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February 20, 2007

Joining the Orange County Wheelmen

Ocwlogo In the last half of the 90's, and the start of this decade, when I was finally doing more than just riding my bike to, and from, work, I went on some local club rides, in my part of LA County, joined a club, and an activist group for a brief time.

I even was a member of the League of American Cyclists, and Rails to Trails.

Life got in the way of my doing much as a member of these organizations, though I am forever thankful to the LA Wheelmen for publishing a few articles of mine in their newsletters, so I ended all the memberships.

It is 2007, now, and I've been a BikeBlogger for 4 years, writing about my rides, and about issues affecting cycling, locally, nationally, and worldwide, and rejoined Rails to Trails.

I know from e-mails, and comments, and stats, that people are reading my posts, and checking out the links in my sidebar, not to mention asking me about riding opportunities in Southern California.

I have  the best job I've ever had, and though I may work 6 days a week more often than not, the opportunities for me to get out in, and involved in, my community, are there time permitting.

So I've decided to join a Bike Club:

Ocw_two

The Orange County Wheelmen is small, with over 450 members, but it is the oldest organization of its kind in the OC, and has many great Family Friendly Rides a year (  Especially if your family is into long bike rides! ), the links to which can be found in a special section of my sidebar.

OCW was founded in 1970.  It began as a recreational cycling club, but its focus has expanded to staging cycling events that attract hundreds of riders, to maintaining an active presence in the community through charitable donations, and to promoting safety and political advocacy.

OCW's ongoing charitable donations benefit many children in Orange County.  The club donates bicycles and helmets in addition to members donating numerous toys and gifts to children of Orange County.

I have not gone on a ride, or attended a meeting, yet, but have checked out the website to see what it offers.

The main page offers announcements of upcoming meetings, and events in its main section, but its the links at the top of the page, and in its sidebar, where members, and non-members, can find info of interest.

Prominent of these links are the ones to the 5 major "Event" Rides that the Club is justly famous for.

The ride calendar allows anyone interested to find out info about all the rides that occur almost every day of the week ( Last month, This Month, Next Month ), even if a ride has been cancelled, and who to contact about them.

Experience levels, locations, terrain, and distance varies, but there is something for everyone, as far as I can determine.

One fun thing about going on rides, as a member is how rides attended, and miles travelled, are kept track of so members can earn "Activity Points".

The Meetings, and Parties, section is where info on when, and where, Member  Meetings, Board Meetings, the Awards Banquet, OCW Picnic, and Holiday Party all occur, can be found.

The Awards Banquet is this week, and has a very Special guest:

Bob Roll, known as Bobke to the general public or Boob-ka to friends and teammates, will be the Awards Banquet speaker. Bob, who is well known for mangling the French language during his OLN coverage of the Tour DAY France also has a very impressive cycling history.

The Club holds monthly Folding Parties where members gather to prepare the Newsletter for mailing, eat, and chat.

The Club offers Training Rides for folks wanting to work their way into the challenge of a Century, or 2, and offers a nice article, on the training page ( Plus info on the rides. ), by Ross Ritari, that is called Training For Your 1st Century.

It Begins:

To ride a century bike ride takes some special preparation. It is important not to underestimate or overestimate this task. One hundred miles is certainly a long way to travel on a bike. It will likely take over six hours in actual ride time, which sounds pretty daunting for a first time cyclist. This challenge can be met with a program that gradually builds up your mileage and includes hill training and speed work.

For Racers there is the Paramount Racing Team, founded in 1961, and adopted by the OCW in 1992, with over 100 members.

Paramount Racing is a "grass roots", USA Cycling (USAC) licensed racing team with safety, camaraderie and goal oriented training our top priorities. New members should have some racing or pack riding experience and a willingness to learn bicycle racing skills and tactics in a team environment. Those with strong egos will NOT fit in.

Men, Women, and Juniors, all compete, and the section has a few profiles, photos, race results, and event schedules.

Tandem Riders even have a home in the OCW!

You know, those are the contraptions where the person in the back seat can basically snooze throught the whole ride   where 2 people ride the same bike. ;-D

The section has links to other clubs, and to bike manufacturers.

Mountain Bike Riders are represented in the Goat Hill Corner section, with weekly, and monthly rides.

The section has info on areas in the county to ride, a photo section, and links to several forums of interest.

Ocw_one One of the best things about the club, aside from the rides, and the socializing, is its Monthly Newsletter:

It is called Chain Reaction, and it was here that I encountered something that might confuse the visitor.

The section indicates that one can go back to 2002 to check out issues of the newsletter, in PDF form, but the only years available are August thru Dec 2006 and the Feb. issue of 2007.

It took reading the August issue to see why this was.

It appears that members have access to the full archive, and non-members to only the most recent issues.

I have read the issues available to non-members, as of this writing, and absolutely love them!

