Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bike Lane Backlash, NJ Bike-Ped Webinar in 2011

In the news today, a local author and blogger, JP Partland responds to an anti-bicycle editorial in the New York Times.

Pic: Police cars parked in bike lane in Hudson Heights this year (Benepe, (C)) 

He wrote, "A few cyclists running red lights are not a public menace. On the other hand, people driving 6,000-pound cars while talking on cellphones, speeding, running red lights, turning without signaling and so on are. Any meaningful crackdown on scofflaws should begin with getting car and truck drivers to obey traffic laws. "

But to add fire to the flames, that old curmudgeon, Norman Stiesel, (the one whom Mr. Benepe pointed out in his reporting two weeks ago on BBB, as someone who truly lacks vision,)  cosigned his name to a letter that once again, made flaming claims that the new bike lane on Prospect Park West has created a three time increase in collisions between drivers and cyclists--a claim that he shows no accompanying data for.

In addition he states that there are not the numbers of cyclists the DOT predicts using the lane; DOH Mr. Stiesel, it's 25 degrees outside! And did you forget the old adage, 'build it and they will come?' What's more, in his lack of knowledge about cycling and traffic calming, Stiesel claims that with less room for cars and more room for cyclists, there will be more accidents. But he fails to recognize that with more cyclists there will be fewer cars, and cyclists take up less space. Once again, Stiesel got it all wrong.

We'll have to weigh in here on the New York Times editorial. For one, it's clear the writer has no idea what it is like to ride in New York City. Perhaps because they are too scared to. No wonder, three, four and five ton vehicles traveling well beyond the speed limit, barreling down the avenues with no care or consequence should they hit and kill or maim you.

Once again, the New York Times misses the point entirely. There is no way to insure cyclist safety without creating safe bike lanes, and cyclists WILL go on the sidewalks if the streets are not safe for them.

They cite  Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's mini-research study--showing, "741 instances of pedestrians blocking bike lanes; more than 275 vehicles blocking bike lanes, including a school bus and pedicabs; 331 cyclists going the wrong way; 237 cyclists running red lights; and 42 cyclists riding on sidewalks."

But they fail to point out the hundreds of thousands of trucks, cars and other heavy vehicles running red lights, speeding, making turns in front of cyclists, cutting them  off, buzzing them, and sometimes purposely trying to hit them--an offense that is still very difficult to punish by law.

Pic: A real bike path in Bruges, Belgium. Photo, Katie Lambden, (c).  

Let's start with the heavy hitters, and go from there, shall we? I propose a law that makes it a crime to hit a cyclist:  Now it's just called an incident, in varying degrees, and criminal culpability is extremely difficult to obtain unless the driver is drunk--and tested for drunkenness on the spot, which rarely occurs unless there is a death.

Now wouldn't that be novel? Then we would see a lot fewer cyclists on the sidewalks, going the wrong way, or doing anything that they are doing to protect their bodies from death and dismemberment.

Pic: Exclusive bike lane in the Netherlands. 

Also in the introduction to the Opinion Pages of the NYT, the writer implies that Mayor Koch's bike lane plans failed. Noted Steve Faust in a reply to the paper that although Koch's plan to demarcate the lanes with barriers failed, the painted lanes themselves still exist and were never removed.  "Reports of bike lanes death were greatly exaggerated - to our propaganda loss," wrote Faust to ebikes, a private New York email exchange founded and run by Daniel Lieberman.

Faust's detailed explanation of what happened to the bike lanes during the Koch administration is worthy of note, since the mythology that they failed has superseded any mention that they survived.


Four Part Webinar Offered by Rutgers on Bike-Ped Planning

Also a four part Webinar series on community health and transportation planning was announced today by the Rutger's center in charge of helping transform New Jersey's complex cycling and pedestrian issues.

The series is sponsored by the American Public Health Association and will cover the many ways transportation systems impact public health, said a representative from the New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center.

They will feature speakers from across the nation talking about state and local programs that consider health and equity in transportation planning, the health benefits of active transportation, health impact assessment tools, and innovative programs to prevent roadway deaths and injuries. 

And if you register for any session, your registration is good for the whole series. To register, visit this link.

For more information contact the New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, 33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, telephone: (732) 932-6812.

Monday, December 13, 2010

City Bike Lane Hearings Make Mockery of Cyclists

By Barry Benepe and Jen Benepe
It wasn't just the hearings on bikes lanes in New York held Dec. 9 that made a mockery of cyclists. It was also the public officials elected to insure a fair process, and the "schmeadership" in Brooklyn that brought to mind the old fashioned thuggery of New York before the days of political reform.

It was as if the Old Tammany Hall had come back to life just like the nightmare of Scrooge's Christmas past in the form of borough president Marty Markowitz who thundered his way through the proceedings in opposition to bike lanes in Brooklyn. He sounded as if he were the sole voice of the borough, reported Barry Benepe. "He talks like a mob boss, and he wasn't interested in what anyone else thought."

Markowitz's disgraceful performance was followed up by an equally prejudiced portrayal against the only salvation for bicycle transportation in the city in an almost hour-long diatribe spouting unsupported "facts" by Norman Stiesel who calls himself an "eco" consultant and goes around tooting his title as "First Deputy Mayor", a title that has not been his for many, many years.

"The entire process appeared to be staged for the benefits of the loudmouths" Markowitz and Stiesel, said Benepe referring to the City Council's hearing on bicycle infrastructure in the city.

The pols' testimony and questioning of Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, including statements from city council members, took over two hours and after they were finished Chair Vacca gave only 2 minutes each to cyclists and other pedestrians to speak, who had come at 9 AM in the morning and waited until 2 PM to give their testimony. "Hurry up, you only have 2 more seconds," he barked to the hoi poloi, some who had waited for 7 hours for their chance to educate the city council members.

But those city council members who were elected by New Yorkers to listen to what we have to say started leaving soon after the pols had finished, leaving an empty dais for New Yorkers to talk to.

"The city council turned the process of a public hearing on its head by using it as a forum for their opinions to be heard rather than the opinions of the public, and the chair (Transportation Committee Chair and Councilman Vacca) was the worst of all by putting forth his opinions in the form of questions, what a lot of politicians do when they want to dominate the argument," said Benepe.

Transportation Committee Chair Vacca said that bicycle lanes create a "trade-off," crowding out motorists and parking spaces, a notion that has not been supported by fact, since no study has been done on the matter, at least to the knowledge of this reporter.

"Most of the [other] council members tried to pretend the issue was important, but didn't even seem to understand what bike lanes were, and they sounded equivocal about the whole thing," said Benepe.

Seventy-one people had signed up to speak, but only 45 people actually had the opportunity, with 42 of them in favor of bike lanes. 
Pic: Ken Coughlin speaking a couple of years ago in Central Park

Besides Markowitz and Steisel, only three other people came to speak against bike lanes in the city, but many of our elected leaders only heard the negatives because they were gone when the positives started to roll in. It was unclear if a video camera in front of the speaker's spot was actually catching the testimonies, or worse, if any of the lawmakers who left would take the time to watch the video later.

