Category: Cycling

Open Letter to CBC re: the Seattle Brews Cruise

Dear Cascade Bicycle Club:

I was shocked and extremely disappointed to read today that Cascade Bicycle Club is hosting the Seattle Brews Cruise – a ride that promotes drinking during the ride. Part of the reason I support the club is its ongoing efforts to ensure its rides are safe and promote cycling safety in general.  Not only is this event in contravention of these goals, it explicitly encourages unsafe riding behavior. As such, I would like to request that Cascade Bicycle Club rethink whether the club should hold the event as planned.

You might be thinking, “Aw lighten up already! One beer can’t hurt. Our riders know their limits and will be responsible.” The trouble is statistics say otherwise. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 28% of all cyclists killed in 2009 had a measurable blood alcohol level. That bears repeating, more than a quarter of all cycling deaths involved alcohol consumption by the rider. Only 24% of the fatalities involved a BAC in the rider of .08% or higher. That means a rider doesn’t have to be legally impaired to increase his/her risk of death. On the contrary, a bicyclist’s risk of a crash begins to increase significantly at 0.05% BAC and climbs rapidly after about 0.08%. To put it succinctly, when a rider is only a pint or two down, the odds for a bicycle crash go up – sometimes way up. One study showed BAC over 0.10% increased injury risk tenfold.

The risks aren’t just related to cycling deaths either. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine shows that risk of injury also increases.Alcohol, bicycling, and head and brain injury: a study of impaired cyclists’ riding patterns, found that among the 200 patients studied “[a]lcohol use showed a strong correlation with head injury” and that, “[i]mpaired riders were less experienced, less likely to have medical insurance, rarely wore helmets, were more likely to ride at night and in slower speed zones such as city streets, and their hospital charges were double.” The study’s conclusion is unambiguous: “Alcohol use leads to a host of unsafe bicycling practices, increased head and brain injuries, and costs to the cyclist and community.”

What strikes me is that the risk of head injury and costs to the community are the very reasons cited for helmet wearing. And yet, the club has blatantly chosen to ignore these risks as it promotes behavior that impairs riders’ motor skills and judgment before they throw a leg over the bike.

The club discourages the use of headphones, riding on sidewalks, disobeying traffic laws, riding in a paceline if you aren’t trained to do so, and riding without a helmet – all because these behaviors compromise rider safety. Alcohol consumption is no different. It compromises rider safety and should be relegated to its proper place as a worthy post-ride celebration. Please consider canceling the Seattle Brews Cruise or at least canceling the mid-ride beer stop.

Finally, it strikes me that this type of ride could lead to legal trouble for the club. I’m not a personal injury lawyer and am not offering specific legal advice in this area. I’m just raising the red flag. If the club actively encourages behavior that it knows to be unsafe and someone is injured or killed as a result, could it be liable for gross negligence or wrongful death? Does promoting an activity that the club knows to be dangerous constitute grossly negligent behavior? Will the club’s waiver hold up if the club is found guilty of gross negligence? If you decide to hold the event as planned, it would be worth consulting an attorney about the club’s potential liability in the event of an injury or death. I would prefer the club spends its legal budget on creating positive change for cyclists, not on defending against avoidable lawsuits.

Thank you.

The rest of the story

The dog bite I showed you on 10/28 was a pretty defining part of my weekend in the Methow, but really it was only a small part. Without further ado, the rest of the story…

On Friday evening, Nick and I high-tailed it out of town and headed over Washington Pass for two days of fun with John, Eileen, Sean and Susan. Despite the accumulating snow, we made it to Winthrop in time for a beer and mushroom burger at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery. Stephanie greeted us warmly with a  “welcome back guys” and we raised a pint in honor of great beer and the wonderful weekend ahead.

The other four rolled into our condo around 10 p.m., having stopped in Arlington for dinner on the way. We chatted until our eyes wouldn’t stay open and then drifted off to sleep, dreaming of happy trails.

We woke in the morning to clouds, but no precip – a great sign! After a leisurely breakfast, we headed out to Pipestone Canyon. There was some confusion about exactly which route we were going to ride. Two trailheads later, we were off…on the WRONG trail! Oops!

