January 2020 WheelPeople


Message from the President

Larry Kernan

Message from the CRW President


Happy Holidays!  I wish all our club members a glorious holiday season and hope that you spend it with loved ones.  On December 7th, about 100 members attended our Holiday Party.  Our new venue was festive and the food and beverages delicious.  Many thanks to Linda Nelson for her planning and for the many volunteers who helped us pull it off.



CRW Volunteer Awards

Traditionally, CRW uses the Holiday Party as a forum to announce our Volunteer awards for the year.  The club’s highest award is the Ralph Galen Service Award.

Ralph Galen Service Award

In 2013 Ralph Galen, one of the original founders of CRW, passed away and named CRW as a beneficiary in his will. Ralph was a driving force in the Boston bicycling community as well as CRW. To perpetuate Ralph's name the Board of Directors initiated the Ralph Galen Service Award to be presented from time to time as appropriate to an individual who has worked tirelessly for CRW over many years.


Charles River Wheelers has awarded the Galen Award only three times in the past - to Jack Donohue, Connie Farb and Eli Post.  This year we awarded two of them, one to David Cooper and one to Bob Wolf.

Galen Award Recipients Bob Wolf and David CooperDavid Cooper has been the recipient of CRW Volunteer Awards in 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2012.  For 20 years, David produced the WheelPeople Newsletter without fail.  He designed the original PDF layout and, every month for those 20 years, embarked on the tedious task of designing the pages so that all of the articles fit. At the same time, David updated the design of the club logo as needed and was responsible for adding a woman to the trio of cyclists. Club kits and volunteer t-shirts? Yes, that was David too. He willingly took on whatever graphical design projects the club threw at him.

Bob Wolf’s distinguised service to the club is also impressive.  He previously received a volunteer award in 2012 for his work on the club’s helmet policy.  Bob served as a Director for two terms from 2013 through 2018.  He founded and organized the Jack’s Abby Rides – a fantastic fixture on our summer calendar which accomodates riders of all speeds and abilities and creates a great opportunity for all to socialize.  Bob has coordinated the club’s use of Ride with GPS and taught both Ride Leaders and members how to use the tool.  As if that isn’t enough, Bob steps up when needed working on the website redesign and the recent Bylaws and E-Bike Committees. 

CRW is proud to recognize the tremendous contributions that these gentlemen have made to the club.  In addition to receiving a plaque commemorating their award, Bob and David will each be given a CRW jersey when they are available next spring.

Climb to the Clouds

Mark your calendars now!  Climb to the Clouds returns in 2020 on Saturday, June 6th.  Though we can’t promise you better weather than last year, be assured you’ll have a great ride, great volunteers and great food.

Arrowing Policy

After a lengthy discussion, the Board has decided that Sunday Rides and Centuries will no longer be arrowed.  Arrowing may be done at the discretion of ride leaders.  As the use of Ride with GPS has broadened, the technology has supplanted the need for extensive volunteer hours to arrow. We’ll continue to offer group rides for those who prefer a more social atmosphere or are not yet ready to give total faith to an electronic device.  Cue sheets continue to be available. Please see the Arrowing Policy article in this WheelPeople for more details.

Communications Committee

Last Spring, the Board created an ad hoc Communications Committee to review CRW's communications policy.  Lisa Najavits headed this committee and was joined by Kristi Carlson, Robyn Betts, Jac Donohue and Brandon Milardo.  The Committee made a number of recommendations to the Board including the transition to an email format for WheelPeople and social media prioritization.  Foremost among the recommendations was that CRW should have a Vice President of Communiciations to oversee this crucial aspect for our Club. Rami Haddad has stepped forward as our Vice President of Communications and goes before the Board in January for approval.  Rami is very active in other cycling organizations and is an energetic leader with the Appalachian Mountain Club.  He also serves as a Director of Adventure Cycling Association, a national organization promoting cycle touring and advocating for better cycling infrastructure.

Rami is seeking several volunteers to work with him to set the strategy for all club communications – including website, newsletter, email, social media and other platforms.Please contact mcccxxv [at] gmail.com (Rami) if you are interested or have questions or suggestions.

Lisa Najavits is moving on to be our new Vice President of Volunteers.  More to come on that new post in a future issue.


Even in the off-season, club volunteers are busy getting ready for 2020. The Board is in the midst of planning and budgeting, the Century Committee has started setting up events, the Rides Committee has a full slate of activities planned and you’ll see social and educational events scheduled throughout the winter. I wish you all a wonderful New Year!




CRW Arrow Policy has Changed

CRW Board

Back in the day, CRW had an answering machine set up in someone’s house. To learn about upcoming rides, you called the phone, on a seven digit number, and listened to the recording so you’d know what rides were coming up. We now have a website where rides can be posted and updated with a few clicks.

Rides always had cue sheets that were created by the ride leader by hand, after carefully laying out the route on a paper map and hoping there weren’t any errors. If you go back far enough, the cue sheets were in the telltale blue ink of a mimeograph machine. We now have “RidewithGPS” that spits them out, with multiple options for formatting.

That cue sheet once sat in a plastic map case on your handlebars. It’s been replaced by a cellphone with an app or an overpriced but highly addictive Garmin. The cellphone app is free to all CRW club members.

Oh, and Wheelpeople appeared in your mailbox once a month, arriving via snail mail. Eventually we moved to a PDF and now onto an email format.

CRW has always moved forward when technology is available to do the job better and more easily. It’s time to take the same approach with arrows.


