Death In Cycling

Many bee keepers purposefully let themselves get stung when they tend their hives. Just a couple stings a week is all it takes to build a resistance to bee venom. As these bee keepers develop an immunity, they no longer get the same amount of pain or swelling from a sting. But after years of this, sometimes just a single bee sting will send their body into anaphylactic shock. Assuming they get to the hospital in time and survive, their new overnight-allergy to bee venom will likely last the rest of their life, making bee keeping impossible.

After a moment of reflection, I realize that this is a very, very poor analogy for my purposes, but I took the time to write it so I’ll keep it there.

The more times I get honked at, yelled at, buzzed, pushed off the road, or forced to slam on my brakes when a brain-dead driver pulls out in front of me without looking or thinking—the more angry I get. While one more bad driver could kill me, I’ve not become immune at all.

Maybe the civil rights movement is a better example.

There are enough of us who have to deal with over-sized automobiles going too fast and too close, inadequate cycling infrastructure, zero penalties for unsafe drivers, etc. Yet, little is being done to make things better. That’s actually not true at all. A lot is being done, it’s just not enough.

The facts about US cycling:

726 cyclists who were involved in motor vehicle collisions died in 2012.

49,000 cyclists who were involved in motor vehicle collisions were injured in 2012.

The trend hasn’t been in our favor either. Over the past 10 years, as the number of total traffic fatalities has actually decreased from 42,643 in 2003 to 33,561 in 2012, the percentage of those fatalities has actually risen for pedestrians and cyclists. See graph below.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 2.02.00 PM

In 2011, 2.1% of all traffic deaths were those of cyclists. That doesn’t sound too bad until you remember how few bikes there are out on the road (in the US, less than one percent of all trips are on a bike). That’s a lot of death and injury spread out amongst a small population. What’s possibly more disturbing is that the total number of cyclists has actually declined by 8% from 2000 to 2010, despite the rising population of the US. I was personally shocked to discover this.

There are fewer of us out there and more of us are dying. Riding a bike is probably the most dangerous thing you do, by quite a bit.

The leading cause of Death By Car (DBC) is when drivers fail to yield the right of way. Amazingly it’s NOT when you’re descending Flagstaff and an impatient woman honks and rides your ass the whole way down then passes you at the bottom almost hitting an oncoming cyclists on the other side of the road and then narrowly avoids T-boning a car when she erratically swerves back over to the other lane, then speeds up to 50 in a 30mph zone to make up for the lost time.

Sorry for the side story. Just the typical bullshit that happened today, like every day. This post might seem a bit antagonistic. But I do, obviously, realize that not every driver is unsafe. I don’t own a car but I do drive somewhat frequently.

Anyways, some examples of failing to yield include when 1) someone passes from behind to make a right turn in front of you, 2) an oncoming vehicle turns left across the lane in front of you, or 3) abruptly pulls out into your lane from a side road, which is what happened to Adelaide. I feel like the term “failing to yield” doesn’t quite do any of these instances justice. “Failing to look up from your phone and give a shit or just too impatient to wait five seconds” sounds more accurate to me.

We know to watch for these types of ‘accidents’ but sometimes no amount of defensive riding can save you. I have more friends than I can count on my fingers and toes that have ended up in the hospital because of a car failing to yield.

I’m sick of existing in a world that doesn’t care about human life, the environment, or doing what’s right. Bikes are part of the solution. Riding bikes makes you happy, healthy, and connects you with the world. It makes simple trips to the grocery store enjoyable. More people on bikes can only be good.

While 10 miles of commuting through traffic in the snow at night is easy for me, I realize it’s not possible for everyone. Being car-free works for my lifestyle but with the way our cities (and idiotic suburbs separated by freeways) are set up, bike commuting isn’t for everyone. Especially when you factor in the high number of impatient and distracted drivers there are to deal with. Bike riding should be for everyone though. Riding a bike should not be a life-threatening endeavor.

