Goodbye Gary…

Gone but Remembered: Gary Johnson

 

Gary Johnson passed away last week. He was a long time member of the Stockton Bicycle Club and a regular on club rides. He was also a great friend to many people and a mentor to lots of neophyte club cyclists. He was both to me.

When I first started riding with the club I really couldn’t keep up with anyone. Gary would wait and make sure I knew the route and give me someone to ride with. When I finally got strong enough just to keep up with him I felt like I had really arrived as a rider. If Gary hadn’t been so nice to me I might never have become a cyclist, never ridden in Europe, never had a VO2 test (sorry about the tech speak), and never gotten a tandem to ride with Diane. Believe me, riding that tandem is special for both of us; we’re going to do it in France next summer. Without Gary’s mentoring who knows if any of that would have happened? Or if Diane and I would have ever met some of the wonderful friends we found riding our bike?

I always enjoyed carpooling with Gary, especially to out of town rides. He was great company. He was also the kind of guy who would offer to pay for his share of gas without being asked. And he would offer more than was fair. I wouldn’t always take his money, but when he offered to buy my lunch sandwich I would say ok.

He made a hobby of buying and selling very high quality used bikes. He probably ‘test rode’ more high quality framesets, components and wheel sets than anyone outside of the bicycle industry. He would occasionally bring a ‘new used’  bike to a ride and claim that this one was so nice he would never sell it, but he always did, eventually. It was an adventure watching him unload his bike at the start of a club ride; you never knew what he was going to unveil. But it was sure to be a stunning cycle purchased at a great price and available for sale if it fit you, which it usually did.

But what Gary was really wonderful at was helping new riders. A first time ride with a bike club can be an intimidating experience for newbies: everyone seems to know each other, and everyone seems strong and faster than you are. But Gary would saunter up and say hi, make some small talk, introduce himself and a few other people to the new person and try to make him/her feel relaxed and among friends. He would wait for new people who got behind to make sure they didn’t miss a turn or get lost, and sometimes he would ride with them at their pace even though he was strong enough to be out front. My first club ride did not go especially well, and I went home and told Diane there was no way I could ride with the club; they were all too strong. But I went back for a second try some months later, and Gary made sure I had a good experience. That started me down a path I never would have anticipated; cycling ended up becoming a major part of my life, and Diane’s too.

I’ve probably ridden over 30,000 miles with him over the last 14 years, and enjoyed at least that many laughs and smiles and cycling stories. Another of his friends estimates that they rode over 100,000 miles together. But there will not be any more of those miles. The bike club will continue but I doubt Gary will ever be replaced. Or forgotten either.

 

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“Who steals our purse…

Gone but not forgotten

 

Takes trash, ‘twas ours, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

But he that flinches from us our CoMotion tandem;

Takes that which not enriches him,

But leaves us poor indeed.”

With due apologies to Shakespeare, I know two very nice people who have been left ‘poor indeed’. Al and Cindy are fellow Stockton Bicycle Club riders and, like Stoker and me, they ride a tandem. And this summer they have been riding a whole lot, training for a 100 mile ride along California’s Hwy.1 from Carmel to San Simeon. 100 very hilly miles too, and anyone who has ever driven that road knows. But they finished that ride with big smiles at the post ride party.

On Saturday they did the Foxy 100 km ride in Davis, and when they returned home in the early evening they decided to leave their tandem locked to the roof rack top of their car since they were going to drive to Linden for the club ride on Sunday morning. They live in what seems a very nice and safe neighborhood in Lodi, the bike’s front fork was locked to the roof rack, and the front wheel was locked inside the car. They probably didn’t even consider that someone would break a lock on a quiet residential street in an upscale neighborhood to steal a tandem that didn’t have a front wheel. They were wrong. The next morning the tandem was gone, and neither they nor their two dogs heard a thing.

Smiles stolen too

I have suffered through having a very nice bicycle stolen, and it is an awful feeling. At least I had another nice bike and I could still ride. But almost nobody has a spare tandem, so Al and Cindy are not going to be able to ride together for quite a while. And this is a shame; they have been riding extremely well this season and they seem to have at least as much fun as Stoker and I do. They certainly have been doing more riding and more difficult rides than we have, and Cindy is always smiling no matter how hard the hills get.