  • Arrowing is a tremendous amount of work and takes a lot of volunteer hours.
  • Arrowing can only be done when the roads are dry. If it’s windy, you’ll end up with spray paint on your bike and cleats plus an undiscernible paint splotch instead of an arrow.
  • Arrows disappear when disgruntled community members black them out, the local DPW tears up or paves the road, or someone parks over them.
  • Many towns no longer allow us to arrow their roads or require special permission before we are allowed to do so.
  • Too many arrows for different rides using the same roads can be confusing to follow.
  • Spray paint is environmentally unfriendly.
  • There’s a better way.

CRW has embraced RidewithGPS and it’s a great way to create and follow a route. There’s a free app for your phone and we’ll teach you how to use it. You can always print a cue sheet and links are available on all ride listings. Many of our club rides have a ride leader that will take a group at a specified pace. It’s a great way to meet other riders and let someone else handle the navigation. Finally, those volunteer hours used for arrowing can be redirected to other initiatives in the club.

Effective in January 2020, CRW will no longer be arrowing rides, including centuries. Arrowing may still be done at the discretion of the ride leader.



Fixing Flats and Other On-the-Bike Mechanicals Workshop

Eli Post


When: January 19, 2020

Check-in: 2:30 pm -3:00 pm (refreshments served)

Start time: 3pm -5pm

Where: Ride Headquarters 11 South Main St, Sherborn, MA 01770

Fixing Flats and Fixing Other On-the-Bike Mechanicals Workshop

Is your idea of dealing with a flat tire to pull out your phone and call for a ride home? Few people know how to change a flat properly or know how to manage other mechanical situations encountered on a bike ride. There's no shame in admitting you'd like to learn proper techniques for a quick, and successful, flat fix. Situations also arise when you need to help a fellow rider with his or her bike. Ride Headquarters, located in Sherborn will host a workshop for you to learn how to fix a flat and take care of other mechanical situations that may arise while you're out on a bike ride.

Practical Experience

You should bring the front wheel from your bike to get the most out of the workshop. By the end of this program, you will have successfully changed a tube on your wheel. We’ll even provide rubber gloves if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.

You'll have a chance to see a demonstration of other common on-the-bike mechanical situations and steps you can take to make the bike operational. We pack a lot into two hours, but it's a lot of fun at the same time!

Space is Limited

Space is very limited and this event will sell out very quickly. The program is open to members only, and you can RSVP and reserve a spot. Same day walk-in registration is not available. Note that the workshop will start promptly at 3:00 to please arrive early to check in and find a seat.

Again, you will enjoy fixing a flat, learn how to be prepared in case other mechanicals arise when you're riding, and have social time when you might not be seeing other cyclists on the road. Winter is the perfect time to finally learn how to fix your own flats. The bonus is getting a chance to learn how to handle other problems you might encounter on the road while hanging out with some riding friends!




Plan Your Next Bicycle Vacation

Eli Post

Adventure Cycling Association is the premier bicycle-travel organization in North America with more than 40 years of experience and 52,000 members. It is non-profit, and many of our members have enjoyed their tours and speak well of the ACA.

However, we don’t mean to make this an advertisement for the organization but a reason to introduce Rami Haddad, Board Vice President of Adventure Cycling, and also a CRW member and the Club’s new VP of Communications. Rami has stepped up and will play a key role in the Club’s management. He is well traveled, and has been on extended bicycle tours through the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Coast, Rocky Mountains, Switzerland, France, and Italy.

We are offering a presentation on Adventure Cycling’s route network and resources, including how to box your bike and generally how to plan for a bicycle tour. You will learn about different terrains, touring style that suits you, budget options, bikepacking, & how to avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort. Rami will also discuss other tour operators, maybe even suggest some CRW tours.

CAUTION—attending this presentation may result in an uncontrollable desire to immediately plan for a bicycle adventure


  • When: Friday 6 March 2020
  • Where: Lexington Depot, 13 Depot Square
  • Time: 6:00 to 7:00 PM Social Hour, 7:00 to 8:30 presentation
  • Parking: there is a large parking area adjacent to the Depot
  • RSVP: Please signup here. Seating is limited.




Reminder - Nutrition Webinar

André Wolff

Nutrition Webinar: January 16, 2020 from 7:00 to 8:00 PM EST


This is a reminder that we are running a nutrition webinar on January 16, 2020 from 7:00 to 8:00 PM EST. There is still time to pre-register here, and we will send you logon information closer to the event’s date. This is an exciting new venture for the club and we hope you join us. Full details are at https://www.crw.org/content/nutrition-webinars



Year-End Mileage Reporting for the Hangin' In List - Last Chance

Jack Donohue
The "Hangin' In" list includes members who have reported their mileage for at least five years.  To be included in the list, you must submit your year-end mileage through December 2019.  It doesn't matter if you didn't ride in December, we can only know that the mileage in the database is your total for the year if you enter it for December.  Just go to the online mileage page as usual and enter your miles for the month or zero if you didn't ride, or just enter your total for the year.  The statistics will be compiled from the current data on January 5, so you need to enter your mileage before that date.
The ins and outs of reporting mileage to CRW is explained HERE.
Ken Hablow provided a mileage calendar pdf file which you may find convenient, and are free to use. https://wpp.crw.org/mileage/BikeLog2020.pdf

Battery Life While Navigating

Eli Post


Riders using cell phones for navigation are ubiquitous on Club rides. While the RidewithGPS app gets wide applause, there are some gripes about the phone battery not holding up on long rides. We are empathetic to that issue as a dead battery in the middle of the ride can leave you stranded or worse. However there are steps you can take to avoid such a catastrophe.

