Arizona Road Cyclist News August 15, 2012
News for those who bicycle Arizona's streets and roads
Editor, Jack Quinn

 

Arizona Road Cyclist News is normally published every other Wednesday and is available free of charge to anyone who wishes to read it. To sign up for an E-mail notifying you when the latest edition has been uploaded to the Website or to modify or cancel your current subscription, click on the "Subscribe to Arizona Road Cyclist News" link in the navigation pane to the left on the Website or to the link at the end of every email. All email addresses are kept on a secure server and are not shared with anyone. Should you later cancel your email subscription, you information will be completely deleted from our server.

In the newsletter text, words and phrases in underlined blue text are hyperlinks that you can click for more information on other Websites.

There are only four events listed in this issue. I simply did not have the time to visit all of the bicycle club Websites, etc., compile a list of upcoming cycling events and do write-ups on them. I apologize to those clubs and organizations whose cycling events are not included, but I also remind them that it makes it much easier for me to publicize your event if you send me information on it rather than wait for me to find it on the Web.

In this issue:
     ARCN to Cease Publication by End of Year
     Police Stop Harassing Cyclists in Biltmore
     The 100 Ride for Jim Stenholm -- October 6
     Glendale's Bike Den Closing -- Everything on Sale
     Whose Roads? Ours or Theirs?
     LAB Instructor Course -- September 7, 8, & 9
     Tour de Scottsdale -- October 14
     Heart of Arizona Century/Brevet -- November 3
     Feedback -- Our Readers Reply
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News

ARCN to Cease Publication by End of Year

I have been writing Arizona Road Cyclist News for four years, and although I've enjoyed both the writing and the interaction with readers, the newsletter takes up a lot of time. I have therefore decided to give it up. I realize that it will leave a hole, especially with the demise of most of the club newsletters in the Phoenix area and given the fact that organizations that once fought for cycling rights seem to have gone semi-dormant.

The biggest hole will be the lack of publicity for upcoming cycling events. Once, the cycling club newsletters used to publicize each other's cycling events, but now most of them have cease publishing monthly newsletters.

I plan to continue publication until approximately mid-November in order to publicize such events as the Heart of Arizona Century, the McDowell Mountain Century, and, of course, the 100 Ride for Jim Stenholm.  -- Jack Quinn

Police Stop Harassing Cyclists in Biltmore

Off-duty police officers, hired by a small group of wealthy Biltmore residents, have apparently stopped harassing cyclists and others. As I reported a few weeks ago in an email sent out to email list subscribers, at least one police officer had been stopping cyclists, walkers, and runners on the streets of the Phoenix Biltmore and implying that they were trespassing if they were not in the company of a Biltmore resident. Worse yet, some of the people who were stopped and questioned were ordinary Biltmore residents who were harassed for engaging in such suspicious activity as walking the dog in their own neighborhood.

The implication that the people stopped and questioned for walking, jogging or cycling on the streets of the Biltmore were trespassing was false. I have checked with various sources, and although it is true that the streets in the Biltmore are private, outsiders have permission to use those private streets for recreational purposes.

I had heard stories of walkers being intercepted by police officers on the streets of the Biltmore, but I was not aware of the extent of the harassment until I found myself in a group of riders from the Arizona Bicycle Club (ABC) that was pulled over by officer Benjamin Carro of the Mountain View (formerly Squaw Peak) Phoenix Police precinct.

Officer Carro stood in front of the group and delivered a long harangue in which he implied, although he did not directly state, that we were trespassing. He said that he was not "going to take names this time" or write us tickets, implying that he could legitimately do so. He pointed to one of the cyclists in the group and said that he had stopped him before. "I never forget a face." The implication was that the cyclist had not learned his lesson the first time he was stopped for being in the Biltmore, and here he was back again!

