GS CIAO Team Camp!

day one ride

Day 1. Just an easy couple hours out on the town showing off the pink. I missed out on most of Day 1’s activities since I was at work writing about bike riding.

skratch labsThe team checking out Skratch Labs’ lab. Note the key secret ingredient on the table.day 1Left to right: George, Robin, Chris, The Sheriff, Josh.day one meetingTeam meeting lead by Nick and Chris: topics included packing rain bags in the team car, appropriate behavior at a host family’s house, and how to politely hit on a host family’s college-aged daughter.podium lookout ttDay 2. Lookout Mountain Hill Climb TT. Burleigh and Chris putting pink on top for the first time of the year.faith foodPost-ride fried rice, a la team chef Faith.robin day 2 ride We set out for three more hours after the early morning TT. day 3 breakfastDay 3. Breakfast at Chris’.  day 3 leadout puzzleLeadout tactics demonstration with puzzle pieces. day 3 leadoutI’m not sure what Nick was talking about. An actual leadout feels nothing like building a puzzle. That demonstration was lost on me apparently.me restingResting back at Chris’ before the afternoon crit and feeling like shit. To myself: “You know that sick, congested feeling you’ve had for the past two days Kennett? Yeah that wasn’t just in your head you idiot. Maybe you shouldn’t have ridden six hours yesterday.” Obviously I had a feline for maximum healing powers but it wasn’t enough.George CritI started the Ordigger crit that warm, summer-like afternoon but pulled out after half an hour. As you can see from the following photos, the team didn’t suffer too badly from my absence.Robin crit

Josh crit

robin winning

podium critRobin: 1st and George 2nd. Not pictured: Chris in 4th, Michael in 7th, and Josh in 9th. day 4Day 4: the team went out for more riding and some motorpacing. I, on the other hand, slept for half a day and said a few prayers that I might get over the sickness as soon as god damn possible, which, you know what? I think I will.day 4 moto

Depression and Bad Weather

Despite all the good news in my last blog post, life has been difficult lately. Actually an even more accurate word would be “shitty.” Really god damn shitty.

Adelaide and I go though a few happy days without any hitches. The hours at the office fly by, workouts get completed, we go to bed early with happy thoughts and good dreams. Those days never stack up, for bad news and a quick spiral downwards is always around the next bend.

Whether it’s a nagging bill collector, Adelaide coming to terms with the fact that her FTP is half of what it used to be (I’m almost in the same boat), an email from her attorney, information about the approaching trial, the van breaking down, or just a minor inconvenience like three weeks of non-stop blizzards in what has been the 2nd heaviest February snow fall in Colorado history, there’s always something to trigger an emotional storm.

Our spirits are egg-shell fragile. We’re both just hanging on by a thread. We’ve transitioned between post-crash recovery mode to regular life without a clear break, when in reality there’s still recovering to do, or at least a deserved month “off.” But as two productive members of society, capitalism can’t wait. So neither can we.

Our lives are sadly different than they were six months ago before the crash. We rely on a car to get around, which is a huge adjustment and one that we’re slowly weaning ourselves from. I hate cars and I absolutely hate having to use one on a daily basis. It’s ironic that a car (driver) put us in this position. Anyways, workouts are an hour long instead of five, our short term goals are constantly changing, the energy required to get through a single day is what could have previously powered us through an entire week, tiny errands like going to the post office or grocery store aren’t just delayed, a lot of the time they don’t even happen.

I’m in a better mindset than I was four months ago, which isn’t saying a lot because four months ago I was ready to either break down and cry in bed or rip throats open at the slightest discourtesy. But now, even with the crash well behind us, each week’s gains are less. Like halving every step you take, you’ll never reach your destination. It’s math.

A huge portion of my happiness obviously comes from my athletic endeavors. And in that regard, I’m doing terrible. Absolutely the worst I’ve been since I began racing at the national level. After this last bout of snow, the form I had back in early February has receded to October fitness. Despite using what little emotional energy I had to sit on the trainer the past couple weeks, pumping out intervals at 70 watts less than what I’d like, I seem to have gotten slower. There are four weeks till Redlands, where my goals will be to fetch bottles and not DNF.

My main goals of the season now come in the month of June: Philly, North Star, and Nationals. The positive is that there’s still plenty of time to get fit for these at least. It’s just a matter of forcing a smile and finding motivation to last through the next couple months of shitty legs and existing as pack fodder. I’ve done my share of that so I think I’ll be able to manage just fine.

I’m aware that things can always get a lot worse, and in the grand scheme of things, my life is still a lot better and easier than most. Knowing that doesn’t help a damn thing so don’t remind me of it.

A few good news to look forward to:

The guy who hit Adelaide, Russell Rosh, had his court hearing yesterday and plead guilty. He will be sentenced in the coming weeks, so we can finally move past that all that. The piece of shit dragged his feet all along the way, making things difficult and prolonging the ordeal. I will be glad to be done with him.