The New Yorkers who spoke in favor of bike lanes "were so good it was pathetic how the city council abandoned the hearings," continued Benepe. "It was really discourteous and rude, and they were hostile [in their questions] to the Department of Transportation [Janette Sadik-Khan] as well."

Among the council members who were an exception were Gale Brewer (D- Dist. 6), Van Bramer (D-Dist. 26),  Daniel Garodnick (D-Dist. 4), Brad Lander (D-Dist.39),  and Letitia James (D-Dist. 35) . Council woman James stayed the longest and Vacca stayed to the end, probably because as chair, he had to.

"Letitia James was the only forthright supporter of bike lanes, clearly and without conditions," said Benepe. "She was a voice of sanity and she was considered in her comments."

Showing just how out of touch our leaders are from our needs, among the New Yorkers who did speak in favor of bike lanes was Nancy Gruskin whose husband was hit and killed by a cyclist.  She wanted more care exercised by cyclists, and more order on the road. Then there was also a man who was hit by a truck when he was on his bicycle, a 13-year-old who spoke eloquently about the need for bike lanes, and a man who showed with photographs how he had lost 35 pounds by riding his bicycle to work.

Also among the pro bike lane speakers was Ken Coughlin who has long spearheaded the effort to reduce car use in Central Park on behalf of Transportation Alternatives.

Coughlin said that as a member of Community Board 7 in Manhattan he and his fellow board colleagues had asked the DOT to come up with a suitable bike lane along Columbus Avenue for their neighborhood on the upper west side.  

More than 100 people from his hood voted in favor of the bike lanes, said Couglin, showing that it was "hardly a case of an imperial administration foisting bike lanes on a district with no community input," a comment directed at the oft-repeated notion that New Yorker's don't want bike lanes.

That mythology has been perpetrated by an handful of negative voices that by all appearances, do not represent the majority.

As much as those in favor talked about health benefits, Markowitz and Stiesel--and some members of the City Council--showed their antediluvian thinking by being against them. "I think it was very instructive that the two people who spoke against bike lanes were overweight," concluded Benepe.

Jessica Lappin (D-Dist. 5), representative of the upper east side said that she had heard "countless stories of people being hit and killed," by bicycles.

But none of the relatives of those dead pedestrians came to talk against bike lanes, possibly because there has only been 11 such reported deaths in New York City over a nine year period, and at least one of them not the direct result of the crash, such as the man who died of a heart attack after a bicycle delivery man crashed into him.

Conversely, an average of 250 to 300 people are killed in crashes every year in New York City, said Transportation Alternatives spokesperson Kim Martineau. Over a 9-year period that would amount to about 2,200 people killed by cars over the same time period while 11 pedestrians died as a result of crashes with cyclists.

In the four year period between 2005 and 2009, New York City experienced 1,467 traffic fatalities. During that time, annual fatalities went down by 20% from 321 in 2005 to 256 in 2009. But pedestrians accounted for half of traffic fatalities (52%), followed by motor vehicle occupants (29%), motorcyclists (11%), and bicyclists (7%), according to a study by the NYC Department of Health which was published this November. "While bicycle-on-pedestrian crashes are a concern, they are overall a small part of the problem; cars are mostly what kill pedestrians in NYC," concluded Martineau.

And it wasn't just our elected officials who made a mockery of the democratic process: the New York Daily News editorial staff --whose reporters left along with most media before the positive testimonies were heard, harped on the fact that a couple of questions from Vacca had stumped DOT commissioner Janette Sadik Khan, mainly the precise number of people who cycle on city streets every day.

"They wouldn't be able to count that anyway, it's too expensive" said Benepe. "The important part is not the number of people, it is the safety of people. Even if the number of cyclists is only one, you don't want them to be killed. You don't eliminate sidewalks because there is only one pedestrian on the block," he noted.

Still the backwards thinking of the Daily News editorial staff didn't sway other NYDN journalists who reported one day earlier that most Brooklynites are in favor of the new Prospect Park bike lanes according to a survey initiated by Councilmembers Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) and Steve Levin (D-Gowanus).

"Despite vocal complaints since the city installed the two-way bike lane in March, the survey found a solid majority want to keep the lane - with 54% opting to keep it as it is and 24% to keep it with some changes. Only 22% wanted to scrap it," reported Daily News writer Erin Durkin.

About Barry Benepe:
Mr. Benepe is most well known for starting New York City's Greenmarkets, bringing fresh farm produce directly to consumers.
But he was also one of the founding members of Transportation Alternatives and had a direct hand in helping close Central Park to motor vehicles.
In 1966, one day after a defeat of the measure to close the park drives to cars on Sundays,  Benepe and his colleagues at Transportation Alternatives laid down their bicycles in front of motorists to prevent them from entering.
Soon after the measure to ban cars one day a week--on Sundays-- was passed. That soon was increased to Saturdays, and then decades later, with the help of many new faces to TA, like Ken Coughlin and a city administration under Mayor Mike Bloomberg more receptive to alternative transit ideas, increased to most daylight hours during the week.
Benepe also took part in mass bike rides through the city every day that drew 5,000 cyclists at a time.
Among his fellow upstarts were Charles Komanoff, Charlie McCorkell, Steve Faust, Ken Coughlin and countless others who now form the backbone of the cycling movement in New York City.
Benepe is an AIA/ AIP in architecture and city planning and has spent a good deal of his life working on alternative transportation, traffic calming design, and other initiatives to improve life in towns and cities in the northeast U.S.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Memorial Services Held for NYCC Cyclist

Services were held in Queens today for a member of the New York Cycle Club who was killed by a hit and run motorist on November 29.

Maxim Vickers was riding in Old Westbury, Ct., when he was struck by 20-year-old Priya Nanda, a Plainview college student, who after hitting the cyclist, didn't stop till she got to a Staples where she bought some supplies.

Vickers was pronounced dead at the Nassau University Medical Center at 6:12 pm.

The service celebrating the 59-year-old's life was held at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Queens according to his younger brother Daniel Vickers, 51.

This is the third NYCC member to be killed by a motorist according to another member who posted to the club's online forum. The other two members were Steve Schuetze and Stan Oldak, said the poster.

Maxim was known to have cycled across parts of Europe, including England and Latvia, and completed Paris-Brest twice, a 1200-km ride that cyclists must complete in 90 hours from Paris to Brest, and then back again.

"Maxim was very active with the NYCC in the '80s and early '90s. Back then, he rode frequently with the 'A' riders, and was a regular at NYCC meetings and social events. In recent years, he preferred to ride alone," wrote Chris Mailing and Arlene Brimer in a joint message to NYCC members.

Vickers was hit from behind by Nanda who left the scene of the accident, but was tracked down by police in a Jericho Staples parking lot. A fragment from the mirror on her car that was damaged in the crash helped police identify the car and driver.

Nanda told police that "the guy on the bike . . . tried to cut me off," that she hit him, and that "I was nervous and kept driving," according to a report in Newsday by Matthew Chayes.

Nanda is charged with felony leaving the scene of a deadly accident. She was arraigned Tuesday at First District Court in Hempstead, and is free on $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash bail and due back in court Jan. 7, said the newspaper.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cyclo-Cross Hits Long Island This Weekend

Photos by Anthony Skorochoads (c)
For both days this weekend, cyclocross will come to Eisenhower Park in East Meadow,  NY.  Likened by its sponsors to "steeplechase on two wheels," competitors will use road racing bicycles outfitted with knobby tires, and in the tough spots--rises, steps and large indentations--competitors will have to get off, and run with their bikes on their shoulders.