For most cycling enthusiasts, their bicycle is more than an expensive toy or tool. We spend so much time on them, and create so many memories riding them, that they become part of what we are. For a tandem couple who are also a married couple, this process takes on even more significance; the bike is part of what WE are, a metaphor for our life together.

Stealing anyone’s bicycle should be a felony, but ‘flinching’ a tandem should be a capital crime.

 

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Testing; 1…2…3…

I'm not declining; I'm just as mediocre as ever!

… or perhaps 2…8…0…?

I’ve been writing about some of my friends and fellow club riders who have become much stronger during the last year. The Editor went from non-climber to 5 Pass Death Ride Finisher. Red Shoes Eric climbs away from me when a short time ago it was the other way around. Bionicbabe and Doug were inducted into a Hall of Fame for completing 50 (!) double centuries; 200 miles in one day and within the time cutoff.  People are setting PR’s on Strava segments and doing epic rides and tours.

I was starting to think that not only were lots of people getting better, but I might be getting worse. And although I had a great ride up Mont Ventoux in June, I really haven’t done anything notable since. No centuries, Death Rides, PR’s or epic tours. I haven’t felt weak, but I haven’t felt really strong either. I’ve been in a kind of cycling rut.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to miss the Saturday club ride because I needed to help Stoker prepare for a big party we were co-hosting that evening. But I did have time for a two hour early morning ride from our house, and I decided to do the dreaded 20 minute ‘Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test’. The FTP test is an excellent measure of cycling fitness and would give me some idea of whether or not my performance had deteriorated.

The FTP is ‘dreaded’ because doing it correctly really hurts. You do a good warm up, with a couple of 1 minute all out efforts to get the lungs going. Then you find a stretch of road with no stop signs and few turns and light traffic. You can do this test on a climb as long as there are no downhill segments, but a flat course is ideal. The idea is sustain the highest constant power you can for 20 minutes, and you want the pacing to be as even as possible; the power you generate for the first 10 minutes should be close to the last 10, and by the end of the test you should be close to exhausted.

After the test you use your power meter data to determine the average power for the 20 minutes. Then you take 95% of this number; this is your FTP. You use the FTP to set up training zones if you want to take a systematic approach to getting stronger, or at least keeping the fitness you have. Of course you could follow Eddy Merckx’s advice about how to get better: he said simply “Ride a lot!” But I’m betting if power meters had existed in Merckx’s day he would have used one.

I’ve done 4 FTP tests over the last 3 years, usually one in late spring and one in early fall. All of those tests came out in the 275-280 watt range for the 20 minutes. The last was in April 2013, and I averaged 280 for that one. So I was kind of surprised when I looked at the data after last week’s test and found I averaged 289 watts for the 20 minutes. And my pacing was pretty good; 292 watts for the first 10 minutes and 287 for the last 10 minutes. Surprised and satisfied; this is my highest FTP test ever.

So I guess I’m not getting any worse. And if/when I do start to deteriorate as a cyclist (more like ‘when’; I’m not getting younger) my power meter will let me know exactly how much.

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Tail Gunner

Stoker's Dog Deterrent

 

After Saturday’s hot ride in the hills, on Sunday Stoker and I decided to do a completely flat and relatively short ride from home. From our house there are quiet country roads in all directions and we found a nice 32 mile loop without any back tracking required. Or stopping either; traffic was so light that we never had to put a foot down once for the entire 2 hours of riding.

As we turned off of Cox Road and onto the delightful east end of Baker Road (lovely shade and smooth as glass pavement), Stoker reached down for her water bottle, even though she wasn’t thirsty. She was assuming her role as tail gunner.

Cyclists complain about aggressive, distracted, or careless drivers. But on a quiet Sunday morning in the Linden area countryside, we are much more likely to have an incident with man’s best friend, who is not always so friendly toward cyclists.

The most serious injuries ever suffered by one of my riding friends were the result of a run in with a dog. Paul was descending Chili Camp Road behind another rider, something he has done dozens of times. No one had ever seen a dog on this stretch of road, but suddenly one appeared and chased the rider in front of Paul. Then the dog suddenly veered in front of him and stopped, and Paul crashed hard. Some crashes are at least partly the rider’s fault, but not this one; Paul was riding safely and there was absolutely nothing he could have done to avoid this except not be on his bike. His injuries were serious but thankfully not life threatening, although he had to endure several days of hospitalization and a long recovery. If he had not been wearing a helmet he might have had severe brain damage or even died. You have been warned.