The even happier news is the coming together of the team. GS CIAO bikes, kits, and other goodies are arriving by the box load. The kits are hot. And let me tell you what, they feel a whole lot better than five-year-old Hagens Berman bibs and look a LOT better than torn up Firefighters Cycling stuff. I’ll have a new blog post and pics of this coming weekend’s Boulder-based mini team camp we’re doing. We’ll be racing some local events, eating team dinners, and putting in big miles.

The best news of all? The sun’s out.

I got a job, got married, and bought a house in one week.

But first, let’s talk about my intervals.

Last week was solid. The hours weren’t huge since I’m working full time again but they were quality for sure. Last week also marked my first attempt of the season to complete a block of intervals. I’ve become an avid believer in stacking three or more days together. I haven’t had the mental fortitude to do this in a long time, so just getting out there and completing them was a good first step.

Monday was a rest day. So Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I did 6 x 4 minutes on Old Stage, which is the closest hill to work. I’d planned on doing my VO2 on NCAR this year but I just don’t have the time to get down there on lunch break. Anyways, I averaged 401 watts the first two days, then 410 the last day. Normally I’d be pretty upset about these shitty numbers (don’t forget how big and fat and heavy I am), but considering the lack of consistent training to date, I was happily content–especially since I improved the numbers slightly that final day. I did the Gateway ride on Saturday then did a cold, snowy team ride on Sunday followed by our first team dinner/meeting. With eight weeks to Redlands, I figured that if I kept up a similar regime of too many intervals mid week and two long rides on the weekend (the 9-5 weekend warrior’s training plan) I’d have a fighting chance come April. But of course it has to snow every other god damn day.

Now that the important stuff is out of the way, let’s talk about Marriage, bay-bee, let’s talk about you, and me. Yeah you read the title of this post correctly. I got married last Friday. A simultaneous WTF and congratulations are expected. We had our union at this quaint, lovely little place called the Clerk’s office. Adelaide meant to bring in our Elk Van’s registration papers and kill two birds with one stone since the Clerk’s office is right above the DMV but she forgot.

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Photo courtesy: Quinn Keogh. Van courtesy: Quinn Keogh (we’re now the proud owners of Quinn’s excellent Elk Van, which we’ve named Quinn.

Back up to Thursday night (you’ll remember Thursday as the final day of my interval block): Our realtor slash friend Kim Hawksworth emailed us info about a few condos that had just gone on the market. They were out of Adelaide’s original mortgage price range, but since I’d just gotten re-hired at SmartEtailing, we could afford something a bit bigger–something with two bedrooms. We had to act fast. Condos in north Boulder sell within a matter of days. If we were to look at and make an offer on a place on Saturday, that meant we’d have to be married by Friday. Tomorrow.

At mid-day on Friday, Adelaide and I stepped out during lunch break, letting our co-workers know we’d be back in an hour or so. We had grins from ear to ear. It felt a bit ridiculous to be stepping out to get married on lunch break, and for no one to know about our plans either. At this point the only people who knew we were getting married were us and Adelaide’s parents. By pure luck chance, they happened to be in town, visiting from Pittsburgh to house sit and take care of their other daughter (Lydia’s) cat. My parents had been informed with a voicemail, which they didn’t get in time.

Adelaide and I met her parents at the Clerk’s office, still grinning uncontrollably, sat down and signed papers for about 15 minutes. It cost $30. An additional $2.50 for two copies of our marriage license. We went outside to sit at a picnic table in the sun and eat cheese and crackers and drink sparkling cider with Adelaide’s parents. I called my mom, who was definitely surprised, but not that surprised. At this point in my and my brother’s lives, it takes a lot to shock our parents.

After that we stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a mini Kim & Jake’s Cakes to bring back to the office and spill the beans. We gout out of work early and spent that afternoon riding around town on our mountain bikes in the sun, then went for a quick swim workout at the Rec center. The nonchalant-ness about the whole thing meant that it’s taken a little while for it to sink in. Nothing has changed between us other than some legal formalities, which is why I wasn’t nervous about getting married before. My heart rate remained a steady constant during the final paper-signing and there were no butterflies. I had already made up my mind when I asked Adelaide four months ago in the hospital when she was in a coma. Still though, I think the realization that I have a wife for life just hit me while writing this. By the way, only a couple dozen people know we got married so if you feel left out, don’t worry. Everyone was.

With the new job I’d started that Monday and the marriage taken care of on Friday, that left us with two days to find a home (to make the title of this post work). We sent an offer Sunday night and the contract was signed the next day. We decided on a less expensive one bedroom loft just across the street from us with an entire wall of windows. It’s small but awesome.

