GPC President’s Column – March 2014

MAINTAINING THE LANE

(Is Mama Bear Sleeping??)

Hey Grizzlies, it’s almost Spring, we’re finally getting some much needed rain, so our hills are suddenly turning that beautiful Leprechaun Green, and best of all, it’s Century Season! I’m pretty excited, not only about our own, but the lineup of many rides i’ll be contemplating between early Spring and late Summer, I was even fortunate enough to have had my name drawn out of the hat for one of the Coordinator Comps for the Sequoia Century.

So I should be positively brimming with joy, right?

But instead, I’m often finding myself somewhat preoccupied, lingering over conversations I thought long put to rest. Partly because I have such a deep-seated respect for those who have gone before and made the club what it is today. Pointed out current practice/policy, thought that was that… only to have the same thing come up again and again. Harrumph!! “Change?” Bah-Humbug! I feel my hackles go up and I become fiercely protective of the status quo. At the core, I think I’m duty-bound protecting all my little cubs in the Den. Who is that and why are they disturbing my long winter’s nap? Makes me “cranky”!!

[New version of my favorite quip: If a man speaks in the forest and there is no Mama Bear there to eat him, is he still wrong?]

On a lighter side, recently my Ben came up with a good idea in juxtaposition to some of the concentrated effort put locally toward bicycling/pedestrian “facilities”. He said: I think we should start a new grass-roots group and call if “FOFR” (for“Fix Our ______ Roads” …fill in the blank on that third word). I had to chuckle, because for all intents and purposes, the type of cycling most of us Grizzlies do on a regular basis would be considered “vehicular cycling” which is apparently frowned on by certain folks in some local advocacy circles as some type of “movement” and dangerous to advocacy efforts bent on “safe” and separate facilities. A label now: “Vehicular Cyclist”… Oh gee, really? I suddenly feel so trendy… and I thought all this time I was just riding my bike?

[Segue: Hmmmm, she pondered, “when did i become so danged conservative?” As a young thing, so full of magic and whimsical ideas, now cluttered and battened down with status quo or go….]

But seriously, I do really subscribe to that notion: that the BEST type of cycling advocacy has a whole lot to do with proper maintenance of the ROADS, which we share with our motorized brethren (yeah, and a lot of the time, that’s US, too!). To make have to wiggle-waggle around avoiding every little pothole, crack, bump in the lane that will eat our wheel or send us flying.

Preparing this month’s column, I was struck by a happy coincidence while thumbing through the latest issue of “Alert Diver” (the quarterly magazine of Divers Alert Network… yup, my other “sanity-challenged” recreational activity is SCUBA diving), I read, in the editor’s column “From the Safety Stop” and entitled “Learning from Each Other”:

“Whether it’s a skipped checklist that leads to an equipment mishap or a miscalculation resulting in buoyancy issues, we have all made mistakes as divers. No matter how many years we’ve been diving and how many dives we have logged, we’re all fallible. Small mistakes commonly result in minor annoyances, but in some cases they can lead to complex cascades that result in injuries and emergency calls [to DAN].”

Although my recreational SCUBA habit puts me into a more physically challenging and hostile environment to humans than cycling (although that could be argued, when we’re out there competing for space on our shared roads with big, noisy, heavy, fast motor vehicles or errant “localized” wild turkeys or ungulata jumping suddenly into our path), I see a lot of parallels with my bicycling life… Just like preparing for a dive and taking care of my gear between dives, the same goes for my bike stuff: regularly cleaning and re-lubing the chain, the gears, checking all the little parts on the bike, giving the bike regular tune-ups, both at home and by professionals at my favorite LBS. It’s all just part of cycling.

At the risk of repeating what i’ve shared in the past, I think the same is true for the sharing of ideas aimed at changing a current practice or rule. Generally speaking, read up, tune in, listen up. It’s called a club, and “group riding” because inherently we help each other out along the way as a part of that dynamic. There’s innate gratification in the volunteer process, giving or receiving assistance; marking a turn, circling back to make sure everyone is on track. Part of that process is called “Guidance”. Another part is called “Learning From Each Other”. If you want to present a “new” idea, be respectful that a lot of people have put in a lot of years and a lot of effort into whatever guidelines already exist.

Bring your ideas out into the open, and do it with your own voice. In the short term and in the long run, it will go far in terms of building credibility.

Growl! (that’s my tummy! Ride to eat – eat to Ride!!)

OK, now everyone get out there and ride, ride, ride!! I’m off to search for that honeypot…

—Cheers,

Sherie, Madame La Prez

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