This ride report by Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassador Dave Theobald
After participating in a number of organized gravel rides this summer, I decided, on a lark, to race while the weather was still warm (September 30th). The event I chose was “The Crippler” — 67 miles from Canon City to Cripple Creek and back on gravel and 4WD roads. Arriving literally a minute before the start, I found myself uncomfortably at the center-front of the starting line. My immediate race strategy thus became how to sneakily progress (backwards) to the middle of the pack. I found my legs and rhythm and gratefully the top of the climb. After a fast descent with blind corners and big trucks, l finished fast and happy! Somehow, I officially have two results. I prefer my first result: 10th place, but am terrifically satisfied with my second: 20th place.
Dave Theobald is a Senior Scientist at Conservation Science Partners. Learn more about his work: https://www.csp-inc.org/about-us/core-science-staff/theobald-dave/
More on “The Crippler”: https://www.myjourneyracing.com/the-crippler-2018.html
This ride report by Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassador Kurt Sable
So what is Grinduro? A bike race? A century? Mountain bike? Gravel grinder? Road Bike? It is all of these things plus bacon and whiskey at the rest stops and Big Foot sightings along the way, and a load of fun on two wheels. Lots of focus on your ‘ride to party ratio’.
I just participated in one of the two Grinduros in the world in my rural hometown of Quincy, California on the last Saturday of September, (the other one is in Scotland in July). It was quite amusing to hear exclamations from other cyclists as horses and deer ran along the road while we were rolling out. Many of the 1,000 or so riders come from more populated areas and I felt proud that folks were amazed at the natural environs. Not to mention, I work as a hydrologist for the Plumas National Forest and we were riding in my “office” for most of the ride.
I wore my awesome CSP/Southwest Bike Initiative kit to represent during the event and got to chat with people while grinding up a 15-mile, 3,500 ft. climb at the start.
How could I chat? This is part of the brilliance of Grinduro. Like mountain bike enduros, only segments of the ride are timed; between timed sections I could just ride and take in the pure mountain air and views at whatever pace I wanted. In mountain bike enduros the timed segments are usually the downhills. What is unique about Grinduro is that the timed segments are incredibly varied: a 1.1-mile uphill gravel road climb, a 6-mile fast descent on a gravel and dirt road, a 6-mile rolling paved time trial, and, last but not least, a 3.5-mile single track decent. All of these timed segments are peppered along a 62-mile route of mixed surfaces (dirt trails, gravel roads, paved roads) with 7,700 of total climbing. The big climbs are on dirt and gravel and quite steep in places.
Instant and common topics of conversation include: What bike? Should you use a mountain bike, a road bike, or is this event a good excuse to get a new gravel bike? What tires? How much tire pressure? And after the ride, how much dirt is on and in one’s body, and how many flats did you get? And, did you get a flat during a timed section? We definitely could have used some rain before the event – there was a lot of loose dirt and dust.
There has been a ton of great media put out there about the event. These folks provide a flashy and witty take:
Stepping back from Grinduro, I wanted to mention the role events like these have on small rural towns.
The event is organized by Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS), a non-profit organization based in the Northern Sierra. They have been brilliant at partnering with the Forest Service, local counties, local schools, and the State Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Commission to authorize projects and get money to build and maintain sustainable trails. They are mostly a mountain bike group, but they embrace all trail users. They organize events, run trail shuttles, have a bike shop in another rural town, Downieville, CA, and organize many trail events that attract volunteers from the pool of local and out of town trail users.
They employee a trail crew, bike shop and other staff in our rural communities, and reportedly pay a good living wage.
Quincy is primarily a timber town and still has an active lumber mill. Like much of the rural west, the population has been declining and unemployment is relatively high. There are a lot of reasons for this, but since the trails and events have come to town, there has been increased activity in downtown. Newly opened businesses include a book store, an outdoor store/bike shop, a brewery, and a new café. You often see bikes on vehicles from out-of-town parked outside these businesses or in front of our awesome food co-op, Quincy Natural Foods.
The trails and biking are certainly providing a small but real boost to our local economy and it helps locals see another use of the surrounding forest that is not extractive.
I have seen local kids out riding on the trails starting to fall in love with biking and they want to be in Grinduro someday.
Some may say “be careful what you wish for” and that we will have an influx of wealthy folks driving up our real estate costs… but I say we are far from that for now. So come on up to Quincy and lets go for a ride, or be poised by your computer when the registration opens for Grinduro and come have some bacon during a very memorable fall ride in the Lost Sierra.
The bike movement, which was accustomed to being a little movement, hasn’t necessarily figured out how to be a part of the broader landscape of social change. –“Bike Advocacy’s Blind Spot“
Southwest Bike Initiative is about increasing and expanding the positive impacts walking, cycling, and great transit add to our lives. To do that, we have to open up the dialogue and see how sustainable transportation benefits and fits into the fabric of our whole communities. To grow the relevancy of cycling in particular, we have to build a coherent, united bike movement first. That’s why the new partnership between USA Cycling and the League of American Bicyclists is exciting.
USA Cycling is the national governing body for the sport of cycling in the United States, and the League of American Bicyclists is a nationwide bicycling advocacy organization. By formally uniting efforts, they are recognizing how integral all the different aspects of cycling engagement contribute to growing the movement. Cycling is a holistic activity that brings together so many elements of what is important to upbuilding human lives and communities. But so often we separate out cycling into categories such as “transportation” and “recreation” even though that is not really how it works in our daily lives. In reality we know cycling is both transportation and recreation, and often simultaneously. Think of cars, for instance, which are driven for commutes and recreational purposes. Cycling works the same way. And just like cars, bicycles are also about design, art, expression, desire, in addition to being very useful mobility technologies!
And that is where I think we are going with the cycling movement. It reaches way beyond cycling! It is about seeing every form of human movement as integral in our transportation systems, and understanding transportation’s impact on our lives together. The larger question is how we adapt our mobility technologies to meet our needs without imposing undue costs on ourselves or others. Bicycles show us how to use mobility technology as a technology of contact that deepens our engagement with health, our surroundings, the well-being of the whole environment.
In this way cycling is a primer on how to behave in the travel environment. Bicycles lend themselves to teaching us how to travel respectfully in the context of everything else we need in the places we live, work and play. Cycling activates our senses. We tune in. It connects us. Cycling teaches us how to manage vehicles in balance with our vulnerable human selves, our animality, our emotionality, so that we feel connected with our surroundings, and our own inherent mobility powers. Learning to drive bicycle vehicles teaches us how to use all kinds of transportation, including motor vehicles, in a lower-impact, kinder and more sensible fashion. Cycling helps us learn travel skills with respect for ourselves and others. Sharing the road is about coordinated movement. The skills we learn through cycling can be applied everywhere.
Uniting the cycling movement is a beginning for uniting citizens in the public realm which serves as our transportation environment. This is where we begin to see we are really no different, and learn how to better interact with each other. It is not about one particular use or only one way of moving, rather it is about people being free and learning how to live with dignity, so we feel like we are not just moving through, but are here to stay. It’s about belonging and feeling good about our lives and the prospects for our children’s future. The cycling movement is leading the way.
References and resources:
USA Cycling and the Bike League join forces: https://www.bikeleague.org/content/usa-cycling-and-league-announce-partnership
The opening quote is from an article in City Lab that asks good questions about how the bike movement can include more people and address social inequalities. https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/07/is-bike-infrastructure-enough/565271/
Lots to think about regarding how cycling knowledge, skills, and practicing a more sustainable transportation culture can be building blocks for reaching UN’s Sustainable Development Goals:
From my personal blog, here’s an attempt at discussing movement as a metaphor for change, and weaving together a more sustainable world: https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/cycling-and-walking-to-get-our-bearings/
…pedestrians are 2-3 times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup truck than when struck by a passenger car…The higher risk of fatality associated with being struck by an SUV or pickup also applies to a vulnerable population — children. In a study conducted by Columbia University, school-age children (5-19 years old) struck by light trucks were found to be twice as likely to die as those struck by passenger cars. The risk was even greater for the younger set (ages 5-9); their fatality risk is four times greater from SUVs and pickup trucks than from passenger cars. –Detroit Free Press, “Death on foot: America’s love of SUVs is killing pedestrians”
Although the title of this story from the Detroit Free Press oversimplifies the cause of the rise in deaths of people who are killed while walking in America, the story is very substantive, probing the complex causality associated with traffic safety for pedestrians. The type of vehicle we are driving is a factor, but so is street design, driver awareness, driver training, vehicle mass and speed, and traffic culture. One factor the article doesn’t address is exposure. We don’t know how much people are walking or cycling because we don’t measure it systematically, like we do cars.
The good news is there is a lot we can collectively do to make our roads safer. New York City reduced pedestrian deaths nearly in half in four years with a combination of enforcement targeted at driver behavior, lowered speed limits and training for cab drivers. Other cities such as Seattle have implemented ‘road diets’, also known as ‘right sizing’, to calm traffic and improve conditions for people walking and biking. NHTSA (the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration) is planning to overhaul its vehicle-safety rating system to include a new score for pedestrian safety. There is global innovation happening around designing vehicles to protect the safety of people outside of them, including modifications of the vehicle shape and material composition, as well as implementing new technologies such as automatic braking. Creating great transit systems can be one of the most effective strategies, so people don’t feel like they have to drive, especially higher risk driving populations like elderly and younger people.
This is a monumental opportunity to advance traffic safety and take on the challenge of making transportation greater. Designing healthy places is crucial for supporting public health and wellness and economic productivity. The best way to get exercise is by integrating it into our daily routine, and nature has designed human beings with the mobility powers for getting ourselves where we want to go. Buildings are wonderful and often the focal point of some of our most talented designers and architects, but the places in between–that circulatory system of paths, trails and roads–is the architecture connecting our worlds together. Reversing the trend of dangerous roads means designing places that inspire us to use our own powers, and interact with a reverence for life, offering people the freedom to choose the healthiest means to get where we want to go.
We are facing a global crisis today […] because of how our ethical systems function. Getting through the crises requires […] understanding those ethical systems and using that understanding to reform them. –Donald Worster, “The Wealth of Nature”
Credits and Resources:
The graphics, leading quote and most of the data are from this article: https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2018/06/28/suvs-killing-americas-pedestrians/646139002/
The Mid-Region Council of Governments of New Mexico (MRCOG) has been working on a Regional Transportation Safety Action Plan: https://www.mrcog-nm.gov/transportation/technical-services/safety-analysis
The New Mexico Department of Transportation has adapted a Road Diet guide:
The New Mexico 2040 Plan has goals to “provide multimodal access and connectivity for community prosperity” (goal 4) and “improve safety for all users” (goal 2), and goes on to say “Walking is an essential mode of transportation and a component of nearly every kind of trip…NMDOT will seek to make pedestrian mobility safe, enjoyable, and convenient…”
more info. here: http://dot.state.nm.us/content/nmdot/en/Planning.html
The Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) is active in New Mexico:
Here is my superstition: When you focus on creating more good things, you get more good things; When you focus on solving problems, you get more problems. —Jing Zhang, May ITE Journal, “member to member”
As we develop a national bicycle policy promoting the most sustainable form of transportation imaginable, we’ll do well listening to experienced cyclists and educators. It is tempting to fit new knowledge around what we think we already know. With cycling it helps to see things directly from the cycling perspective, and this changes our outlook.
References and Resources:
The video is from CyclingSavvy, founders of the American Bicycling Education Association (ABEA). Subscribe for free to their newsletter for “empowerment for unlimited travel”. https://cyclingsavvy.org/cycling-law/
Here is a guide for improving the conditions for walking and cycling, published and recently updated by transportation leaders from our government and private sector: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_focus/docs/fhwasa17050.pdf
For more specific measures to improve mobility safety, see https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/
Traffic safety involves complex causality, but speed is a primary factor. This study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) includes recommendations for planners, engineers and various government agencies. https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Pages/SS1701.aspx
May’s ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) Journal is dedicated to “Making Active Transportation Safe” http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G93877_ITE_May2018/
Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor. —Paul Hawken quoted in “The Artist’s Way”, by Julia Cameron
“the biking circle and community is great”. –Howard Grotts, 2018 Iron Horse Men’s Champion
Durango, Colorado is a beautiful Western town. This year’s 47th Annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic celebrated Durango’s cycling heritage, and expanded the fun by weaving in new cycling events including BMX for the second straight year. The atmosphere around cycling brings out such joy in people and the character of this place in an extraordinary way. Cycling is a technology of contact, connection. It’s simply amazing. The Iron Horse is so fun it’s a pity it only happens once per year.
At the Iron Horse everyone gets involved somehow. Like many people in attendance, over the weekend I was both participant and spectator. On Saturday I raced the classic road cycling event from Durnago to Silverton, and on Sunday I watched the BMX action up close on main street and cheered the mountain bike racers as they passed through town and the Steamworks Brewery. The festivities excel at community engagement so well the Iron Horse is in a league of its own, much like the San Juan mountains are perhaps the most spectacular range in the lower forty-eight. It’s an event that matches the landscape!
There’s such a diversity of events there is something for everyone. The road ride on Saturday is the most accessible event, and it’s on one of the most beautiful courses in the county. There are races for women and men in all different age groups and categories. The most popular road ride is the Citizen’s Tour to Silverton. But don’t be fooled, even though the tour is not an official race, many of the participants are trying to set a personal best or even beat the Iron Horse train that departs downtown Durango at 7:15a.m. and steams up the canyons to Silverton. I bumped into my friend Rose from Albuquerque on Sunday in Durango, and she did the Quarter Horse ride, which is a shorter road ride with less climbing that goes to Purgatory ski area halfway between Durango and Silverton. Over the weekend, there is the La Strada La Plata Gravel Ride, MTB (mountain bike) race, BMX, Cruiser Criterium, Kids Race, bike parade and things beyond cycling–a running event, a triathlon, a Veterans Memorial Ceremony, and lots of vendors with art, food, and cycling offerings. It’s incredibly fun.
I had a pretty good race by my standards. I was sitting eight overall on the road as we headed over the final pass, Molas, for the final descent into the old mining town of Silverton. Cycling legend Ned Overend was just a few minutes in front of me, and I basically had a front row seat to see him and other stars in racing action. What a learning experience! As I flew cautiously down the steep grade, two riders caught and passed me, and out sprinted me in the slightly uphill drag down Silverton’s main street to the finish line. One of the riders I knew well, Ben Sontag, a mountain bike pro for Cliff Bar. The other I wasn’t so sure of, but man can he race and is he fast! As soon as we crossed the line conversations began, and I met the other rider, Todd Wells, three time winner of the Leadville 100 and USA Olympian. He just retired and said this event kept him motivated to stay in shape. I ended up in 10th place, but hey, when Todd Wells is just in front of you, is that so bad? I was a happy finisher, like everyone!
Over the weekend, visitors soak up the local Colorado vibes and learn more about the many things we can do with bicycles. And residents get to pinch themselves and be reminded how lucky they are to live in such a special community. When people come together around bicycles more great things happen. The cool thing about Durango is that having Olympians and cycling champions living next door is not really remarkable, it is just normal. They represent the possibilities of human expressions through the bike life. The event itself normalizes cycling. The bike is the way to get around town. The mainstream planning community is starting to respond to that.
I think it’s time we start referring to active transportation modes for what they are, our most basic and primary modes. –Michael P. Sanderson, Professional Engineer (P.E.), “Leading the way to make active transportation safe, while improving health”, ITE Journal May 2018
I’ve grown up in a world where bicycling is seen as alternative or unconventional. Planners and engineers today are working to make walking and cycling flow more naturally, like a mountain stream. Every street in front of every house is a bike route. Our street system connects us to where we want to go, our schools, work places, our friends’ houses, recreational assets, our business districts, health facilities. Making the street system accessible and welcoming bicycles is key for healthier and sustainable lifeways. The Colorado Department of Transportation has made big strides, putting bike lanes in on the main route through town, Highway 550. This is where the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic begins, right in front of Durango High School. They are trying to making it convenient for people to ride a bicycle everywhere we need to go. It’s not perfect, though. Vallecitos Road has a typical sign as you leave town that says “bike route ends” and the wide shoulder tapers down, but that doesn’t mean people stop bicycling there. People that live in the country want to ride their bikes to town, too, and certainly town residents love to ride their bikes to the countryside. When we change our paradigm and view cycling as conventional, we expect bicycles everywhere. And at the Iron Horse it is like leaping into the future. Softly, gently, joyfully…cycling dreams will come.
