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Uh-oh. Beer Man looks up. He’s six-foot-five and garbed in his blue Superman tunic with a red cape, yellow briefs, a full mane of red hair and a beard. His expression says it all: Is it time?

Because someone’s honking a vuvuzela. People are yelling, “Yeah! Go baby!” at three guys performing wheelies, front wheels way up, ’round and ’round the fountain pond. It’s like waiting for Mount St. Helens to blow. You can feel the expectation. The shine in people’s eyes, the nervous glances, everything tells you we’re about to go.

This is the last Friday in October, around 8:00 p.m. Here at the big fountain in Balboa Park, maybe 1000 people and their bicycles — including me on my beach cruiser — have gathered for a ride, a night ride to, well, wherever the Halloween spirit leads. It’s called Critical Mass. No, not a fault-finding church service, but a political statement on wheels. Two wheels. This mass of bike riders wants to tell Car World: “Hey, we live here too!” And not just here. This leaderless, Internet-driven phenomenon happens once a month, from Seattle to Singapore, from London to Boston. Globally and locally, Critical Mass seems to be reaching critical mass.

“Whoo-hoo!” someone cries.

“This is it!”

It’s like Canadian geese girding their loins for migration with a chorus of squawks. Bugles, cowboy Yee-haws, rebel yells, even cop-car sirens join in with a quick series of whoop-whoops.

“Turn on your light, Abe,” says this gal to her partner. She looks up. “Yes! Yes! Yeah! We’re going!”

Gradually, everybody starts moving around to the west side of the fountain, jumping on their bikes and heading out. Now we’re getting our balance, gathering force, slowly at first, guys and gals, kids, old gents, everyone on bicycles, or tricycles, recumbents, mountain bikes, road-racers, fat-tire beach bikes, even BMXs, pouring down the slope of The Prado past the California Tower and on across the viaduct toward Sixth Avenue. It’s hard not to join the hooting at one poor, frustrated driver sitting in his Mazda, surrounded like a mouse attacked by hornets. The guy is our first scapegoat, standing in for all cars. He can’t move. But, sorry. It’s just so refreshing to be on the attack and not the defensive, timorous, vulnerable also-rans that bicyclists usually are on our roads. The fight-back has begun!

And maybe, just maybe, if recent stats can be believed, the time of the urban biker is nigh. According to Kiplinger’s magazine, Gen Y-ers, the biggest generation in U.S. history — 80 million strong — aren’t buying cars as they used to. Drivers aged 21–30 now account for only 14 percent of miles driven, compared with 21 percent back in 1995. They’re more willing to catch the bus or train. But are they riding bikes to work? Back in 2006, SANDAG (the San Diego Association of Governments) estimated that only .03 percent (point three of one percent) of San Diego county commuters were bike commuters. Compare that to Copenhagen, where nearly 40 percent bike to work. Then again, in ’06, Critical Mass attracted only about 35 riders…

So something’s happening, folks. We fly along University in full swarm. At places like the Alibi, and Ichiban in Uptown, drinkers and eaters come out to the sidewalk to cheer us on and wave their drinks. You feel like Lance Armstrong at the end of the Tour de France. Or like new-age Woody Guthries. This land is our land, these roads are our roads, from the giant fountain, to the Cuyamaca Forest…Whoo-hoo!

I’ve been on this biking toot for a few weeks now, and when I heard about Critical Mass I wanted to try it. I love these crowd things. But, honestly, I’ve never thought of San Diego as a bikey place, even though you couldn’t ask for a more pro-bike climate, and a new bike shop does seem to be opening everywhere you go. In the couple of weeks before this ride, I began to check out the scene, and wow. Either it’s been hiding in plain sight all along, or I haven’t been looking. Bike World San Diego is popping. Here are several biking scenes out of a zillion that I happened across.

The Trail Ride

“It’s 40 psi for beach cruiser tires,” said Tyler Rowden, when I asked. I had popped in to Holland’s Bicycles in Coronado to pump up the fat tires of my decade-old Electra Bike Company beach cruiser labeled the “Hawaii.”