DSCN3884Yes, I got married in my puffy jacket. I also wasn’t wearing clean pants. Or underwear. You may be asking yourself why Adelaide decided to marry me. I’ve wondered that at times too but have wisely never prodded her on it. Regardless, she’s mine now! That’s what these documents say right? That I legally own her?DSCN3894Ummm, hi Mom. Yeah I’m doing fine. I just got married actually…DSCN3907A long week and a long Saturday ride. Adelaide did just over three hours that day. Her physical and mental recovery are going as well as anyone could hope for. She’s only just reached the half way mark but she’s on the mend.10980755_511256802347111_2111217318111776556_nTeam ride before the god damn snow. Fuck you snow, from the bottom of my ice-cold heart.EClark_150208_0478Oh yeah. I did a race the previous Sunday. Not a true race really, a rally actually. The Old Man Winter Rally had thrills and spills and was a great way to get the season unofficially started. There was $1,000 on the line for first place so it was actually a race. Here we are just entering the “Secret Trail” section of the course. This is when the cross guys put eight minutes into me. I was pissed right the hell off to say the least.EClark_150208_0347Earlier: Josh attacks about .5 miles after the neutral section.

We started out with a group of 300 from Lyons. All types of bikes and riders were present for the 60-mile event: road bikes, cross, mountain, fat bikes, racers and non racers alike. The first 10 minutes were the most exciting (aside from seeing Tom Danielson at the start! He’s my hero). Heading down highway 66 with a strong wind at our backs and coasting at 30 miles an hour (neutralized) behind a police escort car with about 90% of the field probably having zero pack skills, we approached the first of many rough dirt sections. We took a 90-degree right turn and the race was on and the police car took off. The pack dove into the corner and fanned out across the narrow dirt road, immediately freaking out a horse with a rider on its back that was in the oncoming lane on the far left side of the road. No one was on a trajectory to hit the horse until it whinnied, back pedaled, reared up on its hind legs, and toppled over backwards, crushing its rider. I think the words I uttered were something along the lines of “Holy what the fuckin shit?!” There was no time to look back since the cross winds immediately tore the field apart. Three minutes into the race and the lead group was like 13 guys. I sat in to catch my breath and wonder if the horse was alright (he was, and so was his rider). Josh attacked a few minutes after that into the head wind, everyone sat up, and the group grew to 40 or so. A few minutes after that Michael attacked to bridge up to him and immediately crashed hard over a pot hole. I was right behind and had a very good view of his skull bounce hard off the ground. Actually, more like the ground bounced off his skull am I right!? (Michael is a damn beast in case you weren’t aware).

His crash signaled the end of anyone’s motivation to ride hard until we got to Left Hand Canyon, the base of the first climb. By then Josh was minutes up the road and had burned about 1,000 more calories than the rest of us, battling the wind all on his lonesome. Chris followed an attack by Sepp Kuss (mountain biker) and got up the road out of sight pretty quickly. He ended up losing contact then smacked his bike hard into a rock on the trail section, putting the breaks on when his fork started acting mushy–a wise call.

Long story short: I chased down moves and sat on. I had two teammates up the road and I liked their chances better than mine for holding out over the snow and ice of that damn Secret Trail section. I ended up losing between 7 and 8 minutes on it to the leaders, having to run 90% of it since I suck at bike steering. I chased fairly hard for a while then decided to wait for some guys that I was currently passing, going up Old Stage, so I could have some help during the last 15 miles of flat wind. That was a mistake since all but one guy dropped off immediately. I broke a derailleur cable a while later. I caught up to one last group a few miles before the finish that contained Colby, Josh, and one other guy. I was disappointed to see Josh in that group since that meant that he wasn’t going to win and we wouldn’t make any money. There were four guys way up the road, all cross studs, and they took up the three money spots. It was a fun but frustrating day.

EClark_150208_0413

Adelaide and I got married!

 

Driving is a right, not a privilege

Whether you’re a driver, a cyclists, or (most likely) both, this post will make you angry.

Topics include:

1) Ranting about cars/capitalism

2) Short slide show of a hut trip I went on two weekends ago

3) Getting punched in the chest by a driver on Flagstaff last Tuesday

4) Cutting myself with a knife and going to the ER for stitches

5) Attending the sentencing of Peggy Brown, who was convicted of a hit and run last summer after she nearly sent triathlete Jeff Wick’s to an early grave. Spoiler alert: she got off scot-free.

6) I got my job back at SmartEtailing! Actually, that’s the full discussion right there. I’m pretty happy to be back, though sadly my new coffee addiction will likely make a dent in my wallet since I’m leaving Amante. Upside: I’ll be able to afford a new wallet.

Now, onto the heart of the matter.

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Pictured above: Black Hawk Colorado. Until recently, bikes were banned entirely from the city. There are still plenty of these no bike signs posted in the state, from canyon roads to downtown Fort Collins. Find me a “no car” sign on a road, anywhere. Good luck with that.

The auto industry’s largest manufacturer, Volkswagon, had a profit of $16 billion in 2013. The largest bike manufacturer, Giant, had a profit of $47.5 million (2012). That’s 340 times smaller. And we wonder why pedestrians and cyclists have fewer rights to the road than cars and trucks? We’re banished to the broken, gravel- and glass- filled edges–out of sight and mind from distracted, turning vehicles. We take up one-fifth the space of a normal-sized car (that typically has one person in it) and yet we’re still banned from riding two abreast on certain roads (Sunshine and Flagstaff come to mind)–and entirely in certain states and cities. Even if it’s legal to ride two abreast, many self-entitled drivers and even a handful of naive police don’t recognize that right.

There’s no need to make an argument about which form of transportation (bikes or cars) is better for the world and its inhabitance. Unfortunately, free market capitalism doesn’t distinguish between right and wrong or what’s better or worse for the environment, animals, or humans. It favors money. It favors corporations. And while corporations depend on the support of people consuming their goods, it’s incredibly easy to persuade us to do whatever they want.

Advertising works on everyone. It does work on you, whether you believe so or not. You may not be convinced to spend 79 cents more on name brand dish washing detergent, but the fact that you’re out buying dish washing detergent in the first place means you believe that you need a dishwasher. Hey, I have one too. It’s easy. It “saves” time. (Valuable time that I can spend on facebook or watching movies). But do I need a dishwasher? No. I have it because, like you, I’m a product of consumerism and I’ve been exposed to thousands upon thousands of hours of advertising, convincing me that things will make my life easier, more convenient, and better. Plus, if everyone else has one, I need one too. Buying things…it’s what we were born and bred to do.

To bring it back to the auto vs bike industry, it’s no wonder why cyclists and pedestrians are so discriminated against. We’re literally in the way of a huge industry, slowing traffic down (albeit not by much) and making it less convenient to drive (again, not by much).

For a short history lesson, click here to learn how the auto industry made people illegal and gave automobiles the right of way. Jaywalking wasn’t always a thing. People use to cross the street wherever and whenever they pleased. They had the right to the road, not cars. Streets are where kids played and people convened to socialize and sell goods. That way of life has changed so dramatically that now we think, “Of course cars should have the right of way. They’re going faster, they’re harder to slow down, they’re more important. People in cars are trying to get somewhere ON TIME for Christ’s sake. Roads are for transportation, not for socializing. We all have places to go, jobs to do, and purchase to make.” People inhabiting the streets meant that drivers had to go slower through cities and pay attention, which made driving less convenient. The auto industry didn’t like that, so they changed the laws, the layout of cities, and our entire way of life. Freedom of choice? Sure, keep telling yourself that.

2013-12-25-not-recommendedThank you sign, for telling me it’s my own fault when I get hit.

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Now for something completely un-depressing.

Last Friday-Sunday (23rd-25th):

I spent three days on a hut trip in the mountains outside of Basalt, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sipping whisky by the fire with friends, and going to sleep at 8pm. It was a marvelous break from civilization. It was quiet and peaceful and simple.

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Tuesday:

It was time to hammer again. I suffered through my first real set of V02 intervals of the season on NCAR. They weren’t pretty and the numbers weren’t good. But I was happy to complete the workout. My motivation for training is almost back to normal, which is a huge relief. After the intervals I went up Flagstaff, where I got punched.

While riding along, minding my own business as usual, a looked up from the road and saw a car suddenly backing into me around a blind corner. I moved left and began to brake, coming to a stop beside it. Luckily there wasn’t another car coming from behind at the same time to pinch and pop me like a zit between the two. What ensued was a confusing, yet enraging, argument between a “not-all-there-in-the-head” driver and myself.

He accused me of “riding like an idiot” and that he’d almost just hit me. This was the confusing part, as I’d been riding solo, to the far side of the road, and I didn’t even remember him passing me–the pass had been that normal and forgettable. Later that afternoon, after reviewing the footage on my Rideye camera, I saw that he’d passed me roughly two minutes before he stopped and backed up into me. He most likely had me confused with another cyclist. That didn’t matter though. Backing into someone on purpose is the act of a maniac and I intended on reporting him to the police.

We argued and cursed at each other for a while, then he accused me of reaching into his car, which I didn’t do. He said, “reach into my car again and I’ll end you.” I said, “give me a break, old man.” At that, (he was still seated in his car) he punched me in the chest through the open window. I didn’t know if I should laugh at the ridiculousness of it all or drag his ass out and spill his brains on the pavement. I opted for neither. He drove off and I called 911. I had the entire thing on camera.

Here’s a play by play of events to give you an idea of what’s currently going on. You can view the video at the same time or afterwards.

At 1:29 I’m passed by an orange Subaru. It appears that he passes twice at first, which is due to splicing two video segments together since the Rideye records in 5-minute chunks. While the pass seems pretty average, the guy actually pulls out too far into the opposite lane and comes somewhat close to another cyclist heading downhill. A reminder to us all: if there’s not enough room to safely pass, just wait a few seconds.

At 2:30 you can see a truck slowing to a stop up ahead. Just around the corner the Subaru has stopped and is backing up towards me and traffic.

At: 2:36 the Subaru appears.

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To hear anything at all on the video you’ll have to turn your audio way up or plug in some external speakers. I muted everything leading up to the argument so you don’t have to hear all the noisy road chatter. Rideyes record sound but not all that well.

I asked for his name and if he’d been drinking, since he seemed completely out of it and highly irrational. Instead of answering me he asked what my name was. I told him “Kennett Peterson” and asked for his name again. He replied “Fred Flintstone, Bitch.” Uughhh, seriously? When I asked if he’d been drinking he just asked it right back to me. Answering questions with questions is a sign of someone who has very little oxygen flowing to their brain and lots flowing to extremities for fight or flight. Remember that for your next bar brawl.