Whitmore Landscaping's Super Cross Cup, or more familiarly known as Whitmore's, will take place over Saturday and Sunday with beginner to pro categories and --the race organizers say, accommodations for all ages (though somehow I doubt there will be age categories for 14 and under and 80 and over.)

The races make up the final two events of the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Cup series, attracting top regional and national-class racers as well as a few overseas professionals looking for series points, team cup standings, and cash prizes. Gavi Epstein of CRCA/ Foundation told BBB that he plans to compete in the event for at least one of the two days.

For the previous eight years, the Whitmore Landscaping Super Cross Cup was held in tony Southampton. But due to construction, a last-minute change of venue was necessary said race promoter Myles Romanow, adding, "the new course is high-speed [and] both difficult and spectator-friendly." Visitors are welcome.

The racing begins Saturday November 20th at 10am and runs through 4pm.  Sunday's race program begins at 9 am and finishes at 3:30pm. There will be an announcer, music, and plenty of food and drink. One of the expected food vendors is the New York City-based Wafels& Dinges.


Myles Romanow, (631)287-2087
J.P. Partland,  (212)316-1582

RELEVANT LINKS

Kissena Cycling Club website
with race info:
http://www.kissena.info

Registration page: http://www.bikereg.com/events/Register.asp?EventID=11907

Wikipedia on Cyclocross
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclo-cross

Active.com on cyclocross
http://www.active.com/mountainbiking/Articles/Cyclocross-101.htm

Videos showing cyclocross racing
 http://www.crosstube.net/

Monday, November 15, 2010

Italian Police Raid Home of RadioShack's Yaroslav Popovych

Police raided the Milan home of Lance Armstrong RadioShack teammate Yaroslav Popovych in search of performance enhancing drugs, according to Italian media.

The timing of the raid was notable as Ukrainian Popovych appeared in front of a grand jury in Los Angeles on Nov. 3 as part of an open investigation into doping in cycling.

Police and custom officials raided the house in Tuscany on Thursday and seized computers and mobile phones along with unspecified substances.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the search warrant was issued by public prosecutor Benedetto Roberti, who is leading several doping investigations in Italy.

Popovych has been working as a teammate of Armstrong's since their days at Discovery Channel, also riding alongside the seven-time tour winner on the Astana and RadioShack teams.

Popovych's lawyer Ken Miller told the Associated Press of the grand jury appearance but declined to give further details.

In recent weeks, the federal prosecutors have subpoenaed several of Armstrong's former teammates and associates including coach Allen Lim and Oakley representative  Stephanie McIlvain.

As usual, no comment from Federal investigators about the investigation which is headed by Food and Drug Administration agent Jeff Novitzky.


Ironically in their coverage of the raid, ESPN displayed a very prominent ad featuring Lance Armstrong promoting  FRS Healthy Energy , with a big title, "Tired of Being Tired?"

Yes, we are tired, tired of this investigation--no, witch hunt-- going after the most tested rider in the world (Armstrong), who has been tested at all times of the day, morning, noon and night, in all regions of the world, by surprise, at a moment's notice. There is no more testing done possibly in any other sport in the world than there is of pro cyclists, thanks to progressive action by the world cycling organization the UCI.

Despite rigorous, if not truly invasive testing of Armstrong (and hundreds of other pro cyclists who have made it),  this is not the first time that a witch hunt has organized with such ferocity against Armstrong. 

He's been dogged by doubters, naysayers, witch hunters, media hunters, and their ilk since he started winning the Tour de France the first time in the 1990's.  What about Miguel Indurain? Eddy Merckx? What about opening investigations of them? It's never too late, you know.  In fact, let's raid all the homes of all cyclists, in the world! That would be a real pay off! (Well it could yield some cheaters, but I think our point is made.)

And let's let all the professional ball players be--because you know, they are too busy with their billion dollar mansions, racing cars, illicit girlfriends and ecstasy parties to take performance enhancing drugs.

The 30-year-old Popovych turned professional in 2002 with the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago Team after becoming the first and only amateur to win the silver medal and then the gold medal in the U23 UCI World Road Race Championships in successive years (2000 and 2001), according to the RadioShack team site. Popovych has also raced professionally for Silence-Lotto.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

KGS Bikes Takes on Frame Builder Passoni

KGS Bikes, a custom bicycle design studio owned by Kevin Saunders, has announced that they are going to be the exclusive custom U.S. bicycle dealer for Passoni of Italy.

Saunders said he conducted research among people who worked in the cycling business in Italy and found that Passoni was "the Italian equivalent of Parlee in the U.S.," though Passoni uses titanium in the manufacture of their frames, and Parlee uses Carbon.  "Passoni's quality and attention to detail are similar, and I feel confident at this level of bicycle that I am providing the best for the customer, " said Saunders.

KGS Bikes is now using Passoni, Parlee, Eriksen, Co-Motion and Zinn for their designed KGS bikes built to spec for premium customers. To make room for their new supplier, Saunders confirmed that the studio will no longer be specifying Formigli frames for their custom bicycles.

Two of KGS's most recent Passoni customers will be spending more than $25,000 each for their completed bike packages, and will use the bicycles to tour Italy. "The frame alone will be $10,000," said Saunders whose least expensive bike package rolls out the door for $7,000. Passoni's most expensive built bike was sold for 40,000 Euros (about $52,000) this year.

KGS Bikes specializes in the premium bicycle market, which attracts a very specific clientele. "The type of client who buys a $25 K bike has had success in life, is over 40 and would rather buy one bike and have it last 20 to 30 years rather than buy a new bike every few years," said Saunders.

Despite a world wide recession, many of the one percent of the world's wealthiest people have turned to bicycles as their new status toys, replacing the BMWs, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis of years past. A bicycle that costs more than most cars, but also establishes the rider as possessing a bike equivalent to a pro, takes status toys to a whole new level.

And then there's the Baby Boomer factor: "Once you get over 40, the value of your time while you are riding a bike exceeds the cost of the bike because your time is worth more," said Saunders.  It's no secret that Baby Boomers make more money than other segments of the population because they are in their prime income earning years, and make up a greater percentage of the total world count. As they reach retirement age, their knees also give out, making cycling the preferred sport over stress-related exercise like running.

Saunders invested heavily to expand his reach during the recession and expects to sell 50 fully built bicycles, and 150 Frame-Ups--which includes the frame built to spec, and all the other parts that make the bike a custom fit including the headset, stem, handlebars, brake levers, saddle and seat post-- in the next year.  

The clients picking up the new Passonis already have two Parlees at their home outside of the U.S., and will keep their Passonis at their U.S. home in Colorado.
Both Passoni and Parlee design bikes that will last 20 years when the rider is doing an average of 12,000 miles per year--for a total of 240,000 miles--a distance that most cyclists can only dream about. 