They show the interest, dedication, cameraderie, and friendships of the members, not to mention much humor, and a love of cycling.

There is more in each issue than just info on upcoming rides, racing news, classifieds, and meeting reports.

In the August issue Club President, Barbara Tomita, writes of efforts to learn more about members, their cycling interests, and their opinions of the newsletter, and website, as the club looks for ways to make both better, and more useful to its members.

Marlys Stapelbroek writes about the newly formed Members Support Coordinator who will organize member response to when a member needs help.

Things like spreading the word, encouragement, and voluntary active support.

In the September issue Alan Dauger offered some info about "Tripping Traffic Lights" that I imagine most cyclists had no clue about:

This is a good method for getting a traffic light to turn green for bike riders, when no bike or pedestrian button is available.

This situation often occurs in a left-turn lane, when no cars are present to trip the light.

If you are at a left-turn lane with a detection loop visible in the pavement, lay your bike chain ring side down as close to the loop as possible. Ninety percent of the time, you will get your green light.

Why does this lowering of the bike trip the light much more effectively than simply riding the bike upright over the same loop? The loops create a signal for the traffic light system by detecting iron as it passes over them. Our bikes these days have very little iron, which is mainly in the chain.

Check out the rest of the article for his explanation about why this works. ;-D

In October the Club President discusses why committees are important to the success of the club, and what OCW Committees have been up to, including the fact that the current look of the website has actually been a re-designing effort.

In the November issue the Club President discussed her answer to the question she gets, from non-members, about what a Club is all about.

She hadn’t really thought about it.

As I have discussed there are many aspects of this club.

There really wasn’t a simple answer to the question, but she goes on to discuss the clubs direction toward activism in regards to county, and state, issues of importance to cyclists.

In this issue is an article on Century, Double Century, and Triple Century riding, and the honors garnered by OCW members, by Frank Neal.

Only 42 people have been inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame, for completing 50 California Doubles.

9 OCW members have joined the list since 1999.

I am still looking to do my FIRST!

The farthest I've traveled in one ride was 66 miles, and that took me all the damn day! ;-D

In the February Newsletter I learn that  the Club President has only been in the post for exactly 1 year!

She celebrates the fact the club has 317 Guys, and 153 Gals, as members, as of the end of January, among other stats.

The Newsletter also discusses the Share The Road Campaign that I have written about.

As Michelle Kashima writes:

Many of you have witnessed or encountered very hostile situations on the road between motorist and cyclists. Of course there are many cooperative motorists who do share the road with us.

However, there seem to be many other motorists who are unwilling to abide by any rule or courtesy and will honk, yell, nick us with their side mirrors, or worse.

Recently we have had too many cyclists and joggers succumb to thoughtless motorists, because of drunkenness, road rage, cell phones, or just not paying attention.

I have noticed weeks after these encounters the guilty motorists have usually gotten off with essentially just a slap on the hand.

Unfortunately, the situation seems to be deteriorating as time goes by, and the list of injured, or worse (killed), cyclists and runners has grown longer.

She is right. In 2006 Orange County had a tragically long list of incidents where cyclists were injured, and even killed.

Intending to do a series of posts on the subject I tried to find articles in the OC Register newspaper, online, on all of them, but was only partially successful.

I ended up doing one post on 1 incident, and an e-mail discussion I was involved in about the incident, and then found myself involved in writing a 6 part, picture filled, series about the interactions of users of the Multi-Use Trail around the Newport Back Bay,  a picture filled tour of the Mountains to the Sea Trail, one post about sharing the trail along the beach in Huntington Beach in response to a rant by a walker, in the OC Register, and a picture filled investigation of the plan by Costa Mesa for a new Bike Trail,  instead.

What I did learn, however, showed me that in some of those cases the Cyclist was either at fault, or was doing/not doing something that contributed to the seriousness of their injury, or even death.

Cyclists, just as much as motorists, need to travel the roads in a safe manner, and this must not be forgotten in the anger at ignorant, even bicylist hating, motorists.

Before ending this Magnum Opus I'll mention that there is a Classified section, and the Members Only Section:

The Members Only has all sorts of members lists, meeting minutes, ride info, and sign-up sheets, and logo downloads, and access to creating your own Classified, but still no acccess to the 2002 - early 2006 Archive of the Newsletter.

That last is something that I'm sure the folks in charge of the website will take care of eventually, but it's not the most important reason to visit the site in my book, anyway, so why quibble, hee, hee?

One other thing I noticed is that while there is a page devoted to explaining "ratings", with regards to Pace, and Terrain, for rides... I could not find them applied to any rides in the Calendar, though there is an effort to describe rides a little bit.

This website is a very well done one, and only lacks a list of links to cycling info, and resource, websites to add some more usefullness for members.

I look forward to being a member of the Orange County Wheelmen. ;-D

February 20, 2007 in Life, The Bike Trail, and Everything | Permalink

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