Bicycle antics and fitness

I have been on a bicycle most of my life but only when I was about 65 years old did I begin to get into riding a quality bicycle on the road. John Kodin was my neighbor and my cycling guru. He got me my first Lightspeed bycicyle and when I crashed riding that he helped me put together the titanium Mongoose that I now ride.

As a safety factor I decided to wear yellow cycling clothing and selected to use the Saunier Duval team uniform as it was a bright yellow. When Chris Horner left the Saunier Duval team his kit was put on eBay for sale and I was able to get most of it. That way I am able to wear gear that was used in the Tour de France. The following photo, taken in 2009 was taken of me as I was heading to the YMCA after my noontime bike ride. When I get in from my ride I go to my office in downtown Bellingham and strap on my knapsack with a fresh change of clothes and head for the Y.

Several times I raced in the local ‘Ski to Sea’ race. Here I am in the 2000 race. I was the oldest cyclist of more than 300 cyclists in the race. I came in pretty much at the middle of the pack.

Here I am with my old Lightspeed before I crashed it. Shoji Onozawa wanted to do a story for a Japanese magazine on outdoor activities in the Pacific Northwest so he had me written up in a Japanese magazine. When I asked “Why me?” he responded “Japanese have respect for elders and you will be much admired for riding at your age (about 72 as I recall.) That’s Bellingham Bay in the background with a barely visible Mt. Baker way in the distance.

This is what I looked like when a dog took me down. 28 stitches in the head, skin off the hands and elbow and mashed shoulder muscles. I was not a very happy camper. It took six months before I was fully back in shape again.

On January 28, 2010 I had my blood pressure taken at the YMCA and it was 118 over 58. My HDL cholesterol usually runs in the 90s. I think that is due to my exercise on the bike.

Here is a letter to the Bellingham City Council on the “Road Designed for Murder”.

Regarding NW Road
McGrath to Bakerview
11 July 2004 – GF Drake

The Public Works Dept. has responded to my letter to the City Council essentially saying that the city will do nothing until local property owners decide to develop their property at which time the City would require full improvements. And if local property owners do not plan any such change in use of their property the Public Works Dept. infers this stretch of road will remain the way it is. In other words, the health and safety of citizens of Bellingham is thereby a function of “market conditions”. This is absurd. The safety of the community is the responsibility of the City Council and not of an individual property owner. The City Council should tell the Mayor and his minions in the Public Works Department that this stretch of road needs to be improved NOW and not when adjacent property owners deem it economically in their interest to do so.

I ask that the City Council [and the Public Works Dept. engineers] to get out of your cars and either walk or bicycle the distance from McGrath Road to Bakerview Road. Do it in both directions and include crossing Bakerview to the northern side of that thoroughfare. You will find that the road is clearly pedestrian and bicycle unfriendly, to say the least. With increasing traffic and the pressures of population growth in this part of Bellingham the situation will become a death or serious accident waiting to happen. I characterize the current state of the road as “A Road Designed for Murder.” “Murder” because you could have forseen this and done something about it.

The construction on Bakerview of hundreds of new apartments abuts a road that has a bicycle lane but residents will not be able to travel the short distance to the center of Bellingham unless they go by car because they will have to use this stretch of Northwest Avenue between Bakerview and McGrath to the south of I-5. Parents will be reluctant to let their teen-age children go to downtown Bellingham or to the waterfront by bicycle as it is too dangerous! The design of Northwest Road is requiring all movement from that part of town to the south to be by automobile. It is time to get rid of this philosophy and make the city safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

My personal feeling is that this short distance of roadway needs to be improved for pedestrian and bicyclist safety whether or not local property owners plan site improvements. One does not need curbs, gutters and sidewalks before widening the pavement and providing a bicycling and pedestrian lane. Northwest Road in the county just to the north of Bakerview Road, has a good shoulder for riding and there are no sidewalks, curbs, gutters, etc. the whole distance all the way to its end at Wiser Lake Road. I call on the City Council to tell the Mayor to have this section of roadway improved for bicycle and pedestrian safety even without the installation of curbs, sidewalks, storm drains and gutters.