Stoker was pulling out her bottle because a few weeks back we were chased by a fairly aggressive barking dog along this stretch of road. Every cyclist has their own method of dealing with these unrestrained and uncontrolled animals. Mine is to yell ‘Bad Dog!’ loudly enough to strain my vocal cords. ‘Go Home!’ is another verbal defense. I actually got bit while riding once, badly enough to require 6 stiches.  So I really put a fortissimo effort into it. One thing I learned from that bite; if you can’t outsprint the dog and he gets close to you, stop pedaling, and if necessary dismount and try to get the bike between you and the mutt. Dogs will snap at your pedaling legs because they are in motion and resemble a rabbit or squirrel that they want to catch.

Another good technique that usually stops the dog in his tracks is to spray water at him/her. When I’m riding my single bike this can be a bit of a trick; the dog is running beside me and barking and I must steer with one hand, avoiding him or any other riders around, while reaching down to grab my bottle from its cage and shoot a stream of water his/her way. But on the tandem Stoker is in charge of dog deterrence tactics and this allows me to keep both hands on the bar and (hopefully) keep the CoMotion under control. She was taking no chances and arming herself in anticipation of an encounter. Her preparation proved unnecessary; the dog did not appear.

Bruiser's Twin plays 'Chase the Tandem'

On this Sunday spin, we did meet a dog on Walnut Road accompanied by two young kids on a skateboard and a scooter. We approached the big bounding German Shepherd cautiously, and Stoker got her bottle ready. He wasn’t at all aggressive but he did lope along beside us for a while, a little too close and unpredictable for comfort. Diane asked the kids his name and they said ‘Bruiser’, which was not exactly reassuring. Eventually we were able to get past safely and ride away without incident.

Stoker and I love dogs, and anyone who follows us on Facebook knows how our dog Luke owns his peoples’ hearts. But sometimes when we are out on our bike we wish some dog owners would take the county leash law seriously.

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Heat in the Hills

The jerky wasn't the only thing getting dried out; cyclists were too.

By the end of Saturday’s ride, the jerky wasn’t the only thing dried out.

Despite consuming a couple of bottles of water, a bottle of Gatorade (as opposed to gator jerky), and a Coke over 4 1/2 hours of riding, I was pretty near dehydrated at the finish. A cold bottle of water and a can of V8 helped revive me on the drive home from Ione, but before I stepped into the shower I weighed myself and learned that I had lost about 3.5% of my body weight despite the post ride hydration. I’d like to hold this down to 2%, but sometimes it is just too hot for that. The body can only absorb so much liquid, and beyond that excess intake can contribute to GI distress. It has happened to me, most recently in France last June.

Other than the heat, which was pushing 100 for the last 1 1/2 hours, the ride was very entertaining; an excellent route and some good company. Only 6 of us took on the long ride, a 65 mile loop (with 5100 feet of climbing) out of Ione that passes through Plymouth, Fiddletown, Volcano and Sutter Creek. The Cast of Characters:

Steve N, aka C2K, our club president and double century veteran. For him this is a short ride.

Dr. Paul, physician to several club members and also a long ride aficionado. He doesn’t ride with the club too often; most of our rides are too short for his taste, and our long breaks waste valuable road time. It sometimes seems like he has seen 1/2 of San Joaquin county as a patient; as we were putting our bikes away a patient of his who was out on his motorcycle stopped to say ‘hi’.

Roger, aka ‘Thor’, so called because of his size and strength. Roger is a medical marvel. He had a genetically defective heart valve, a very serious condition. But last summer some incredible medical care replaced it with a cow’s valve and it functions perfectly. In fact, some of us wish the doctors had used a slightly narrower valve to reduce his power somewhat; Thor is a hard man to keep up with.

Eric the Red Shoes is a club regular and a rider I used to be able to leave behind, especially on climbs. No longer; Red Shoes has lost weight and trained hard and leaves me behind whenever he wants. He was out front on the entire 15 miles of the Lockwood climb.

Alex is an enigma. He is a very polite man and he always calls me ‘sir’ despite my efforts to get him to stop. He dresses warmly even in delightful weather and appears unaffected by heat. He goes long periods of time without riding with the club, or even riding at all; then he suddenly appears and picks up riding strong as if he never stopped.

