There’s No Time Like the Present

This won’t be a long post because I simply don’t have time.  May is a busy month for work, personal events and let’s not forget cycling.  The biggest thing is the re-launch of this, the Bike Friendly Plano blog.  Keeping people who cycle in Plano informed since 8:20 this morning.  The idea is that you will wake up every Friday and Monday with something fresh and enlightening regarding the world beneath your pedals in Plano.

There is a lot going on this month:

Well here is the first thing: GO VOTE!  – there is a General and Special Election that will make a difference to you both in terms of leadership and infrastructure.  Pay attention who will be running our city because it will make a difference to your future as a someone who rides a bike.  The bond elections are also important to improve our infrastructure and while I am in favor of all of these propositions, the improvement of our parks and trails is singularly important.

There are a great number of opportunities to ride your bike in groups, if that is your thing. I admit, I do like like group riding and here are some events that you may want to investigate:

MS150 – May 4-5
PBA Spring Century – May 11th
Ride of Silence – May 15th
Ride to Work Day – May 17th
Wild Ride – May 18th

The National Bike Challenge kicks off this month and runs through August.  It’s a great way to track your miles, let others know that we Americans ride our bikes — a lot and set some goals.

I’ll update this later with Hyperlinks and such but for now, I have to run to go help with MS150 setup.  There’s no time like the present to get out and ride your bike!  It’s a beautiful day, seriously, go ride your bike!

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Bike sign

The motorists think that cyclists are a rare and odd breed.  Look around and you’ll notice bike sign everywhere.  Notice how many cars have bike racks.  What about bumper stickers?  Those USAT (triathlon) stickers are cyclists.  The 26.2 stickers probably aren’t cyclists but the 70 and 140 stickers are.  How about “Share the Road” plates?  Sometimes the car itself doesn’t reveal the cyclist but as the sun catches the tinted windows just right, you see the pampered steed riding inside the air conditioned cabin with it’s master.

Watch the buses.  There are more and more bikes on buses, sometimes two on one bus.  When you pass a transit center, notice the bike rack.  Pay attention to how many people you pass riding bikes during your commute.  You’ll be surprised.

As a regular commuter, I’m always pleasantly surprised to see tire tracks that aren’t mine left somewhere.  Particularly when it’s through a puddle which means that the tracks are recent.  Damn, now I have to pick up the pace and catch them.

When I’m talking with strangers or standing around people in line somewhere, it’s interesting to notice the tan lines from helmets or gloves.  Unfortunately, that’s also a sign that they should use more sunscreen but let’s face it some people just look great with a tan.

We’re out there but sometimes hard to spot.  Not all cyclists are three-headed aliens, sometimes it’s that nice-looking person standing right next to you.  You just have to look for the bike sign.

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Riding a bike is fun

Fun comes up a lot lately with regard to riding.  There are two upcoming events that have “fun” in their name: The Plano Fun Ride and the Frisco Family Fun Ride.  The Frisco Family Fun ride is first on July 24th from 8 am to 10 pm and is targeted toward families with young kids.  The event is a half mile loop with festival activities and exhibits. The Plano Fun Ride on August 7th,  benefits the Relief Nursery of Collin County and is a traditional bike ride with routes from 6 miles to 62 miles.  Both will be fun events.

It is very easy to over-engineer a bike ride.  The local club has a bazillion rides and a sign-in process and leaders and sweepers.    They are obsessive about signals and pace.  Many riders go through their personal obsessions regarding what they wear and how their bike is maintained.  It’s “Fred” to do otherwise.  All of this can also be less fun.

The typical club or fitness rider, must get on a certain type of bike with a certain type of jersey, shorts, helmet, socks, shoes, headband, sunglasses and gloves.  The tires must be pumped to 110 lbs of pressure, the ride must be 50 miles long and average 18 mph.

When was the last time you just hopped on a bike early in the morning and just went for a ride without caring how far or how fast?  Maybe hooked up with a friend or two without a predefined route.  Now that is fun.  You sprint to a sign 100 yards away, see who can hold a track stand the longest.  Somewhere along the way you turn down a road just to see what is there.

I like group riding and organization is necessary for this to be successful on a weekly basis.  We need rules and structure to be safe.  As individuals, we need to allow ourselves to have freedom and not let the rules and structure box us out of having fun.  Break the mold once in a while and go on a ride that doesn’t push yourself to the max.  Socialize and have fun while you ride.

Participate in the Frisco Family Fun Ride on July 24th at Frisco Square or the Plano Fun Ride on August 7th at Jasper High School and have fun!

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Do I really want to poke a hornet’s nest?

As I was on my evening commute from work, I moved one lane to the left to leave a right turn only lane.  I looked back and there was plenty of room and the closest approaching car was a ways back and in the third (far left) lane.  For some reason, he didn’t like me in the middle lane and made a point of yelling all about it to me as he drove by.  At the time the light was green but it quickly changed and he had to stop and I was one car back in the next lane.  Various scenarios were rushing through my head.  I could simply slide up and say “excuse me, I couldn’t hear your pathetic rampage.”   I could be a little more belligerent,  a LOT more belligerent, profane . . . I could also do nothing at all.

I was on Independence at 15th heading North at about 7:00pm.  Not prime rush hour, I didn’t delay this guy at all.  Sure a couple of people queued up behind me at the light but they cleared me in about 10 seconds after the light went green.  I’m not one of those stubborn, I have a right to the road cyclists, I will give up a route due to heavy traffic volume and I am not too proud to take to the sidewalk, if that is the less stressful path to where I am going.

I will ride this road again.  Someone who was there at that stop light last night will pass me again.  Maybe even the guy who yelled at me.  Do I really want to be notorious on a vehicle that is perhaps 1/10th of 1 percent of the mass of theirs?  If I had gotten into a confrontation with that guy, I would have been memorable in those people’s minds.  What happens when they start to view me as a threat rather than an inconvenience?  I want to be recognized for what I am, another person on their way home from a long day at work.

I chose to do nothing.  I will see these people again and I don’t want them to remember me as the cyclist that went off on a motorist.  They won’t know that the motorist yelled at me similar to a sports official who only sees the retaliation, not the original foul.  I want them to see me and remember me as a competent, predictable and hopefully happy guy who regularly and purposefully rides his bike.

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A great place to ride

There are lots of bike friendly community blogs out here on WordPress.  They are apparently loosely and mostly not at all associated from what this writer can tell.  I can tell you that I am not at all associated but I like the concept.

“What concept?”, you might ask.  I’m glad you did because the title itself is ambiguous.  Is it commanding Plano to “bike friendly”?  It could be a statement that Plano is bicycle friendly.  Or this might be a blog that is friendly to biking in Plano.

It is all of the above.  Bicyclists in Plano have great infrastructure from trails to bike shops to clubs.  We have a great plan for bicycles in Plano and mostly good weather to ride (although today isn’t great at the moment – it’s raining).  People who bicycle in Plano tend to be some of the most friendly people you could want to meet.

Bicycling needs to become a greater part of the infrastructure for our future.  To that end bicyclists must take responsibility and “bike friendly”.  That doesn’t mean motorists and others don’t bear responsibility but bicyclists can do more for themselves by riding responsibly than they ever will by retaliating to the actions of a few motorists.  We gain more friends with smiles than frowns.

There is a lot that goes on in and around Plano regarding bicycling than most of us ever know.  That includes most of the cyclists.  Maybe I can keep up with some of that and find the time to announce events and find the entertainment in what is going on.

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