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October 27, 2012

Traveling on the MetroBikeLink Trail

Filed under: Illinois,trails — Roger @ 2:41 am

Last week, the St. Clair County Transit District opened the newest 2.2-mile section of the MetroBikeLink Trail. I didn’t get a chance to ride it, though, until this week. Here’s what I saw:

Those of us who are used to riding the expansive Madison County Transit trail section will be happy to know the new section of the trail is much more like the MCT trails than older parts of the MetroBikeLink Trail and the Richland Creek Greenway Trail.

There is just one stop sign on the new section of trail, at Old Caseyville Road in Swansea. In fact, it’s the only stop sign between the Belleville and Memorial MetroLink stations.

You do get to see some larger trees along the trail, and that’s nice, especially when the leaves turn.

You also get to see fences. Lots of fences. Some separate the trail from the MetroLink tracks. Some separate the trail from ditches. Some separate the trail from adjoining residential areas. I’m sure some of that was to appease some homeowners who fear criminals will use the trail to gain access to their home. I think there are too many fences that distract from the view.

Although the trail just opened, it’s already in need of repair. A few sections of asphalt in the eastbound lane have crumbled. Those are clearly marked with pink paint to enable you to avoid them.

But in all, it’s still good to see more miles of bike trails in St. Clair County. Although neighboring Madison County still has substantially more miles of trails, every little bit helps.

Meanwhile, the St. Clair County Transit District has started work on a bridge that will take cyclists and pedestrians over busy Green Mount Road near Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. The section of the trail east of Green Mount Road is closed, so you’ll have to take the bike lanes along Green Mount Road to get to SWIC. The trail is closed indefinitely until the bridge is done, which is expected to be completed next year.

In time, St. Clair County has plans to expand the trail west to the Fairview Heights MetroLink Station and east to the Shiloh-Scott Station, which is the eastern terminus of MetroLink.


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October 22, 2012

Armstrong “deserves to be forgotten”

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 8:59 am

Earlier this morning, the International Cycling Union stripped Lance Armstrong of all seven of his Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005.

An excerpt from the VeloNews story about UCI actions says it all:

“We will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and we will recognize the sanction that USADA has imposed,” (UCI President Pat) McQuaid told a news conference in Geneva, saying he had been “sickened” by the revelations. “The UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France wins. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. … He deserves to be forgotten in cycling.”

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report released two weeks ago said Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams used steroids, the blood booster EPO and blood transfusions. The report included statements from 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong.

The decision clears the way for Tour de France organizers to officially remove Armstrong’s name from the record books, erasing his consecutive victories from 1999-2005, The Associated Press reported. Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said the race would go along with whatever cycling’s governing body decides and will have no official winners for those years.

UCI’s statement about its decision also speaks volumes. Here’s part of that statement:

The USADA decision explains how riders on the USPS team showed no inclination to share the full extent of what they knew until they were subpoenaed or called by federal investigators and that their only reason for telling the truth is because the law required them to do so.

These riders have confronted their past and told their stories. Their accounts of their past provide a shocking insight into the USPS team where the expression to ‘win at all costs’ was redefined in terms of deceit, intimidation, coercion and evasion.

Their testimony confirms that the anti-doping infrastructure that existed at that time was, by itself, insufficient and inadequate to detect the practices taking place within the team. The UCI has always been the first international sporting federation to embrace new developments in the fight against doping and it regrets that the anti-doping infrastructure that exists today was not available at that time so as to render such evasion impossible.

I’m not so sure evasion is impossible, but it certainly is more difficult than it was during the Armstrong era.

Given the widespread doping during that era, I most certainly would support a decision by the Tour de France not to name an official winner of the event from 1999 to 2005. It’s an era that should be forgotten.