Two members of the cycling group promptly identified themselves as Biltmore residents. If Officer Carro had been using common sense, he would have stopped there rather than anger some of the Biltmore residents he was claiming to protect, but he wasn't. He continued to harangue us in disconnected sentences in a loud and authoritative voice, thereby harassing two of the people he was claiming to protect. When one of the cyclists started to ride off, Officer Carro stopped him, yelling that he did not have permission to leave yet.

When Officer Carro finally permitted our group to leave, cyclist Paul Klusman and I stayed behind to ask for the officer's name and badge number. We had independently decided to file a complaint. Officer Carro wrote down the information and gave it to Paul, who then rode off. I was left alone with the officer who once again began to harangue me, presumably with the intention of intimidating me into leaving without the information, but I interrupted him, stated that I had done nothing wrong, and politely reminded him that I wanted his name and badge number, at which point he stopped his harangue, wrote down the information, and handed it to me with seeming reluctance.

Our group was not the only one that Officer Carro stopped. Reader Dave McMeechan wrote that he was with a different ABC group that the officer stopped [see the "Feedback" section below]. I also have reports of joggers and walkers being stopped, although in those cases, the officer involved was not identified. I do not know if several police officers have been hassling  people cycling, walking, and jogging in the Biltmore, or if Officer Carro is the only culprit.

Paul telephoned Commander Gardner to set up a meeting who declined to meet with us and referred Paul to Officer Carro's supervisor, Sergeant Amy Breitzman, who wanted to resolve the matter over the phone. Paul insisted on a meeting.

At the meeting, Paul, Biltmore resident and cyclist Lou Morgan, Sergeant Breitzman, and I were joined by Sergeant Lynn Butcher of the precinct's Community Relations Bureau. I was permitted to attend only on condition that I not write about anything discussed at the meeting with one exception: I was given permission to write that cyclists may ride through the Biltmore under the condition that they stay to the right and ride no more than two abreast. I don't think I'm violating my promise by adding that I inquired several times why Officer Carro tried to make us believe that we did not have that permission when it wasn't true, but I couldn't get a straight answer to that question.

The Biltmore complex is not monolithic. It is controlled by several organizations including the Arizona Biltmore Hotel and various home owners' associations. Most of those organizations have no connection with and no influence over the off-duty police officers who patrol the Biltmore.

As mentioned earlier, a small group of (presumably wealthy) residents pays for the the patrols, allegedly because of a rash of break-ins, although in my checks of online crime statistics, I found no evidence of such break-ins. If the crime statistics available on the Internet are accurate, the Biltmore complex seems to be one of the safest places in the world to live, and the situation seems to be driven by paranoia.

The Arizona Biltmore Hotel, which maintains the Arizona Canal path and the Thunderbird Trail, as the street from the 24th Street entrance to the hotel is called, "welcomes cyclists, walker & joggers on its property" according to Becky Blane, the Hotel's public relations and marketing manager. Biltmore resident Scott Schirmer, who is one of the residents who hired the police officers to patrol the area, reluctantly admitted to me during a phone conversation that cyclists do indeed have permission to ride through the Biltmore, although he gave me the impression that he would take away that permission if he had the ability to do so.

Since Paul Klusman, Lou Morgan, and I had our meeting at the Mountain View precinct, I have had no more reports of cyclists, runners, and walkers being harassed by the police within the Biltmore. I ride thorough the Biltmore several times a week, and although I see a police car about half the time, I have not been stopped. If any readers have been stopped in the past several weeks, I would be grateful for the details.

In my view, the Mountain View Precinct and its commander Glen Gardner should admit the mistake and publicly apologize for the fact that at least one of its police officers was harassing citizens who were legitimately present within the Biltmore complex. By not openly acknowledging and apologizing for the unwise conduct, the Precinct and its commander give the impression that they are indifferent to the concerns of the public. Should Commander Gardner chose to make a public, written apology, I would not only be more than happy to publish it, I would applaud his good judgement.

The 100 Ride for Jim Stenholm -- October 6

As regular readers know, every year in October the 100 Ride for Jim Stenholm remembers a deceased bike racer, a fomer Phoenix police officer, a member of the Phoenix Consumer Cycling Club, a husband, and the father of two small children. It also provides Phoenix-area cyclists the chance to enjoy a great ride at a reasonable price and to support the families of deceased and injured fire fighters and police officers. This is the way Jim would have enjoyed spending a Saturday morning.

This ride is also a chance for cyclists to improve relations with the Phoenix Police Department, as many of the motorcycle officers enjoy chatting with the cyclists at the rest stops and over lunch following the ride, and quite a few officers in police cycling jerseys pedal their bicycles with us.

 Because the ride has an escort of Phoenix police officers on motorcycles who stop traffic to allow us to pass, we get to ride right through red lights while motorists sit immobile in their cars and watch us pedal by. There are two SAG stops en route with cold drinks, fruit, and homemade cookies, and lunch in the park is included at the end of the ride. Each rider will also receive a small gift, which is rumored to be a pair of cycling socks this year.

The 100 is so named for two reasons. For one, it raises money for the 100 Club, and for another, 100 kilometers is 62 miles, which evokes Jim's  police badge number, 6205. OK, the ride is a few miles short of its advertised distance, but who's counting?

The  ride starts and ends at Desert Horizon Park at 16030 North 56th Street (at Paradise Lane, which is between Bell and Greenway roads) at 8 a.m. Registration opens at 6:30 a.m. Riders are asked to sign a release and make a $30 donation, which is very modest compared the the registration fees of most charity rides. (If you register for the Tour de Scottsdale 70-mile ride today , the entry fee will set you back $85, and the fee jumps to $100 on September 1 and to $120 on October 12.)

How can the organizers charge such a modest fee than other rides and still donate almost every penny raised to the 100 Club? Because the large crew working the event consists of volunteers, and and the food and other items needed to put on the ride are donated. The ride's expenses are covered before the first rider registers, so all entry fees go to a .good cause.

You can view the ride's brochure in PDF format by clicking here, and the route map can be viewed by clicking here. The ride also has a Facebook page.

Above, Stenholm riders chow down at one of the SAG stops. 

 

First picture, a group of riders leads the pack out of one of the SAG stops. I am the second rider to the right of the picture wearing the cycling cap under my helmet peering from behind the rider wearing a baseball cap under his helmet. Second picture, the late Jim Stenholm with his mountain bike.

Glendale's Bike Den Closing -- Everything on Sale

Many of you who live on the West Side, and even some East-Siders are beneficiaries of the great service that Ken Thayer and his staff provide at the Bike Den at 4312 West Cactus Road. Sadly, old Ken is now over the hill, and he has decided to quit working and do whatever it is that old people do. (Why is everyone looking at me?) Ken's lease expires on August 31, and he's decided not to renew it. Before that date, he must sell everything in the store. (Ken adds: "And I mean everything!) This could be a great opportunity to pick up bikes, bike parts, clothing, tools, and even store fixtures at a great price. With a couple of the right tools in your toolbox, you might be able to do more bike maintenance yourself instead of paying a mechanic to do it and thereby save beaucoup bucks.

Again, the address of Bike Den is 4312 West Cactus Road on the northwest corner of the intersection with 43rd Avenue. The phone number is (602) 938-0989, and the store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. If you stop by, tell old Ken that I said hi.

Whose Roads? Ours or Theirs?

Many motorists believe that they have an inherent superior right to use the streets and roads and that cyclists and other non-motorized users should yield to motor vehicles or not use the roads at all. The justification for this view is that they pay for the roads through gasoline taxes and the rest of us are just a bunch of freeloaders. But is this view correct?

Michael Sanders of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recently sent me a copy of an updated study written by Todd Litman of the Victoria (BC) Transport Policy Institute. Todd's study finds that in the US and Canada:

less than half of roadway expenses are financed by motor vehicle user fees, and pedestrians and cyclists pay more than their share of roadway costs. Most funding for local roads (the roads pedestrians and cyclists use most) is from general taxes, which people pay regardless of how they travel. Since bicycling and walking impose lower roadway costs than motorized modes, people who rely on non-motorized modes tend to overpay their fair share of roadway costs and subsidize motorists.

The study also concludes that people who walk or cycle instead of driving benefit those who chose to stay in their cars by reducing traffic congestion. In other words, the more people who opt for alternative methods of transportation, the faster car traffic moves. If you'd like to read Todd's study, you can access it in PDF format by clicking here.

Mike Sanders also sent me a link to a recent ADOT study authored by J. Richard Kuzmyak that demonstrates that in the Phoenix area, high-density neighborhoods have less traffic congestion than do much less dense suburban areas. Why? For one reason, the mix of retail and residential use in the older, high-density neighborhoods results in shorter trips. I live in an older, eastside Phoenix neighborhood, and I often walk three blocks each way to the grocery store or an even shorter distance to the local Target store. My sister, who lives in Sun City, can't go anywhere without driving miles. (OK, she could ride a bike, but my sister wouldn't think of riding her bike any farther than around the block.)

The second study is also online and can be accessed in PDF format by clicking here.

LAB Instructor Course -- September 7, 8 & 9

Reader Gene Holmerud sends word that an instructor's course for those who would like to teach the League of American Bicyclists' cycling courses will be held in Flagstaff at the Joe Montoya Community and Senior Center, 245 North Thrope Road, Flagstaff 86001 on September 7, 8 and 9. For more information, contact Martin Mince by email at mince@flagstaff.gov.

Tour de Scottsdale -- October 14

The Tour de Scottsdale takes place on October 14 this year, and registration has been open for some time. There three categories this year with a choice of two distances, making for six options in all. Riders can chose to ride either 30 or 70 miles (a little birdie told me the long course is actually two miles shorter than advertised) as individuals, on a tandem with a partner, or as part of a team with a minimum of six cyclists. There is also an expo associated with the ride and an walk, run, and roll family event.

Riders may ride almost any type of bike including recumbents and mountain bikes. In most mass-start bicycle events, aero bars are considered a danger when cyclists are riding in groups and are not permitted. However, the Tour de Scottsdale allows them. In my opinion, this is an example of the Tour de Scottsdale's rather cavalier attitude toward cyclist safety.

A bicycle helmet is required. There will be aide stations at periodic distances along the route with water, electrolyte drinks, and fruit. All riders carry a chip for electronic timing, and all riders receive an event t-shirt and all finishers receive a medallion.

This ride ain't cheap. At present, the entry fee is $35 for the short ride and $85 for the longer route. On September 1, the entry fees jump to $50 and $100 respectively, and on October 12 they jump again to $70 for the 30-mile ride and $120 for the longer option. Tandems should add $15 to those fees for the short route and $25 for the longer one.

For more information on the Tour de Scottsdale, click here.

Heart of Arizona Century/Brevet -- November 3

The Heart of Arizona Century is one of my favorite rides, although it has been a few years since I have participated. The "Heart" vies with Mining Country for the honor of being the toughest one-day century ride in Arizona, as both rides feature lots and lots of climbing.

In addition to the 104-mile century, the ride has a 200-kilometer or 125-mile brevet sanctioned by Randonneurs USA (RUSA). The century and brevet follow the same course except that the brevet tacks on two out -and-back side trips along the route to make up the extra miles. This year a third distance has been added, a 44-mile "Heart Intro Ride" for those who are not sure that they are up to 6,000 feet or more of climbing. The new 44-mile route has a wimpy 3,100 feet of climbing. Piece a' cake!

As a reward for all the climbing, riders are treated near the end of all three rides to the thrilling descent down Yarnell Hill where they can coast for seven miles with no more exertion than occasionally tapping the brakes when going into the frequent sharp turns.

