Mailbag: Take the lane, beware of texters and … Modesto?

I am a professional bicycle courier in Charlotte, North Carolina. The safest way to ride a bicycle in any traffic is to behave exactly as you would in an automobile.

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Ride like you drive

I am a professional bicycle courier in Charlotte, North Carolina. The safest way to ride a bicycle in any traffic is to behave exactly as you would in an automobile.

Use the whole lane, regardless of your speed. When someone gets upset, wave at them as if you think they are offering you support. Negative attention will encourage them. Charlotte is a big city trapped in a small Southern town, so I guarantee that the next person you blow up at will be your next potential client.

The more you marginalize yourself — riding in the side of the road, riding on the sidewalk — the more ignored you will be. The only concern any cyclist should have is his/her own safety. The idea that one cyclist’s behavior will give all other cyclists a bad name is erroneous and illogical. Take care of yourself on the road.

Oh, and nothing is worse than a “cyclist” behind the wheel who feels the need to share his/her opinion/guidance on road etiquette. Mind your own business, concentrate on the road, and don’t distract the person on the bicycle.

Patrick Harrington,
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rage, schmage: Watch out for texting drivers


I had a pretty eye-opening experience this summer while driving cross country. It’s a trip I’ve made annually for more than 30 years, but this year there was a noticeable difference.

Everywhere I went, every day I saw trucks and cars swerve onto the shoulder and whip up a cloud of dust before swerving back onto the road. Normally I might see this once on my trip as a big-rig driver catches a little shoulder. But this time it was every day, everywhere. Big rigs in Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Oklahoma; local utility trucks on small highways in Iowa; passenger cars in Missouri.

And in every instance when I passed them they were texting.

Every time I saw a vehicle swing onto the shoulder I couldn’t help thinking, “That’s where I ride.” These people weren’t evil road-raging motorists. In most instances they were professionals doing their job. But the deadly potential of their actions is immeasurable.

It’s also interesting that out of the dozens of instances that I saw not one vehicle crossed the center line. It was always a swerve to the right; deadly for us cyclists. And while it happened on all types of roads, I saw it much more often on picturesque less traveled back roads — just the type of places we cyclists seek out for their beauty and (until now) safety.

While the road-rage trial is important, texting is going to kill far more cyclists if something is not done quickly.

Ed Arnold,
Chatsworth, California

California v. Italy: a tough choice

Thank you for your timely and insightful comments on the Amgen Tour of California and the Giro d’Italia. It is sad that riders will have to choose between the races, especially because the Giro is such an epic route.

Robert Bell,
Wilmington, Delaware

California tour squanders opportunity


The Amgen Tour of California has moved to May in order to have the weather it needs to showcase (drum roll): Modesto?

The organizers have stated they’re moving inland to add more climbing to the race. Perhaps someone should call them and let them know there are no mountains in Modesto.

While I congratulate AEG on including the Sequoia National Forest and Big Bear this year, the modest elevations of the Diablo Range between San Jose and the San Joaquin Valley do not offer the sort of climbing or scenery that would justify subjecting the peloton to Modesto, however briefly.

Eight days to showcase a state nearly the size of France clearly isn’t enough. All the more reason not to squander a day on the Central Valley at the expense of majestic locations like Tahoe and Yosemite. (If it’s transfers AEG is worried about, you can fly from Sacramento or Reno to anywhere in the state in less time than it takes to drive from Modesto to Visalia).

This California expat will be watching the race, albeit while seriously scratching his head.

Matt Niednagel,
Flemington, New Jersey

McGinnis will be missed

Thanks for the excellent obituary for Terry McGinnis.

He was a good man and an excellent race director. It was a pleasure to work with and for him at the Tour of Utah.

He will be missed.

Frank Moreland,
Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho

Photog’ nailed it


Kudos to Ben Ross and his striking black-and-white image of Ryan Trebon at the USGP in Louisville. For me it really captured the elemental nature of cyclocross.

Ron Dirkx,
Dresden, Germany

Reviews of ‘Race Across the Sky?’


I have not seen much feedback on the movie, “Race Across the Sky.” My son and I tried to go but it was sold out. I have read that an encore showing has been scheduled for mid-November. Was it worth seeing? I just would like to know. Not many cycling movies get released onto the big screen.

David Jackson
San Diego, California