Tyler owns Holland’s, which has been open for bike business since 1924. His two assistants, Mike Shepherd and Conrad Tapia, look straight out of classic Tour de France racing books. Conrad’s wearing one of those old-school racers’ caps, a red one with “Clif Bar” printed on the brim. He also has one-inch metal stretchers in his ear lobes. It seems to be a younger road-racer’s thing, though he says it’s just a personal choice. We get to talking about riding, and Conrad mentions “the donut run” that happens every Saturday morning in Coronado. It’s a ride down the Silver Strand to Imperial Beach and back. Maybe 13 miles. Starts at 7:00 a.m. sharp. Usually takes 40 minutes, he says.

“Then you have donuts and coffee at the Callaghans’ house on Margarita. Pat Callaghan and Tim Sullivan initiated the ride in 1980,” says Tyler. “You might have 30, 40 riders. Some of them are pretty competitive.”

“But it’s not that far,” says Conrad. “I live in I.B. I ride up here to work every day.”

Of course, Conrad is 21, five-six, and maybe 150 pounds max, all of it lean, rider’s muscle. Plus, he owns a mean racing bike.

“Do beach-cruiser, couch-potato types do it?” I ask.

“You wouldn’t want to on that beach bike of yours,” says Tyler. “With fat tires, an upright bike, that’s a lot of road resistance, and wind resistance. They like to stay in a pack. You wouldn’t keep up.”

Huh. Guess I more or less have to do this ride now. I end up renting a road bike and helmet from Tyler for around $30. And wow. The bike’s a $2300 black-and-red Specialized “Roubaix” with Cane Creek “Volos” wheels and Schwinn “Lugano” tires and FACT (“Functional Advanced Composite Technology”) E240 carbon triple monocoque frame “handmade in Taiwan.”

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xians421 Dec. 29, 2010 @ 1:29 p.m.

It WAS fun on that glorious Friday night and we did a wonderfully stupid thing: From Washington street to downtown on the 163. My first trip on an interstate sans cage.

Critical Mass will be riding again on New Year's Eve. See y'all there!


jmtrudeau Dec. 29, 2010 @ 4:40 p.m.

Way to go riding on the 163 where cyclists are prohibited. I bet you were a part of the geniuses who rode across the Coronado Bridge and create havoc through and around the airport in past bike riots.

Being caught in one of your riots with idiots in the rides slamming their hands and handle bars into my car has given me less respect for your group.


billdsd Dec. 29, 2010 @ 8:43 p.m.

Bicycling in the road is not nearly as dangerous as many people think. I highly recommend taking the "Traffic Skills 101" course from the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition for anyone who rides in the road. See their web site for details. The book "Bicycling Street Smarts" is available free online and teaches mostly the same things. Once you learn how to integrate with traffic properly, you will feel a lot safer riding in the road. Bicycle safety is not intuitive. You need to study it in order to learn it.

The California DMV has the California Vehicle Code online. Bicyclists mostly have to follow the same laws as motor vehicle operators but there are some differences which are mostly spelled out in C.V.C. Division 11, Chapter 1, Article 4.

I'm kind of disappointed that so much emphasis in this article is on Critical Mass. I don't consider CM to be representative of me or of most bicyclists. I particularly disagree with the freeway, Coronado bridge and inside mall routes. The people leading the groups onto those routes are trying to turn CM from a celebration into a confrontation. I know that many CM riders disagree with those routes too and there has been some effort by some within CM to block the group from going on freeway on ramps.

San Diego has a growing bicycle commuter community. San Diego bicycling not all racing bikes, fixies, mountain bikes and Critical Mass. It's not even close to that. Check out sdbikecommuter dot com, a forum where many avid San Diego bicycle commuters hang out.


Sportsbook Dec. 29, 2010 @ 9:51 p.m.

Critical Mass reminds me of that Tool "Puck" from the MTV show "Real World" circa 94? I don't think wanting better bike lanes is a bad thing, but the whooping and hollering to people in cars only ends up angering the motorist more.

To the reader who got on the FREEWAY from Washington to downtown, you are a moron. If hit by a car going 55mph (conservatively) I am sure you would be first in line to sue them. @@@@<-----------------internet speak for rolling my eyes. It is illegal to ride on the freeway, sure it sounds fun, but so does jumping off the Ingraham st. bridge. Illegal none the same. I understand the appeal of biking, I really do, and I don't begrudge people who wish to make a change in San Diego with respect to bike lanes, but things like critical mass are "rebel" based and unfortunately do nothing to change the mind of the everyday car obsessed Southern Californian.


SCMDave Dec. 30, 2010 @ 1:38 p.m.