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In our eagerness to get going, we inadvertently rode up Fuzzy Canyon, not Pipestone Canyon. No big deal really. We rode back to our cars and found the proper trail up Pipestone Canyon to Cambpell Lake. About 2/3 of the way there, sleet started falling, which turned to snow the higher we got. We weren’t really prepared to bike in these conditions, but we were going up hill, our exertions keeping us warm. After a short sandwich break at the lake, though, we were on the way to hypothermic and still had to ride 4 miles downhill back to the cars.

Nick and I were hammering down the road as fast as we could to try to warm up. Just as we got to the trailhead, the two women we’d passed earlier and their dog came into view. The dog was pretty big – a heeler mix of some sort, probably 45-50 pounds. We slowed down and the dog loped past Nick, then me. Seemingly out of the blue, it whipped around and started chasing me. Before I knew it, the thing chomped my thigh and raced off to see if Nick would be a tastier treat. In an inspired  moment of brilliance (or fear) Nick took his foot out of the pedal and kicked the dog square in the face. After the owner finally got the beast under control, I pulled my pants down to check my leg. Yup, he got me.

The owner was very apologetic, but I was so hopping mad that I had to tell her to please go away for fear I’d punch her or say something I’d regret. She wandered up the road and I doubled over, wailing. I don’t think the tears were about the bite. It was painful, but not that painful. I cried because my faith in dogs – which had slowly been coming back after being corned by a couple – was destroyed. I cried because I couldn’t imagine someone with a herding dog being so stupid. I cried because my body had been violated.

With tears streaming down my face, I pedaled in anger all the way back to the car and hightailed it the shower to wash out the wounds. The other four pulled in a short while later and plied me with scotch. There’s pretty much nothing that the right amount of scotch can’t fix. We took a quick trip to the Twisp Brewery, made a heaping pile of pad thai, broccoli and fixins for dinner, then headed to bed to ready ourselves for another day of riding.

On Sunday, Eileen and John cooked up a huge batch of bread pudding for breakfast. This was good, since our poorly-researched ride on Virginia Ridge involved getting lost for a good long while on very steep trails that seemed to go up for hours. At more or less the top, we were greeted by a wild mountain rooster. He had some pretty sharp looking spurs, so I kept my bike between him and me. (Didn’t want to add rooster talon injuries to the dog bite.)

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The best thing about getting back to the cars around 2 p.m. is that there’s plenty of time for another meal at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery. After that we still had time for a leisurely drive home with stops for picture taking along the way. Except for the dog bite, I’d say this was a pretty fantastic weekend.

I’ve had better mountain bike rides

This what a dog bite looks like ladies and gents. Stupid mutt got me through three layers of clothing. No matter how much you like to think dogs behave, they are unpredictable animals with Big. Pointy. Teeth.

Ever heard of someone being fatally mauled by a domestic short hair? Nope. Me neither.

Update: The dog’s vet verified today (10/29) that the dog is up to date on his vaccinations. Next stop, the doctor…to make sure I’m up to date on all of mine! In the mean time, the bruise has blossomed into an unreal color of greenish purple.

Tenth Anniversary S24O

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Nick and I got married ten years ago, Our honeymoon involved seven amazing (and challenging) days of biking from Telluride, CO to Moab, UT. It was only fitting then that we celebrate our 10th anniversary on bikes! We joined two friends – Jamie and Gary – for a three-ferry S24O adventure to Port Townsend. This was our adventure:

MBO 2012

I have a confession: I think mountain biking is only okay. Given a choice between mountain biking and climbing, I’d pick climbing every time. That is, until I visited Oakridge, OR last weekend. Nick and I were there for Mountain Bike Oregon, a three-day dirt riding event. The idea is to show up with your bikes, and someone else takes care of everything else. And they mean everything – camping, food, shuttles, beer!, food, shuttles, and beer!

By the end of the weekend, I’d fallen in love with mountain biking. How can you not when the trails are relatively smooth, there’s always more descending than climbing, temps are in the 80s, and there’s always a frosty beverage at the end of the day to soothe the aches and pains?

Each day we loaded our bikes onto cargo trucks and hopped on a school bus which took us to the start of the day’s ride.

I mentioned that the trails were in great shape. Did I mention that sometimes we had interesting “obstacles” to negotiate?

Nick was much, much faster than me. The great thing about the event, though, is that you always have someone to ride with and someone to share your PB&J with.

The beer garden in the evening is a hoot. All ages are welcome!

More importantly, you could race to win a Niner mountain bike frame. Neither Nick, nor our friend James did as well as they hoped: