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Information about the world of cycling, including bicycle touring

The Blog Page

News, commentary and humor about bicycling and other topics of the day


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Back from hiatus

I' haven't been around the blog lately, mainly because of work with the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society, Tour de Stooges and a fundraiser this June for my friend Gerry Frierdich.

We'll be announcing some big news about the BABES this week. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tour of Missouri: Executive director placed on unpaid leave

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has placed Jerry Dowell, the executive director of the Tour of Missouri bicycle race and the state's deputy lieutenant governor, on five days of unpaid leave because he sent information about a political fundraiser via a Tour of Missouri's e-mail account.

The leave took effect Tuesday.

Kinder and his staff considered the mailing an "honest mistake" but one that should not be tolerated.

According to the Columbia Tribune, Dowell sent an invitation to a fundraising event for John Cauthorn, a Republican House candidate in the 21st District.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported a statement from the Missouri Democratic Party that the e-mail "is part of a long-standing, disturbing trend involving Peter Kinder’s top staff mixing their official duties with politics."

It's the kind of tempest the Tour of Missouri doesn't need if it hopes to maintain state funding for the 2010 event. A three-year agreement which provided state fudning for the race expired last year.


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Monday, February 15, 2010

St. Louis Open Streets

Earlier today, Gene Bisbee at the Biking Bis blog wrote about how ciclova-style celebrations -- in which a thoroughfare or park is open only to bicyclists, pedestrians and skaters for one or more weekend days -- are catching on in the United States. Gene's post cited celebrations in Kansas City, Mo.; San Jose, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle.

The inspiration for many of those events has been Bogota, Colombia, which closes 70 miles of streets to motorists every Sunday and holiday and opens them up to cyclists, pedestrians and skater, hence the term ciclova.

St. Louis is getting in on the act.

This year, the city will present Open Streets 2010, which it bills as a "part bike tour, part block party, a great time for exercise, people watching, and just enjoying our region’s wonderful spring and fall mornings."

The Open Streets 2010 route consists of the Forest Park bicycle trails, Lindell Boulevard, Grand Boulevard and Locust Street. The on-street portion of the route goes from Skinker Boulevard at Forest Park to the Gateway Arch. Family, cultural and fitness rest stops are planned along the route.

The first of the events will be May 1, and will be tied into the St. Louis Cardinals-Cincinnati Reds game at Busch Stadium that afternoon. The above streets will be closed to motorists from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Metro-East Park and Recreation District and the Great Rivers Greenway District will have a pre-game party from 11 a.m. to noon at Clark Street and Broadway, and the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation will have free and secure parking available for bicyclists at Busch Stadium for those wanting to watch the 12:10 p.m. game.

More Open Streets 2010 events are slated for June 13, Sept. 19 and Oct. 9.

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Landis in trouble ... again

Floyd Landis, who had his 2006 Tour de France victory stripped from him because of abnormally elevated testosterone levels, is in trouble again.

A French judge has issued an international arrest warrant for U.S. cyclist Floyd Landis in connection with a case of data hacking at a doping laboratory, The Associated Press reported today.

French authorities allege that Landis used hacked files in his unsuccessful attempt to halt a two-year suspension that came as a result of the doping tests. Landis had alleged files at the French doping lab had been mishandled or erased.

The story says Landis had refused to answer a summons seeking his testimony. An international warrant also was issued for longtime Landis adviser Arnie Baker.

Landis finished 45th at the 2009 Tour of Missouri.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Iowa Bicycle Safety and Responsibility Bill

Efforts to make Iowa roads safer for bicyclists are still alive.

This week, an Iowa House subcommittee approved the Bike Safety and Responsibility Bill, and it goes before a House Human Respirces Committee next week. The Iowa Senate passed the bill last winter, but the bill stalled in the House last year before the subcommittee took up the issue.

Here's a summary of what the bill would do, according to the Iowa Bicycle Coalition:
  • Motorists would have to give bicyclists and other vulnerable users of Iowa highways at least 5 feet of clearance while passing.
  • Require bicyclists to obey applicable traffic signs and signals.
  • Prohibit people from throwing objects at cyclists and other vulnerable users.
  • Prohibit motorists from intentionally driving their vehicles toward or close to cyclists and other vulnerable users.
The bill would create a wide range of fines and punishments, KCCI-TV in Des Moines reports the most serious of which are if a cyclist is injured, the driver must pay $500 and lose his  license for three months. If the cyclist dies, the fine increases to $1,000 and the suspension increases to six months.

"I don't think you can put a price on a life, but there has to be something that's a little bit more doling out of justice that acts as a deterrent," Ken Sherman of the Coalition told KCCI.

No doubt, the bill will face opposition if it advances to the full House. A group that calls itself the Citizens for Safety Coalition of Iowa wants to ban bicycles from most country roads. During this week's subcommittee meeting, Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, says the 5-foot requirement may not be practical on some country roads.

As an alternative to the bicycle safety bill, Baudler would like to see a requirement that a cyclist's jersey must be at least 50 percent yellow or hunter orange to make the cyclist more visible on the road.

“(With) deer hunting in Iowa, we had fatalities, we had injuries. When the legislature required ‘hunter orange’ from the waist up basically, our fatalities (and) our injuries plummeted,” Baudler said at the Bike Iowa site.

The Coalition tries to counter some of Baudler's arguments at its blog.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Trail closures in the St. Louis area

There are some trail closures you should be aware of if you live in the St. Louis area:

OLD CHAIN OF ROCKS BRIDGE: Because of icy conditions at the Missouri parking lot for the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, Trailnet has decided to close access for the bridge for now. This time of year, the Mississippi River bridge is a favorite spot for watching bald eagles. No word on when the bridge may reopen. The historic old Route 66 bridge is owned by the city of Madison, Ill., and operated by Trailnet, an organization whose goal is to promote healthy living in the St. Louis area.

MCT NICKEL PLATE TRAIL: This isn't new news, but Madison County Transit's Nickel Plate Trail is closed at South Buchanan Street in Edwardsville and probably will remain closed until late year. MCT is constructing an underpass below the busy street to improve access to the Nickel Plate Trail, which continues east to Fruit Road northeast of Edwardsville, and the Quercus Grove Trail, which links Edwardsville, Hamel, Worden and Staunton. MCT also is building a park-and-ride lot at Buchanan Street. MCT has not posted an official detour for the trail.

RICHLAND CREEK GREENWAY TRAIL: The western terminus of Belleville's Richland Creek Greenway Trail at Third and Cleveland streets may be closed from time to time because of replacement of the Cleveland Street bridge. The six-mile trail connects South Side Park and Southwestern Illinois College.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tour of Missouri: Kinder remains hopeful for '10

In a recent interview with KMOX-AM radio in St. Louis, Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder says the money should be in place soon for the 2010 Tour of Missouri, slated for Aug. 31-Sept. 6

Kinder, the biggest supporter of the race in state government, says the professional cycling event could still go on, even if state funding falls through, "It's possible, but it becomes much more challenging because the $1.5 million in tourism tax money is about 45% of our budget," Kinder told KMOX.

Last year, Gov. Jay Nixon had threatened to withhold the $1.5 million tourism subsidy for the Tour of Missouri, but an onslaught of public support led the administration to change its mind.

The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation isn't taking any chances. It's calling upon supporters of the race to contact Nixon to express their support for the race. Executive Director Brent Hugh is suggesting people thank the governor for his role in saving the Katy Trail bridge in Boonville and to ask him to preserve state funding for the race.


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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Olney, Ill.: Known for white squirrels --- and bicycles?

If you've ever heard of Olney, Ill., you probably know it for its white squirrels -- albino squirrels that seemed to have found a permanent home in the Southern Illinois community.

But did you know the town's known for bicycle distribution? I didn't until I read a story in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News about the community, located about 150 miles east of St. Louis.