What's interesting to me are the references to Portland and Copenhagen as bike meccas. Neither of which has had a Critical Mass of any significance in years. Yet somehow these bike friendly improvements to the cities continue to come to fruition. Conversely, every month a reported 700-1200 riders flood the streets of San Diego with little to no impact on the city’s views on biking. Could it be that Critical Mass has no impact on a city’s decisions to make more bike friendly streets? That’s the way it seems. Long Beach is next to Portland claiming itself as one of the most bike friendly cities and they’re actively trying to do away with Critical Mass. NYC is up on the list of cities trying to become more bike-friendly and a federal judge ruled Critical Mass as an illegal event.

There are no bike lanes, no paved roads, no bike paths, no improved legislation, no better educated cyclists, motorists or police or any other change to the San Diego that can be attributed to Critical Mass. The same is true in nearly every city in the US. Critical Mass just doesn't change things like the riders want so badly to believe. In the cities which need bike improvements, the relatively few motivated folks waste time riding in Critical Mass rather than taking real action. NYC has made unbelievable progress in just a few short years due to advocacy groups and lobbying city officals. Why are San Diegans wasting their time riding on freeways and over the Coronado Bridge when they could be making a real difference. I’m with “Sportsbook”. I believe there’s a lot we can do to improve our city for bikes, but Critical Mass isn’t it.


billdsd Dec. 30, 2010 @ 4:16 p.m.

While I agree with SCMDave that CM doesn't seem to have much to do with improvements for bicycling infrastructure, Portland actually has had a fairly significant CM for years.

Building better infrastructure requires direct work towards that goal and it started in Portland before they had a CM. For the story on the building of Portland bicycling infrastructure, read "Joyride" by Mia Birk.


CM doesn't directly accomplish anything. It's supposed to raise awareness. I'm not sure how well it even does that.

Copenhagen has had CM every day at rush hour for the last century or so because bicycling has always been extremely popular there and they have better education for both bicyclists and drivers. If I recall correctly, something near half of commuters within Copenhagen are bicyclists. They don't have any reason to have a special ride.

Long Beach is calling themselves one of the most bicycle friendly cities but I think that's a bit premature. They've made huge progress that is very impressive but they still have a way to go.


SCMDave Dec. 30, 2010 @ 5:58 p.m.

8.billdsd, I think you hit the nail on the head. All of these cities have progressed in making cycling a more accessible and safe activity without the need for Critical Mass. In 2007 the Portland Critical Mass was almost non-existent (http://goo.gl/RIFsk) yet they continue to be revered as one of the best US cities for bikes. I’m sure the CM in Portland has received a little resurgence, but as you point out, Mia Birk has had a much larger impact on Portland than CM could ever hope to.

Google "Critical Mass" and you'll have an easier time finding links describing altercations between cyclists and motorists, cyclists and police, or cyclists and pedestrians than you will any positive effect the event has had on this or any city. Even the author of this article refers to the ride as one in which he is “on the attack and not the defensive”. Do we really want to live in a city where revenge is not only dismissed but celebrated as a political statement?

It seems the riders who align with the author let their angst drive their actions rather than rationality and desire for productivity. If Mia Birk can change the landscape of Portland through hard work and persistence, imagine what the 1000 riders of Critical Mass in San Diego could accomplish if they chose to spend their time being proactive and productive rather than combative? San Diego would be a much different city indeed.


youmustlearn Dec. 30, 2010 @ 10:01 p.m.

Speaking for the cars, you bikes need to play fair too. Bikers love to complain about the lack of road etiquette yet routinely abuse basic road rules and regulations.

You want road equality? Stop blowing through red lights and stop signs. Don't weave through slow or standing traffic. Don't cut on and off sidewalks and walkways because it's convenient for you. We're all supposed to learn the basics in driving school, but the road is a jungle, and like it or not, we are the lions.

And yes, while we cars have more than our share of nasty, loud, fuel-drunk environment-polluting murder machines, it's also pretty easy to recognize that the oft-rude, loud and aggressive mob mentality of Critical Mass reeks slightly of elitist d-baggery.

Maybe I'll just walk.


framous Dec. 30, 2010 @ 10:04 p.m.

Bill, I'm sure you're a very nice guy, and a pretty good read as well. That said, most people on earth do not dislike bicycles. Moreover, unless you grew up in the tropical rain forest of the Amazon, you've probably had more than a few good spins on one or many.