I’m in the very preliminary stages of launching a website that brings awareness to how dangerous cycling is. I realize this is somewhat counterintuitive since my crusade is to get more people on bikes, not scare potential cyclists away.

Sometimes the first step in solving a problem is realizing there is one.

That’s the point of this website–to show everyone, in real time, the shocking and tragic state that cycling is in. It has become more dangerous and fewer people are doing it every year. This comes at a time when obesity and diabetes rates are sky rocketing and climate change is visible with the naked eye.

Right now the website exists solely in my imagination, but what I’m planning is a large map image of the US with colored pinpoints showing exactly where every car vs bike collision occurs. I’m hoping it can be as close to real time as possible, but that depends from where and how quickly the program can retrieve the data. An easier part of the website that I hope will exist sometime in 2015 is to make an app that we (the crash victims) can use to upload the details of our personal collisions with cars.

While the exact use of the site will vary, a no brainer application would be to zoom in on your own city to find the most dangerous sections of roads and intersections–the places you’d want to avoid if possible, or better yet, places that could use some updated infrastructure.

The goal of the site is to bring awareness to the problem at hand (a lack of bike safety) and to create laws, infrastructure, and a change in the culture of transportation. Drivers who kill and maim cyclists because of impatience or inattention deserve strict punishment. We need education and practice from a young age about how to behave safely with bikes on the road. In the Netherlands, kids are expected to ride to school on their own by the age of 12. Norway has a similar system. By the time these kids reach driving age, they’ve spent enough time on the bike to know how to treat their fellow human beings. Applying this alone could be the most important thing to change America’s negative attitude towards cyclists. Unfortunately I think we’re a long way from having something like this in the US. From 2000 to 2010, the number of kids who ride bikes decreased by 20%. Theirs is the demographic that took the biggest hit in the last decade. It’s no wonder why it’s predicted that one in three Americans will have type two diabetes by 2050.

A less complex aspect of the site will include a victim’s story of the week, written by me, to attach a face to the statistic. I think this might be the one of the biggest motivators in creating laws and compassion to protect us. In a revolution, tears of sadness and anger go a long way.


Image: of Eugene Oregon


All in with GS CIAO for 2015!

GS CIAO (formerly Horizon/Einstein Bagels) has released its 2015 roster and it’s full of bad-ass mofos. And, to my unabashed amazement, I found myself on the list. You might be asking yourself, “What the hell did KennetH do to earn himself a spot on that big swinging dick team?” To that I respond, “I don’t know but I’m not going to bring attention to the matter so shut up about it, see?” I said that in a 1920’s wise-guy voice by the way.

You may recall that I guest rode with GS CIAO/Horizon at Superior Morgul, North Star GP, and Cascade. Somehow I made a good enough impression on my team members and management to get the invite for 2015. Is it really possible that they were enamored with how much food I could eat, how dirty my bike could get, and the vast quantity of swear words I could use in my race reports? I wasn’t aware my top skills were so marketable!

Okay enough self defecation for one post. Just to boost my ego back up, I’m putting myself at the the very top of the list. We’ll see how the rest stack up.

(Note: some of the information presented may or may not be truthful, as I don’t know a few of my teammates that well and I certainly didn’t take the time to interview them for this).

Kennet Peterson


Strengths on the bike: Attacking, day-long breaks, really short climbs.
Other powers: Sarcasm, anger, ultra potent flatulence
Power animal(s): Horse for land, Sea Lion for water
Favorite vegetable: Avocado. I don’t care what you say, it’s not a fruit damn it.
Favorite type of burrito: chile verde (carnitas).
Favorite color: hot pink. Or brown.
Little known fact about Kennett: he’s keeping a list of people who spell his name wrong. You don’t want to be on that list.
Occupation other than cyclist: Barista in training, unpaid writer

George Simpson


Strengths on the bike: Sprinting, time trials
Other powers: Penetrating stare, gorilla chest pound for 10 extra watts
Power animal: Sword fish
Favorite vegetable: MEAT
Favorite type of burrito: bean and cheese with MEAT
Favorite color: George is colorblind
Little known fact about George: he’s only been racing for two years.
Occupation other than cyclist: High school student?

Michael Burleigh


(Photo credit: Dean Warren)

Strengths on the bike: Climbing, breakaways, being a hard on. Hard man. Sorry.
Other powers: Emotional hammer-fist to top of skull, offering a water bottle on a hot day then dumping it out in front of you and laughing.
Power animal: Kodiak bear
Favorite vegetable: Turnip
Favorite type of burrito: Chicken with mole sauce.
Favorite color: Turquoise
Little known fact about Michael: He once attempted to swim across the English channel.
Occupation other than cyclist: Lawyer

Josh Yeaton


(Photo credit: Eddie Clark)

Strengths on the bike: Sprinting, finding the move, being savvy
Other powers: Making you feel dumb and bad about yourself, trickery: “Hey look at that thing over there” BOOM gone.
Power animal: Porpoise
Favorite vegetable: Cherry tomatoes
Favorite type of burrito: Huevos rancheros
Favorite color: Salmon pink
Little known fact about Josh: He has never seen the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Surprising, I know.
Occupation other than cyclist: Engineer: putting lasers on sharks!

Jake Duerhing


Strengths on the bike: Sprinting, lead out, smashing big gears (just one sometimes).
Other powers: Ventriloquism, being an all around nice guy, always has a tailwind in time trials
Power animal: Termite
Favorite vegetable: Swiss chard
Favorite type of burrito: Two burritos
Favorite color: Neon gray
Little known fact about Jake: He has a masters degree in paleontology.
Occupation other than cyclist: Works for Felt

Brad Bingham


Strengths on the bike: Sprinting, lead out, mass start hill climbs
Other powers: Intimidation (he’s really tall), +2mph for sweet euro-style haircut
Power animal: Timber wolf
Favorite vegetable: Tomatillo
Favorite type of burrito: Fajita burrito with shrimp
Favorite color: Burgundy
Little known fact about Brad: He gives a fantastic high five (but always spits on his hand first and laughs to himself afterwards because he despises you).
Occupation other than cyclist: General Mills

Nick Traggis–Manager


(Photo credit: Sportif Images)

Strengths on the bike/in the team car: Sprinting, iron-elbow bottle feed
Other powers: Motivator, creates great hashtags, awesome Linkedin profile
Power animal: Duck bill platypus
Favorite vegetable: Garlic
Favorite type of burrito: Breakfast: bacon, potato, egg, avocado, rice
Favorite color: See-through
Little known fact about Nick: None. Everything is public knowledge thanks to his amazing Linkedin profile.
Occupation other than cyclist: Engineer: also puts lasers on sharks!

Clayton Feldman


(Photo credit: Dean Warren)

Strengths on the bike: Climbing, breaks, time trials
Other powers: How bout the power of flight. That do anything for ya?
Power animal: Komodo dragon
Favorite vegetable: Water mellon
Favorite type of burrito: Cream cheese and jam on a wheat tortilla, topped with ghost peppers.
Favorite color: Purple
Little known fact about Clayton: Clayton has never crashed and gotten injured in a bike race. Ever.
Occupation other than cyclist: Cycling coach

Chris Winn

chris winn

(Photo credit: Kathryn Winn Sustain Bars)

Strengths on the bike: Uphill sprints, medium length climbs, tactician
Other powers: Dreamy good looks, ninja chop to deltoid, weird Australian sayings
Power animal: Black widow spider
Favorite vegetable: Canned spinach
Favorite type of burrito: Kangaroo on corn tortilla (Haha, get it? Because he’s Australian).
Favorite color: Sunrise orange
Little known fact about Chris: He used to be really into parkour.
Occupation other than cyclist: Cycling coach, wombat poacher.

Indian Creek 50 Race Report (A Running Race, Stupid)

I’m taking a break from writing about emotional grief and depression to talk about something I’m much better equipped to deal with–physical pain and suffering. You may remember that before Adelaide was annihilated by that driver, I was training for a 50-mile trail race. That race was this past weekend. It was awesome. I did not finish.