Here are at least six distributors that have operations in Olney:
  • Pacific Cycle: The manufacturer of Schwinn, Mongoose, Roadmaster and Dyno bicycles.
  • SKS USA: A manufacturer of tools, tire pumps, mudguard, chainguards and bags.
  • Highway Two: A distributor of Brooks saddles, Continental tires and Crank Brothers pedals and wheelsets.
  • Magura: A manufacturer of bicycle brakes and suspensions.
  • KHS Bicycle Parts: A distributor of motorcycle and bicycle parts, including manufacturers Sapim and Pletscher.
  • Joe Hunt and Associates: A distributor of USA Brand spokes and generators.
Olney's ties to the bicycle industry began in 1962, when AMF began manufacturing its Roadmaster bikes there. If you grew up in the 1960s or 1970s, there's a possibility you rode a Roadmaster at one.time. Also, the Roadmaster was immortalized in the classic 1979 movie "Breaking Away," in which racers in the Little 500 rode Roadmasters in Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

According to the article, the Roadmaster plant in Olney employed as many as 2,000 people as recently as 20 years ago. Alas, Roadmaster found it was cheaper to build bikes in Taiwan than in Olney, and manufacturing ceased there about 10 years ago. Pacific Cycle now uses the Roadmaster plant as its distribution center. Two German companies, Union Frondenberg and Weinmann, also opened bicycle parts plants there in the 1970s, but those have closed as well.

While Olney might not have the "cycling panache" of Portland, Ore., or Boulder, Colo., according to the article, Olney's industry lore is cemented because of Roadmaster. I was unable to find any bicycle trails in Olney, although I'm sure the roads of the town and surrounding Richland County provide lots of good cycling opportunities.

Just don't run over a white squirrel while you're in Olney. It will land you a $200 fine!

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Bridge saved for Katy Trail use

Bicycle advocates concerned about the future of the Katy Trail won a victory Thursday when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced that the Union Pacific Railroad has agreed to give the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad bridge that spans the Missouri River to the city of Boonville.

The Union Pacific had planned to tear down the historic bridge and use the scrap metal to build a bridge across the Osage River near Jefferson City. However, federal stimulus money targeted for high-speed rail servicein Missouri will be used to build the Osage River bridge. That meant meant the bridge could be turned over to Boonville, The Associated Press reported.

Groups, including the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation, had feared that demolition of the Boonville bridge would have broken up the 225-mile trail corridor, making it vulnerable to legal challenges by landowners.

The bridge has not been used for at least 20 years, and Katy Trail traffic now crosses the Missouri River via the U.S. 40/Missouri 5-87 bridge. The old railroad drawbridge has been locked in the up position since its abandonment, allowing Missouri River barge traffic to pass.

The Save the Katy Bridge Coalition has been working for years to preserve the bridge. Take a look at the group's site to learn more about the bridge.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Tour de Stooges registration open!

Registration for the 2010 Tour de Stooges bicycle ride is open!

The 13th edition of the Tour de Stooges takes place Saturday, May 1, at Lindendale Park in Highland, Ill.

We've made it more economical to attend this year's ride. If you pre-register for the ride, the cost is $20 for adults, $10 for children 5-12 and $50 for a family pack (2 adults, 2 children). On the day of the ride, the cost is $25 for adults, $15 for children and $60 for the family pack.

T-shirts will be sold separately. The cost is $10 for people who pre-register and $15 day-of-ride. We recommend you buy your shirt in advance because quantities likely will be limited the day of the ride.

To register online or by mail, go to the Tour de Stooges site, follow the links to registration page and follow the instructions for registering.

The Tour de Stooges consists of five routes -- 17, 22, 30, 42 and 64 miles -- through the rural countryside ine Madison, St. Clair and Clinton counties. After the ride, we serve you lunch and all the slapstick comedy you can stand!

Hope to see you May 1 in Highland!


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