Here's the deal as I see it. I have a bike, and I have a car. I use the bike as a recreational vehicle, and I use my car as a means of more practical travel.

What upsets the car people (not many of us don't have a car and use it in SoCal), are the bicyclists who refuse to follow the rules of the road itself. E.g., stop signs, stop lights, proper signaling, and common sense and common courtesy. The sad part is, that by not bicycling responsibly, everyone on bike and car is placed in dangerous situations.

Enjoy the ride, just abide, like the rest of us should.


billdsd Dec. 30, 2010 @ 11:32 p.m.

framous, the bicycle is a very practical means of travel. It's used by thousands of people in San Diego every single day. It's used by millions of people around the world every single day. For short trips it makes a lot of sense.

I'm not defending bicyclists breaking the law. However, the notion that bicyclists break the law more than drivers is either a delusion or a lie. Most drivers speed most of the time that they can. Most drivers don't come to a complete stop at stop signs or right turn on red if there is no cross traffic. Most drivers don't signal most of the time. Indeed, signalling often results in another driver moving to block your signaled movement which discourages even drivers from signalling (BTW, I do signal on my bike). Most drivers will not yield right of way to a pedestrian at an uncontrolled intersection or even a cross walk if that cross walk does not also have a stop sign or red light to tell them to stop. I stopped in my car to let a pedestrian cross at a cross walk and was rewarded with some idiot leaning on his horn because I was complying with the law. I see tons of people driving with cell phones up to their ear every day. I see drivers running red lights every day. I see people tail gating every day. I often see drivers turn across multiple lanes. I see wrong way drivers at least a few times a month.

We'd all be better off if everyone would obey the rules of the road, including drivers. Actually especially drivers, since they are orders of magnitude more dangerous than bicyclists. I find claims that drivers are endangered by bicycles to be laughable. In a collision between a bicycle vs. car, the driver and passengers almost never get hurt.

People who complain about other people not having common sense often do not know what common sense is. This is especially true when it comes to bicycle safety which most people think they understand, but don't. The Traffic Skills 101 class from the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition will teach you things that surprise most people, even people that have ridden thousands of miles per year for decades.


billdsd Dec. 30, 2010 @ 11:38 p.m.

youmustlearn: It sounds like your biggest complaint with bicyclists is that they pass you when you're stuck in traffic instead of staying stuck with you. That sounds very petty and childish to me. How does it affect you if they manage to get to go while you are stuck?


MaryIce Jan. 2, 2011 @ 12:07 p.m.

RE: Spandex Wearing Bike Riding Cry Babies! No you do not have the right to block freeways and streets with your shiney little expensive TOYS! HELLO! BIKES ARE TOYS! I am sick and tired of your nonsense, bikes run stop signs and red lights and cut off cars daily because they strap their little ballerina bikey shoes onto their pedals. If you can't stop your vehicle it is not street legal. If you can do 15mph in a 30 mph zone that is not legal. If you want to ride on the freeway on your little toys, that's not legal. We need some serious bike rider laws, like big license plate displays so you can pay for your traffic violations, go to traffic school to learn how to ride your bikey in the street and huge registration fees (oh yeah the free 'ride' is soon to be over)to pay for the 100's of miles of bike lanes that you people can't seem to use. Its shocking that the city allows a permit to allow bike riders to snarl traffic, 'a driver frustrated and surrounded like a mouse attacked by hornets' and 'It's refreshing to be on the attack..'. this is hateful that you are out to punish car drivers?!! Maybe I'll join you next time with a box of carpet tacks. What is the city thinking. Call your City Counsel person and tell them bikey riders are a very small minority and should be prosecuted for traffic violations, surrounding motor vehicles and scratching their paint. Play with your toys in your yard, stop whining and pay registration fees


billdsd Jan. 6, 2011 @ 1:06 a.m.

MaryIce, you are the biggest crybaby of all.

First, bicycles are not toys. They are a means of transportation and have been so in the U.S. for the last 130 years. I commute around 6000-7000 miles per year by bicycle. Many people own cars but prefer to travel by bicycle. Many young people can't afford a car. Some people choose not to own a car. Some people are legally prevented from driving a motor vehicle in the road. They all have to have some way to get around. Public transportation in this city is pathetic and has been getting worse with recent budget cuts.

Second, I see lots of drivers roll stop signs and run red lights every single day (I work downtown). Most drivers speed most of the time that they can. Most drivers will not yield right of way to a pedestrian at an uncontrolled intersection or even a crosswalk unless that crosswalk also has a red light or stop sign to make them stop. I see drivers driving with a cell phone up to their ear every day. I see drivers turn across multiple lanes multiple times a week. Drivers have zero respect for the law.

Third, California law C.V.C. 21202(a) gives bicyclists the same right to the road as motor vehicles. There is no law against a bicycle going 15mph in a 30mph zone. If you think that there is, then you are delusional. Don't try me on C.V.C. 22400. I've got 5 different good legal reasons from a lawyer why a ticket for such would never hold up to the court process.

Fourth, bicyclists do have to follow the same laws as drivers with only a few exceptions. That's also stated in C.V.C. 21200(a). Maybe if you ever bothered to read the law, you would actually have an idea of what it says. Bicyclists can and do get tickets.

Fifth, most surface roads are paid for by general fund taxes. Ignorant people trying to rationalize their childish prejudice against bicyclists seem to all live under the delusion that their fuel taxes pay for all of the roads. The fact is that most of that money goes to state and federal highways and doesn't even completely fund those. The fact is that bicyclists pay as much for the regular surface roads where you find most of them most of the time as anyone else does. This is what happens when you just make stuff up instead of doing your research. You just show your ignorance.

Sixth, the city doesn't have a choice about allowing bicycles in the road. California state law prevents cities from modifying the rules of the road except for a very small number of specific things which they are allowed to regulate -- none of those includes denying bicyclists the right to use the road.


MsGrant Jan. 3, 2011 @ 8:49 a.m.

Just like everything, a fun, healthy activity has been reduced to bickering and derision. When I first got my road bike, I was PETRIFIED. I actually had a driver in La Jolla swerve at me intentionally. I learned how to ride my bike in traffic, and I obey all traffic laws. Not every bike rider is a jerk. Just like motorists, there are always going to be some bad apples. We are SHARING the road. No one owns it. Cycling is fun, and a great way to get exercise out in the fresh air. It's too bad it's being reduced to an "us against them" mentality in San Diego. I hope both motorists and cyclists try to understand each other's frustrations and work toward being courteous rather than confrontational.


rickeysays Jan. 4, 2011 @ 1:59 a.m.

As a long time cyclist in San Diego, I agree we need motorists and cyclists to get along. My complaint with this article is that, although the author touches upon some interesting things (the price of bikes, dangers, and more) there should've been no positive ink given to Critical Mass. They've done more harm for cyclists, by creating anger among motorists. I wish the author would have asked the CM crowd why they do the dangerous and extremely stupid things they do (blocking intersections, running red lights, flipping off cars, slapping cars, all things I've seen first hand). They wouldn't have a good answer, but their attempts to justify those actions might have been revealing. Ride courteously, ride smart, and keep the streets safe and full of less frustration for everyone.


Founder Jan. 4, 2011 @ 5:27 p.m.

Advice is one thing, Receiving anger is another!

Those on fragile bikes must ALWAYS fear weird drivers in massive vehicles!

That is why (to me {and I use both often}) bicycles are MUCH more dangerous than motorcycles which can accelerate and stop orders of magnitude better than bicycles...

Being right is no fun when you are being taken to the ER or worse...

Fear Road Rash & Drive Defensibly...


billdsd Jan. 6, 2011 @ 1:24 a.m.

Fear is often a result of ignorance.

In 2009, seven times as many motorcyclists were killed as bicyclists. I'm pretty sure that there aren't seven times as many motorcyclists as bicyclists.

Your perception of safety is not accurate.

Furthermore, if you get the proper safety training you'll be surprised at how safe bicycling can be.


Founder Jan. 4, 2011 @ 6:26 p.m.

Ha Ha Guess Again!

I'm a r-e-a-l-l-y long time, high milage rider of motorcycles ---> Think multiple BMW 100,000 mile pins+ + I've built bicycles frames from self customized lugs upward, with Campy components and led bicycle trips averaging 100+ miles per day and still ride more often than most folks... So keep your "Studded Leather Motorcycle Jacket; Leather Pants" comments to yourself...

Because they are not factual...

