Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yield Sign Go Sign Stop Sign Whaaa Sign?

John Greenfield's "Vote with your Feet" has a very interesting article up about the Lakefront Path's signage through Uptown:

I've gotta say, I was confused by these signs when riding up there this weekend - who's supposed to do what? I recognize that the rules of the road make it pretty clear how road and trail users should interact with this intersection but if all of the users of the road were clear on the rules of the road, we'd never have accidents.

Road users (cyclists, peds, and drivers alike) speed, roll through stop signs, blow red lights, illegally pass with a double yellow line, merge across double white lines, etc etc. People are pretty selfish, and that's evident in how they operate a vehicle. When confronted with the LFP/Montrose intersection, I can see cyclists not yielding to stopped cars, and I can see cars thinking that path users will be stopping because the driver can see the back of the Yield sign. (See pictures at linked story, above)

Once Chicago's back in full swing this summer, these intersections are CRAZY. You've got mulitple cars lined up in every direction, waiting for path traffic to clear while path users approaching the intersection see that traffic's stopped, speeding up to get through the intersection while cars are still waiting for the path's crosswalk to clear.

The best solution here is an overpass/underpass situation, but those are rather expensive, certainly more costly than a sheet metal Stop or Yield sign. Everyone using these intersections should approach them with greater caution now than before - if drivers are under the impression that path users will be stopping, that places path users at an even greater risk of injury while negotiating these crossings.

Be smart, be safe. Everyone should treat it like a 4-way stop. If there's a car approaching the path, trail users should assume they're invisible to the driver, that the driver is going to roll the sign. Drivers should be mindful that trail users are going to treat the yield signs similarly invisible and blast across without blinking an eye.

It'll be interesting to see what kind of court cases come out of this signage situation. Having argued both sides of the argument from an insurance adjuster's perspective, this intersection is kind of a nightmare when it comes to liability determination. I just hope that cyclists with a legitimate claim don't find themselves holding the short end of the stick because of an overly defensive insurance company.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Stuff & Next Sunday's Torturefests

Yay for voting day. I showed up at the polls at 5:40am, was 4th in line for my precinct... when I left at 6:15a (so many judges!) there were at least 100 people in line. I'm glad I woke up on time!

Hopefully, my cyclocross mech problems are solved... to the tune of almost $100.

Dura-Ace/XTR 9 Speed Chain, $40.
Wire bead Ritchey Speedmax tires, $18 (x2) plus $14 shipping.

This is the first time I've used a Shimano chain. Here's hoping it's what I've been looking for.

I spoke to the team's SRAM rep at our Team meeting last night and he said they'd like to look at the chains to see why/how they failed. I wonder if they'd let me guinea pig some experimental stuff... I'd be all for it.

Next week's race will not be pretty. I'm climbing 103 floors of stairs in the Sears Tower at 8:10am, then brunch... Cross race at 3pm. I haven't trained for the stair climb like I have in the past, and I'm +15lb from where I should be. The cross race is so close to home, I just gotta do it.

I think I'll take next Monday off.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Compton Destructocross

This week's ChiCrossCup race was in St. Charles and the course was set up wonderfully - kudos to the organizers! I made the pilgrimage out to Kane county with two teammates for the 4b's race - we didn't have a chance to pre-ride the course due to lack of time, but I figured that my lack of fitness would outweigh any advantage that the pre-ride might afford me.

I'd been to Randy's to get this bike fitted to me, and we changed the whole cockpit around, so I was really looking forward to how I'd feel on the bike for this race. That said, I had my first DNF ever... and it certainly wasn't for lack of spirit or trying. The bike fit felt pretty good though.

I was in a good spot at the start - managed to stay top 20 for the first half of lap 1 when... BANG. Front tire blowout. I didn't know it at the time, but it seems that the bead on my front tire decided to give up the ghost. Whee.

can you even GET wire-bead cross tires?

Right after finishing at Carpentersville, I had noticed that my front tire was behaving strangely - the bead was atop the rim rather than hooked inside it. I quickly deflated the tire and popped it back onto the rim... I suppose I should have been more diligent and checked the condition of the bead.

The bang was loud enough that several teammates ran over and asked me if I had wheels in the pit... I responded that I didn't, and they yelled back that they'd meet me in the pit with a wheel - since this course's pit was right at the start/finish and was single sided, that meant I got to run the second half of the course rolling my bike aside me. As I passed the officials, I commented "it's a lot more fun when you can ride the bike" to which Dave Fowkes replied "i'm with ya on that one".

I grabbed the new wheel and set off again - the majority of the field had passed me just after I flatted so I knew that I had pretty much no chance of catching on - this had become a workout. When I came back through the chicane where most of the spectators were, my hero Mike Seguin was there with the beer handup. SWEET. I certainly wasn't expecting it, so I was moving too fast and crushed the cup, sending most of the beer into my glove, but I did get a good bit of it in my mouth. With a delicious right hand, I powered through the remainder of the lap - this was my only full lap of the course.

I was passed by the race leader after the first barricade - this served as a motivator. I cleared the sand pit and went into the backside's off-camber chicane when I was passed by #2. Atop the hill, I could see that most of the riders were opposite my position on the course, so I stood a decent chance of catching one or two of them if I'd just get my ass into gear. I powered through the spectator area and was approaching the last barricade when the chain gods saw fit to punish me... POP. Since i'm now a chain-breaking veteran I managed to keep the bike upright, thought I'm pretty sure that my knee hit my bars, it's pretty pissed off at me right now.

Since I had a SRAM chain on this bike, I figured I'd see if the break was close to the powerlink and I might be able to piece things together... no luck - the pin that snapped did so leaving only the outer plates so I knew my race was over. I then walked back to the officials area and let them know that I was DNF for a mechanical, then went back to the spectator area for some brats and a beer while watching the end of the race.

the day's casaulties.

I suppose I'm now in the market for another chain, does anyone have any suggestions? I've popped three PC-971's in 2008... there's gotta be a better solution for a clydesdale drivetrain. I snapped a KMC 1/8" track chain earlier this year - that's how I found out about the heavy duty Izumi chains. Is there a road equivalent?

Although I only rode one full lap at Compton, I am quite proud that my lap included a successful beer handup. When you've got race priorities like these, cyclocross is WAY more fun.