Alex had some very bad luck on Saturday; while descending Rams Horn Grade his front tire blew out as he was negotiating some steep downhill hairpin turns, and he crashed. I only saw the aftermath; he was on his feet and claimed he was fine, even though his knee was badly scraped and bleeding and his arm and shoulder looked severely bruised. He did finish the ride but I’ll bet he is quite sore today. Very bad luck; Alex is a good and strong rider and fine bike handler, but a flat front tire while descending can really ruin your day.

Except for the crash, six of us had a delightful time. It didn’t even seem that hot on the long climb, but when we paused at the summit, sweat stopped evaporating and started accumulating on my arms and forehead, indicating I was losing a lot of fluid. The salt crusted on my helmet straps were further proof of that. I didn’t feel really great in Volcano, hence the Coke, which is a rare mid-ride beverage for me but sometimes is the best thing. The bubbles can sooth a queasy stomach and the caffeine provides a little lift for the final 25 miles.

The road along the creek down from Volcano back to Sutter Creek is known to be shaded and cool but on Saturday afternoon it felt like an oven. So out on the road from Sutter Creek back to Ione, where there is no shade at all, the oven was turned all the way up to broil, which is what we did. We didn’t hang around too long for post-ride gab like we usually do. I put my bike away, got a cold bottle of water from the ice chest I packed that morning (I knew I’d probably need it), and got the car’s AC cranked up to try to cool down. And after a refreshing shower I took C2K’s advice and planted myself on the couch watching football. And not eating gator jerky.

 

 

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Treasure Hunt

Everything I need except a corkscrew!

You never know what you might see when you are out riding your bike. On Tuesday’s ride I saw a tarantula, and came within a couple of feet of running over it. The creature looked huge, at least 3″ long. I had never seen one on our local roads, but some of the Valley Springs residents I ride with assured me that tarantulas are around and visible at this time of year.

Tuesday was my 5th consecutive day on the bike, which is more than I do unless I’m on a tour someplace. Friday was a hard ride with a power meter, Saturday was a moderately hard ride,  and Sunday I rode the tandem with Stoker, which is fun but is never really easy. Then on Labor Day I did the club ride, which one participant described as ‘briskly paced’.   After these four efforts  I decided to ride the regular Tuesday retired persons ‘coffee and conversation’ ride at moderate speed and not get involved with any Strava PR chasers.

So while I was spinning easily about 6 miles from my car, I happened to look down and see something metal on the side of the road. I doubled back and picked up a really nice tool. It turned out to be a Leatherman Rebar multi tool. It felt like a high quality implement, solid and weighty, and when I went online I discovered that it sells new for around $60. The one I found was in great shape, and I added it to my cycling discoveries tool chest.

Over the years I have stopped to pick up a pocket knife, a couple of screwdrivers, a wood chisel, a hammer, a 30 foot tape measure, and some open-end wrenches and an eight-inch adjustable wrench. Those are the ones I recall; there are probably more.

Tools are nice, but money is even better. Alas, my luck in this regard is limited. But Stoker urgently asked me to stop the CoMotion on a side street in Ione last week. Although completely mystified as to why we needed to stop, I did so, and she bent down and picked up $16 in US money! Coffee is on us!

Another time I was riding with Gary J in Lodi, and just in front of City Hall he stopped and found $5. That got me to looking around and about 30 feet further up the road I discovered another $25. I gave it to Gary because without his initial find I wouldn’t have noticed the cash; he offered to split it but I insisted.

When I’m riding in a group, or traffic is heavy, or I’m speeding down hill, I give my full attention to the road. But in quieter moments when not much is going on around me, I keep my eyes peeled for unburied treasure.

 

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The Route Not Taken…

On Saturday our club ride schedule had three options, all starting in Ione. The first was only 21 miles to Sutter Creek and back; no one did that. The second was to Volcano and back, 45 miles, skipping the climb up Rams Horn Grade. No one did that either. The longest option was 65 miles (and 5,400 feet of climbing) to Pioneer and down to Jackson via Tabeaud Road; 6 riders (me included) took that option.

It often happens that our scheduled club ride gets modified depending on who shows up and how far they want to ride, or what the weather is like, or simply on a whim or spur-of-the-moment decision to do something different. So it isn’t too surprising that about 10 riders decided to add Rams Horn Grade before returning to Ione. That another 7 members decided to head for Cooks Station is unusual: that is a nice ride but requires doing about one mile on Highway 88 that has no shoulder and lots of traffic on a beautiful Saturday, which this day was. But these 7 had good reason; they were riding support for someone who certainly set two SBC records on Saturday; heaviest bike and longest alternate ride.

