Thursday, May 20, 2010

Proposed Three Foot Law for Ontario Drivers

The letter below is one I wrote to my Ontario MPP - Frank Klees( Aurora-Newmarket). There has been some proposed legislation that would make it mandatory that when passing a cyclist, a motorized vehicle would have to give a minimum of a three foot wide berth. There are a number of places that this has been passed into Law, including 10 States in the U.S. Given the increasing number of serious and fatal incidents on the roads between cars and cyclists, personally I think this is a good thing.

Mr Klees,

I understand that there has been a private-members bill introduced in the Ontario legislature about a new law that would require cars to give a minimum of a three-foot/one-meter berth when passing a cyclist. News item below:

Given what was said in the news article by some key people, the Premier included, there is likely going to be a lot of resistance to pass such legislation into law – we seem to have too many laws. However, when it comes to altercations between cars and cyclists, which seem to be on the rise, the outcome, regardless of the situation, is never good for the cyclist and in more than a few cases is fatal. As a member of the Newmarket Eagles Cycling club, I ride on the roads in the area of Aurora and Newmarket regularly and have for many years. What is most surprising, is the almost total lack of knowledge that motorists have regarding the rights that cyclists have to be on the road sharing the road with cars. Couple this with, what can only be described as a cavalier and careless attitude towards driving a motor vehicle, that many have to begin with, and that lack of respect for cyclists, and you have a recipe for some serious interactions and altercations, again with the cyclist always coming out on the losing end of it – with serious injuries and in the worst case scenario, dead!

On almost every ride I go on, with me following exactly the rules of the road on my bike, there is typically some interaction with a motorist that has stemmed from, either the motorists lack of knowledge of the rules of the road regarding cyclists, a total lack of respect, or completely careless driving on the part of the car driver. I sometimes wonder if I am invisible out on the road when riding – a scary thought!

It would be un fortunate if this was not passed into law. If the Three Foot law is not passed, I would hope that a full-scale PR campaign of some sort could be launched in it’s place, to try and get the message across to drivers that they need to exercise caution at all times when near or passing cyclists – that’s just common sense, I would think!

Best regards,

Steve Fleck

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Difference With Road Racing

Did my first cycling road race in two years on Sunday. Was perhaps in over my head based on where my fitness is at, but I re-learned what is a key thing with road racing. The main difference compared to what many people do with their bike riding is the unpredictability of when and how long you are going hard and how much time you have to, "recover", before you have to go hard again.

I was able to hold my own in the group for the most part, but what really caught up with me and did me in, was exactly what I stated above - there was no rhythm or reason to when we were going really hard and I was above the red-line and then the time that we were not going so hard, and I was below my red-line. It's not like I can say, "Hey, guys. I am over my heart-rate, power cap here can we back off a bit?" When there is an acceleration in the group, you don't know if you will be going hard for 20 secs, 2 minutes or maybe even 20 minutes! Furthermore on the other side, you have little control over your recovery - you have to somehow figure this out and recover on the fly - in most cases, you have to recover, while still going nearly all out.

It was a 70k race and I made it to about the 40K mark before coming off the back with three other guys on a false flat. This is when you realize, when the main group is gone, they are gone! The four of us had a go at getting back on, but 2m becomes 20m, becomes 200m, quickly in these situations! We agreed to work together and to ride it in from there. That was fine with me as I was merely looking for a good hard effort today and no heroics, so we all took our tuns with good pulls on the front and finished it up. And in another strange twist of road racing, the guy who had been clearly the strongest in our quartet, and I figured would take the sprint amongst the four of us, was not a factor at all when we had a go of it at the end! Appearances are never what they seem, at many levels in road racing.

There really is no substitute for racing in terms of gaining the key and specific fitness needed for bike road racing. You can do all the interval training you like, but when matched with riders of similar ability and fitness, it is that specific race fitness that is key. In particular, being able to handle the randomness of when you are going really hard and not so hard and being able to recover quickly and be ready to go hard again!

I need a few more weeks and a few more races to get that back.