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October 17, 2012

New section of MetroBikeLink Trail opens Thursday

Filed under: bicycling,Illinois,trails — Roger @ 10:07 am

The St. Clair County Transit District on Thursday will officially open a 2.2-mile section of the MetroBikeLink Trail that will connect the Swansea and Memorial Hospital MetroLink stations.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the paved trail is set for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Swansea MetroLink Station. After the ceremony, people will be able to bike or walk the trail. In addition, STCCD representatives will explain how bicyclists can use MetroLink and MetroBus to expand their trips through the St. Louis area.

“Our goal is to create a complete trail system in St. Clair County and this new segment is one big step in the right direction,” Bill Grogan, managing director of the St. Clair County Transit District, said in a press release. “We have already seen spurs, and connections to neighborhoods off of the current trail, including a new one at Southwestern Illinois College to the adjacent neighborhoods. It is our hope that this trail system, with the ability to hop on MetroLink or MetroBus, will link our system to the Missouri side of the river.”

The new extention expands the trail to 6.9 miles. In coming years, SCCTD hopes to extend the trail 3.5 miles westward to the Fairview Heights MetroLink Station and 3.5 miles eastward to the Shiloh-Scott MetroLink Station.

Next year, SCCTD plans to build an bridge that will take bicyclists over busy Green Mount Road in Belleville. Currently, bicyclists have to wait for traffic to pass to cross the road.

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Armstrong no longer Livestrong chairman

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 9:03 am

Lance Armstrong has stepped down as the chairman of Livestrong, the charity he founded to fight cancer, The Associated Press and other media sources have reported.

The reason, not surprisingly, is because of the negative publicity he’s received because of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation of Armstrong’s doping during his seven-year run as Tour de France champion.

“I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation’s chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities,” Armstrong said in a statement posted today on the Livestrong blog. “Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.”

Shortly after Armstrong’s announcement, AP also reported that Nike would end its relationship with him “due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade.” Nike, however, will support Livestrong.

In 1996, as Armstrong’s treatment for testicular cancer was ending, I created the foundation to serve people affected by cancer.

“It has been a great privilege to help grow it from a dream into an organization that today has served 2.5 million people and helped spur a cultural shift in how the world views cancer survivors,” Armstrong said on the Livestrong blog. ” This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart.”

Jeff Garvey, Livestrong’s vice chairman, will become the organization’s new chairman.

The news comes as no surprise in wake of USADA’s devastating “Reasoned Decision” last week detailing the doping allegations against Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team.

In case you were hiding under a rock — or in my case, working on a bunch of projects — the report details a systematic doping program led by Armstrong. Here’s a good summary of it from Bicycling magazine.:

USADA detailed the depth of doping during Armstrong’s run of seven Tour de France wins (20 of 21 podium finishers from the 1999 to 2005 Tours have been convincingly tied to doping); the drugs Armstrong did (EPO, testosterone, cortisone, blood transfusions) and the cost (over $1 million to Michele Ferrari, who numerous witnesses say was a doping expert); how he eluded testers; and finally his efforts to suppress the truth, including witness intimidation, false affidavits, and perjury.

When Armstrong started his string of Tour de France victories in 199, I believed in him despite the finger-pointing by his critics. I started having doubts, though, when he withdrew from the 2004 Athens Olympics shortly after winning his 6th Tour de France.

But I must acknowledge Armstrong’s role in the increased popularity in bicycling in the United States, and there is no doubt that Livestrong has given hope to many, many cancer patients. I hope that can continue despite the major taint on Armstrong’s carerr.


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September 25, 2012

Cardboard: The next revolution in bicycle frame technology?

Filed under: bicycling — Tags: — Roger @ 3:58 pm

All kinds of materials have been used to make a bicycle fram: Wood. Steel. Aluminum. Carbon Fiber. Bamboo.

But Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni set out to create a bicycle made out of cardboard. The video below shows what he came up with:

Discovery News recently wrote a story about Izhar and his cardboard bike. Here’s an excerpt:

“To my delight, I only discovered similar concepts based on bamboo. But when I started asking engineers about the possibility of producing a cardboard bicycle, I was sent away and told that the realization of my idea is impossible. …”

Well, it is possible and the proof is above. Discovery News says origami techniques helped Izhar make the bike capable of handling riders up to 485 pounds. The bikes take about $9 worth of cardboard to build, and Izhar hopes they hit the market in 2013 for around $60.

It certainly sounds like a way to bring bicycling to less-fortunate people around the world.

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Why you hate cyclists

Filed under: bicycling,commuting — Tags: — Roger @ 3:23 pm

I really enjoyed this article on titled “Why You Hate Cyclists”. The subhead for this story by Jim Saksa reads: “Partly because of jerks like me. But it’s mostly your own illogical mind.”

Here’s one excerpt from the story:

 ”… Lots of drivers assume all people on bikes are assholes like me. In doing so, these motorists are making an inductive fallacy, not unlike saying,’ Of course he beat me at basketball—he’s Asian like Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming.’”

You really need to visit to read the rest of the story.

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September 20, 2012

Don’t forget the Tour de Coal this Saturday

Filed under: bicycle rides,Illinois — Tags: — Roger @ 11:40 am

OK, I’m very late in posting my advance for this year’s Tour de Coal, which is this Saturday in beautiful Benld, Ill. Registration is from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Benld Civic Center, 200 E. Central St. (Illinois Route 138).

Online registration is closed, but the day-of-ride registration fee is pretty reasonable — $20 for adults and $50 for a family pack — considering the ride includes rest stops, a free sandwich and soda at the Benld Fall Festival and a T-shirt (as supplies last).

The late post, however, allows me to share some photos I took Wednesday while Jim Marcacci and I were marking the Tour de Coal routes. I’ve posted a few in the gallery above, but for a bigger gallery and pithy commentary, go to my public gallery at Facebook titled “A primer for painting arrows on the Tour de Coal course”.

This year’s Tour de Coal is the seventh, and I’ve been proud to be a part of all seven. I’m a Macoupin County native, and we’re proud to share our little corner of the world with you!

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September 13, 2012

Woof! Pedal for the Pooches

Filed under: bicycle rides,Illinois — Tags: — Roger @ 2:13 pm

woofIf you’re a hammerhead looking for a long, fast-paced workout, Pedal for the Pooches isn’t for you.

But if you’re looking for a easy-paced ride where socializing is the main goal, Sunday’s event may be just right for you.

Pedal for the Pooches is a bicycle poker ride and a fundraiser for Belleville’s new dog park, which will be built at Hough Park. The bicycle part of the event goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a block party from 4 to 7 p.m. featuring  The Cumberland Gap Band, a St. Louis-based bluegrass band, outside Seven Restaurant and Lounge, 7 N. High St. in downtown Belleville.

In addition to Seven and sister operation Shichi Suchi Bar, Pitchers, Sullivan’s Big Daddy’s 618, Fridays South and MoJac’s are participating in the event. Each of those bars will be distributing poker cards, and the best hand wins a Smoking Loon Beach Cruiser. The cost of the ride is $25 and includes food at Seven afterward.

Seven is presenting the event. Since I know several employees — including Stephanie Gain, who’s doing much of the grunt work similar to what I’ve done for Tour de Stooges, and Becca Schmitt, who’s coordinating the music — I decided to offer my services by drawing a map.

I figured it would be a good chance to do a little bicycle education. This kind of ride draws the kind of rider you’ll never see on a Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society or a Metro-East Cycling ride. I went on a similar event earlier this year and noticed how many people don’t know about Belleville’s Richland Creek Greenway Trail or the MetroBikeLink trail.

I also noticed a few people who don’t know the bicycle rules or the road, so I added a brief note reminding folks to obey stop signs and to ride no more than two abreast — riding three or more abreast is against the law on most Illinois roads.

As I was saying, this is not a challenging course. The suggested route is just 6 miles and has two slightly challenging hills, on Cleveland Avenue and the Richland Creek trail. I suppose more experienced riders can add more miles, but you may not have time if spend lots of time at the bars.

My advice would to chill out and enjoy the ride!