Although the two clients--let's call them Frank and Judy--won't be doing 12,000 miles this year on either bicycle, they are demanding customers with a chauffeur who drives behind them when they ride so that they won't be mugged while in motion (they live in a country where the wealthy are often kidnapped and held for ransom.)

"They get on these things and ride the wheels of of them," said Saunders using a southern expression that doesn't mean the wheels actually come off.

The Passoni's frame geometry is perfect for the couple, both of whom have relatively short arms lengths for their body height, said Saunders.  "Frank" was an active soccer athlete growing up and had a bad shoulder injury so he has to ride with a shorter reach because of his injury, he added. 

The Balance Point Positioning System (TM) that Saunders developed over 20 years he says will give the rider a perfect position on the bike.  He then draws the whole bike in Computer Assisted Design and sends it to the frame builder.  "And that's the difference, that's what people are paying for," he said.

Saunders started a business in aviation manufacturing where he designed a clip-in medical transport system that was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.  Partly because of this experience and his long term experience with bicycles, Saunders believes he is able to determine what is well made and what isn't when visiting a bicycle frame builder.

Frank and Judy also convinced another couple who they are riding with in Italy, to purchase the same bicycle packages from Saunders.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nelson Leaves Team Lipstick to Form NJ Venture

Fifteen-year veteran women's cycling and fitness coach Emma Nelson has left Team Lipstick to start her own venture, Team WE of Women's Edge Sports, LLC.

The company is based in New Jersey and has been joined by a business partner Griff Long.

Nelson had been working with Team Lipstick's Laura Cozik who had become the local name and face for women's triathlete training in the New York and New Jersey area.


"It was originally my idea to start the program in New Jersey," said Nelson who had added the chapter to the Lipstick business. "But I wasn't able to provide the flexibility of programming and pricing to my athletes under the Lipstick program, so I decided to go out on my own," she noted.

Nelson, who started the new venture in September, also wanted to provide a more fully-rounded coaching program and a higher degree of autonomy for her coaches.

“It's less about racing, and more about health, fitness, balance, and camaraderie,” she said.

Although she is a previous elite road racer, Nelson has taken the racing requirement out of the equation so that cyclists, runners, and swimmers can work towards their goals, but race only if they want to.


Cozik's swim coach Lisa Picek has also left Lipstick for the position of aquatics director at Team WE, whose coaching team includes Andy Nelson, Nelson's husband, and Mara Miller, a two-time national road cycling champion.

Though Team Lipstick did not invent or even re-focus the attention on women’s training—19-time national cycling champion Betsy Davis was doing that back in the 1990’s long before Cozik had ever raced a triathlon, Cozik had rekindled a local interest on women’s racing by building a business around them.

She also attracted attention to her program by training CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and six other people for a triahlon (they finished.)

“She has definitely tapped into something unique," said Nelson, "but it was a temporary monopoly, and competition is good for the customer.”

Tara Cioffi said she couldn’t even clip into the pedals when she originally starting working with Nelson to lose weight. Her original goal was “just to finish a triathlon,” she wrote in an email.

But since completing the Diamond Girl Triathlon on August 28 she has lost 10 pounds and adjusted her point of view. “Initially I went into training thinking that I don't have to go fast, I just have to “go.” But that philosophy has changed: I know I can finish, [and] now I want to finish faster,” she wrote.

No doubt about it, triathlon racing has had a growth spurt that defies the recession of the last two years.

Annual membership in the USA Triathlon group that governs triathlon racing has grown from 19,060 in 1999 to 100,674 in 2007. And women who made up 27 percent of all triathlete members in 1999, now make up 37 percent. Races, camps and clinics have also doubled from 1,541 in 2004 to 3,115 in 2009, according to the organization.

Participation in triathlons has grown to 1.2 million Americans taking part in at least one on-road triathlon in 2009, 51.4 percent greater than in 2007 (798,000), according to a May 2010 study by the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association.

The greatest growth among members and participants have been among the 35-39 and 40-44 age groups—prime ages for expanding tummy and hip lines, areas that women generally complain about when most of their exercise might be walking from their car, to their job, to their car again, and hitting the sofa at night to watch a bit of television.  Even New Yorkers in that age group see a rise in their tummy and butt lines that can be frustrating.

Team WE will now compete head on with Team Lipstick who says they are "New York City's largest and most successful all-female triathlon team,” according to their website.

The claim is hard to substantiate since Lipstick offers no explanation about how they arrived at it --no stats or race results are available to compare to other groups of racing women, though Lipstick’s "about us" page states that, "every one of our athletes had a strong finish line effort, with one placement on the podium."

The Century Road Club Association, the Five Borough Bike Club, the New York Cycle Club and several other New York-based racing and recreational bike clubs have many more female race members, often performing at high levels of competition, though those groups do not publish their statistics based on gender.

The focus on women is not new, though it is growing in importance. Other training camps, like Mike Fraysse Sports have been focusing on women since the 1970’s, and began focusing on triathlons in the last decade, said their president and previous head of the US Cycling Federation, Mike Fraysse. His camp has produced at least one Ironman winner, Barbara Buenahora, and Betsy Davis, once national elite coach for women, coaches for his triathlon camp in Argentina.

Nelson said she can also provide the right coaching attention to New Jersey residents because she lives there. Based on her contacts, several retailers including Park Ridge Cycle Sport, the Tenafly Bicycle Workshop, Albert's Westwood Cycle , and Strictly Bicycles in Fort Lee, NJ have offered support and discounts to her more than 20 team members.

Team WE is currently in the middle of their 10-week fall training program and winter training begins in December.  Prices start at $200 for 10-12 weeks for weekly coaching sessions, to $1500 for five coached sessions per week for a full beginner triathlon program.

Still competition in the women’s triathlon market could be stiff. In 2009 Cozik’s image soared when she became the Athletic Director for the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. It was quite a sprint up to the top for Cozik, whose only previous experience was 10 years as a competitive ballroom dancer and finishing in her first triathlon in 2008, according to her website. An email  to Cozik for comment was not answered by press time.

If you were anywhere near Route 9W, a busy cyclist corridor from the George Washington Bridge, to Nyack, NY, you would see the team's ubiquitous orange, white, and black uniforms traveling north and south.

Nelson expects her team to be right up there with Team Lipstick, and perhaps to surpass it: "I am starting with New Jersey--who knows from there," she said.  Watch out, guys!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cancer Organizer in Hospital as Cyclists Ride

Yesterday about 50 cyclists took to the roads to raise money for cancer research while in strange twist of fate, the leader and organizer of the event lay in the hospital with a spinal injury that he sustained while riding the same route only a week ago.

Pic: the group before the send off: and a facsimile of a contribution to the cause. (c) Benepe.

Two other bicycle accidents occurred during the actual event on Sunday, though in both cases the cyclists were not seriously injured.

Kenneth Youner organized the Spokes of Hope ride that took riders some 40 miles through northern New Jersey and New York City on Sunday with a message to help fund research that will cure cancer.

Meanwhile Youner lay in the intensive care unit of Hackensack Hospital, the first stop along the cyclists' route, with a damaged spine that he sustained when he ran over a loose twig that lodged in his wheel and caused him to fall.  The accident occurred at a spot that was along the same route to the hospital from Englewood.
 