But I did finish the 50K race. At 34 miles long, it seems like a cop out compared to 50 miles, but at the same time I’m pretty happy with it. Here’s how it went down:

My alarm went off at 3:25. That right there was the worst part of my day. I drove our rental car, which we’ve been using to get around since Adelaide can’t ride bikes, to south Boulder. I met some other fairly groggy runners and piled into someone’s van for the carpool to the race, which took place south of Golden in Pike national forest.

The atmosphere at the start/finish area was cheerful and pretty laid back. There were around 130 runners, most of which were doing the 50K event, gathered in the dark with headlamps talking excitedly and chomping a bit more food before the day-long effort that lay ahead. I could sense a little nervousness in the air but obviously no one was jostling or shoving each other out of the way for a front row line up like a bike race. For one thing, it still wasn’t even 6AM yet, and ultra runners are just more mellow. A race like this is more about pushing your own limits than beating someone else. I can certainly appreciate that…I lined up near the front anyways.

Heading out into the dark in a large pack of runners was a surreal experience. The only sound became the crunch of gravel under foot and lungs pumping. The course was hilly and started out with a two-mile climb. The small group that formed around me was going quite a bit faster than I’d planned on starting, but my excitement got the best of me. Plus, my headlamp was pretty weak and I wanted the extra light and the company of some more sure-footed runners in front. We chatted as we leapt over rocks and around switchbacks.

The forest opened up 30 or 40 minutes into the race and gave a luminous view of the city far down below. Seven miles in and the pain in my knees temporarily, which had started at mile three, subsided; darkness and joint pain gave way to the soft orange glow of sunrise. I was now running alone through a field of waist-high flowers with bright red cliffs jutting out in the background. I relished the beauty of the early morning as best as I could, then the dull, aching, pain came back to take its place.

I was averaging 10:52 minutes/mile at that point, which doesn’t sound fast because it’s not. Though, when you factor in nearly 12,000 feet of elevation gain over 50 miles, 10:52 seems a bit better. My original goal, two months ago, was to break 9 hours. But my knees had never really gotten any better at adapting to the pounding of the ground since then. I can hold a fast pace for up to 10 miles, then my tendons and joints just go to complete shit. So 12-minute miles, a 10-hour race time, was my new goal for the day. Actually, my real goal was to just be able to finish, which I knew would be a very long shot. I’d never run more than 18 miles before, and I was pretty wrecked after that run. Wrecked enough to develop tendonitis actually.

In an ultra race you walk the hills. Most people walk the hills anyways. The really fast guys and girls can run them, but I was happy to power walk most and shuffle up some in order to save my knees for the flats and downhills. I picked off a few people 10 miles in, which was just past the first aid station.

The pain was holding steady and my pace, now 11:11 min/mile, was still better than I’d hoped. As I approached the second aid station at mile 15, which was also the conclusion of the first lap, my spirits rose. I’d been trying to block the bad thoughts about Adelaide’s crash, but had been failing. If you’re depressed, long workouts always tend to bring out those negative emotions. A few days after the crash I’d gone on a long hike/run and had spent the first 2.5 hours crying uncontrollably. I’d only paused once when I almost got in a fight with someone. It’s a side story but worth it: I was approaching Shadow Canyon when I passed another hiker going the opposite direction. I nodded and said hi. I turned back after I passed him to call Maybellene, and also took out an earbud to call her back from playing with the other guy’s dog.

At that point the guy angrily said, “Hey THANKS for asking, pal.”
“Huh? Asking what?” I replied.
“I asked how’s it going and you just ignored me,” he said.
“I had earbuds in. Do you not see that I’m currently listening to music and have earbuds in my ears?” What’s your problem anyways?” I said.

He said fuck you. I said fuck you. I can’t remember the exact exchange over the next 30 seconds but it escalated quickly, to the point that I began following him down the trail as he hurriedly walked away.

