Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cycling Without Age

Pedal Moraine owner Mark Ramsey gets familiar with the Cycling Without Age rickshaw.


At the next meeting of the Common Council—6:30 p.m. on Monday the 18th at City Hall—Bike Friendly West Bend should learn whether its bike route plan will go forward. The vote could go either way, so contact your alderman and then attend the meeting to show your support.

Hopefully the Common Council and the rest of West Bend will recognize the earnestness with which BFWB is working toward more cycling opportunities in the city. For example, yesterday at Samaritan Health Center a joint effort of BFWB and the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department took another step toward implementation as training began for the Cycling Without Age program. Beginning in Spring 2018, Samaritan residents will be able to take rides on the rickshaw bike pictured above. Trained pilots will take the residents to popular locations like parks, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the downtown farmers market.

Cycling Without Age will be more than just a nice amenity for Samaritan residents. It will be part of a larger strategy to make bicycle traffic a normal part of transportation in West Bend. More riders, more awareness by motorists. More awareness, more safety. More safety, more riders ...


Monday, December 11, 2017

Presenting The 2018 Cheesehead Roubaix

We all appreciate a challenge, but the 2017 ride was, well ...


The 9th Annual Cheesehead Roubaix will begin at Newburg Fireman’s Park on Sunday, April 29, at 9 a.m.  Inspired by Spring Classics like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, Cheesehead Roubaix is a 63-mile ride that features almost 10 miles of dirt and gravel. The ride will test your fitness with rough road conditions and about 2,000 feet of climbing.

Cheesehead Roubaix is free of charge, but please consider making a voluntary contribution to the Newburg Fire Department to show your appreciation for the use of its facility. There will be a donations jar at the concessions stand before and after the ride. NFD is a small, all-volunteer department. Your generosity will make a big difference!

There will be a free, mid-ride rest stop courtesy of our friends from BELGIANWERKX. Please let us know you plan to attend so that we can ensure there’s enough food & drink at the rest stop. Join the fun at the Facebook event page, send me email or leave a comment below.

Moroder Photography will be on hand again to preserve your Cheesehead Roubaix memories. Check out these awesome images from last year!

Cheesehead Roubaix is designed for self-sufficient cyclists. The rest stop will be your only support. The ride uses only open public roads and park paths. You are responsible for your own safety and conduct, and you are expressly not exempt from Wisconsin traffic laws. Represent the sport well. Please visit the Cheesehead Roubaix website and print out your own copy of the cuesheet and map. The website also offers a data file for Garmin GPS devices.

See you on April 29!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bike Washington Counties (All 30 Of Them!)



Perhaps you have noticed that today is more than 30° colder than yesterday. It’s the sort of day that makes me wonder what it would be like to be a cyclist somewhere else. Usually such fantasies take me to places that are appreciably warmer. But today let’s confine our search to other Washington Counties … and to Washington Parish in Louisiana. What would a cyclist find in them? It’s really a mixed bag.

Washington County, Alabama – A sparsely-populated area on the Alabama-Mississippi line north of Mobile, this county has lots of forests and lots of dirt roads. We’re off to a good start.

Washington County, Arkansas – Although it is the 3rd most populated county in the state, this county features big hills and unpaved rural roads. Home to the University of Arkansas, the city of Fayetteville has designated bike routes and miles of paved recreation trails.

Washington County, Colorado – Flat and featureless, this county in northeastern Colorado is far from the image of Colorado shared by most cyclists. It’s almost 6 times the size of our Washington County but has fewer residents than Kewaskum.

Washington County, Florida – If you like flat, quiet roads, then this might be your little piece of paradise. Located in Florida’s panhandle west of Tallahassee, this county was poised for explosive population growth in the 1970s. Developers paved miles of roads for new subdivisions, then the economy tanked. The planned cities were never built, but the roads remain.

Washington County, Georgia – Road density is an issue in this quiet central Georgia county: few places to go, and few ways to get there.

Washington County, Idaho – Located north of Boise on the Idaho-Oregon line, this mountainous county features the Weiser River Trail. At 84 miles total, it is Idaho’s longest rail-trail.

Washington County, Illinois – Located southeast of St. Louis MO, this county is the typical flat, Illinois farmland you either love or hate.

Washington County, Indiana – The gentle roll of this rural area north of Louisville KY will remind you of our Washington County.

Washington County, Iowa – South of Iowa City, this county features the 14-mile Kewash Nature Trail.

Washington County, Kansas – This is the Kansas that the riders of the Race Across America warned you about: a whole lotta nuthin’ but sun-parched roads and headwinds.