BBB rode to the gathering spot at 8 am on Sunday, freezing practically to death bombing down Booth Avenue to Englewood Hospital in Englewood.  Other cyclists stood shivering in the early morning cold that soon became a day filled with sunshine and good spirits.

A hospital dog listens carefully to the speech by Dr. Forte. (c) Benepe

Youner's wife Cecile died of cancer in November 2008, but even before her death, the couple had started the Cecile and Ken Youner Cancer Foundation to raise funds for cancer research.

In a brief interview with Ken before his accident last week, he told BBB that the group gives money to doctors whom he believes are on the breaking edge of cancer research.
Below: registering for the event.
One of those beneficiaries, Dr. Francis Forte, was present at the parking lot to send off cyclists. Forte said he was involved in research in the use of a vaccine that could eliminate cancer in 72 hours.

That vaccine has already been through a mice-efficacy phase, but was now ready to be tested on humans who have been diagnosed with incurable cancer, but are strong enough to withstand a new treatment.

Bill Kennedy and his wife Diana Kennedy of Udderly Smooth, one of the event's sponsors handed out Cliff bars and samples of their skin moisturizers outside their truck which had been painted white and black to look like a giant cow.

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson who came to give a send off to the cyclists said he supports the foundation because, "I feel cancer can be cured with the right funding." Johnson's mother had breast cancer at age of 94, and he gets himself checked every year, he noted.

Pic: Nate Morgenstern who led the ride (c) Benepe

Nate Morgenstern, a friend of Youner's who had mapped the ride led the group at a quick "B" pace along the back roads from Englewood to Hackensack, a ride made all the more safe and pleasant by the presence of Englewood Police Officer Ronald Kalomeris who sped to intersections ahead of the group to block traffic.

Kalomeris who is a bike instructor in the Englewood PD said he was a rider last year in the Spokes of Hope ride.  As we passed through the intersections feeling safe and protected, cyclists called out their thanks to Kalomeris.
It was sheer joy to ride through those same intersections that I have driven in a car, and to learn how quickly and easily we reached Hackensack by bike. It pointed to the need, parenthetically, for safe bike lanes which at this time, do not exist on this route.

Dr. Forte speaks while Jason Youner, Youner's son, videotapes in the Englewood Hospital parking lot (c) Benepe.

We were greeted by the staff at Englewood hospital with water and more Cliff Bars. Dr. Michael Harris, head of the oncology unit for pediatrics and Dr. Anthony Mato, member of the Lymphoma Division were there to give a cancer pep talk.  The doctors joined Morgenstern in a trip upstairs to the ICU to report the success of the ride to Youner.

Deb Gemmell had traveled all the way from Waterloo, Ontario Canada with her husband Jonathan Pearce to attend the ride. A breast and lymphodemia cancer survivor, Gemmell said she was here "to support Dr. Youner."

Gemmell and Pearce before the start of the ride (c) Benepe

Because of her cancer, Gemmell is unable to lean forward on a regular bike, and uses a recumbent bike with an electric assist motor mounted in the back for steep hills.

Also among us was 13-year-old Andrew Gates who rode his skateboard effusively and with great strokes of energy around and through the much older cyclists. "He's going to beat us there," said one.

As we turned back towards Englewood, and then Manhattan, cyclists joked that they were going to lasso themselves to the back of Gemmell's bike once we reached the steep and unrelenting hill that would take us from Englewood to Route 9W.

A few deer jumping across the road gave us some nice suburban competition. The group then took the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson River to the west side Greenway, and proceeded down to Mt. Sinai on the upper east side in Manhattan. After returning to Englewood, those who made a donation of $120 were treated to a kosher meal at the Youner household.

As of press time, still no word on whether Youner is still in intensive care, nor of his medium term prognosis.

More pics posted on Flickr.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Weekly News Roundup: The Spanish Doping Scandal Explodes

Thursday, October 7, 2010
Spanish Doping Scandal Now up to 9th Rider:  Spokes of Hope, and Blasphemy on the Pages of the NY Post
The Spanish anti-doping machine has gone into high drive, announcing that five other cyclists--besides Contador--and three others--are now suspected of doping and are being investigated.

Albert Soler, the Director General of the Spanish Sports Council, said at a conference on doping. that five Spanish cyclists are now facing a higher degree of control than the others because of a "series of unusual parameters."

“We have five Spanish cyclists who we suspect may be in a dangerous situation,” he said.

Soler did not name the five other cyclists but noted that Contador was not among them.

And he did not mention the two Spanish riders who actually were suspended last week, Vuelta a Espana runner up Ezequiel Mosquera, and his teammate David Garcia da Pena, which BBB was one of the first to report last week when all were caught off guard agog about the Contador news blast.

Add to that, a third, Margarita Fullana who was provisionally suspended after testing positive for banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO), news that hit on Saturday Oct. 2.

Then of course, add the fourth (actually in this case the first): On Tuesday, a urine sample taken from three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador showed abnormally high levels of plastic residues indicating the possibility that he had taken a transfusion of his own blood during this year's Tour de France, a person with knowledge of the test results told The Associated Press.

Notwithstanding the obvious spate of drug findings Lissavetzky Spain’s secretary of state for sports, said his country's doping issues are “not greater or smaller than in the rest of the world”. Umm, now they are.

Pic right: Margarita Fullana

“It is a global problem,” he told the conference. “There is a political will, a real desire to continue the fight against doping (in Spain).” Umm, well, now there is, now that Spanish officials are putting all their PR machines into motion.

So that actually now makes nine (count them, 9) Spanish riders being called out onto the anti-doping carpet in less than 7 days.  That's faster than the beginning of the world, and is likely causing slam-dunk, "I told you so" schmojournalists like David Walsh to slobber at the bit for their next scandnovel about doping in cycling.

It's amazing how some real negative tests can take the news focus away from the witch hunt dogging Lance Armstrong--which so far has not yielded any hard evidence.

Still, that hasn't stopped amateur cyclists who have no real measure of whether doping is rampant, intermittent, or simply a game of catch the mouse from saying that these developments "prove" that Lance was not doping in this year's TDF because he was so behind. Oh okay, he only crashed three times in the beginning of the race, making it impossible to catch up, and he's well, "an old guy," like you! Nothing proves nothing, folks, let's wait for the hard info to come through.

If you didn't catch the full news, Contador was provisionally suspended by the international cycling federation (UCI) last week after a small amount of Clenbuterol was discovered in his A and B samples by a laboratory in Cologne, Germany. The Spaniard had said in a press conference last week that bad meat taken over the border from Spain to France which he ate on Sept. 21 was the cause.

But the lab also found plastic traces that might turn up after a transfusion of blood from a plastic bag, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. A report in the New York Times said that the amount found was 8 times the normal and allowable amount.

The investigation of Contador's possible doping and blood transfusions, both of which are banned under UCI rules and regulations, is ongoing.

Local Goings On: The Ride for Cancer by a Passionate Guy

Spokes of Hope chieftan Kenneth Youner is putting together a big ride this weekend to honor his wife Cecile Youner who died of cancer. Although Younder started planning this ride without the support of Livestrong, it is now connected to the Livestrong anti cancer group started by Lance Armstrong.