Ben is a young man who really likes to ride. And camp out. He started in Pittsburg (PA, not CA) and rode to Portland, then down the Pacific Coast and into Lodi, where he spent a few days with Russ and Sandy; SBC riders and friends of his parents back east. He showed up at the Ione start to begin his journey toward home, and Russ and Sandy were going to do the first 40 of those miles with him.

Ben and his Freightliner: Next Stop Denver!

Ben rides a touring bike which weighs at least 45 lbs. By contrast, our club riders’ bikes are mostly 16-20 lbs., with a few traditionalists mounting steel frames with old school leather saddles that weigh around 23 lbs. But even these behemoths are about half the weight of Ben’s Clydesdale. By the time Ben put all his gear into his panniers the total weight had to be approaching 75 lbs. This is about 2 1/2 times what our tandem weighs, and there are two of us pedaling! I do not think there has ever been a bike this heavy on a club ride. I seriously doubted I could even ride the thing from Ione to Sutter Creek, never mind across the country.

Ben was starting in Ione and heading to Denver (!). He was hoping to get over Carson Pass that same day and stop to camp somewhere on the east side of the pass. This is carrying the ‘alternate ride’ to an extreme level, and no one accompanied him over the Sierras.

I’ve done many ‘cycling tours’ but I am not a touring cyclist. I don’t use panniers or saddlebags to carry stuff; that is what the support van is for. I don’t camp out or cook; that is what hotels and restaurants are for. But Ben seemed pretty happy and relaxed and confident as he set out to continue his great adventure. And if I ever meet him on a ride when he is on a normal bike, it will be a real short meeting before he disappears up the road; anybody who can ride that beast over the Sierras and Rockies is going to drop me without breathing hard.

 

 

 

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“Recreational in nature..

…and intended for the enjoyment of all participants.” That description of Stockton Bicycle Club rides is in the informational paragraph that precedes our monthly ride schedule. It has been there for years, certainly for the 15 years I’ve been an SBC rider. In other words, a Stockton Bicycle Club ride is not a race. Until it is.

No question, some parts of nearly every SBC ride are ridden at a pretty furious pace. And we try to drop each other or out-sprint each other or get to the top of a climb ahead of somebody. When I went to see Doctor Testa (Max the Magician, who my readers have already met) he asked what kind of riding I did. I said I didn’t race, I did solo spins and club rides. “But that is a competition” he said, and he is 100% right.

Strava has taken this ‘not a race until it is’ aspect of our club rides to a new level. For non-cyclists, Strava is an ‘app’ that takes data from a GPS device like a Garmin or a smart phone and records the rider’s times on designated segments. Each segment has a leaderboard of the fastest times, and uphill segments reward the fastest with the title King (or Queen) of the Mountain (KoM). When you achieve a new personal best time on any segment, you are rewarded with a personal record (PR).

My friends think I’m a gadget and cycling data guy, and they are right. Power numbers, training zones, gradient of climbs, miles, calories, whatever, I’ve got numbers for them.  For some reason I haven’t yet joined the Strava bandwagon. But several of our club regulars have, and the quest for new PR’s or KoM’s or simply to move up the leaderboard on some segment provides new motivation to ride hard.

Yesterday’s club ride featured two Strava segments on the Paloma Road climb up to the water tank. This is a wonderful quiet road that is uphill for almost 5 miles. The gradient is not severe, and Stoker and I can do it on our CoMotion tandem without any problem.  It is possible to go slow and savor a road like this, but not if one is chasing Strava PR’s. So yesterday a few of us rode this road as a ‘race’.

Eric (Red Shoes) was out for Strava blood, and the Chief was very motivated since he had both the club president C2K and vice president (yours truly) in his sights for pacing purposes. Both Eric and the Chief set new PR’s. I didn’t have a PR to motivate me but I didn’t want to get too far behind Red Shoes, and I did stay ahead of the Chief and C2K .

The Chief sets PR's, 70 is the new 50.