Washington County, Kentucky – There’s good cycling to be had in this sleepy central Kentucky county, especially if you like long, gentle hill climbs.

Washington Parish, Louisiana – This mostly flat area on the Louisiana-Mississippi line features surprisingly good road density for its population, so it’s not a surprise that many of those roads are lightly traveled. You’ll find some unpaved roads too.

Washington County, Maine – The easternmost county in the United States, this Washington County borders the Canadian province of New Brunswick. At a massive 2,563 square miles, it’s bigger than Delaware and more than twice the size of Rhode Island. The county has hundreds of miles of quiet country roads, plus the 85-mile Down East Sunrise Trail.

Washington County, Maryland – This county can boast of gorgeous, Civil War-era farm roads and almost 80 miles of the Great Allegheny Passage, a rail trail network that connects Pittsburgh and Washington DC.

Washington County, Minnesota – Located between the city of St. Paul and the St. Croix River, this county shares a border with Wisconsin. Suburban sprawl from the Twin Cities is rapidly replacing farmland, but bike paths are common.

Washington County, Mississippi – This pan-flat county is bordered to the west by the Mississippi River. You’ll find a decent network of farm roads, some of which are unpaved.

Washington County, Missouri – Very hilly, very wooded Washington County MO is also very sparsely populated. Road density is limited, but what is there is gorgeous.

Washington County, Nebraska – You’ll actually find a few long, gentle hills in this rural county north of Omaha.

Washington County, New York – Home to several state forests and other natural areas, this county on the Vermont border offers many cycling opportunities far away from East Coast traffic.

Washington County, North Carolina – It’s easy to find a quiet country road in this flat county near the Atlantic Ocean.

Washington County, Ohio – Big hills, dense forests, and unpaved roads are common to this county in the southeast corner of Ohio.

Washington County, Oklahoma – This rural county north of Tulsa is home to the 12-mile Pathfinder Parkway along the Caney River in Bartlesville.

Washington County, Oregon – This rapidly urbanizing county west of Portland has a bit of everything: flat farm roads, long hill climbs, and a complex network of bike lanes, paths, and recreation trails.

Washington County, Pennsylvania – I was not yet a cyclist in 1988 when I lived in this county near Pittsburgh, and I’m not sure I would have become one if I had stayed. The hills are extremely tough and the roads are busy. But nowadays cyclists can enjoy long, flat rides on the Montour Trail and the Panhandle Trail. Those trails didn’t exist when I lived there.

Washington County, Rhode Island – This low-lying county in the southwest corner of the state is surprisingly rural and has a dense network of quiet, wooded roads.

Washington County, Tennessee – Unless you really like climbing, skip the road bike and bring your mountain bike to this northeastern Tennessee county. The new Tannery Knobs Bike Park in Johnson City is going to be a big deal.

Washington County, Texas – Good road density provides lots of places to explore in this rural county between Houston and Austin.

Washington County, Utah – Bordered by Arizona and Nevada in the southwest corner of Utah, this arid, mountainous county is home to Zion National Park and a growing trail network in the booming city of St. George.

Washington County, Vermont – Very hilly and heavily forested, this county features miles of gorgeous gravel roads.

Washington County, Virginia – This mountainous county near Bristol is home to the 35-mile Virginia Creeper Trail.

See anything that you like? The grass isn’t always greener, of course, but some of these places look pretty appealing as winter blows into Wisconsin.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

2017 Wisconsin State Cyclocross Championships



Surprise! My 2017 racing season did not end on October 21; it ended today at Trek’s world headquarters in Waterloo, site of this year’s state cyclocross championships. (Yeah, that’s the same place that hosted a UCI World Cup race back in September, and today we used most of that course.) It was my first participation at a state championship race—usually the weather is far too cold for me this late in the season—and even though I didn’t get a high finish, I raced well and had fun.

We had lots of bad weather from late October through late November. By the middle of November I was convinced my racing season was done. My training volume and intensity dropped to almost nothing, my weight went up, and I was content to be done. But the weather made an unexpected recovery late last week and I started riding with a little more interest. As this weekend’s forecast came into view—dry and 50°, more than 10° above average—I ramped up the intensity even more. I don’t know how much fitness I recovered in the last two weeks, but I was good enough for 17th out of 21 today in the Masters 35+ Cat 3 race. Madison’s Tim Vanderjeugd (unattached) took the win, followed by Brent Rohrs (Diablo Cycling) and Ted German (Neff Cycle Service).