I told him I was recording the whole thing and that I was going to report him for backing into me on a blind curve and for harassment. I continue pressing for his name and an apology. He denied me both, then accuses me of reaching into his window at 4:53. He strikes me in the chest with a closed fist at 5:00 (the one minute the camera wasn’t pointed at him), then drives off shortly after admitting that he hit me. The video:

When the police arrived he was long gone. They were very helpful and quick to respond, and I’m confident that the charges will stick. I’m pressing charges against him for reckless driving and third degree assault, and have sent the video to the police as evidence.

What a great way to spend a rare 70-degree day in January.

Thursday night: 

Adelaide and I were headed to bed early, since we planned on riding part way to Fort Collins the next morning for the sentencing of Peggy Brown to show support for triathlete Jeff Wicks. Peggy hit Jeff that summer in her car and left him for dead along the roadside.

While preparing breakfast for the next morning, I sliced my finger wide open to the bone when a stale bagel made a break for it and jumped off the cutting board. Blood began pouring out of my index finger instantly and I began fearing for my hematocrit. Adelaide ended up driving me to the ER for stitches (only three). It was the sort of cut that could have done without stitches but would have taken a month to heal fully. So despite our early to bed plans fading into a florescent-lit hospital room at 11PM, the stitches were a good choice.

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It was Adelaide’s first trip back to a hospital, aside from dropping off a care package to the ICU nurses up in Longmont United. She was a bit of an emotional wreck. It was a pretty hectic night, which foreshadowed and even worse day to come.

Friday:

Jeff Wicks was training for the Boulder Ironman last summer when Peggy Brown pulled out in front of him, exactly like Russell Rosh did, the driver who hit Adelaide. After the impact, which left Jeff with permanent brain damage, she abandoned him. She later made the excuse that she thought he might have been dead anyways. Soooo, it’s okay to just fucking leave then since he’s just a corpse and doesn’t need assistance? She circled back a while later to check out the crime scene, then fled again. She pulled into a parking lot to check the damage to her car two miles away, and that’s when the police nabbed her. Luckily, a witness had been following her and had called the police.

You’d expect a person like this would, at the very least, get jail time and her license revoked for a year or more. Peggy got community service and a $3,000 fine.

The experience left me ashamed of the court system. I was ashamed of her disgusting, lying lawyer, the seemingly uncaring and bored judge who gave her less than a slap on the wrist, and I was even ashamed at the lack of effort (in my opinion) put forth by the DA. I realize that the court has no authority to take away someone’s license (that’s left to the DMV for some stupid reason) but the complete lack of punishment was infuriating. A $3,000 fine for leaving him to die?

People like Peggy need to be punished not only because they are despicable human beings, but also to serve as examples to others. Obviously we should be terrified, for moral reasons, of hurting or killing someone. But is that enough to keep our eyes on the road?

Peggy didn’t get up that morning with the intent of running anyone over, but Jeff and everyone else on the road that day apparently weren’t important enough to receive Peggy’s full attention. She deserves to be punished for being a shitty, inattentive driver because mistakes don’t happen. Mistakes are made. They’re a choice. And it’s obvious that we can’t rely on people’s morals to keep them focused and watching out for others. That leaves us with fear of punishment.

Severe punishment needs to take morality’s place: harsh monetary fines of six or more figures, permanent revocation of driver’s licenses, loss of employment, and serious jail time–especially when it’s a hit and run. A hit and run is essentially taking a gun to someone’s head on purpose. The initial collision may have been unintentional, but to leave someone bleeding to death and unconscious by the side of the road without stopping to call for help is just plain murder. Peggy brown and people like her deserve to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, serving as an example for others to do the right thing. The humane thing. It’s not hard to stop and take responsibility.

I’d stowed my bike in the car so I could ride home from the courthouse, but first Adelaide and I had coffee to drink and minds to unload. We opted for a coffee shop a few blocks away and talked about the court system and how laws need to be changed. Adelaide is giving a speech to the state legislature this coming Tuesday in regards to House Bill 1035, which would enable victims of Careless Driving Resulting In Bodily Injury access to a Victim’s Rights Advocate. It’s something the Colorado state police have wanted for a long time, as it allows access to certain legal information, as well as invaluable help, for the victims of careless driving collisions.

After spending a half hour drinking coffee, Adelaide took off for home and I got on the bike. I spent a solid two hours in a furious rage, obsessing about all the shitty things that had happened recently and how much I hated the justice system, being a cog in a world that’s imprisoned by cars and enslaved by corporations that don’t have anything even close to our best interests in mind, and all the while being part of the problem myself. I drive a car. I buy bananas, lithium ion batteries, and coffee–all imported or mined from half way around the third world. I fly in planes that burn fossil fuel. My bike, clothes, shoes, and toothbrush are all made of fossil fuel. I take a tiny bit of consolation in the fact that at least I’m honest with myself. I realize I’m no better than most. I’m at fault too. If you don’t hate yourself just a little, you’re not being honest. We’re all pretty small-minded for living the lavish lives we’ve been dealt while millions of others starve or die of malaria. And the kind of world we’re willing to leave behind just so we can travel to bike races? We’re a selfish bunch, that’s for sure.

