rookie mind” so I nod acknowledgement.
    Coming towards the outlet of helmet peak road, we start to pick up riders who made the shortcut. Norm congratulates me on having gone all the way around. I try not to think, in my state of fatigue, that we still have 25 miles to go to get to town and then I get a painful 6 more on my crawl home. The return trip gets very fast. Some of us are in echelon formation because of the crosswind. It gets incredibly bumpy and dangerous as we cruise along at 28 miles per hour. The sprint is coming up in a few miles. Eric is talking about strategy. He wants to get me into the sprint but I’m not trying to hear about it. After some thought I decide to get myself pumped up for whatever I can do. The plan is to break off and follow Gord when he jumps, then let him go and see if he gets worn out enough from hammering alone to lose the sprint. Gord is known as an amazingly strong hammerhead and climber, but his sprint is slightly less astounding on his off days. So I get excited when Gord passes right by me and I just happen to be very close to the front. I jumped onto his wheel like a hungry dog. I pushed harder and harder. I felt like nothing could slow me down. I was locked into one single objective – stay on this guy’s wheel. I didn’t have time to look but I knew that Eric and Norm were right on mine, which added more initiative. After about 30 seconds of this I watched helplessly as Gord’s wiry legs gracefully sped up their cadence and he simply rode away. He was, the whole time, in a somewhat relaxed position, hands on the tops. I lost the draft advantage and slowed down to 25. I realized I was blowing up hard, for the third time today. Still, when Eric and two others caught me I hung onto this small group in the back of the echelon, refusing to rotate to the front and pull once, then again. When the rotation came to me and the seconds lapsed, Eric looked in my direction and I just looked down and shook my head, breathless. I was hurting bad.
    The sprint happens every week in the same place: when we get close to the 45 mph sign. And, I swear, sometimes a rider approaches the posted speed with freakish strength heading for that goalpost. I find deep within me a last ounce to give, finding myself in the front for just a few seconds, then suffered an internal blowout as Norm, Eric, Jimmy and five others pass me right before we get to the sign. Norm was first in the sprint about a wheel after Gord. During a short recovery session we clumped back together and started bullshitting again. Eric congratulated Norm on his masterful passive/aggressive strategy in sling-shooting his way into the sprint. What a master. A master’s champion.
    “No heroics until the moment.” He replied. Mary Jo told me I did good and the usually stoic Eric said I helped in the sprint. I was happy to hear the compliments, but my exhausted mind was returning to the coffee, bagel and good conversation that always happens after The Shootout when we get back to University Boulevard. Let the cool-down begin.