The ride starts and ends in the little hamlet of Congress, which is about 17 miles past Wickenburg. Be careful when driving anywhere near Wickenburg, especially on the return trip, because the town is an infamous traffic-ticket trap, and you don't necessarily have to be doing anything wrong to be ticketed. Be especially careful on the traffic circle west of town. My advice is that if there is any traffic at all in the traffic circle, that you come to a complete stop before entering the circle or you may find an unmarked police car quickly accelerating up to yours and receive a bogus traffic ticket for allegedly failing to yield. If you challenge the ticket in Wickenburg Municipal Court, you have about as much chance of wining your case as I have of winning the Tour de France. If the town magistrate dared to rule against a police officer, she would be in the unemployment line. Long-time readers know that I'm writing from experience.

From Congress, the 100- and 125-mile riders proceed along peaceful state route 89 out to highway 93. This latter road is the only hairy part of the ride. Parts of it are four lane, which gives cars lots of space to pass cyclists, but parts are two lanes wide and narrow, and motorists heading from Phoenix to Las Vegas often clip along at 70 miles per hour or more. There is a shoulder on the two-lane sections, but it is often narrow and separated from the traffic lane by a particularly nasty rumble strip. My recommendation is that cyclists use a helmet- or glasses-mounted mirror on this section so they can ride in the traffic lane when the coast is clear and cross the rumble strip to the shoulder when they see cars approaching from the rear.

After the first SAG stop on highway 93, the rest of the ride is a delight, assuming that you are one of us who think that slogging uphill for mile after mile with sweat pouring off you is a delightful experience. Well, that's not quite fair. The climbs are interspaced with some pretty enjoyable descents.

The 16 miles between the first and second SAGs are rolling and really are a delight to ride. After the second SAG while the 125-mile riders make a detour up to the town of Bagdad and back, the 100-milers will enjoy a six-mile descent to the Santa Maria River. Enjoy it, because the ride is about to become pure hell. Therefore, make sure to fill at least two water bottles at the SAG, because you're going to need all of the liquid you can drink before you hit the next stop.

After the Santa Maria River, there is a 10-mile climb to the town of Hillside and the third SAG. The climb goes on for mile after mile. The most disheartening parts are the false summits. Time after time, it looks as if you are approaching the top of the climb, but then you round a curve and see the road soaring farther into the sky. Have I made it sound miserable enough? I know all of you masochists out there are just like me and feel that the rides with lots of suffering are those that we remember for the rest of our lives. Oh, I should add that the two times I have done the ride, there has been a Bull Shifter stopped along the road about halfway up the climb handing up bottled water. This extra help is a godsend, then this is a three-water-bottle climb. [The 2012 State Road Race championship included this climb, and many of the racers did not finish because of dehydration.]

From the third SAG in Hillside, which is, by the way, also a lunch stop, the road becomes rolling with short climbs followed by short, fast descents until the hamlet at Kirkland Junction and the last SAG stop. The two times I have done the ride, the section of road between and Hillside and Kirkland Junction has been a bit rough, and I've been happy to be riding on 25-mm tires with a bit lower air pressure than I normally ride on my racing bike. However, a racing bike with high-pressure tires is fine, as long as you don't mind being jolted a bit by the bumps.

At Kirkland Junction, brevet riders detour to the left to the settlement of Wilhoit and then return to Kirkland Junction. The 100-milers proceed directly through Peeple's Valley to the town of Yarnell.

The section from Peeple's Valley to Yarnell is very deceptive. You know that you're climbing, but the climb doesn't appear to be that steep. Why are you riding so slowly? To add to the misery, there is usually a stiff headwind along this section. The climb continues right through the town of Yarnell, but then comes the thrilling finale of the ride, the seven-mile descent through the curves and switchbacks of Yarnell Hill.