As I was self-loathing my way up Carter Lake, I bumped into Jake Rosenbarger (of Kim and Jake’s Cakes). My anger quickly dissolved as Jake and I caught up and shared a few laughs about my hard times. Some people are just upbeat and positive. Jake’s like that. He’s pretty much always all smiles. I mean, the guy makes cakes for a living! There’s a lot to be pissed off about sometimes: driver’s punching you, your fiance nearly being killed, less-than-human women abandoning unconscious fathers in the ditch as their pulses slowly fade away–and the legal system saying “ehhh, fuck it she’s sort of sorry and he’s just a cyclist,” the deforestation of the rain forests and extinction of dozens of species every day, acidification of the oceans and the loss of coral reefs…sometimes it’s too much to worry about without going insane. Sometimes you need to just enjoy a nice slice of cake.

 

The RIDEYE Bike Camera

People lie. Especially when they’re about to be held accountable for something.

That’s because people suck.

Oftentimes, drivers initially admit blame when they hit a cyclist, only to backpedal as fast as possible once they talk to the police or their newly hired lawyer. They’ll come up with excuses in no time, proclaiming the sun was in their eyes despite it being high noon, fudge the truth about actually coming to a stop at that stop sign/stop light, “forget” that they were texting and driving, say the cyclist swerved out in front of them, and generally make up any number of ridiculous lies that might save their ass.

And that’s why I decided to get cameras for the front and rear of mine and Adelaide’s bikes. I’ve literally had thousands of close encounters, either from drivers unintentionally dozing off into la-la land or from psychos purposefully playing with my life. I’ve been hit three times in the last nine years (I’ve was incredibly lucky that I wasn’t injured or knocked off my bike in any of those cases). Obviously a camera won’t save me from getting hit, but it will provide the evidence that helps decide if the driver was at fault, and whether it was “careless” or “reckless” driving that caused the collision. And it will catch the driver who tries to get away with a hit and run.

Police will most likely side with the driver or at least show leniency when writing the ticket if they find the driver to be at fault. Same goes with the DA or judge. Without solid proof, it’s difficult to get a good conviction in our (the cyclist’s) favor and it’s easier (legally) for the driver to be let off with less than a slap on the wrist. Police officers drive cars, they don’t ride bikes. The people who make and uphold the law don’t ride bikes, they drive cars.

We’re the minority, obviously, which is why “I didn’t see him” still flies in this country. In reality that equates to “I wasn’t paying attention while operating my deadly weapon because I don’t really care about anyone else’s life.”

It’s selfishness that keeps unsafe drivers out on the road instead of being locked up behind bars or at least stripped of their driver’s license. Not selfishness on the part of the driver, necessarily, but selfishness in the people who make and uphold the law–that’s US–the voters, law officers, the jury. We can all imagine ourselves in their situation: Just driving along looking down at google maps for a second and CRUNCH there just went somebody’s dad under my wheel. Hey it was an accident. I didn’t mean to drift off to the right into the bike lane. Should I have to spend five years in jail and never be allowed to drive again in my life? No. And neither should anyone else. A $400 ticket and 30 hours of community service should suffice. Accidents happen. Shit happens.

Moreover, get a job and a car you dirty bum.

That’s why there’s no real penalty for killing a pedestrian, cyclist, or another motor-vehicle driver. We’re looking after our own asses. Ironically, that mindset creates an even more dangerous environment. We’re a stupid species, us humans.

One of the ways we, as cyclists, can “earn” fair treatment from the law is to compile as many close calls and collisions as possible with witness and video evidence–we need to bring mass attention to the issue with some Shock And Awe, if you will. And nothing attracts a person’s attention like a violent collision. We need public outrage. Hell, we need more cyclists’ outrage. Why aren’t you outraged damn it!!!

RIDEYE cameras are cheap and easy to use. They have 24-hours of battery life and record on an infinite loop, meaning that the oldest footage of your ride is constantly being erased to make room for the new. Even on a six-hour ride the memory won’t be used up for that crucial last hour when you come back into town or navigate rush hour on your commute home. You can choose between a 2.5-hour loop or an 8-hour loop. I opted for the slightly cheaper 2.5-hour, though I sort of wish I had gone with the 8-hour so I could recored entire rides. You know, because road training rides are so entertaining to watch.

The quality of the RIDEYE is great: 1080p. You can capture license plates and easily figure out the make and model of a car if it’s a hit and run. Plus, the RIDEYE has an accelerometer built in that senses when you get hit, immediately saving the footage leading up to the collision.

IMG_0422The mounting system is easy and, so far, seems to be bomb-proof. It’s made of heavy rubber and comes with a  replacement strap just in case. The whole camera is on a ratcheting swivel mount that mostly stays put while riding but allows you to easily twist it around to capture different angles. I say “mostly” because after a long day of dirt roads, it does start to tilt downwards just a hair. It’s easy to straighten though: just pull it up.

IMG_0416Yes I know my bike is dirty as hell. Both cameras are still working well despite being ridden in some pretty awful conditions (mud, water, snow, chemical salt bath residue).

IMG_0425You can mount it on either the bars or the stem.

IMG_0418An unfortunate reality of the RIDEYE is that I have to choose between having a fender, the RIDEYE, and a large saddle bag. As technology decreases in size, I’m sure I can have all three at some point, but for now I’ll forgo a dry ass.

The rear mount is made of strong plastic and stays put. The camera, like the front, can easily be taken off with the rubber strap. (Front and rear cameras are the same exact thing).

IMG_0426

IMG_0419The price I paid for all four RIDEYE cameras: $500. Price for a single GoPro Hero 4 (1080p equivalent): $400. The GoPro, Garmin, and Shimano cameras also don’t have nearly enough battery life or memory for even medium length rides. With the RIDEYE you don’t have to clear the memory or even take it off your bike every day. Just turn it on when you head out the door and turn it off when you get home. The infinite loop makes things super easy. Charge it once a week or once every other week, depending on how much you ride.

*Note: the price went up to $350 for a front/rear combo since I got ours. Get in on that sale before the next price jump.

Here’s a super short video I put together of pieces of my rides the past week in no particular order. Note: when the roads are wet and dirty you have to wipe off the lenses every once in a while with your finger, otherwise you can’t see shit.

Since Youtube doesn’t select the best video quality automatically, to view in HD make sure to click the “settings” button at the bottom right hand corner, click on “quality” and then scroll to the top of the menu for “1080p HD.”

Order HERE for RIDEYE

PS I’m not making a dime on any of this and RIDEYE is not a sponsor of mine, just in case you were wondering.

The sad thing is that some cyclists are inattentive drivers when they get behind the wheel as well. Most of us are crappy drivers from time to time. Hopefully we’d at the very least own up to it if we ran someone over. Don’t count on that happening when you get hit though.

Get a camera for your bike. Document the shit that happens to you on a weekly basis. Post it to forums, social media, and submit it to your local online paper. Report collisions and reckless driving to the police every time. No one deserves to be let off the hook after they’ve threatened your life, whether it was on purpose or by accident. It’s only a matter of time before you get hit. Might as well document it.

The Kennett and Adelaide Tell-All

We’re attempting something never-before thought of: a blog post with more than one person’s opinion. It’s been an extremely long 10 weeks since the crash and to do this write-up justice, we’re doing a duo blog post. We’re in this together. Follow along in our mind meld as we talk about recovery, the future, being depressed, incredibly pissed off, and thankful all in one.

KP: How are you doing?

AP: I’m tired. I really want to do this blog which we’ve delayed for weeks but the bath tub sounds really nice.

Oh, I didn’t really expect that detailed of an answer. A traditional, “Good, how are you doing?” would have sufficed.

That is the benefit of this whole crash, you don’t have to play along with that stupid question that both of us hate (you as the reader may hate it too). I can be free to say, “Well today I got super mad and threw stuff across the house. I broke my hair dryer in the process” and nobody can judge me.

Yeah it doesn’t quite work that way for me. When a customer asks how I’m doing at Amante and I say, “Pretty bad, actually. You?” it creates sort of an awkward moment.

Since you don’t normally have an opportunity to answer that question sincerely, how are you Kennett?

Today mediocre. Until the anesthesiologists office called for bill collection, which reminded you of how fucked up things have been and you started throwing things and screaming. Then I was doing bad. But then I went on a ride and felt a little better. It’s been hard to train these past few months. Really difficult actually. For some people exercise is a distraction or therapeutic. It melts away stress. For me it brings out all the negative emotions that I have and I simply cannot carry on so I have to turn back early. Last year I averaged 21 hours a week for the first six weeks of training. This year I’m averaging a little under 13. Who knows, maybe a slow start will be good. But emotionally, I’m still a bit of a wreck I guess. Much better than last month though. Better than last week even. So improving. Your turn.

Today I went back to work four hours which was great. I felt normal. I wondered if I looked normal to everyone or if it still seems strange to them when they see me with a scar across my face and a swollen lip that doesn’t close. In the mirror after going to the bathroom I assessed how one side of my face looks normal and the other doesn’t. At my desk I pulled up a picture from the first day I came home from the hospital and relived my emotions. I got distracted and thought about Ironman training briefly, and by the end of my four hours at work I had to use my right arm to help move my left arm from the desk because my shoulder muscle was severed in the crash. I got to swim for a bit today and came home so tired that I didn’t want to take Maybellene around the block. Basically I can get through half or three quarters of my normal “pre-crash-day” before I become exhausted. I think today was also hard because I woke up “early” (7:30 feels early since I’ve been getting up at 8:30 or 9:00 since the crash).