My race was largely a duel with training partner Jeff Wren (Team Extreme), who pressed me hard on his way to 18th. I was faster on the steep hills and the flat power sections; Jeff was faster on the technical dirt sections. We were a long way from the leaders, but our friendly rivalry helped us to dispatch some of the Elite Cat 3 and Open Singlespeed riders who had started before our wave. We rode well; we simply got outrun by faster guys. The racer I was back in October might have been 14th or 15th today, but that’s barely worth mentioning. I got what I wanted out of today and out of the season generally: races that were fun and in which I always had someone against whom to test myself.

One final cyclocross race remains on the 2017 calendar: the USA Cycling Midwest Regional Championships next Saturday in Sun Prairie. As I write this, the forecast calls for a high of 17° that afternoon. You could double it and I wouldn’t be interested. You could triple it and … well, maybe.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Renewing The Call For Bike Infrastructure

Bike Friendly West Bend envisions multiple routes throughout the city.


This week, Bike Friendly West Bend is stepping up its efforts to bring a master bike plan to the city. Jeff Puetz, BFWB’s president, has contacted the Common Council to request not only the addition of the bike plan as an agenda item for the Council’s meeting on December 18, but also face-to-face meetings with individual Council members in advance of the public meeting. BFWB’s plan is a collaborative effort with City staff and it enjoys financial backing from West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, but its adoption is far from guaranteed. The Common Council has heard the pitch before.

What makes the latest appeal different is its focus on the “why” and not on the “what.” Here is BFWB’s business case for the bike plan, reprinted verbatim from the document shared with Council members this week:

Transportation

The Common Council and Bike Friendly West Bend agree that building and maintaining a transportation infrastructure and public safety are roles of government. Please consider that bicycling is a form of transportation with the same legal standing as motorized modes of travel.1 Bicycling is also the sole effective transportation means for some people, such as children and senior citizens. Though cyclists appreciate the ability to cycle on sidewalks in West Bend, sidewalks are less safe than properly marked streets.2

The bike routes requested within the Bicycle Plan for the City of West Bend update the transportation infrastructure, increasing safety for all road users while providing a more usable transportation infrastructure for bicyclists. Safety is especially important for children, families and less experienced bicyclists. Bicyclists can be divided into four categories: Strong and Fearless, Enthused and Confident, Interested but Concerned and No Way No How. The largest category by far is the Interested but Concerned group at 60%3 - and this is the group that will benefit most from route safety. Increased safety addresses the concerns of employers like West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., which supports a bike commuting program. The identified routes connect places where people live to places they want to go, leveraging the existing roadway infrastructure, by only adding signs and paint.

Constituent Demand

State and national statistics suggest about half of your constituents regularly bicycle. A Wisconsin commissioned study on the economic impact of bicycling states that 48% of Wisconsin adults cited bicycling as a recreational activity in which they participate.4  Articles and anecdotal evidence suggest that the bicycling rate among children is similar.

In separate surveys of residents, West Bend Parks, Recreation and Forestry and Washington County Planning and Parks found that more bicycle facilities are a top priority of residents. As anecdotal evidence supporting the validity of these surveys, on May 10, 2017, 318 people participated in Bike to School Day in West Bend at 4 schools.

The number one impediment people cite when asked what prevents them from bicycling is lack of a bike infrastructure.5 This holds true across multiple formal and informal surveys.

Benefits

For residents and for businesses in the City of West Bend, building a bicycling infrastructure will have numerous benefits.

A robust bicycling infrastructure increases public safety and reduces conflict between motorists and bicyclists. When cyclists have designated space they know where they’re supposed to be and drivers know that as well. There’s greater awareness and, subsequently, less conflict when space is clearly spelled out.

Bicycle tourists have money to spend! Locations with a robust bicycling infrastructure attract people from the surrounding area. Ozaukee County’s Interurban Trail and Milwaukee County’s Oak Leaf Trail are prime examples, bringing hundreds and sometimes thousands of users to nearby businesses every day. Those destinations are reaping bicycling tourism dollars that could be spent in West Bend. Some of those dollars are from West Bend residents who leave our city to find destinations with a more robust bicycling infrastructure.

Local businesses get a commensurate increase in sales with a nearby bicycling infrastructure. Several studies show bicyclists spend more per month per person than motorists.6 If the City’s proposed 25% share of Washington County’s sales tax is successful, increased sales will directly benefit the city.

A robust bicycling infrastructure raises commercial property values through increased demand for space as business sales increase. Wauwatosa’s revitalization along W. North Ave. with new bike lanes and other traffic calming features is a prime local example of how a more bikeable and walkable approach has yielded an economic boon.

A robust bicycling infrastructure attracts and retains residents and businesses to a city. Cities are competing to attract new businesses and the next generation of worker / entrepreneur. Businesses are moving to where the workers are. Local amenities are a key consideration in attracting residents and businesses, especially considering the revolution of telecommuting.

