Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Signs of a bike-friendly Linn County

Signs reminding drivers to “share the road” could be coming soon

Posted on Nov 25, 2009 by Adam Belz, Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Bicycle enthusiasts want Linn County to pave wider shoulders on rural roads heading out of Cedar Rapids, or at least put up signs reminding motorists to share the road.

Looks like they might get the signs, which they offered to help pay for.

Paving wider shoulders — at $130,000 per mile for a four-foot shoulder — is just too expensive for now.

“I don’t think anyone is generally opposed to them, but we have to put some kind of plan in place that allows that fiscal potential to occur,” Supervisor Linda Langston said.

Several members of the Hawkeye Bicycle Association showed up for a supervisor meeting in early November to point out that wider shoulders are safer for bicyclists, but also safer for motorists. They pointed out the health benefits of making it easier for workers to commute on their cycles.

The key roads that need wider shoulders are major routes out of the metropolitan area, like Blairs Ferry Road and Mount Vernon Road, said John Wauer, a retired Rockwell Collins engineer. Quiet rural roads in the county have less traffic, and it isn’t as crucial they get wider shoulders, he said.

“Johnson County has done quite a bit with paved shoulders, particularly in the Solon area, but there’s not a good way to get to Solon from here,” Wauer said. “It can cause a bit of congestion when you’ve got a narrow road and cars going in both directions.”

The secondary roads budget won’t likely allow for any special projects to add wider shoulders. Wauer said he thought the county could address shoulders whenever a section of road is worked on. We’ll see, Langston said.

“It’s a bit of a challenge,” she said. “How do we plan for it and balance out between everybody in the county who wants rock on their roads.”

“Share the road” signs, which bicyclists hope will encourage a more bike-friendly driving culture in the area, could be coming soon.

“We’re going to move out to that group and engage the Hawkeye Bicycle Association and try to get some indication about where they want those signs put,” Langston said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dad comes full cycle

Arizona Daily Star article features Mike Noonan '87, who caught the biking bug as a teenager on RAGBRAI and now shares it with his teenage daughter. Maybe they'll join us some time.

Dad comes full cycle
Cyclist, daughter following route of bonding on bikes
By Patrick Finley
When Mike and Karolyn Noonan board their bicycles Saturday to race in El Tour de Tucson's 66-mile race, they'll be doing more than participating in a Tucson tradition.
The 45-year-old Noonan and his 16-year-old daughter will be continuing a family bond that started 33 years ago, long before Karolyn was born.
Here's a look at what Iowa, orange juice and "Manhood Training" have to do with Saturday's ride.
• Manhood training: Noonan grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of a high school coach, Robert. In 1976, Robert Noonan, a cycling enthusiast, decided his son needed "Manhood Training" — and enrolled the two in a famous bike ride.
Father and son did the Des Moines Register-sponsored RAGBRAI, Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, which bills itself the longest, oldest and largest touring event in the world. They rode 70 miles per day for seven days, dipping their bike tires in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers along the way.
Mike Noonan liked the ride so much he didn't complain when his father wouldn't let him have a moped like his friends; he didn't own his first car until he was a senior in college.
"I think what it is, is it's the bond it created with my father and I," he said. "I see it as an adult. I want that same bond with my children."
• Bribed with breakfast: Mike Noonan's daughter, Karolyn, rode El Tour's 35-miler two years ago, and began riding on Sunday mornings with her father.
Noonan, who along with his wife, Katie, runs Noonan Physical Therapy and Associates, figured bicycle riding would be a good way for Karolyn to recover from a knee injury this year.
"My dad and I would get up on Sunday mornings before church and bike to Mile Marker 1 on Mount Lemmon, and then to the coffee shop," she said. "After I got comfortable with 1, we went to 2 and then 3. The farthest I've got is 5 1/2."
In the summer, her dad swears, Karolyn would wake up at 6 a.m. to ride — quite a feat for a teenager. They'd ride, eat and go to church.
"The carrot at the end was, 'I'll take you to breakfast at Le Buzz,'" he said, referring to a cafe on Tanque Verde Road. "She likes quiche and freshly squeezed OJ and fruit. I think that was the idea — 'I'll suffer, then Dad will buy me breakfast.'"
• A bond: Mike Noonan, who rides competitively with his friends, uses the Sunday trip as a "recovery ride" — and as a chance to bond with his daughter. He has two boys, but they're busy playing team sports.
"She's my oldest," he said. "She likes fitness, and she and I have things we can do."
Karolyn Noonan, a Salpointe Catholic High School junior, sees it as a chance to bond with her dad, regardless of how the two do Saturday. They're prepared, having done 50 miles — to Vail and back — 10 days ago.
"Obviously, my dad's at work, and I'm at school usually," she said. "It's really nice to go out with him and spend time with him."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Let the registrations begin!

Though RAGBRAI is well down my list of priorities and certainly not among my pressing items, news that online registration is now open for 2010 has me fired up for another year with Team CoeBRAI.

Veterans should have received an e-mail from RAGBRAI with registration instructions. First-time participants will first need to create a profile at the RAGBRAI Web site. You will then want to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send signed waivers or any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, the group contact.

Fees for Team CoeBRAI have been set at $400 for 2010 (plus anything you might order through the RAGBRAI registration, such as a jersey or souvenir pack). Of this, $200 is due March 1 along with a completed (online) entry form and signed waiver. The remaining $200 will be due July 1.

The fee includes the official $140 RAGBRAI entry fee, a Team CoeBRAI jersey and license plate, bus transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns, some meals, and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop.

If you're not ready to commit, don't sweat it. Our "official" registration process doesn't begin until January. But if your like me and can't imagine a summer without RAGBRAI, go ahead and register. It's also a good time to add biking gear to your holiday wishlists.

Also, Team CoeBRAI is all over the social networking craze. In addition to this blog and our Web site, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Many of you are already members of our Facebook group. Just today I also created a Facebook page, which allows much more flexibility. I hope you'll become a fan.