Youner's experience watching his wife suffer from the dreadful disease is not unique, but it is very personal. He's brought that personal touch to his passion for cycling and for his wife's memory.

It's also the outgrowth of a greater community that has its origins in on-line support community called “Cyclists Combating Cancer." "Connected through the internet, cycling and cancer," the group was founded in 1999 by Damon Phinney, father of Davis Phinney, Olympian and winner of a road stage of the 1986 Tour de France and his grandson, Taylor Phinney World Champion and
Olympian.

Phinney believed that "cycling greatly extended his life and more importantly his quality of life, after being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in 1987," said Youner.

The money he hopes to raise at this bike ride will go to scientists and doctors that Youner deems fit to research the causes and cures for cancer.

Though it is hard to measure how well those scientists match up against let's say, the major organizational heft of Livestrong, Youner's passion makes a compelling argument for showing up. I mean he really makes you feel if you don't come you're slighting your best friend.

The ride is on October 10, and starts at 8:30 am at the Englewood Hospital in Englewood, NJ and is about 40 miles to and from Hackensack. For out of towners who don't know the way, travel from the GWB to the big turn down to Englewood at Palisades Ave., go all the way down the hill, turn right onto Engle St. and ride about one mile to the hospital on the left.

Registration costs $40 but if you want to chow down afterwards for a kosher meal, and get a bike jersey too, that's an additional  $80.

Blasphemy on the pages of the NY Post

And they call themselves a News-paper? Another schnews attempt by the Post, intercepted today merely because I happened to leaf through it at Bunberry's in Piermont.

Headlined "Handle "Bars": Cyclists out of Control," and reported by AMBER SUTHERLAND and TOM NAMAKO, the article says that a study recently completed by NYU's Medical Center concluded that drinking and pedaling were the "reason" that cyclists were hurt while riding in New York City.

NYU researchers examined the victims of 143 bicycle accidents who were brought to Bellevue Hospital's emergency room from December 2008 to December 2009 and found that 76 percent had not been wearing helmets, 13 percent had consumed alcohol and 5 percent had been listening to music.

It is not only outrageous that the Post would therefore conclude that "most" cyclists are therefore "out of control." Though we have not seen the study ourselves yet, it is also a ridiculous sham to conclude that because they weren't wearing helmets they were hurt.

They were hurt because they were hit by cars, 2 and 3 ton vehicles made of steel and other hard elements going much faster than they were, most likely cutting them off, or hitting them from the side or front. To conclude, that since they were "not wearing helmets" they were hit by cars, is ridiculous and shameful.

Add insult to injury, they posted a photo of Critical Mass riders, as if they were the ones doing the helmet-less and drunken riding.  Time for a little slander lawsuit, dear TimesUP!

Let's get our hands on this bull-s-t study and see it for what it is. In the meantime, dear NY Post, I hope some of your reporters ride to work, then you can get the real story. Or should I say get off your fat butts and do some real pedaling!


More News, Some Silly

One rider known to some of us in Bergen County has submitted his dog for the "cutest" pet contest. Among the pics, two rabbits, a bunch of very cute and not so cute dogs, cats, and what looks like a raccoon.

Here is what Jon (owner of no. 31) says: "For anyone who missed the opportunity to vote for Wilson, he is entered in the Bergen Magazine Cutest Pet Contest.  He is #31.  Please vote for him.  The other contestants look like a bunch of dogs........."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Low Down On Clenbuterol: Did he or didn't he?

Clenbuterol, the banned substance found in small amounts in the urine of Tour de France champion Alberto Contador is a chemical of many uses and sources.
For one, the substance often referred to as “Clen” is widely used by weight lifters because of its ability to reduce the appetite while also building muscle, specifically by reducing your ratio of Fat Free Mass (FFM) to Fat Mass (FM).

That’s what every cyclist wants, especially for climbing. Clen stimulates your beta-2 receptors, which in turn help you to lose fat by allowing your body to release and burn more stored fat.

And we all know how great a climber Contador was in this year’s Tour when he dueled it out with Schleck on some of the steepest mountains known to cycling competition.

But the effectiveness of the substance for a competitive cyclist could be limited. While it is true that it could make a rider more efficient, lower in weight and better able to sustain hundreds of miles on a given level of food, it also has several drawbacks.

For one, to get maximum results, you need to take the substance for six weeks at a time—no on and off for this drug, because it just peters out, according to Isteroids.com.

There is also good reason the substance may have come from the meat he ingested, as Contador claimed in a press conference today near Madrid.

Clen has been used for decades in the foreign veterinary world, for increasing the lean yield of livestock. It’s long half life and tendency to stay active in the body for long periods of time mean that vets in the United States aren’t able to use it. Which would explain why European meat could easily have the substance in it, and why Contador could have had some of the substance excreted in his urine.

But more importantly, the fact that an effective dose of Clenbuterol must last six weeks, is the same reason why a cyclist might not be bothered, for one the risk of being caught over that period of time. But there are physiological reasons too. This is what the experts said:

“One of the primary drawbacks of Clenbuterol is that after a couple of weeks, it seems to stop working for most people. This is because it can cause a down regulation of pulmonary, cardiac and central nervous system beta-adrenergic receptors. … To counteract this, you can take some Ketotifen, Benadryl, or Periactim every 3rd or 4th week that you remain on Clenbuterol. These are prescription anti-histimines, [and] they’ll make you drowsy,” said the experts at Isteroids.

The expert goes on to say, “One of the weirdest things about Clenbuterol is that even though it’s an asthma medication, studies have shown reduced exercise (cardiovascular) performance with [it].” However, that being said, the drug is easily available on the Internet even in the United States where it is banned.  An ad for the drug at the "Droid Shop" reads, "discrete billing," and "no prescription required," and takes all credit cards.

Aside from the almost clear detraction of using the drug in cardio sports, there are other downsides to the drug, a perilous road to go down for Contador who has had a history of blood clots in his brain that almost killed him in 2004: it causes enlargement of heart ventricles in studies with animals, specifically cardiac hypertrophy, and dose dependent apoptotic and necrotic myocycte death (death of human cells). It also depletes Taurine, one of the essential amino acids for bodily function. (Though Taurine is not specifically an amino acid because it lacks carboxyl group, it acts like one.)

According to Wikipedia, Taurine crosses the blood-brain barrier and has been implicated in a wide array of physiological phenomena including “adipose tissue regulation and possible prevention of obesity, calcium homeostasis, recovery from osmotic shock, protection against glutamate excitotoxicity, and prevention of epileptic seizures. ….Additionally, supplementation with taurine has been shown to prevent oxidative stress induced by exercise.”


Clenbuterol is also an asthma medication, again not available to asthmatics in the US, but available in Europe. Did Contador take asthma medication? That’s a good question. Albuterol is Clen’s shorter acting cousin, the FDA’s drug of choice here. In the world of athletics though, Clenbuterol has a much longer history of use, according to Isteroids.com.

In the press conference today Contador said the fact that the anti-doping tests prior and after July 21 did not detect the substance, analyzed by the same laboratory in Cologne, Germany, added credence to his contaminated meat theory. Add his statement to the anatomy of this drug's effectiveness, it seems unlikely that he would have taken the drug purposefully.