Remember "Talk is Cheap" and "Going Fast, is Serious Business, just ask Sterling Moss"...

Read "All But My Life" by Sterling Moss and enjoy where the "Need For Speed" takes you...


Founder Jan. 5, 2011 @ 10:13 a.m.

Believe it or not, I just added the above to show that instead of just talking bicycling or motorcycling, I've been doing both for over 40 years and as drivers get more and more frustrated all cyclists (bicyclists and motorcyclists) will pay the price.

Cyclist that go out of their way to irritate vehicle drivers just make it harder for all the rest that are just trying to get from A to B and enjoy the ride...

And as far as the "Dave MOLTN frame" goes, I never met him but I'm referring to designing and building my own bicycle frame from the lugs up, back in the 70's when the state of the art was "only" a ten speed...


Founder Jan. 9, 2011 @ 4:21 p.m.

If your comment was about Founder instead of Finder, I'll say that my self built custom is hanging in the garage and it's frame needs to be re-chromed and I don't ride it as much as I do my second bicycle which is a beater with good components, that so far has been untouched when I park it all around North Park, where I do most of my riding these days.

Ride On...


rdr Jan. 10, 2011 @ 7:15 p.m.

I find that the majority of cyclists ignore the rules of the road to the point of being hazardous. It is my observation that it is rare to see a bicycle operated in a lawful manner.


SurfPuppy619 Jan. 11, 2011 @ 7:06 p.m.

I find that the majority of cyclists ignore the rules of the road to the point of being hazardous. It is my observation that it is rare to see a bicycle operated in a lawful manner.

==================== Most serious cyclists follow the rules of the road. And if they don't it is usually in the interest of safety.

As one who has cycled a lot in my life it was always the motor vehicle driver that was the danger. I was T-Boned by an unattentive driver and could have been killed by that crash-so if cyclists ignore the rules of road there is a good reason for it most of the time.


SurfPuppy619 Jan. 11, 2011 @ 8:22 p.m.

Until a local smacks you around for cutting in on his wave!

I love surfing. Long baording baby-best there is.....


billdsd Jan. 19, 2011 @ 12:45 a.m.

Bicyclists don't ignore the rules of the road any more than drivers do. If you think that they do, then you are delusional. I see bicyclists stop at red lights and stop signs every day.

Do I really need to go through the laundry list of violations of the rules of the road I see from dozens of drivers every single day?


velo333 Jan. 13, 2011 @ 1:58 p.m.

Cover quote: “I got hit by a car,” he says. “And it wasn’t by accident.” This is the first thing one reads after the banner headline. It is not a particularly encouraging thought for novice cyclists who may have limited experience sharing the roads with traffic. It’s not a good way of introducing the subject to someone who might be on the fence about using a bicycle for transportation.

p. 19, last ¶: “It’s just so refreshing to be on the attack…” “The fight-back has begun.” The tone here is confrontational and hostile, two unfortunate characteristics that give San Diego’s Critical Mass a bad reputation.

p. 20, ¶2: Obligatory Lance Armstrong reference, last refuge of the non-cyclist.

p. 20, ¶3: Writer admits to having been cycling for a few weeks. That’s not even adequate time to research a high school term paper.

p. 22, ¶1: I have never seen any photographic evidence from Tours de France of the past depicting participants with Ubangi-style earlobe or lip stretchers. The “old-school racers’ cap” is called a “casquette.”

p. 22, ¶7: “Lugano” tire is made by Schwalbe, not Schwinn.

p. 22, ¶9: Riding a road bike down the Silver Strand bike path doesn’t make one a road racer.

p. 23: If a rider’s quad muscles and butt get sore during a short, flat ride, the fault is not the shape or size of the saddle. It means the bike does not fit properly. Most likely the saddle height is too low. If the hands become fatigued that is another sign of poor fit. Something is definitely wrong if one is leaning all of one’s upper body weight on the hands.

p. 23: Herons are blue-grey. The white ones are egrets.

p. 24, ¶1: I never read anything about the writer joining a team. How could he possibly be on a team if this is his first ride on a road bike?

p. 24, ¶1: If the writer is “busting a gut” on a short, flat road ride and complaining about it being “all this way,” either the fit of the bike is all wrong, or he has been sitting on the couch for too long.

