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Riding Responsibly!

Ride Responsibly – 2011 June 11

Author: blueneck*

[Download a copy of this document Rider Responsibility (S Kato).]

The STP is nearly upon us – all that training and time spent getting ready is “going to pay off” as Kary always tells me. During the next few weeks get mentally prepared.

On the first day, be aware that after 40miles there is the Puyallup “Hill”. It is about a 7% grade or so and it’s about a half-mile long. Not a big deal, but it can be if you’ve spent all your energy trying to keep pace with one of those faster riders. Don’t get sucked in by them! If you’ve never ridden the STP, consider starting out at a pace that you feel is a little slow. You can always speed up later and still feel good. Prepare for heat and sun.

There might be a section of the route where you may be on a paved bike trail. Watch for passing cyclists and watch for cyclists and pedestrians going the other direction. Watch for posts and potholes. Think of the Sammamish River trail with a lot of riders going both directions. Watch and be careful.

The second day is always a little cold in the morning; two years ago, it rained. Be prepared – one year I wasn’t and I had to borrow Mikkel’s jacket. I got it a little dirty. Also, the second day is a little hillier than the first.  The ride starts with a hill within the first few miles; then after that there are rollers. At some points, we’ll be riding along a highway so watch for fast moving cars and trucks.

Help prevent crashes! Point out potholes, glass, and any other obstacles so that someone following behind you will know. Do not make sudden movements – if you have to pull off, signal, yell “Stopping!” and gradually pull off even if it means you overshoot your intended stop. If you are following someone and they pass some other riders, don’t just blindly pass – make sure it’s safe for you to follow when passing. If you see a traffic light ahead, be prepared to stop. Same for stop signs.

You may find yourself as a lead and you may end up as a sweep. So read on and do the Fun Quiz at the end:

Lead – If you are a lead, try to keep a reasonable pace – 13-15mph. Remember if you are going to make a turn or a stop, really shout it out and use your hand signals. Do not make sudden stops or turns – be _gradual_. Really look ahead and if you have to pass, check for cars and other cyclists and then slowly ease out onto the road and pass. When you ease back in, leave at least a bike length or two between you and the person you just passed.

Know where the stops are – keep an eye out for our support. If you have to hit a rest stop, make sure you signal and _gradually_ pull off. You may even have to back track. The key to being a lead is making your movements _gradual_.

Get an idea of the strength of your group; if you know that you have strong riders based on your experience with them, you can _gradually_ move a little faster and be reasonably sure the group will be able to keep up.  If you are leading a group of people you don’t know, keep it a little slow and if they are keeping up you can _gradually_ get a little faster. All of this is pretty much common sense. Be _gradual_, be cautious, yell if you’re stopping or slowing.

If it’s windy, feel free to rotate off – signal your intention and yell that you want to drop off, drift to the left and slow down. Again, do this when it’s safe – no big pace line coming up behind you and no cars.  Also, as leader no one does the STP all alone – draft off of other riders when you can safely do so.

Sweep – A sweep should know that they may be riding at a slower pace than they’re used to. At times, the sweep may ride ahead of the slowest rider to provide a draft. The sweep should know how to fix a flat. The sweep should also know the stops – when approaching a stop they can yell out the stop or lead the rider(s) into the stop. Sweeps should know they may be sweeping other riders who are not in the group. Please be aware of your surroundings and who is riding near you.

Know that you don’t have to always be a sweep; just find a replacement if you were riding as a sweep. The same goes for the lead. You should switch off roles.

The following guidelines are suggested:

  • No more than 8 bikes per group.
  • Groups take off in intervals and remain together until the next support stop.
  • One lead and one sweep per group.
  • Entire group waits for minor equipment failures (e.g., flats) though the slower riders in the group could probably keep going. This depends on group composition.
  • In the event of a major equipment failure, the group proceeds to next support stop with one person remaining behind with the “down” rider.
  • All riders check off name on roster at each support stop.  
  • 15‐minute rest limit for the last riders at the support stops (longer for the first riders in). Get some food and drink, re-apply sunscreen, stretch, go to the bathroom. Please watch your time.
  • Riders can “jump” groups at the support stops.
  • Riders that choose to outride the support vehicles will need to use the Cascade support.

If you have questions, ask someone who has experience and has done the ride within the past three years – I left off those who are in school since they’re busy wrapping up the school year:

Jon Okada
Victor Chinn
Kary Chinn
William Hwang
Eric Yamada
Steve Shaw
Doug Pang
Heather Nakamura
Craig Nagao
Mikkel Louie
Rocky Lin
Jeff Lam
Dan Ko
Ed Ambo
Richard Miyauchi
Steve Kato

Fun Quiz:

What word characterizes a Lead? Hint: it starts with the letter “g”

If you’re a sweep, what mechanical problem should you know how to fix?

If you get a flat you should:
a) Tell someone in the group you got a flat
b)   Yell, “Stopping!”
c)    Slow down and stop to fix it
d)   Sing the goofy “I have a Flat” song and hammer as hard as you can to the next stop**
e)   All the above except for d)

What should you do at the rest stop?
a)    Get food, drink, stretch, and re-apply sunscreen
b)   Fix any mechanical problems
c)    Go to the bathroom
d)   All the above

Is it legal to draft?
a)    Yes, draft when you can safely do so.
b)   No, as a conscientious objector you should always avoid the draft.

* The author is a little irresponsible so all errors are the responsibility of the reader.

**I don’t know if there is a song called, “I have a Flat”. Also if you do this you’ll likely shred your tire, make your tube unusable, and damage your rim. People will also wonder what you’re up to.

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