“If you don’t stop following me I’m calling 911 right now,” he said.

I think I laughed at that and asked what good that would do way out here. Then I screamed and swore at him until he was out of sight. He got the last word in: “Go back to the east coast!” Then I screamed/roared as loud as I could like a mountain lion or some tormented jungle beast. I thought of chasing him down but decided that would be stupid. It’s never worth getting into a fight over a misunderstanding, no matter how upset you are. I continued on my route and began laughing at how strange the encounter was. Then began crying again.

Anyways, back to the race:

One of the volunteers filled my Ultimate Direction hydration pack at the aid station while I gulped down a few small handfulls of chips and Cliff Bloks. Knees were okay, motivation was good, energy was still perfect. Aerobically speaking, I’d never left zone 1 and I’d eaten well over 1000 calories.

The course consisted of three laps. The first was 15 miles, the second 19, and the third 16. This gave us two chances to access our drop bags at the start/finish. In addition to the main aid station, there were a couple others stocked with additional goodies: sandwiches, soda, chips, candy, gels, water, quesadillas, etc.

I played leap frog with six other runners for 20 minutes after that first lap. My knees and hips were worsening and I ran ever more gingerly. In addition to joint pain I began experiencing the first disturbing jolts from my increasingly angry bowels. I’d needed to take a shit before that first lap was finished but I didn’t want to waste the two minutes it would have taken to visit the porta potty. I’d pay the price for this.

I began doing math and realized that I wouldn’t be back at the start/finish for another 14 miles. That didn’t sound too bad, then I remembered I was running not riding. That would take me like two or three hours (in reality it would take longer). Shit. literally. I kept an eye out for some lush leaves hidden somewhere within this dry, barren pine forest.

As I continued running, two old sticks presented themselves on the trail in front of me. They were covered in sand but the bark was gone and they looked somewhat smooth. I picked them up and continued on, eagerly awaiting something more desirable to present itself in the next, oh no…14 to 16 seconds. I saw nothing but rocks. I dove into the bushes, threw my shorts off, and unleashed fiery hell. Who in their right mind eats chilly for breakfast before a running race?

The two sandy sticks worked well and I was back on the trail within 90 seconds, feeling like a new man.

Mile 20.5 and the third aid station appeared. One of the volunteers said the fourth station was three miles away, but it was all uphill. This was actually good news for me. Since I was hiking the hills, they were less painful on my joints than the flats or downhills.

Four miles later (not three) and I got to the last summit of the climb and the aid station. My legs were really wrecked at this point and I was hobbling quite a bit. Waddling like an injured duck. My pace was now 11:43 but I continued holding out hope for an unrealistic sub 10-hour race.

Two miles later and that changed. I was now 26 miles in. Only half way done. I could barely run. I’d shuffle for a few minutes and use every little bump as an excuse to walk, swinging my arms wildly to propel myself forward. My hips and knees were trashed. My goal became to simply finish.

The next climb was long. Like five miles. Half way up I realized that couldn’t run at all anymore. I longed for the lap to be over so I could join up with my two pacers (Galen and Joslynn), who would have to walk with me instead of running like we’d planned. Running was out of the question for even one mile, let alone 16.

By mile 31 I was done. I wasn’t even power walking anymore. I was doing 16+ minute miles and slowing down with every step. Limping was an understatement. I realized that it would take me six or seven hours to finish the last lap at this deteriorating pace. I’d be done with the 50K in that same amount of time. One more lap would cripple me for a month, which I couldn’t afford to do with the bike training season approaching. I decided to end things with that lap.

I came through the finish line at 6 hours and 59 minutes with Galen and Jos cheering me on to run for the last hundred meters. I DNFed the 50 miler but came in 27th in the 50K. So that’s kind of cool they let you do that. I wasn’t too upset, because plates of pasta, and later ibuprofen, awaited me.

It was hard. It was fun. You should do a running race sometime soon too. Might as well be over a marathon to make it worth your while. Here’s where you find out about ultras: