Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Gardner sent around the invite: OCTA was hosting an Urban Bicycling Workshop — I signed up right away.
What better way to spend my 37th anniversary, I thought. My wife is very understanding, so this special day of talking about bikes, wrestling with flat tires and practicing accident avoidance techniques was my anniversary gift to myself.
OC Bike Coalition Director Pete Van Nuys instructed with assistance from Brenda Miller. The first half of the day is classroom, which is a good place to start. There’s a lot I learned the first time I took the class, probably “holding a line” being the biggest. The idea is simple, as a bike rider you’re safer when you ride down the street in a straight line and not weave in and out of stretches of parked cars, so you’re not always close to the curb, but you’re maintaining your line and this more visible and predictable behavior is safer in traffic.
I had an ulterior motive for wanting to double up on this class — I suspected I’d make new contacts within the bike advocacy movement here in Orange County. I did. And there’s nothing so bonding as a bike ride, even if it is 95 degrees! The safety maneuvers, emergency stops and avoiding the right hook were all a little bit more challenging as we wilted in the afternoon oven. After practicing flat tire repairs in the classroom, let me tell you, there’s nothing like two flat tires on the ride in that heat; we sought shade as we hovered over the twice-flat tube, observing the repairs.
For me the class was a refresher course and just in time as I’m about to depart for Buffalo where I’ll begin the 400mi Erie Canal ride, my first long distance tour. I don’t expect any 95 degree days, but it’s not uncommon for the east coast to get 4 days of rain; I don’t know of any class that can prepare me for that possibility.