A robust bicycling infrastructure reduces strain on parking and delays the need to build new parking. For every one to two cyclists who choose to bicycle to their destination (Farmers’ Market, Dublin’s, MOWA, downtown businesses, etc.) one less vehicle parking spot is needed. More bicyclists also reduce the congestion associated with jockeying for position for parking spaces. Our bicycle parking plan utilizes off street bicycle racks which don’t compete with car parking. The cost of constructing a parking spot is in the thousands of dollars. Bicycling within the city saves expense to the city. That’s not even considering that every trip taken by bicycle instead of by car reduces road wear exponentially.7

Cost

Low cost compared to demand is the final factor you should consider when making your decision.

Through the generosity of West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., which is concerned about the safety of its employees who commute by bicycle, we have a pledge to cover the cost of materials for the implementation of all routes.

With signs estimated to last 15 to 20 years, the annualized cost of signs is less than .1% of the 2017 West Bend streets budget. With pavement markings estimated to last 2 to 3 years, the annualized cost of the paint for pavement markings is less than .3% of the 2017 West Bend streets budget. The total annualized cost of materials for maintaining the proposed bicycling infrastructure is less than .4% of the 2017 West Bend streets budget. This small percent of the streets budget is all that is needed to support a favorite activity of approximately half your constituents.

Labor estimates for sign installation and pavement marking is approximately 1,406 person-hours, which will be spread over more than one year. If acceptable, volunteer labor for implementation of all routes could cut the city’s labor commitment.

Footnotes:

1.       Wisconsin State Statute 346.02(4)(a)
2.       Articles on the dangers associated with bicycling on sidewalks 1 2  
3.       Four Types of Transportation Cyclists in Portland
4.       The Economic Impact of Bicycling in Wisconsin
5.       Here’s what keeps people from riding a bike
6.       Bicyclist spending habits
7.       Road wear comparison

What can you do to help? First, contact your alderman before December 18. Ask that the bike plan be added to the December 18 agenda and then give your personal reasons in favor of its adoption. Council members are very receptive to contact from their constituents, so your voice will be heard clearly. If you are not a resident but you work, shop, or enjoy recreation in West Bend, then contact the mayor. Second, attend the meeting. Again, BFWB is hoping for December 18. Watch the city's website for the agenda.

BFWB’s master bike plan is a practical, financially-responsible step toward better, safer bicycling for both transportation and recreation. Please show your support.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Blue Sky Day

I would have settled for 57° throughout the ride, but it just kept getting warmer!
Where did this day come from? On a date whose average high temperature is 40°, West Bend hit 64° to tie the all-time record set 86 years ago. I’ll bet November 24, 1931 was a windy one too, as we don’t get this kind of weather at this time of year without a gale from the south. During the ride I experienced steady winds in the 18-21 mph range, with gusts in excess of 30 mph. It was the first 60° day since October 22. At 35 miles, today’s ride was my longest since October 17.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thanksgiving Weekend: Done!

West Bend's Ridge Run still bears the signs of its former status as a Washington County park.


I’m a great fan of Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday by a wide margin. But this Thursday is probably going to feel like just another Thursday. I will come home after a Wednesday night workshift, have some breakfast and watch a little TV, then go to bed for a while before heading back to work Thursday night. My wife has to work too, and that’s the biggest reason why Thursday won’t really be Thanksgiving at our house. I can’t complain though, as we had our big family feast yesterday.

Today had kind of a holiday weekend feel too. My day began with streaming coverage of UCI World Cup cyclocross from Denmark on NBC Sports Gold. While it certainly was a legitimate race in its own right, it also was a trial run for next season’s world championships. Hopefully more fans will find their way to Bogense in February 2019; today’s crowd was a little thin. I couldn’t talk myself onto the bike today—all that sunshine was pretty enough, but the 20° wind chill was too big a deterrent. In lieu of a bike ride I accepted a surprise invitation from my daughter to hike the Ice Age Trail from Paradise Drive north to Ridge Run Park and back. That’s a little more than 4 miles roundtrip, easy enough for me but a good challenge for her. And now we’re looking for more opportunities to hike together … and maybe to go snowshoeing together this winter.

I haven’t been on the bike since last Monday, but tomorrow looks good: 48° with sunshine and not too much wind. With 27 miles tomorrow I will reach 4,700 this year. If I can find another 101 after that, then 2017 will go into my record book in 6th place, all-time. That’s not much of a goal, but it’s more incentive to ride than I would have without such meticulous recordkeeping.