p. 24, ¶2: The writer claims to be riding on the Silver Strand bike path but talks about being passed by “racers.” I just looked at the SCNCA race calendar and can’t find any record of a race down the Silver Strand bike path. USA Cycling would never permit a race on such a course. He then claims that said racers take him to be a pro, like them. As far as I know, Chris Horner is the only Pro-Tour team member who lives in the area even part time. My observation has been that most experienced competitive racers avoid two way bike paths like the plague. In this case, serious road riders prefer to ride on the road on the Silver Strand to avoid just the kind of danger posed by novices such as the author. Pretending to be a rider on a Pro-Tour team is typical Fred behavior and is frowned upon.


velo333 Jan. 13, 2011 @ 2:02 p.m.

p. 24, ¶7: “All right,” not “alright.” The Velodrome is not a “stadium.” Sean Burke is not a professional rider, he is Category 2. He is a level 3 coach.

Sean Burke is not “supplied by the City.” He is a private contractor and takes half of the coaching fee. The other half goes to the San Diego Velodrome Association general fund.

The track bikes used for coaching are not “borrowed from the City’s collection.” They are the property of the San Diego Velodrome Association. They are entry-level track bikes, not the typical “fixies” ridden by local hipsters. The frame geometry is different and they are geared much higher. Don’t try to do tricks, bar-spins, or skids on these bikes. They are not the same as the urban “fixies” the author refers to later in the piece, although he apparently doesn’t perceive the distinction.

The corners at the San Diego Velodrome are banked at a relaxed 27 degrees, not particularly exciting. If excitement is what one is after, check out the LA Velodrome in Carson with its 45 degree banking, or even 7-Eleven Velodrome in Colorado Springs with 33 degrees. On the San Diego track one can trackstand in the corners. In LA if one slows below about 15 mph the bike slides out from under one and both rider and bike make a quick trip to the apron below.

The San Diego Velodrome is covered with a resin impregnated fabric that is slick as snot with the slightest hint of dampness. It is dangerous and foolhardy to even try to walk across the wet track, much less ride a bike on it. The only part that is now concrete is the ill-advised and rapidly deteriorating sprinters lane.

p. 26, ¶7: Entry-level racers will never hear a countdown “Five, four, three, two, one, GO!” The starting instructions given by the starter at a non-championship race are as follows: “Timers ready, rider(s) ready, (gunshot or whistle).” National championships is probably the only time most track racers will have a countdown and it will be a series of electronic beeps starting at 30 seconds to go: (At 30 seconds) – BEEP (At 20 seconds) – BEEP (At 10 seconds) – BEEP (At 5 seconds) – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BOOP! Riders starts on the BOOP!

At national level tracks such as LA the rider’s rear wheel will be released by the starting block on BOOP! to prevent a false start, otherwise if the rider starts early the starter will fire the pistol twice and the rider will have one more chance to start properly in most time trial events. It is more than likely that a rider competing at the national level will be trained by a level 1 coach who knows this.

p. 26, ¶13: If riders are in pain after their efforts, something is seriously wrong with the way the bike fits.


velo333 Jan. 13, 2011 @ 2:05 p.m.

p. 30, ¶2: The SKLZ – Pista Palace team is neither a ProTour team nor a professional continental team. It is a local regional team that is eligible to compete in local level races. By the same token, Pro Tour and professional continental teams are not eligible to compete in local races. Many flyers for local races mistakenly offer a “Pro, 1, 2” field when what they really mean is “Elite, 1, 2.” “Elite” refers to the age group between 23 and 30, although qualified riders who are between 17 and 23 as well as qualified riders over age 30 may still compete in Elite fields.

p. 31, ¶2: The term is “Fred,” not “Freddie.”

p. 31, ¶4: “Torrey Pines Grade,” not “Torrey Pines hill.” The author has apparently never ridden up or down it.


billdsd Jan. 19, 2011 @ 12:39 a.m.

He's pointing out that there were a lot of factual errors in the article indicating that the research was poorly done. Much of what he's pointing out is a bit on the pedantic side but he is correct.

The article says a lot of things that help perpetuate many of unfair negative stereotypes about bicyclists and bicycling. The author may not have intended it that way, but it came out that way just the same. Better research might have averted that problem.


velo333 Jan. 17, 2011 @ 10:12 a.m.

Point by point correction of factual errors, cited by page no. (p.) and paragraph(¶) in the article.


fastestbike Oct. 21, 2018 @ 6:21 a.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


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