First, battery life varies by phone. I have a four-year-old iPhone (a baby in human terms but a technological dinosaur) and get about three hours use before the battery goes kerplunk. One step you can take that costs you nothing is to go to settings on the app and uncheck “Keep Screen On”. The screen will only come on when approaching a turn, and you will save precious battery life. However, this option is not for everyone, as there is a certain comfort in always knowing where you are. You can try out the “no screen” option and decide whether it works for you.

A more elegant and reliable solution is to acquire a power backup unit, which will power your cell phone even for the full length of a century ride. There are many such units on the market and multiple methods of securing them to your bike, but I am sharing only the solution I adopted. Note this was not an arbitrary choice, but was made after consultation with numerous friends who did considerable research and had practical experience. You are of course free to choose your own accessories but this is what I did, and it works just fine.

Backup Battery We ordinarily don’t sponsor specific companies but it’s easier to name a unit that works well for cyclists. It’s relatively inexpensive, small and light. The Anker PowerCore 10000 is available on Amazon, as of this writing, for $25.99.

Top-Tube Bag sits on your frame close up to the handle bars. They are available from a variety of sellers and you need one large enough to hold the battery (most will do just that). See accompanying photo.

Connecting Cord You will need a cord specific to your phone to connect the battery to your phone. Any short cord will do but you should consider a heavily insulated one as the cord gets a lot of wear while riding, and will eventually wear out. Also, if you use a top-tube bag, a short cord of 1 foot or less is recommended.

If your cell phone drains rapidly when navigating, stop griping and reach for a working solution so you can enjoy care free riding.





Traction Action

John Allen

Safety corner

Traction Action

By John S. Allen, CRW Safety Coordinator

For those of you out there who are riding with the ice and snow … Obviously enough,  you almost always want the tires to have traction. If your front tire loses traction for more than a moment, you can’t steer to balance, and you fall.

Ideally, you want to know the feel of the tires on the road as well as the feel of your feet on the ground. Nerves don’t extend into the tires, so that is tougher.  But, if you understand how traction works, and with the practice from riding, you can come close, and manage those winter conditions.

Front-wheel traction is a concern in smooth, straight-ahead riding only on a very poor surface:  ice, worse, black ice because it can be invisible and can form on a sloping surface -- or rutted packed snow.  Some of us have been in the Boston area long enough to remember the winter of 1977. 1978 was more notorious, but 1977 was the year of snow, and rain, followed by a freeze that lasted for weeks. My utility cycling was a bit of an adventure that winter.

To maintain your balance when your front tire skids against the side of a rut and you start to fall, you steer quickly toward the fall, but on an uneven, slippery surface, you may overcorrect and then fall to the other side when the tire regains traction. Your bicycle is making a jujitsu move on you. You need to recorrect quickly.

Braking can skid either wheel on a slippery surface, but you need much quicker recovery from a front-wheel skid to maintain balance. The panic reaction of grabbing the brake levers doesn’t work here. You need to train yourself for the opposite; if you start to lose control, release the brakes to regain traction.

Applying power can skid the rear wheel, but you can shift your weight backward and forward – the way a pigeon walks -- so most weight is over the rear wheel during the high-power part of each pedal stroke. This is completely natural because it also places weight on the pedal.  I am recalling my ride on packed snow up Common Street from Watertown to Belmont on the way to a CRW winter party, years and years ago. No cars were moving, because they couldn’t manage either the climb or the descent, but I wished quite a lot of people happy holidays as I passed.  And without snow tires.

If you skid in a turn, and then you are already leaning, you will fall. Not quite as far, though.

Back in th 1970s, studded snow tires were a do-it-yourself job, with sheet-metal screws threaded into the tire from inside to outside. I never tried this. Now studded now tires are common, if expensive. They add rolling resistance, but the tradeoff makes sense for riding on ice and packed snow. If you use snow tires, you’ll want to have two bicycles, or two sets of wheels, and use one or the other depending on road conditions.

An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. Look ahead and take it slow so you are prepared to put a foot down. If you ride with a pedal-binding system or toe clips and straps, switch to flat pedals unless you are totally confident in your ability to get a foot out – either foot. Falls unfortunately do not cooperate by being all to the side where you usually put a foot down.

Jobst Brandt has written about his ride across frozen Lake Constance between Germany and Switzerland. It is a great read, here: https://www.trentobike.org/Countries/Switzerland/Tour_Reports/Ice_Princess_1963/index.html

Try this: https://sheldonbrown.com/winter.html for more information on winter riding and links to additional fine information from CRW members Emily O’Brien and Pamela Blalock.



The Road Cyclist's Guide to the Peloton

John Buten

As the most avid cyclist among my cohort of 50 year old charity century riders, I get asked a lot about my Peloton.  As you know, the weather in New England is pretty inhospitable for 5-6 months out of the year.  My friends ask me how I pop up the hills so easily after the winter wash of mire, salt and sand gives way in April? The answer generally is a stationary exercise bike and for me specifically it was a Peloton, a $2,000 bike that weighs a ton and goes nowhere.  Despite the passive-aggressive advertising, a significant part of Peloton’s success has been welcoming and motivating daily fitness fanatics and people who are afraid to go to a gym. 

There’s certainly some stigma in the cycling community around spin classes.  It’s amazing that people who are unafraid of lounging around the Concord muffin shop red faced and sweaty in 1mm of lycra are afraid of what people will think about them because they own an exercycle.  Or, maybe it’s just the idea of spending so much money on a cast iron bike instead of new carbon rims.  Or Peloton’s new Internet Yuppie image.

Mind you, I’m not a Peloton fanatic.  Judging by the live-ride shout outs and jamborees, I’m in the bottom 20% of riders with only 250 rides under my belt.  I’m strictly a foul weather rider and wouldn’t be caught dead on the thing in July unless there’s a powerful nor’easter blowing.  But I do think it’s a fantastic tool in your cycling arsenal... with some caveats. 