On the other hand, Contador's extremely lean and extremely effective body has often led to speculation that he was taking banned substances.  But speculation seems to be the backbone of the cycling industry, especially among cycling amateurs, and in this case, proof is the preferred alternative. How the UCI will come to that outcome is not known.

Contador Blames Test Result on Bad Meat

On Wednesday, the International Union of Cyclists announced that Alberto Contador's urine was tainted by Clenbuterol, a banned substance.

He was provisionally suspended pending an ongoing investigation even though both A and B samples were found positive.

Pic: Contador riding into Paris this year's TDF--the winner 

And today Thursday, Contador announced in a press conference in his hometown near Madrid that the cause was bad meat imported from Spain.

"It is a clear case of food contamination," Contador said. "I am sad and disappointed but hold my head high."

The meat was brought over from Spain to France and was eaten by Contador on July 20 and 21. Clenbuterol is sometimes given to cows, pigs and other animals to increase their growth rate.

"I think this is going to be resolved in a clear way," he added. "With the truth behind you, you can speak loud and clear, and I am confident justice will prevail."

The Spanish thee time Tour de France winner and one time Giro d'Italia champion said the beef was brought at the request of the team's cook by a Spanish cycling organizer, Jose Luis Lopez Cerron, reported Yahoo News.

Cerron said earlier Thursday on Spanish radio that he was a friend of the team chef, who had complained of poor quality meat at the hotel where the team was staying.

Lopez Cerron said he bought filet mignon for the team in the Spanish border town of Irun on his way to Pau, France, to watch a few stages of the tour.

Contador called the UCI's suspension of him "a true mistake."

Contador and two others Spanish riders test positive for banned substance

The International Union of Cyclists issued a statement today that Alberto Contador, Tour de France winner in 2010 and 2009, has tested positive for banned substances.

Pic left: Contador and Schleck battle it out in this year's TDF 

In their statement they confirmed that they had found an "adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol following the analysis of urine sample taken during an in competition test on 21st July 2010 on the second rest day of the Tour de France."

Also announced this morning by the UCI, Spanish riders David Garcia Da Peña and Ezequiel Mosquera also had "Adverse Analytical Findings (presence of Hydroxyethyl starch based on reports from the WADA accredited laboratory in Köln) in the urine samples collected from them at an in-competition test at the Vuelta a España on 16 September 2010."

Both athletes rode for the team Xacobeo Galicia in this year's Vuelta a España  with Mosquera coming in second overall, behind Vicente Niballi.

"Mr. David Garcia Da Peña and Ezequiel Mosquera have the right to request and attend the analyses of their B samples," continued the UCI statement.

Contador's result was reported by the WADA accredited laboratory in Cologne to UCI and WADA simultaneously, and the concentration found by the laboratory was estimated at 50 picograms (or 0,000 000 000 05 grams per ml).

According to the UCI, this amount was very small, though a "B" test confirmed the first A" sample test results.

Pic: Contador on the Champs Elysees at this year's TDF 

Although it is true under UCI regulations that Contador is now banned from competition pending the outcome of the investigation, the media jumped all over the news and declared in bold titles that the Spaniard could "lose his Tour title," leading one to conclude perhaps that it is already a foregone conclusion.

But in a statement from the organization that runs the Tour de France, the Amaury Sports Organization, this morning they said they were not so quick to jump to the same conclusion:  "The UCI indicates that this requires complementary scientific investigations under the care of the World Antidoping Agency "before any conclusions can be drawn."

They went on to say that the "directors of the Tour de France thus awaits the results of the complementary analyses and the definitive decision of the UCI."

It is no joke for a rider to be tested positively for any substance.  But the UCI's conclusion that the amount was so small in concentration, any further analysis will take some time they said, and did not want to draw any conclusions before the investigation is completed.

The other two Spaniards with positive test results announced this morning don't have the same high profile as three time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

But the 34-year-old Mosquera (pictured left) recently signed a contract with the Vacansoleil team after his second place finish at the Vuelta.

Garcia (pictured right), finished eleventh overall in the Vuelta, and took top ten placings on the stages to Peña Cabarga and Alto de Cotobello, according to Velonation.

Spaniard Oscar Sevilla also recently tested positive for Hydroxyethyl starch, a blood plasma volume expander that can be used to disguise the increase in hematocrit that occurs with the use of EPO.

The Xacobeo Galicia team has been looking for new financial backing for next season, with a deadline of October 1 to secure the necessary funding reported Velonation.

But with today's news, that effort will almost certainly come to a standstill.  If the test results are confirmed, Mosquera faces a two year ban and at the age of 35, and could be also be facing the end of his cycling career.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interbike's New Date and Destination Frets Retailers

InterbikSept. 27, 2010.  First report on Interbike
This year's Interbike did not disappoint in terms of new product, but the show organizer's plan to move the event to Anaheim in the second week of August next year had retailers all in a tizzy.

"I will not come," said one retailer based in Canada, who preferred to remain off the record. She already had plans for the week of August 8 through 12, 2010, and neither she nor her partner will be able to get away. "It would kill our busiiness," she said.

Pic: Contador's Specialized Tarmac Bike (Benepe (c))

Another retailer from the northeast U.S. said they won't be able to make it either. "It's crazy, right in the middle of our biggest season," he noted.

"You know what? It's going to be a west coast show only," said another. These were the words of every single retailer I spoke to. Not one said they planned to make it, and none could arrange to get away from their businesses--at least for now.

One vendor support specialist who works the Outdoor Demo and the Cross Vegas race predicted the show won't even make it to Anaheim before the organizers change their minds and bring it back. He noted that the lack of adequate entertainment and infrastructure in Anaheim would make it a very dull locale.

"Traffic will be a killer--can you imagine competing with Disneyland in the middle of August?" said another retailer. He is not planning on attending either because August is his biggest month of the year.

Attendance Down?  

The move to Anaheim, CA is sure to bring numbers down at a time when the bicycle industry is still reeling from a difficult U.S. and worldwide recession at the same time that prices from primary supplier countries like China continue to increase.

Photo: Mavic shoe: "The lightest shoe in the market." (Benepe, (c))

Show management said that Interbike attendance by both vendors and retailers was about level with last year. But they offered no details as to how that information was collected.

For one, some companies took double booths this year, like Champion Systems, who had a long rack of custom clothing--all of it the same but done in 4 color ways, stationed themselves directly across from Castelli; and Sheila Moon took a bigger booth with a marketing story that was a mix between a Target-driven California Hillbilly and Free People, (the iconoclastic brand that reaps millions from its imagery of statuesque blonde fraulein imports in tabacco road type settings).  Nutcase, that zany helmet designer had also doubled its booth size.

However, anecdotally, BBB spoke to a number of vendors who elected not to have booths this year. Descente, Panache,  and Vicious Cycles took the Trek route of not coming to the show with a booth, some for economical reasons, others because no business was being written so late in the season.

We also spoke to retailers --scores of them--who did not attend this year or worse, sent their junior level managers who only have input, but not decision-making power. Smaller retailers from all over the country--Florida, New York, Connecticut to name some states-- elected not to come at all. Those same retailers are the only ones that would write any meaningful business so late in the season.