You’ve come a long way. I don’t think many people know this but you should have died. At least that’s what the paramedics and hospital staff initially thought when they looked at your injuries. Crucial nerves were literally dangling and your jugular was narrowly spared. It was a close call, so the fact that you’re here, let alone getting back to work and training, is amazing. As for how you look, I’m used to it already. And Dr. Schmid has done amazing work, with more to come to get you back to normal.

I guess it’s an odd experience. Let me go on a tangent for a second. I just finished a book about three women who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the end of the book the one woman said she’d do it again, but only if she had the exact same deployment in which she never saw someone die and never had to shoot her gun. I am not saying this has been a great experience but I’m physically able to get back in the pool, run, bike etc. Physically not much will have changed for me. The hardest part is the fact that I am loosing teeth. Given that I am so lucky in the whole situation and that I’ve learned a lot through it, maybe it just isn’t that bad.

I disagree it’s pretty bad. But go on.

I’ll never have the chance to fully thank everyone for the cards, food, and gifts I got but I think of them often and knowing how people stepped up to support me was amazing. Being engaged is amazing. Having a new year to set goals is going to be great.

The generosity of people we know and don’t know has been eye opening for me as well. It’s sort of given me hope in humanity again. The part of me that’s filled with hate for that driver and for every driver out there like him is silenced by the overwhelming care that people have given us. If it weren’t for that I’d probably be out there smashing windows and slashing tires.

You know what – I have more anger for the F150 that came over the yellow line and fully into my lane of traffic the other day. I don’t remember what it felt like to hit a car window but I do know what it feels like to have a huge F150 grill headed straight at you. I wish I had slashed his tires.

Me too.

And smashed his windows. Ok, back to happier things.

Good idea. While the traveling we’ve recently done hasn’t been as relaxing as sitting on the beach in Mexico or exciting as competing in the Lake Havasu triathlon, it’s been nice seeing family. We went to Pittsburgh three weeks ago to see Adelaide’s family and last week we went to the Bay Area to see mine. It’s been good to see that we fit well with each other’s relatives.

We already knew our dads got along like peas in a pod.

Tell the story!

The photo below is from the waiting room in the hospital. My dad, Raymond, and Kennett’s dad, Curt, both flew in at similar times to come stay while I was in the intensive care unit. My mom asked my dad to look out for Curt on the bus from the airport to Boulder but my dad didn’t think he’d be able to distinguish someone he didn’t know at all. My mom ironically said, “Look for someone who looks like you!” She meant in age and purpose of the trip. Turns out they actually had coordinated outfits! They sat next to each other on the bus but didn’t introduce themselves, despite having a conversation. Hours later when they met at the hospital it was a reunion of old buddies from the bus. At least that’s the story I heard. I was unconscious until several days later. Luckily my sister documented the meeting of the plaid shirted dads.

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 8.43.23 AM

When my dad and I walked into the waiting room and they both looked at each other and said, “It’s you!” everyone busted up laughing. It was probably the first time I’d laughed in a few days.

I wish I had been there to see it. I guess I’ll just have to look forward to when we get married and our parents get to spend some time together.

The main stipulation on our wedding venue, which will be a mountain home rental, is that it has a hot tub and a trampoline. I can’t really picture our dads jumping on a trampoline together but I can imagine them spending three or four hours in a hot tub talking about sediments (my dad is a scientist and Adelaide’s is an engineer).

*We are still looking for a mountain home that works. Just saying…

Our minds have been sufficiently melded by the way. I just asked what our next talking point should be and we both blurted out “training” practically at the same time. So how’s yours going? And what are you goals for 2015?

Normally I’ll tell people my basic goals but have another secret one in mind. This time I’m going to tell all. I signed up for Vineman on July 25th. The surgeon said I should be back to normal physically by June but I wanted to give myself some extra time because my goal is a bit loftier than it was for the race I’d been training for before the crash. That goal was under 11:00 hours. Not sure I would have made that but there is a prize purse for women who finish under 10:30 at Vineman. If you aren’t well versed in iron-distance triathlons that is okay, I can clarify. 10:30 is really fast for me. Which is why I’m putting it out there – I need fast people to train with to get me ready.

It’s a lofty goal for sure but I think you can do it so long as you retain the right mindset. We know plenty of fast people too so that part should be covered. I’ll be coaching until you’re able to start a more regimented routine, which will likely be a few more months.

If ever, I’m not the most regimented triathlete. I am going to coach Kennett until…until he blows everyone away by how fast he is this season. I gave him a workout the other day for the trainer when it was snowing. I came back from being out with a friend and he was breathing so hard it made my lungs hurt. And no – I am not sharing the workout. I charge a lot as a coach!

I’ll say! 20 kisses a day is no laughing matter.

Someone asked a legitimate question the other day and the answer is yes. I can kiss by now.

To be honest it’s really only 80% of a kiss at this point. It’s definitely getting there though. And by the way, I’ve done a number of calculations regarding how much that driver “owes” us in terms of the suffering part of pain and suffering. Missed kisses racked up to be $2,800 over the span of eight weeks. At $50 a day, kisses weren’t the most expensive thing I had to go without.

On that note let’s wrap things up and save the rest for Part II.