Here’s my calculus to help you think about whether an indoor spin bike is right for you:


It’s Always There

Rain or shine.  Sleet or snow.  In winter months when the sun doesn’t rise 'til what feels like 8:00, you can get in some miles.  There are pre-recorded classes of every duration, effort and genre.  You can join a live class at 7:00, but if you’re up at 6:45, you can start a recorded class at 6:50.  Snow day?  What snow day?  If you exercise less than three times a week in January, you should think about Peloton.

Zero to Sweat in No Time

Sometimes, even in the heart of summer, maintaining my bike feels like it takes up nearly as much of my time as riding it.  If I’m going to ride early in the morning before work, I get my bottles and bars lined up, make sure my tires are up to pressure, chain is lubed, Wahoo charged, Di2 charged… and still I can’t find my sunglasses and it takes me a half hour to get out the door.  Where I live in Cambridge, I’m warming up and cruising from red light to red light for thirty minutes until I get to Belmont and some open road.  The bike that goes nowhere needs zero maintenance. The class starts and the hammer drops... no dawdling.   Fill up your bottles, put on your skins and go.  Depending on where your bike is in your house, you can ride in your underwear if you want. 

It’s Fun

I don’t ride with music and when I do, it’s usually the same mix.  There are classes to fit all different styles on Peloton – hip hop, classic rock, 70s, 80s, 90s, country – and a range of instructors.  Yes, you’ll find some of them annoying, but you’ll also find some that seem like the ride buddy you’d like… and they’re always waiting there in your basement, ready to ride.  My highlights are the weekly live DJ rides with DJ John Michael.  I’ve had brief moments of parenting triumph when I’ve heard songs by Childish Gambino or Billie Ellish before my kids did.

Peer Pressure Works

Unless you’re a triathlete, you know that you ride harder when you’re in a pack of cyclists, rotating on the front and egging each other on.  The same applies on Peloton.  It’s hard not to get caught up in the leaderboard.  The cliché of exercise bikes is that they’re mostly used as expensive clothes racks.  Peloton is addictive and fun.  You’ll ride it.  If you think about a 0:45 Peloton class as the equivalent of a spin class… even at a discounted $15 a class, the bike pays for itself in 100 rides and you’ll hit that goal in 1-2 years, even if you’re a fair weather cyclist like me.  More to the point, you’ll ride on the Peloton 2-3 times more often than you’d ever go to a spin class.

Power-Zone Training

This is the real reason for road cyclists to join Peloton. This is how the pros train, using a power meter to measure their interval efforts to increase their endurance and power.  One hour of power-zone training will improve your cycling performance better than three hours on the road. Period. You can do measured intervals targeting specific goals – increasing VO2 Max, increasing time at VO2 Max, increasing ability to recover from max efforts.  You’ll learn a lot about yourself and really feel like you understand what your body can do.  My legs are sore after riding the Peloton in ways that I’m rarely sore after riding on the road.

Since moving from spin classes to power-zone classes on Peloton, I’ve gone out and bought a power meter for my road bike and now I know exactly how many “matches” I can burn on the hills and still have gas in the tank for the end of a ride.  The only downside is that there are only a few power-zone instructors on Peloton, so the music and encouragement options are a little limited. 

What are the Cons?

It’s a Spin Bike, not a Cycling Trainer

The flywheel and resistance are top-notch and better at simulating the resistance of the road than with most spin bikes.  However, it’s still not a bike.  Even if you put your own pedals and saddle on, the limited adjustments put you in a more upright position than you’re likely to have on your road bike, even if you don’t ride in the drops with your stem slammed.  When you get on the road in April/May you’ll still need some time to build your endurance, particularly the endurance of being in a cycling position for hours. But your base fitness will be way ahead of the alternative.  

Spin Class Isn’t Always Great for You

Your average 25-year-old spin instructor hasn’t had much experience with back pain or tendinitis and is often asking the class to do things that any physiologist would know are just a bad idea… up, down, up, down, push-up left, push up right.  Peloton seems to have a much more disciplined approach to instruction, but the cross-fit, be-all-you-can-be attitude can provide you with opportunities to hurt yourself.  Specifically, there are a lot of classes with intervals of high effort at low cadence in the saddle which is good for your butt muscles (which I think is half the point of spin class in our booty-focused beauty era)… but can be very hard on your knees, especially if you’re a fit cyclist and put out a lot of power.  I’ve never gotten tendinitis from cycling before Peloton… now I know to modify my pace when the instructor pushes the torque.

It’s hard to do endurance training on a Peloton

There are some crazy people out there who have done centuries on the Peloton by stringing classes together back to back.  I love that the all-out effort and giving myself over to an instructor to put my brain on pause, but I can’t do more than two classes mentally… and I can’t do more than two hours physically.  I haven’t replaced the saddle, but it’s just really hard without the variety and camaraderie of being on the road to do for more than two hours.  Even on a rainy Saturday.

Accessories you’ll need:

A second set of pedals
Peloton comes with pedals for the old Look Arc cleats.  If you want to use one pair of shoes for your Peloton and your road bike, you’ll likely need to get a set of (cheap, heavy) pedals for your Peloton.

A fan
Before I got a fan, I did a double (1:30) and so much sweat ran down my legs, I rusted out the bolts that hold my cleats onto my shoes.  I now have an 18” fan aiming up from in front of the bike.

A set of Hand Towels
If you haven’t “accidentally” brought home a few from your local gym, you can always hit up Bed, Bath and Beyond. 

Lysol Wipes
If you’re sharing the bike, or even if not, it’s a good idea to keep the salt and crust from accumulating on the bike.

Good Bluetooth Headphones
Losing yourself in the music is part of the experience, which is hard when the default speakers are small, tinny and face away from the rider.  I use bone-conduction headphones from Aftershox which I love because they don’t fall out no matter how much I sweat.  I also hear great things about the Beats in-ear Bluetooth headphones.  There is a headphone jack also, so you could get an external wired or Bluetooth speaker. 

A Few Last Words

I got my Peloton before the latest generation of bicycle trainers and applications came out.  There are many other connected spin bikes from NordicTrack and Echelon.  If I were doing it again, I’d look hard at a Zwift/Wahoo combo.  The top-of-the-line trainers overcome many of the drawbacks of the old fluid trainers with a direct drive that’s nice and secure. 

Still, my instinct is that I’d still be happier with the Peloton.  I don’t want anything to get between me and a ride and there’s too much to go wrong with an app and a subscription service and a trainer and an iPad.  Not to mention bike maintenance.  Frankly, part of the point of the off season is to have an off season.  I’m looking for a break from my road bike for a few months so that when spring rolls around I’m able to enjoy the pleasant sound of new rubber and a clean chain as I zip up and down hills. 

Oh… and as I said, the Peloton isn’t like riding a road bike.  When you see somebody on the road in a Peloton jersey or with a Peloton water bottle, say hi to them at the rest stop, and be courteous, but stay far away from them on the road.  They’re relatively fit, but have no experience on the road and they’re going to half-wheel you like nobody’s business. John

John Buten is a CRW member who is sharing his cycling experience. He is happy to answer any questions about indoor training and can be reached at john [at] buten.net.






Horses Join a Ride

Eli Post

It was the first clear day after a December snowstorm and five riders started out from Lincoln on a 38 mile ride that would take them as far west as Boxborough. Bob Wolf was the ride organizer and was joined by Maria Noya, Jerry Skurla, Gene Ho and Elizabeth Wicks, all CRW members. My guess is that road conditions were foremost on their minds because snowbanks narrow the road and can cause unexpected slippery conditions. However those of us who have been riding for a while also know that surprises on a ride arise out of nowhere and can often be delightful. Sometimes it’s the magnificent view of a lake or a mountain range, but on this ride it was runaway horses in Stow as the group was  approaching Route 62.


The riders, inexperienced in the horse world but well intentioned, tried to corral the horses by positioning bikes across the lane they occupied. The horses weren’t going along, and the riders got out of the way. One of the riders called 911, and two police cruisers showed up quickly. However, you could tell that the horses were used to being in the travel lane and were not at all bothered by the police car behind them.  Obviously, they were some very savvy horses. A friend with horses tells me “I have actually been in that situation when my friends decided to take a hike.” Horses with a police escort are a most unusual sight on a bike ride, and count as a parade! If you encounter a horse on a ride, remember they have rights, majestic creatures that they are.

Photos by Maria Noya, and thanks to Maria and Bob Wolf for relating the event.

If you want to learn more about dealing with horses in your path, you could consult a past Safety Corner article. 



Looking Back

Brandon Milardo, Lisa Najavits

10 Years Ago - January 2010

Good advice is timeless, so it’s no surprise that Meryl Lemeshow’s feature about off-season training contains information that’s still applicable a decade on. Her article reminded cyclists that the off-season is a perfect time to work on stability, core strength, and aerobic conditioning in order to lay a foundation for a strong spring and summer of riding. In other medical news, Eli Post wrote an article that contained a list of the founding members of the CRW “Clavicle Club”, or riders who fractured their collarbones while riding."The Club however is intended to be inclusive, and it is our fond hope that no one else qualifies. We would be pleased if we don’t hear any more clavicle incidents, and wish you all safe riding.”

25 Years Ago - January 1995

The front page of the January 1995 issue of Wheelpeople contained a congratulatory article for Rose Costin, who, in the previous year, set the UMCA world record for the most organized centuries ridden in one year in 1994. She broke the previous record of 77 on the last day of the CRW Hills and Hollows trip, and she rode her 111th and final century of the year on December 4. Elsewhere in the issue, the second CRW Hangover Hundred was advertised just below the annual New Year’s Day ride, which it joined after rolling through Dover and Medfield.

50 Years Ago - January 1970

The first issue of Wheelpeople in 1970 was a split January/February issue, with a notice at the bottom of the first page: “During the winter months, club activities will be limited.” However, three rides were advertised between January 1 and March 1, and a report of a ride from December 14 of the previous year indicated that 14 riders met for “a pleasant ride through Bedford, Billerica, Tewksbury, Andover, and Reading”, with most riders making it home before snowflakes started to fall. In a letter from President Norman Satterthwaite, he marveled that some rides had up to 30 members, and the club’s total membership count was 140. 



Featured Ride

Brandon Milardo


The New Year’s Day Ride is a CRW tradition. Eric Ferioli, our Winter Ride leader, leads it starting at the Boston Common and wandering through South Boston. New Year's is one of the few days when traffic in downtown Boston is low enough that a large group ride is reasonable. You get to ride on historic streets, experience water views, and see other interesting sights. This is a one-of-a-kind ride that will leave you with lasting memories, and is a great way to start the New Year. Be sure to dress warmly.

The riders are in front of the USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. She is the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. Photo is from New Year's Day Ride 2016.



A Boston Bicycle Club Before CRW, Part Two: Touring and Racing

Lorenz Finison


In the October, 2019 Wheelpeople, I recounted an early 1970s debate about the historical ups-and-downs of cycling, between George Bailey (CRW co-founder and club historian) and Howard Moore (CRW ride leader and cyclist since the 1920s). The Boston Bicycle Club (B.Bi.C. – known contemporaneously by those initials to distinguish it from the Boston Baseball Club), first in the nation, got a mention in that debate. Part one of this series concerned B.Bi.C.’s founding and club life. Here is part two: B.Bi.C.’s role in the beginnings of recreational riding and racing during the bicycling craze of the late 1870s through the 1890s.