Credits and Further Reading:
Thanks to our team, sponsors and partners for getting us to the Iron Horse for the second straight year. Go Team CSP-SBI! https://bikeinitiative.org/sponsors-partners/
A special thanks to Sansai Studio for most of the great photos (the better ones!) in this post.
Visit the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic to sign up for 2019 and learn more about the history!
Southwest Bike Initiative invites you to join our team of cycling ambassadors, Team CSP-SBI, on this bike to work month 2018! Clothing is available through Wednesday May 22 on our online store. Take a look and enjoy the ride! Sizing chart is here: Sizing And here is the direct link to the store: https://custom.zootsports.com/CSP Items ordered ship about end of June. More information on Team CSP-SBI is below!
Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassadors, leading by doing
Team CSP-SBI creates a welcoming and truly inclusive cycling community. We are open to everyone. We bring people from all backgrounds, ages, genders, abilities, disciplines and interests together through cycling. We celebrate cycling as a way of leading by doing. Cycling is an action we can take that makes a positive difference in our lives and communities. It is healthy, practical, affordable, sustainable, low impact, and worlds of fun. I hope you, your family and your friends will consider joining us in sharing the joy of cycling and spreading the word!
More on Team CSP-SBI—
Southwest Bike Initiative (SBI), a sustainable transportation nonprofit in Albuquerque, NM, partners with Conservation Science Partners (CSP), an innovative conservation science nonprofit, to organize this global network of cyclists. We use storytelling and social media such as Strava to share our cycling experiences and encourage others to discover more of the joys of cycling. SBI provides educational tools and resources to help members build confidence and advocate for safer roads in our communities. Most of all we take pleasure in cycling with friends! Team CSP-SBI grows the culture of cycling by expanding the community of practice.
Your experience with Team CSP-SBI is what you make of it! We have a dedicated race team in Albuquerque, NM but most of our members are non-competitive. Cycling ambassadors can be on other clubs, too! We strive to create unity through cycling and build a diverse network. We participate in a wide range of cycling activities from daily commutes to community rides, events and competitions. Our network increases learning and skill acquisition, and expands access to cycling by opening doors for people. We help people get started and grow their cycling life. Cycling is unlimited!
The American pronghorn is native to North America, and the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere. Its top speed is about the same as that of a person on a road bike, around 55mph. Pronghorn have a large heart, lungs and windpipe for sustained swift movement. Pronghorn were more numerous than bison when the United States expanded West, with a population around 100 million. Due to overhunting and habitat alterations such as fences, by the 1920’s there were only about 13,000 pronghorn left. An ongoing conservation success story, their numbers are now approaching 1 million again. They have large eyes, weigh 87 to 129 pounds, and walk just 30 minutes after birth. Pronghorn are only found in North America, across the American West, in Baja and northern Mexico and in parts of the Great Plains.
About Team CSP-SBI technical cycling clothing—
Team CSP-SBI apparel are designed to optimize your cycling experience. They are comfortable, stretchable, breathable, moisture wicking, they block sun and are soft and silky to the touch. The jerseys are a standard cycling jersey, with a full zip front for ease of wearing and for cooling down on hot days. Three pockets in the back can carry food and anything else you want to bring on a ride. The shorts have a pad to provide comfort and protection where the body rests on the bike seat. The arm warmers and vest are great for cool morning starts, downhills, and protection in case of changes in weather.
Team CSP-SBI is led by Mark Aasmundstad, the founder and director of Southwest Bike Initiative. Mark is a cycling instructor (LCI) with the League of American Bicyclists, and has trained as a commercial truck driver and geographer. He’s focused on using planning, design and education for making transportation safer for everyone, growing sustainable communities and encouraging people to walk and bicycle more often. Mark bicycles for every reason, and keeps discovering more reasons to ride. We learn bicycling from others, and Team CSP-SBI is about building relationships and connecting people to opportunities to get into cycling and make it more rewarding. Mark is an everyday cyclist, and a six-time State champion at the elite level, and a masters national hill climb champion. When it comes to cycling he is a true amateur, one who participates for the love of it.
More about the kit—
Items ship in 4-6 weeks, so they arrive around the start of summertime! Sizing chart is here: Squadra Size Chart. Sale of the kits cover the costs of production only. If you would like to contribute money to Southwest Bike Initiative to support our work, here’s the link: DONATE
Donations are 100% tax deductible. THANK YOU!!!