 

Red Shoes Eric is another of those stories about a rider who lost weight (20 lbs.) and got strong. I used to be able to drop him on any climb, but last week climbing up Stoney Creek Road I simply could not match his pace. And yesterday it was the same. Don’t you just hate it when someone goes from trailing you to dropping you?

Actually I don’t. I think the friendly competition that occurs on our rides is a good thing as long as none of us takes it, or ourselves, too seriously. That is mostly the case. So ride on Red Shoes, I salute your achievement as I watch you disappear up the road!

 

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Power to the People…

The Editor goes 5 for 5

…or at least to The Editor.

A few years back The Editor (aka Don B.) started riding with the Stockton Bicycle Club. He was a strong rider on flat terrain but he was a big guy (read ‘overweight’) and couldn’t climb at all. After losing 30 lbs. over the course of a year of careful, disciplined eating and increased exercise including cycling, he is no longer a big guy. And last month he completed all five passes of the Death Ride in the Sierras;  129 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing. In one day! So he went from not being able to climb at all to climbing everything in sight.

The Editor plans to use the same disciplined approach that achieved all this to get even stronger.  And for some reason that I cannot remember, I agreed to loan him the most effective device for cyclists who want to improve, a power meter. Why I wish to help someone I already have difficulty keeping up with get even better is a good question, but I have done so.

Remember a few months back I wrote that speed and distance were not good ways to see how hard a ride is? I wrote that what mattered was how hard you rode, and for how long. Your heart rate gives you some idea of this, but a power meter measures you actual effort in watts. Wind, gradient, road surface and presence of other cyclists all affect your speed, but the power meter factors all that out. 250 watts might be 30 mph on flat ground with a big tail wind, or 4 mph laboring through the 20% sections of Pacific Grade; the effort is the same.

The Picture of Painful Progress

This information is invaluable for cycling improvement.  A power meter allows you to target the intensity of your training with precision and observe progress with objective data.  The photo is a sample of what one of my interval workouts looks like when the data is uploaded to a software program. Seeing your effort displayed in the diagram is satisfying and quite motivating; I want to finish the workout even when it hurts (and it does hurt) so I can see the pretty picture.

The technology used to be prohibitively expensive and only the most elite pros used it, but prices have come way down and now many enthusiastic amateurs can afford this valuable tool. I’ve been using one since 2005 and there is no question I have gone from ‘weak rider’ to ‘slightly less weak’ rider.

The Editor seems to be a numbers guy (he majored in Finance, I think he mentioned once). And we know he is disciplined and motivated. With this device  and the information it provides who knows what additional progress he can make? I may come to regret giving him tools and help he really doesn’t need, but I don’t think so. When he drops me at least I’ll know the power it took to do so. Accurately too!

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Hear No Evil..

Great on an airplane, a bad idea on the bike.

 

… and not much of anything else.

I tried to introduce myself to a new rider on Saturday’s club ride, but he couldn’t hear me. He was wearing ear buds.

Lot of riders do, although relatively few on Stockton Bicycle Club rides. Our club kind of frowns upon the practice. Some very strong and competent riders that I know listen to music while riding. But in my opinion doing so is a terrible idea. It is bad enough on solo rides, but on group rides, where we regularly communicate with each other regarding traffic (“Car Back!”) or road debris, doing so can actually put the entire group in danger. Wearing head phones makes it harder to hear the riders behind you and beside you, and makes you less aware of their position. And the music makes it harder to detect cars overtaking you.

Some riders tell me that it is ok, since they only listen with one ear. But I would like to meet the person who can hear an approaching logging truck while riding into a 20 mph head wind with one ear dialed into classic rock. Suppose I missed Stoker’s request to stand up, or get a drink, or stop for a wardrobe adjustment because I was listening to the Queen of the Night hit those impossible high notes? That would not be good for tandem team harmony.

Really, is cycling not exciting enough? Avoiding cars and potholes and glass a little too boring? Trying to keep up with the bunch and not get dropped so mundane that you need some audio input into your brain?

The quiet, beautiful hum of a well-tuned and lubricated drive train, the smooth swish of tires rolling over the tarmac, and the gasping of my breathing as I watch riders disappear up the road; that is plenty of music for me.

I almost always refrain from suggesting riders remove their ear buds. I don’t want to upset anyone. But if you are reading this and you regularly listen to tunes or books or whatever while riding, at least consider not doing so when other riders are around. You might even get to hear someone introduce himself and perhaps make a new friend.

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    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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