So, Want to Race Bikes?

Posted November 20, 2015 By David Huntsman

November 20, 2015

File this under “Real Good Things Happening for Southern California Junior Bike Racing”

For a youngster, road bicycle racing is not an easy sport to take up. There are a few cycling clubs in Southern California with “Junior” (18 and under) programs, but the intake of beginners for most is more or less “come ride your bike with us”. That’s not optimum. Mere participation in group rides, where habits – some good, some bad – are picked up and reinforced, can actually be a negative for bike racing skill development and safety. Lots of kids, even relatively fit ones, show up for their first race and are completely overwhelmed. Most of them never come back.

Some kids are lucky; they have an experienced friend or parent who can help them understand – before the first race – what to expect there and how to prepare for it. And how to then train accordingly.

But for those who weren’t born into the sport, in Southern California a new cyclist can now take guided, simulated road bike racing preparation classes over five weekend days beginning this November 28 in Redlands. It is called the Beginning Racer Program. The Beginning Racer Program is a 5-week series of clinics lead by professional coaches Sean and Rachael Wilson, and is designed to help new racers get the essential skills they need to become comfortable competing in bike racing.

These classes are a few hours a day over five days, but the experience will be a huge head-start for absolute beginners and an eye-opener for even experienced juniors who think they have learned enough. It is not mandatory to attend or sign up for all but, of course, the more the better because each day is a focus on a different racing skill set:

November 28th, 2015 – Saturday – Basic Pack Skills

December 13th, 2015 – Sunday – Cornering

January 2nd, 2016 – Saturday – Pack Awareness

January 3rd, 2016 – Sunday – Sprinting Basics

January 9th, 2016 – Saturday – Bringing it all Together

Each day, kids 12 and under will attend from 9:30 – 12:00. Kids 13 and up will start at 1pm. The program will be held at the Redlands Sports Complex, 1790 N. Dearborn Street, Redlands, CA 92374.

Here’s a link to the flyer. I highly recommend any potential road bike racer sign up for these courses. Space is limited.

The Beginning Racer Program is also a fundraiser for USAC cycling club GS Andiamo, which recently promoted a successful Smart Cycling safety class for its young cyclists and their parents in Redlands (also a pioneering effort for racing cyclists in Southern California). GS Andiamo’s beach cities chapter in Newport Beach is West Side Wheelmen.

Beginning Racer Program 2015-16



Cycling Worlds Merging – Bike Racers Will Learn Smart Cycling

Posted October 26, 2015 By David Huntsman

Last night some of the leaders of Southern California youth bike racing met at the Newport Coast Community Center in Newport Beach for an informal dinner and discussion of what is needed to advance bike racing for kids.

Making the sport of bicycle racing all that it can be is important to me as a former junior and elite bike racer now the parent of a junior bike racer. I want my child to be involved with a top-level organization. More important, though, is my son’s safety on the road. Every parent of a bike racer I speak to shares the same concern for their child riding their bicycle on the road, at the mercy of thoughtless motorists. It is a major limiting factor in the growth of the sport.

Let's get formal, on-road traffic awareness training in to the DNA of competitive cycling.

Let’s get formal, on-road traffic awareness training in to the DNA of competitive cycling.

Generally, the bike racing community has nothing to offer kids and their parents in the way of strategies to make the road safe.

I learned how to ride in the road properly, how to be assertive and visible, how to take the lane and how to know when to get off the road altogether and wait for safer conditions. I learned this from the adults in the cycling club I was a member of when I started racing in 1972. I can teach that dual skill set to my son, but I can’t teach everybody, and I seem to part of a rare breed of people who are ex-racers willing to mentor both racing AND intelligent, safe road use. In last night’s meeting it was sadly acknowledged that older mentors, like the people who taught me how to race bikes AND ride safely on the road in the 1970’s, are not available anymore as they are now racing themselves and don’t have time for the kids. And, a lot of adult leadership in youth cycling in Southern California did not race bikes, as kids or adults, and do not practice smart cycling themselves. The extent of communal bike racer safety advice in Southern California now is:

Put on a helmet and stay to the right

none of which is really helpful and some of which is just plain wrong in the context of motorists and bicycle riders sharing the same space.

This is why I am very happy to announce that the subject of on-road traffic awareness training for bike racers  — classes like Smart Cycling and CyclingSavvy — came up than once at last night’s meeting. I am hoping it – on-road traffic awareness training for bike racers – will become part of the DNA of competitive cyclist education. It must, frankly, if the sport is to grow in the United States. Scared, uneducated athletes are not just in danger — they do not enthusiastically help grow their sport.

We are doing our part. My son’s new social and competitive cycling club is West Side Cycling. West Side Cycling is the beach cities (Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and their surrounds) branch of GS Andiamo. GS Andiamo is a Redlands-based USA Cycling club managed by Sean Wilson (pictured above, who organized last night’s 4+ hour meeting). GS Andiamo is hosting a League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling class November 7 in Redlands, in conjunction with League Cycling Instructor Robert Nieuber and Mark Friis of the Inland Empire Bicycle Alliance. Young bike racers and their parents will learn how to anticipate and manage vehicular traffic on the road, and that there’s much more to protecting themselves than simply, “Wear a helmet and stay to the right.”

I am hoping this pioneer program will inspire other Southern California and then all USA cycling clubs to do the same. If you are a cycling coach or cycling club leader, you need to follow suit.

Onward and upward with confident, educated bike racers who know how to ride on the road.



J.O.S.T. Grand Opening Ride

Posted January 6, 2015 By Frank Peters

Back in October I took myself on a pre-grand opening ride

Pre-grand opening hazard

Wanna ride to the Jeffrey Open Space Trail Grand Opening?

It’s this Saturday, Jan 10th at 10am.

Meet at the Newport Beach Civic Center for an 8am departure.

We’ll ride mostly off-road, that’s why we’re celebrating the J.O.S.T. – it completes an almost 30-mile off-road loop.

Our route to the ribbon-cutting in Cypress Community Park will take us through Shady Cyn. On the way back we’ll complete the loop along Hicks Cyn Trail, Peters Cyn Trail and the San Diego Creek Trail.

Come experience this beautiful new trail.



Quail Hill views

Quail Hill views


Meeting The Neighbors

Posted December 20, 2014 By Frank Peters

Do you have neighbors like these, too?

The ones you seemingly have nothing in common with, but then how would you know – all you ever do is nod “Hello” as you pass in the parking lot.

I did.

Jim and Denise live directly next door, you can’t get much closer as neighbors, proximity-wise that is, but we seldom had more to say than a comment about a pretty sunset.

Until this past Thursday.

I was standing in their driveway looking up at my house, which has been scaffolded for a week as we repaint. It’s coming along nicely and it’s fun to observe the process. That’s when Denise backed out of her garage with her new bike.

“Hey, nice Pedego!” Everything changed in an instant, “I’ve got 3 Pedegoes in the garage!” She was impressed, surprised.

Yes, she knew my son worked in the nearby store, but she bought her’s in Irvine near work. She’s a teeny bit famous, as she’s the first owner of the new Pedego Boomerang electric bike. I told her I had seen the Facebook post featuring her, but with a helmet and glasses I didn’t recognize her.

The Boomerang has a low step-through that a lot of us are gonna like.

The Boomerang has a low step-thru that a lot of us are gonna like.

In just a few minutes we’ve arranged a double-date — Jim’s suggesting bike-to-lunch on the peninsula.

I can tell everyone’s excited – who can’t use a bike buddy right next door?




Pre-Turkey Ride

Posted November 26, 2014 By Frank Peters
First to arrive

Me on my Pedego are the first to arrive

We had a gorgeous day for this annual bike ride. Our group of 5 more than made up for our small size with friendly chats along the route.

As I often do, we stop at Irvine Terrace Park to practice safe braking. That’s when I discover Fabricia’s junker bike (she is visiting from Michigan and just bought the bike for a week’s worth of riding) didn’t have a rear brake. This causes me a little concern as the next leg of our journey is straight downhill. Not to worry, she’s had just enough time on the bike to know how to compensate. Off we went heading for Balboa Island.

After making a point of telling everyone to bring money, guess who doesn’t?