In March, 1878, the American Bicycling Journal (ABJ) reported on the B.Bi.C.:

On Saturday, March 9, 1878 punctually at 3 P.M., fourteen machines came into line on Boylston street, opposite Trinity Church; the mounting was accomplished in good order, and the Club, after proceeding slowly twice up and down Columbus avenue, proceeded through Chester Park extension, and over the Milldam to Longwood, where a halt was made at the President’s house. After a quarter of an hour was spent in doing justice to the President’s hospitalities, the Club again mounted, and a most enjoyable run terminated at the Brookline drinking fountain, the first run of the first Bicycle club formed in this country.

One eyewitness wrote that “their attitudes were upright, manly, and confident; that their countenances gave no indication of labor or anxiety; that they were perfectly self-poised, easy and nonchalant.” Another writer observed that the riders “instead of keeping in a straight line, their direction was distinctly serpentine,” and that they swayed right and left [likely in pairs or triplets] in harmony with the arabesque pattern they were describing on the asphalte.”

The B.B.iC. – for gentlemen only – had formed a month earlier and had a clean slate. But they were heavily dependent on English cycling traditions. Little resembling a bicycle rolled on the Boston city streets (excepting the velocipede which had its own short-lived craze and then rapidly fell out of favor). British manufacture of the spidery-spoked high wheel was already well developed by the mid-1870s. The upper middle-class gentlemen who could afford the hefty price for these bicycles, and the leisure time to ride them, began to import them individually. Importing firms grew up to ease the way to broader racing and recreation.

Early Bicycle Racing

Many of the gentlemen of the B.Bi.C. and other early bicycle clubs were Harvard graduates, and the university traditions continued. Bicycle touring and racing among Cambridge and Oxford university students was already well-established, and unsurprisingly, Harvard organized the first collegiate bicycle race in North America. On May 24, 1878, the Harvard College Athletic Association sponsored a race just across the Charles River at the Beacon Trotting Park.

Since horse tracks were the only tracks in existence, and many of these were at county fairs, that’s where the earliest American bicycle races were held, in New England: places like Framingham; Portland Maine; East Bridgewater; Concord; Attleboro; Taunton; Northampton; and Athol. But the horse tracks were “heavy and unstable” and cyclists searched for alternatives.

In January 1879 the organizers of the [Orthodox] Hebrew Fair, a big months-long annual charitable event in Park Square, put on a bicycle race. Walking and running races were well known in this venue, but the bicycle race was a first. The board track was a great improvement over dirt, but the egg-shaped 8-laps to a mile track narrowed and twisted among the support posts and other impediments in the building. Many riders withdrew, having seen the obstacles. Events included two-mile, one-mile and one-mile slow race (slowest time while always upright on the bicycle). In the amateur two-mile event, John Sharp of the Suffolk club survived a crash, grabbed another bicycle, and chased down W.H. Pierce, an unattached Worcester rider. William Pittman was challenged and withdrew, being “regarded in something of a professional light.”

On the 4th of July, 1879 – a first time for the 4th –high wheelers took over Huntington Avenue from Trinity Church. Police attempted with only limited success to control the large and enthusiastic crowd of fans (estimated at 3-5,000), perching on brownstone steps, and hanging out from hotel windows and balconies. The Germania Band provided entertainment until rained out, and left a lonely bugler behind. Professionals raced for cash, e.g., $50, and amateurs raced for medals worth an advertised amount, e.g., $25. Race officials included leadership of the B.Bi.C., the Massachusetts Bicycle Club (MBC) and the Suffolk club. The half-mile course down Huntington to a turnaround was called “broad and smooth.” Ideal for a bike race. But there was trouble: Pitman entered the one-mile amateur race, and was protested. The judges met at City Hall three days later to decide his fate. He was disqualified on the grounds that he had ridden for money in Bangor, had taught bicycle riding in Bangor and Boston, competed against professional riders at races in Lynn, and had sold prizes for money. Pitman protested against the hypocrisy of the judges who made money out of bicycles (as bicycle-magazine publishers and manufacturers) and yet were still considered amateurs. As he put it: “If we live up to English rules, no one who is a mechanic, an artisan, or a laborer, can compete in amateur races.” It seems that Boston bicycling leadership intended just that: to exclude such workers from the gentlemen’s sport. 

The race created great interest, and that fall, Boston cyclists produced a spectacle of racing on a board track, 8 laps to a mile under a huge tent in a vacant lot at West Newton street and Huntington avenue. Harry Etherington’s Anglo-French team of racing men promoted a four-day (shortened from a longer race due to weather) professional race, and many more, including Will Pittman’s trick riding.

Organizers of the July 4th, 1880 race switched from Huntington to Commonwealth avenue along the two blocks between Fairfield and Hereford streets, forcing more turns. It slowed the race and caused some crashes. Pitman was again challenged, with some in the crowd derisively calling out “professional” as he passed. Their fealty to English cycling traditions, e.g., exclusion of non-amateurs – read non-gentlemen – was striking.

Commonwealth Avenue races were abandoned, and the 1881 and 1882 July 4th races rolled on Boston Common, a venue which could accommodate many more spectators. For two years, a rolled sod racetrack was laid out on the Common’s parade ground, described as “poor at best and usually too poor to be inviting to your best wheelmen.”

