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Two weeks ago, I drove to Berkeley, eager to attend the first in a series of CyclingSavvy workshops, which were being offered for the first time on the West Coast. I arrived to find a room full of equally eager people, from all across the state of California (and beyond.) There were some impressive resumes in the room, people who have spent years, decades, advocating for and educating cyclists. The kind of people everyone who uses roads in California should thank, but who rarely get the thanks they deserve, because bicycle advocacy isn’t as high-profile or glamorous as one might think.

For those of you wondering what CyclingSavvy is, it’s a new bicycling education program focused on teaching effective traffic cycling skills. If you’re wondering what the big dealio is, let’s just say that, in the bicyclist educators ring, there’s been a lot of buzz about the curriculum’s approach. Sure, you may not have heard of CyclingSavvy, but bicycle education gets about as much media coverage as bicycle advocacy. For a more thorough discussion of what CS is and how it’s different, you should read this.

In an effort to avoid a review so lengthy it requires an intermission, I’ll try to limit this post to broad impressions and save the nitty gritty for future posts. Having been certified by the League of American Bicyclists as a League Cycling Instructor, my comments will likely compare the CS material to LAB’s.

The inaugural West Coast classes were led by CyclingSavvy Co-Founder, Mighk Wilson, from Florida, and CyclingSavvy Instructor Gary Cziko, from Illinois. Friday’s workshop was a lecture on topics ranging from bicycle traffic code and traffic cycling principals to route planning and problem-solving strategies. First, let me say that no matter how you dice it, there’s a lot to cover in the lecture. And presenting the material to a room full of seasoned, outspoken cycling educators presented unique challenges, to put it mildly. While Mighk was presenting the second half of the lecture, Gary snapped a quick shot of the room:

Oh sure, they look soft and cuddly, but this crowd asked some tough questions.

So, general impressions: The helmet-cam videos were awesome. They serve as a powerful illustration of the traffic cycling principals being taught, more so, I imagine, when the audience is familiar with the roadways in the videos. But that’s a job for future California CyclingSavvy Instructors to tackle. Gary and Mighk are visiting from out of state so we’ll cut them some slack. The lecture is content-heavy. Even with certain commonly covered topics eliminated, CS introduces enough fresh content that it’s a lot to absorb in 3 hours. The slides are complex the presentation could use some streamlining. There were just too many words on the screen most of the time. Perhaps broad concepts could be covered in an online module similar to this one and the lecture used to reinforce the ideas and discuss details.

In the interest of getting this review published sooner rather than later, I’ll save the on-road review for another post. From what I saw in Friday’s lecture, the CyclingSavvy program offers some awesome, practical
information on how to plan routes and take advantage of patterns in traffic flow and clearly communicate with motorists to minimize potentially stressful interactions on high traffic roadways. There is a heavy emphasis on urban riding which is, for the most part, great, except that I would love to see the program delve further into strategies for the heavily trafficked narrow, rural roadways that we encounter here in Southern Marin. Sharing the roads in my little slice of California presents challenges for which I have yet to find a good solution. CyclingSavvy is a big step in the right direction and, with a few modifications to address certain West Coast conditions, is the type of course that all cyclists could attend and walk away from having learned something new and useful. This isn’t cycling 101, it’s dancing for cyclists. We could all stand to learn a few new moves.

About two weeks ago I signed up for group CompuTrainer classes at Velo SF, located in San Francisco. In case you missed my last post, I’m in Mill Valley, north of the City.

I'm up here and Velo SF is down there.

So over the weekend I decided it was pretty silly driving my car to a cycling class in hopes of getting fitter on the bike. Much better to ride to class. I’ll be leaving at 6am when it is still dark outside which of course means I’ll need gear. I have lights but what I don’t have is a good hi-vis jacket and a backpack. While florescent hi-vis yellow may not be fashionable, it is easier to see at 6am before the sun is up and the coffee has kicked in. In low light, our eyes are particularly perceptive to bright yellows and greens. I’m so behind the haute couture curve, I don’t really care how cool I look in a jacket, but I do care about getting to where I’m going safely and being seen by sleepy motorists is an important part of the equation.

So I headed off to Studio Velo where I found a Rapha jacket and backpack with some cool visibility features. The chartreuse colored jacket with reflective accents is a shade hipper than florescent yellow but still very easy to see in low light. The backpack is pretty cool. In normal light it looks like a rather plain black backpack:

Back of jacket, side of backpack without the camera flash.

But when a a light hits the reflective stitching and details, the backpack looks a little different…..

Front of backpack and jacket, with camera flash.

Back of jacket, side of backpack with flash.

Nice! Visibility? Check.

The jacket is windproof, water resistant, and easy to wash. Sorta.

I'm pretty sure there are no othems of like colour in my closet.