I always stash a large bill in my bike bag just for such occasions, but the Balboa Is ferry operator didn’t want to take it, so Michael Glenn treated for my ferry fare. Money problems on a fun bike ride? Not really — but I did have exact change for the return ferry.

Christian's bike

Christian’s Detroit-built Shinola

On the ferry

On the ferry: Christian, Frank, Michael and Marco

I’ve biked to the Wedge many times, but seldom do I lock up the bike and walk to the water. We did today.

The Wedge didn’t look like the mighty monster this morning — it was flat, calm and inviting. This is home turf for Michael Glenn, so he contributed great tidbits and stories along our peninsula route.

at the Wedge

Christian, Fabricia, Marco and Michael at the Wedge

Lunch at Sessions

Lunch at Sessions, 29th and Newport Blvd.

When someone else is entertaining the group I can take a break and enjoy the ride, too. I have to admit that when I took everyone for an early lunch and discovered Michael hadn’t been to Sessions, I felt like I was showing everyone a good time.

Back to money issues… Christian only has 2 dollars for lunch, so I am happy to treat. He gives me one and the change for 2 sandwiches gives me enough for the return ferry fare. The money shortages added to the serendipity and lunch tasted better for the both of us.

The ride is starting to take on a rolling party flavor – we linger for awhile, sharing stories before it’s time to push off.

The group starts to thin as we head back – first Christian then Michael. “Who’s gonna drop out next?” I say wondering if my Michigan companions know their way back, but I’m just kidding. The smaller threesome allows even more intimate conversations as we pile onto the ferry for the trip back…

A Classic route from the Civic Center to the Balboa Is ferry and the Wedge

A classic route from the Civic Center to the Balboa Island ferry and the Wedge



Pre-Thanksgiving Ride, UPDATED

Posted November 20, 2014 By Frank Peters
Newport Beach has great riding

The Newport Beach Pavilion from Balboa Island

Meet at the Civic Center at 10am Wed Nov 26th for a fun, sociable bike ride.

Our route:
We’ll ride to Balboa Island, take the ferry to the peninsula, visit the Wedge and head to the Newport Pier. A bike riding buddy from Long Beach took me to lunch at a new deli, Sessions Sandwiches, at 28th and Newport Blvd – a hole-in-the-wall with great food. Alternatives abound.

The weather will be sublime — your east-coast friends will be jealous.

Bring $2.50 ferry fare and lunch money.



Let’s Make It Safe For Kids

Posted November 8, 2014 By David Huntsman

There’s a lot of potential in that wide sidewalk…

Nobody is ever going to let their kids ride bikes to Newport Coast Elementary School in the street, even if there are bike lanes, because San Joaquin Hills Rd has a 55MPH speed limit and, believe me, drivers don’t even adhere to that.

But there’s a very wide sidewalk (by US standards). Why not stripe it with a bike lane so kids can use it to get to school, the park and the shops at three corners of the intersection on Newport Coast Dr and San Joaquin Hills Rd?

That way dog walkers and joggers won’t be spooked when backpack-laden kids zip past on bikes on their way to class every morning.



Surf ‘n Turf Tours the Coast

Posted November 5, 2014 By Frank Peters
Mother Nature contributed spectacular weather for the ride

Catalina Island views — Mother Nature contributed spectacular weather for the ride

The California Bicycle Coalition‘s inaugural Surf ‘n Turf Tour continued its way down the coast. After Halloween rain showers we enjoyed spectacular clear skies and warming temperatures – ideal conditions for touring.

This ride is fully supported, all we have to do is pedal. Our backpacks are gathered each morning after breakfast, a truck and 2 support vans take care of us at every step. We have 5 support staff which do an excellent job of keeping it all carefree. They’ve studied the route and lead us along some of the most lovely scenery in the world.

Iconic views along the Pacific Coast Hwy

Iconic views along the Pacific Coast Hwy

Lots of rolling hills on the Palos Verdes peninsula

Lots of rolling hills on the Palos Verdes peninsula

Each afternoon we roll into our accommodations – on Day 2 that’s a hostel in Santa Monica. Picture 10 men packed into 10 bunk-beds and one bath. Like school kids on a sleep-over, we stayed up telling stories, bonding.