From the bottom of Yarnell Hill, it's a short and easy pedal back to the start-finish line, where the Bull Shifters will be cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs. As you ease your aching body off your bike, you will probably promise yourself not to ever again put yourself through such hellish torture, but then as you sit munching on your food and swapping lies about the ride with the other cyclists, you will probably already be making plans to come back next year, this time in better shape.

Oh, yes, the 44-mile ride. It is an out and back route along the final miles of the 100-mile loop. In other words, from Congress, riders pedal up Yarnell Hill, which is not as difficult as it sounds. The uphill side of the road is wide, has two uphill traffic lanes, and has a broad shoulder. As a bonus, this is one of the few hills in the world that looks steeper than it actually is.

From the top of Yarnell, the 44-milers descend to Peeple's Valley and then climb to the SAG stop at Kirkland Junction for lunch. After lunch, they turn around and retrace the route back to Congress, where even more food will be waiting for them.

I've made this ride sound like a miserable experience, but believe me, it is one of the best rides in Arizona for those who are in physical condition to do it, and it is a ride that I highly recommend.

The cost of the ride is $40 for members of the Bull Shifters, the Arizona Bicycle Club, the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club, and RUSA until October 27. Non-members should add an additional $5. After October 27, add a $10 late-registration fee.

To view the ride's Web site with links to the entry and release forms as well as route maps and descriptions, click here.

Feedback -- Our Readers Reply

The emails received in recent weeks all concerned the message I sent out about a Phoenix police officer hassling cyclists, walkers, and runners in the Arizona Biltmore.

Hi Jack!

Officer Carro was the one who stopped our group as well. In our group's case, he acted in a professional manner. As a group, we listened attentively. At the time, we were headed west to east. He told us basically the same thing he told your group. He DID permit us to pass through to Colter that day, however, instead of turning us back and taking an alternative route.

One of our group's riders is a retired Phoenix police officer who wasn't with us on that particular ride. When he heard of our encounter with officer Carro, he was quite disturbed. He did some "investigation"of his own concerning this matter. Just what he found out is "unknown" to me at this time. With your permission, is it OK with you if I forward your email to him? I'm sure he'd be VERY interested.

Anyway, it's time to go. Have a great night.

Skinny Dave McMeechan

________

Sorry, Jack - Not a lot of sympathy for Biltmore riders or residents. Head south a mile or two (Osborne, Oak, etc.) for a fun, hassle free ride.

Mike Walsh

________

Thanks Jack. I have noticed more police presence on the Biltmore loop during the past month as that is my bike commute route. So far no bad experiences (knock on wood).

Doug  Ritenour

________

Thank you, Jack, for your update and your DILIGENCE and your attention to factual accuracy!

Marty Ryerson

_______

Are you willing to post a comment from a Biltmore Estates resident or are you only going to present your "take" on the situation?

Ina Manaster

All respectfully written comments are welcome and are published. I especially welcome well-written comments that cause me to rethink my own opinions. Let's have the comment. -- JQ

_______

Finally, there were two messages from two old timers who remember when cyclists had to get by a guard in order to get into the Biltmore.

Jack, I have been reading about the troubles in the Biltmore and thought I would tell you about the same thing happening in 1974.  I rode with the Phoenix Wheelmen and we went into the Biltmore every Saturday on our ride. The people there decided we should not do that and  they put a guard at the 24th Street entrance. So for some time we were not able to go into the Biltmore. We did not ride through the way we have in recent years  but only up by the hotel to take a short break.

 

Richard Fisher

________

Thank you for this information.  I recently moved back into Phx. and have not toured through the Biltmore yet although, I have driven through there and noticed that the "public" access is a lot more lenient than it was back in the 1980's when I was a kid.  Back then we used to terrorize, anger and completely befuddle the guards.  I can understand an officer asking questions of cyclist but it is obvious that officer Carro you spoke with was out of line. 

Be well, stay hydrated and do not anger the uber wealthy or anyone in a big black truck that screams "git off the road you g-damn faggit"

Mykel Jantz

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