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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.

I love group rides. They’re a great way to meet new friends, learn more about cycling, develop bike handling skills, push yourself to work harder, and to just have fun. This is by no means comprehensive listing, just a few of the groups that ride the roads around Dallas and White Rock Lake. If you’re interested in finding a group to ride with, these clubs are a good place to start.

Mirage Cycling Club is a great group, with recreational and competitive cyclists on all levels, from beginners to seasoned roadies. You can find more information on The Mirage Cycling Club website. Mirage riders are very nice, very social and they do a good job of taking care of one another out on the road. You’re in good hands when you ride with these guys. They have several weekly rides that depart from the Bike Mart on Garland Road, check their website for details. The Sunday 8:30 ride is a good place to start.
If you live north (or don’t mind driving to Plano for rides) then I would also highly recommend Plano Bicycling Association. They’re a fun bunch. PBA as a club does a great job of structuring rides in a way that allows for rider development. It’s a wonderful club! Visit the PBA website for details on the group rides. PBA is primarily a recreational club, aspiring racers can find  like-minded teammates in PACC, the Plano Athletic Cycling Club. More info is available on the PACC website.
Easter Hill Country Weekend recreational rides with friends.

Members of Mirage and PACC riding together at a 3-day rally in Fredericksburg, TX.

Bicycles Plus in Snider Plaza has a club with both recreational and competitive riders. They have group rides but the schedule varies slightly in accordance with Day Light Savings Time so look online for the current schedule. Their website is here, check the Park Cities location for group rides in the White Rock Lake area.
Another Dallas group geared toward recreational riders is the Greater Dallas Bicyclists. They offer a lot of group rides throughout the Metroplex, many of which are well-suited for novice riders. Check them out online for a current schedule and ride reports. Their rides range from nice and easy to screaming fast so there’s something for everyone. The Tuesday/Thursday night rides are really fun and the pace is fairly tame.
There are a ton of great organized rides on the North Texas rally calendar. Rallies are organized rides that offer support and rest stops along routes of various distances. Riders pay a small registration fee which the organizers generally donate to charity. Rallies are a good way to do something good for your health and the community at the same time. Cyclists of all levels and abilities attend rallies so you’re sure to find a good paced group to hang with as you ride. A good site for information on the rally scene is on the  Bicycle Stuff website.
Be safe and have fun out on the road! In my next post I’ll include links to local bicycle safety resources, including some skills and safety classes that will help you ride with confidence.
Full links to the websites referenced above:
Mirage Cycling Club – http://www.miragecycling.org/
Plano Bicycle Association – http://www.planobicycle.org/
Plano Athletic Cycling Club – http://www.teampacc.com/
Greater Dallas Bicyclists – http://www.greaterdallasbicyclists.com/