 City aldermen proposed a permanent track with a good surface. But it didn’t happen, and Boston bicyclists continued to search, spending a few years racing at Franklin Park. Except for two good tracks in the 1890s (Waltham and Cambridge), one in Revere (1910s - 1930s), and sporadic racing on the boards at Boston Garden (e.g., winter 1937-8)  they still search.

Early Recreational Riding

The B.Bi.C. high-wheelers rode around close-in suburbs like Brookline and the Newtons and then began touring the outer suburbs and rural areas – much as CRW does today. In 1877, Frank Weston, B.Bi.C. founder, English immigrant, architect, American Bicycling Journal (ABJ) publisher, and dual member of London’s Pickwick Bicycle Club, suggested that Boston roads compared well to those he had experienced in England and that a cyclist would find “nothing better for his purpose than a good ‘natural’ highway.” Charles Pratt and others began to explore these roads. In 1879, Pratt published the first book on bicycling in North America, The American Bicycler, and in it he described thirty-nine routes for bicyclists into the suburban and rural towns around Boston.

The B.Bi.C. recreational rides – their runs – continued in 1878 and 1879. In 1878, ABJ began publishing recommended bicycle routes around Boston, including variations in pavements and recommended dismounts for hills, as in “Route No. 1., Boston to Quincy via. Milton”:

Commencing on the asphalte at north end of Columbus Ave.; thence turning to Chester park [now Massachusetts Avenue] asphalt, 0-8). To the left, to Albany street, macadam (1 1-8). Dismount for rub­ble stone pavement, to Swett street; Thence to Dorchester St., macadam, (2 1-4.) To the right, and on to Washington St., Dorchester, macadam, and very good road (5). To the left along Washington street, and down Codman’s Hill, with care, to Milton Lower Mills, macadam and natural roads, very good, (7). Over the Neponset bridge; dismount for Milton Hill; mount again at top and continue along Milton Ave. to East Milton (8 3-4). Still in same direction through East Milton and continue till you arrive at Quincy. Whole distance to the “Robertson House” [a downtown Quincy hotel] being eleven miles. Roads are uniformly good, and the scenery, especially from Mt. Bowdoin and Milton Hills, the most charming in the whole state.

Also in 1879, Albert Pope, his family and officers of Pope Manufacturing started the Massachusetts Bicycle Club (MBC). Pope went beyond starting a new club. He also lavishly supported a two-day recreational bike tour around Boston, “The Two Days Out and Home Run,” later known as the “Wheel About the Hub” or the “Wheel Around the Hub” (WATH). The first tour, led by B.Bi.C. president Charles Pratt, included both B.Bi.C. and MBC members and commenced September 11, 1879, from the Elliott Church in Roxbury, and then wound its way through Jamaica Plain, Dedham, Readville, up and down Blue Hill, past Ponkapoag Pond and through Canton to Sharon for an overnight stay. The following day they crossed to the coast for a spin down Jerusalem Road in Cohasset to Kimball’s for lunch, and then back through Quincy to Boston.

The elite Scribner’s magazine published a romantic story of this tour with liberal illustrations providing a huge advertisement for cycling throughout North America. It is fair to say that this seminal event started the “bicycle craze.” The manliness of the risk-taking gentlemen was emphasized in the drawings for Scribner’s, including a “header” and the resulting ambulance ride.

Tour leader Pratt was elected first president of the League of American Wheelmen when it was founded in 1880. He was also a politician, serving on the Boston Common Council for five years and as its president in 1881 and 1882. A powerful local presence! Pope footed the bill for the WATH, along with Scribner’s which sent along a photographer and an illustrator. The affair likely cemented the relationship between Pope and Pratt, who shortly became the Pope Manufacturing Company’s chief patent lawyer.

The first WATH was so successful that cyclists asked for another. The second WATH, led by B.Bi.C.’s Edward Hodges, was limited to the Boston and Massachusetts clubs and their guests. Twenty riders left from the corner of Warren and Walnut streets in Roxbury and battled heavy winds through Brookline and Chestnut Hill. They stopped at the Newton Centre rail station to join another fifteen riders and journeyed out through Needham Plain and into Wellesley where the column picked up the Anglo-French professional racing team “Messrs. Etherington [publisher of the British magazine, Bicycling Times], Cann, ex long-distance champion of England, and Tremont, the champion of France.” From there the large group made its way through Natick and South Framingham, Southtboro’ and to Northboro’ for a “jovial evening in the cozy parlors of the hotel.” The next morning a half dozen members of the Worcester club joined them for the day’s ride. Past Berlin, they stopped in Bolton at an old church converted into a cider mill, and accepted the owner’s hospitality and from there to Stowe, for a stop at “Colonel White’s famous hostelrie.” They got a pleasant surprise when Alfred Chandler and John Sharp, president and captain of the Suffolk club, happened upon them while on a ride from Fitchburg to Boston. Bad roads were encountered in Sudbury: “simply a rivulet of deep sand between the fences.” The road improved in Wayland and the cyclists were able (with the wind now at their backs) to make sixteen miles per hour. The run terminated at the Prospect House in Waltham. A dozen riders cycled on into Boston and the others split up, with members of visiting clubs “tapping the railroads at Newton and elsewhere in order to return to their homes.” Note that the cyclists used multi-modal transportation and also the disparity in the roads: from “superb” in Newton to sandy “rivulets” in Sudbury. Cycling activists soon started a “Good Roads” movement for their improvement.


B.Bi.C. members and their comrades were soon cycling all over, including to favorite spots on the North Shore, recounted in an 1885 book called In and Around Cape Ann: A Handbook of Gloucester, Mass and Immediate Vicinity for the Wheelman Tourist and the Summer Visitor. Modern-day cyclists might well re-enact some of these historic rides.