Which is why Interbike is moving to the second week in August.  However, some lamented that even that earlier date is already too late.

Pic: A Pearizumi jersey that has iterations of a previous 2007 Hotvelociti design

"It's become a consumer show," said one vendor. "That's why we aren't really interested in coming anymore."

Some vendors also complained that the show had become more and more of an opportunity for their competition to come and scope out their product, then run back to HQ to duplicate it.

One apparel maker said they found two executives from a major competitor in their booth this year carefully examining the fabric and finishes on their bike shorts. "Last year they copied our product, so this year we aren't showing anything outside. Our legitimate customers can come to our suite and see it," he noted. All of their product was displayed behind glass encasements. He said it would have been different if they had come up and introduced themselves.

Another fear was copying by Asian factories. One vendor said he does not allow photographs anymore because the photogs represent large factories that have in the past immediately put their design into production--but only the front part of the jersey because they didn't have a photo of its back.

For those reasons, many suppliers had adopted private, walled-in compounds to ward off would be imitators, including Specialized, Terry Bikes, Luna, and Hincapie. Specialized took the unusual step of not allowing people in without a retailer pass. One apparel rep complained that he could not get into the booth to see the bikes because he was shopping for one himself.

It's not unusual for competitors to rip one another off: BBB saw an iteration of Hotvelociti's design from two years ago, prominently displayed in the Pearlizumi booth this year.

Some booths were wide open for all to enter either because they had a confident brand and marketing placement, or the opposite--followers with sad imitations and poor workmanship. Mavic, Chrome, Camelbak, and Nutcase were examples of leaders who did not close their doors to attendees.  The logic was not consistent however--some followers had walled off compounds for product that clearly represented nothing new, interesting or even noteworthy.  Maybe they just didn't want their competition to see how much their lines had deteriorated.

Owner of Segway Company Dies on Own Unit

The owner of the company that makes Segway's, those two-wheeled contraptions that hold you upright, has died riding his own Segway.

James Helseden was riding his Segway around his property in West Yorkshire,  when he drove off a cliff, into the River Wharfe and died, said Bloomberg News. 

The death was reported by the West Yorkshire police, who recovered the Segway from the water.

“Our family has been left devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of a much loved father and husband,” Heselden’s family said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News. “There is absolutely nothing to suggest it was anything other than a tragic accident.”

Police confirmed that the death was not suspicious.

Heselden, who founded Leeds-based Hesco Bastion Ltd., bought the Segway operation this year. He is reported to have had an estimated personal fortune of 166 million pounds ($263.2 million).

Paula Hargadon, a spokeswoman for Hesco Bastion Ltd.,  confirmed the deadly accident.

In 2006 Segway voluntarily recalled 23,500 of  the self-balancing scooters because they could suddenly reverse and cause accidents. The wheels unexpectedly switched direction when the rider leaned the transporter back to slow down, got off and got on again over a short period of time.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush made the news nationwide when he was pictured jumping from one of the two wheeled scooters after he lost control while vacationing in Maine in 2003.

That year, Segway recalled all 6,000 of its human transporters after a safety report found operators risk falling as the scooter’s batteries depleted.

The cost of a basic i2 Segway model is 4,795 pounds (about $7,599) and has a maximum speed of 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) per hour, according to the company’s U.K. website. The most expensive option is its x2 adventure package at 5,294 pounds,  (about $8,340) while the i2 police package costs 5,045 pounds (about $7,995).

BBB cannot help but add commentary to this one. We always thought it was dangerous, and this news kind of cinches it. Hopefully, you dear reader, do not hold any stock in this company.

Check out this photo of the Chinese police anti-terror unit: they look terrifying themselves. Good riddance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fashion Week Proves Bicycles Are the Pinnacle Of

Sept. 15, 2010
It's fashion week in New York, and bicycles are proving to be more fashionable than ever before.

In a Saks Fifth Avenue series of print ads that feature models in high end designs by Giorgio Armani and the like, women pose with bicycles, skateboards, hockey sticks and skis among other things.

But it's not just the fact that they are posing with bikes, but the models of bikes they chose, and the fantastic incongruity of the clothing they are presumably wearing on the bikes.

One ad shows a model wearing a partially see-through, wrapped gauze Batista Valli dress, and high heeled booties, standing next to a turn of the (previous) century high bike.

Another ad shows a model with a black wrap jacket, a lace skirt, and four-inch heels pushing a fold up bike.

The ads appear in Vogue and W magazine.
In another photographic series that appears in W Magazine, photos of residents of the East End of London show two characters with their bicycles.

One man has his bike hanging around his neck, as if it were a piece of jewelry.


The other is sporting a small bike of a brand and type I never knew existed (maybe someone who reads this blog can write in and tell us what it is.)

On his back is an old-fashioned wicker basket like the kind you might normally see on the front of the bike, attached to the handlebars. But clearly no one in this spread is doing what normal people normally do.

In an fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine this month, a woman stands holding a gorgeous white lifestyle bike (again, can any of you aficionados tell me the brand,) holding her daughter's hand.  In the background is a bike store in New York City.

She is wearing knee high boots, a long suede skirt and a white knit hat to match her white sweater. Her daughter is inexplicably looking like she is in a very bad mood, probably the result of a long photo shoot gone awry.

An ad for Michael, Michael Kors, the secondary line from the  designer, shows a model sitting on a lifestyle bike kissing a man who is leaning over with his hand on her knee. It's as if she just rode up to him and he's greeting her. She wears a knit hat, jeans, and knee high boots.

The lighting of the print ad is in warm red and orange tones, suggesting a lovely fall afternoon bike ride.

The ad is a real departure for Kors. Though he does often combine a sporty image with his ads, usually it's a blond woman wearing sunglasses on a speed boat or a yacht, with a shirtless man in aviators.

Or she is shown walking on his arm presumably on their way to an Bridgehampton charity event wearing a cascading lavender dress with spiky heels.


But to show that cycling is now at the apex of fashion, the August issue of Vogue magazine ran a Beauty feature on Evelyn Stevens, the female racing phenom whose roots are in New York.

Stevens started her young adult life as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers, but was derailed from the straight and narrow career track by her sister who suggested she enter a cyclocross race in California where she was visiting. Then a friend suggested she begin training and racing on a bike in New York's Central Park, "and the 27-year-old was, to borrow a term from her former occupation, sold," wrote Robert Sullivan.

Lo and behold, she began to win one race after another. Soon thereafter she was drafted by none other than the HTC Columbia pro cycling team. It's the same team that includes in its roster such greats as Mark Cavendish, sprinter and multiple stage winner of this year's Tour de France, as well as Mark Renshaw, notable for his head-butting in this year's Tour.

We had many, many other examples to show you including this shameless pitch for the Hotvelociti dresses (full disclosure, BBB has an interest in the company), that were made to go from the bike to the cafe, and were introduced this year for spring and fall, 2010.  Left is pictured Elizabeth wearing the Purple Passion dress with matching purple thermal jacket with multiple reflector strips for safe riding on city streets--and knee high boots.

Another line is coming in 2011, with sleeveless and backless styles for summer with matching jackets, and long sleeved versions for fall 2011, also with matching thermal jackets.