Dick and Janet

Blogger Janet Lafleur with husband Dick, ready to roll

The Manhattan Beach pier.

Good spot for a SAG stop: the Manhattan Beach pier

Riding into Long Beach our destination for the night is the Queen Mary; several of us have never visited. There will be a swank dinner with lots of local bicycle advocates, many familiar faces.

Tour sponsor Pedego Electric Bikes offers the highlight of the evening — founder Don DiCostanzo surprises the audience: he will draw from the raffle tickets until a woman wins the step-through beach cruiser he’s donated and until he draws a woman’s ticket, those men will win an eBike for their significant-other. The audience thrills as it takes two reaches into the fishbowl to find a woman’s winning ticket. Last stop of the evening – eBike rides on the Promenade deck!

Laura was our tour photographer

Laura Lukitsch, our tour photographer

A quiet route south

A quiet route south

Day 4: Queen Mary to Irvine and beyond

Day 4: Queen Mary to Irvine and beyond

Day 4’s route is right in my back yard. I’ve designed this route and today I’m asked to lead. It’s an honor and one I couldn’t manage without the eBike. With a little electric boost I’m able to stay in front of this athletic group.

It’s another gorgeous morning and we’re especially lucky to be riding almost exclusively off Coast Hwy, so everyone can relax and concentrate on the views. A little tailwind doesn’t hurt.

I’ve marked all the best spots for short breaks and each stop deserves a short story. There are the green Sharrows on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore to tee up. The Huntington Beach pier looks quiet this time of year, so I describe the 4th of July crush and the live music venues – how bicycle advocacy leads to an interest in Placemaking, which is done so well right here. At the Newport Beach pier, if you pause for a few minutes you can see the maze etched into the centerpiece courtyard and you can smell the leftovers from the fishing fleet’s early-morning catch. Our SAG stop happens to be right opposite a particularly crowded section of beach bonfire rings, so how can I resist telling the story of the AQMD’s efforts to reduce air pollution from the toxic pits? Most don’t know of the adverse effects from breathing woodsmoke.

I’m on a roll now, in more ways than one, so at lunch everyone gathers as I hint at my next story. I’ve rehearsed this surprise goodbye: it’s election day and I’m off to party with my favorite local candidates — I’m dropping out of the ride. It’s hard to leave my new best friends, but bicycle advocacy requires double doses of political support and tonight may offer new opportunities to ask for help.

As the group moves out, turning left for San Clemente, I pedal right on my ride home, alone.


Surf ‘n Turf Tour, Day 1

Posted November 1, 2014 By Frank Peters

The California Bicycle Coalition’s Santa Barbara to San Diego Surf ‘n Turf Tour kicked off this morning.

The Halloween rain storm added drama and puddles at the start. We had a little rain, just enough to claim bragging rights, otherwise it was a brisk and beautiful day for this inaugural bicycle tour.


Ed France and several members of the local Santa Barbara County Bicycle Coalition joined us for this first leg.


Laura’s our videographer — on a Brompton.



Lots of climbing on Day 1

Lots of climbing on Day 1

The Pedego City Commuter

eBike on the ride: the Pedego City Commuter

Pedego Electric Bikes sponsored the ride and they lent me a beautiful, bronze-colored City Commuter. It attracted a lot of attention from the mostly skinny-tire group.

How far does that battery last?

I can say it lasted all 45 miles of this rigorous first day, up Casitas Pass to the Lake and down to Ventura, with plenty of power to spare.



A Plan to Move Forward

Posted October 28, 2014 By Frank Peters

City Council

Tonight the Newport Beach City Council unanimously approved the Bicycle Master Plan.

In process since 2009 when Councilmember Nancy Gardner started the Task Force on Bicycle Safety and continuing through Councilman Tony Petros’ final push to get the Plan prepared, the City now has a comprehensive document to address bike safety issues.

There’s a lot to do and it will take years. Many people have contributed, but due for some special recognition is Public Works’ Brad Sommers who has risen to the occasion; he understands the challenges and knows what must be done.

It will take money to implement, but the Plan opens the door to funding from state and regional sources. I’m guessing that the oft quoted $20 million to deliver the Plan will be found sooner than most people might think.