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September 4, 2012

CyclingSavvy coming to Belleville

Filed under: bicycling,Illinois,Missouri — Tags: , , — Roger @ 1:31 pm

CyclingSavvy, a series of three three-hour courses designed to help bicyclists become more comfortable with riding in traffic, is coming to Belleville on Sept. 27 and 29.

The first part of MetroEast CyclingSavvy, called Truth & Techniques of Traffic Cycling, will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.n. Sept. 27 at Southwestern Illinois College’s PSOP Building, 201 N. Church St. in downtown Belleville. Through guided discussion with videos and animations, this classroom-based session familiarizes students with bicycle-specific laws, traffic dynamics and problem-solving strategies. That class is free, thanks to a donation from McCarthy Construction Cos.

The second part, called Train Your Bike, is from 8 to 11 a.m. at the PSOP Building. This session is conducted in a parking lot, and is limited to 10 participants. Train Your Bike consists of a set of progressive drills designed to increase students’ control and comfort handling their bikes in various situations. The cost of that class is $20. The normal cost is $30, but thanks to a donation from the Metro East Parks and Recreation District, the cost is $20.

The final course is the MetroEast Tour, a ride through Belleville and Swansea.  That takes place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29, To particpate in the tour, you have to complete the other two courses. The cost is $20.

The same courses will be offered Oct. 4 and 6 at locations in St. Louis city and St. Louis County. (Learn more about the St. Louis October Workshop.)

CyclingSavvy’s traffic cycling curriculum was developed in 2009 by the Florida Bicycle Association. While it contains elements of courses such as the League of American Bicyclists course and Effective Cycling, FBA says Cycling Savvy “was built entirely new ‘from the ground up.’ It is built upon an understanding of the needs of adult learners and the challenges of changing behavior that is strongly rooted in our traffic culture.”

Karen Karabell, a daily bicycle commuter and a former board member of the now-defunct St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation, has been the strongest advocate of CyclingSavvy in the St. Louis area.

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August 30, 2012

Moonlight Ramble postponed because of Isaac; Gateway Cup still on

Filed under: bicycling,Missouri,racing — Tags: , , — Roger @ 1:07 pm

(Updated on Tuesday, Sept. 4)

The 49th annual Moonlight Ramble scheduled for Saturday night (Sept. 1) has been postponed until Sept. 15.

The reason? The remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac are expected to hit the St. Louis area on Friday and will continue to dump rain on the region through Saturday. The National Weather Service is predicting 3 to 5 inches of rain to fall on the region. There’s a 60 percent chance of rain Friday, a 70 percent chance of rain Friday night, an 80 percent chance of rain Saturday and a 70 percent chance of rain Saturday night.

UPDATE: Emmis Communications has posted the following about the rescheduled Moonlight Ramble:

  • Emmis Communications, which is putting on this year’s Ramble, will be offering refunds for those riders who are unable to participate on the new date.
  • Registration will be extended: You now have until noon Monday, Sept. 10 to register and receive the full benefits of participating including an event shirt!
  • Late registraion: Beginning Monday afternoon, you may still register online. However, your registration will no longer include an event shirt. You’ll be ableto enjoy the pre-event entertainment, vendor village and the post-ride party. Late registration will close at 5 p.m. Sept. 12.
  • Day of event registration: Due to popular demand, rider organizers have decided to hold day-of-event registration. The fee will be $20 but does not include an event shirt. There will be a limited number of shirts available for sale at the event.

Before deciding to postpone the Ramble, event spokeswoman Ellie Sertic told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Our first concern is with the safety of our riders.”

As for the four-day Gateway Cup bicycle races and its accompanying recreational rides, event director Mike Weiss has  said orgainzers plan to go “full-steam ahead” with the event, including the three accompanying recreational rides. All four races took place as scheduled.

He said Saturday’s Tour de Francis Park race and the Ride to Unite recreational ride would be the events most likely to be affected by the heavy rains.

Here’s the schedule for the Gateway Cup (Click on the individual races and rides for more details):

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