Boston-area cyclists experimented with new recreational and racing modes, including tricycling and hill climbing challenges. And upper middle-class wheelwomen began to take to tricycling in a big way. These are the topics of further Wheelpeople articles.



This article is an expansion on material from my books: Boston’s Cycling Craze, 1880-1900 and Boston’s Twentieth Century Bicycling Renaissance, both available from UMass-Press. Obtain a fully referenced copy of the article by sending an email to BostonCyclingHistory [at] gmail.com

Lorenz Finison is a public health consultant and bicycling historian.






The Athletes' Kitchen

Nancy Clark

Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD, Dec 2019

Sports Nutrition Updates

Sports nutrition was a hot topic at this years' annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Exposition (FNCE), hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the nation's largest group of nutrition professionals. Here are a few highlights, to keep you up to date with current sports nutrition recommendations.

Performance enhancers

• Sport supplements that promise improved performance are always tantalizing. If they make as little as 0.5 to 1% improvement, the supplement is deemed to "work." While scientists want well-controlled research studies to prove effectiveness, athletes respond very quickly to anecdotes—and often spend lots of money on what might be just a glimmer of hope. (In the four months leading up to the Olympics in 2000, one athlete spent $3,480 on supplements!)

     The Australian Institute of Sport is creating a website for grouping supplements according to effectiveness: Group A (proven to enhance performance), Group B (deserves more research), Group C (little proof of meaningful benefits) and Group D (Banned).  Check it out at www.ais.gov.au/nutrition/supplements. The helpful information can help guide your supplement choices.

Vitamin Zzz, aka sleep. is one of the best performance enhancers. Lack of sleep has detrimental effects on performance. Athletes with good sleep quality are able to train harder, recover faster, and perform better. And take note:  if you think you can drink coffee at night and still sleep fine, think again. Brain-wave studies suggest otherwise...

     How much sleep is enough? More than 6 hours a night. Very few athletes can perform well with less than that. Top athletes commonly strive to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each day, including a nap between 1:00 and 4:00 pm. (A later nap results in poorer sleep that night). Teens should target 8 to 10 hours and adults 7 to 9 hours. Lack of sleep can significantly impact your diet. After two nights with only 4 to 5 hours of sleep, the appetite increases about 20%. You'll likely find yourself snacking more than usual (on fatty foods), eating fewer fruits and veggies, and consuming ~385 additional calories. Yikes! 

 For good sleep information, visit centreforsleep.com and take the Athletes' Sleep Screening Questionnaire. Athletes who understand the benefits of sleep tend to sleep about 20 minutes more. I hope this holds true for you!

Muscle-building tactics
• When it comes to building muscle, you want to surround your workout with food, so you can get the most benefits from your efforts. Intermittent fasters, take note: if you lift weights in a fasted state (without having eaten any pre-exercise fuel), the muscle-building effect of exercise is not enough to out-weigh the muscle breakdown that happens in a fasted state. Eat before you train!
• Many athletes assume if they fail to eat within 45 minutes of lifting weights, the anabolic  (muscle-building) window slams shut. Wrong. Refueling either 1 or 3 hours post-exercise generates a similar gain in muscle protein synthesis. For the average exerciser, the effect of post-exercise protein timing on muscle growth is relatively small. For competitive body builders, the gain is also small but perhaps meaningful, so most prefer to err on the side of caution.
• Consuming post-exercise protein stimulates insulin secretion, as does carbohydrate. (Did you know that whey protein stimulates more insulin than white bread?) Insulin reduces muscle breakdown and enhances glycogen replacement. Refueling with a combination of protein + carb is best for athletes who do two-a-day workouts, to optimize glycogen replacement. Athletes who do only one workout and refuel with a sports diet based on grains, starchy vegetables and fruits can replenish depleted glycogen stores over the course of 24 hours.
• Does eating extra protein build bigger muscles? The body incorporates only a limited amount of protein into new muscle tissue. Spacing out protein intake by consuming 20 grams of protein every 3 hours (four times a day) is preferable to eating 80 grams in one dose. More specifically, athletes want to target 0.2-0.25 g pro/lb. body weight (0.4 to 0.55 g/kg) four times a day. This target varies from person to person. Vegans, for example, will want to consume a higher amount to get adequate leucine, an amino acid that triggers muscle growth.

Eating disorders in male athletes

• Eating disorders (EDs) are not just a female problem. About 9% of male athletes—as compared to about 21% of female athletes—struggle with food issues and restrict their food intake to lose undesired body fat. The lack of fuel available to support normal bodily functions impacts bone health and reproductive function in men, just as it does in women. In men, low energy availability can lead to low testosterone, poor semen quality, reduced sperm count, and slower sperm motility. In women, it shows up as loss of regular menses (amenorrhea), hence infertility.

• Compared to female athletes, male athletes can withstand a more severe deficit before the appearance of symptoms such as low testosterone, bone stress injuries, and reduced bone density/poor bone health (osteoporosis). To reverse the energy deficit, athletes need to boost their energy intake, which can be easier said than done for those struggling with eating issues and fears of "getting fat." One way to consume the recommended 350 additional calories per day is to break two energy bars into small bites, and nibble on them over the course of several hours. Men seem to be able to reverse the hormonal imbalance within days, while women can take months. Reversibility of bone density is not guaranteed.

Keto diet

• A ketogenic sports diet (moderate protein, very low carb, very high fat) appeals to some athletes. Yet, we need more research to understand the fine details of adaptation to the keto diet and the role of keto supplements. (Supplement sales vastly exceed the science!) Stay tuned; perhaps we'll have more answers from next year's FNCE!

Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes at her office in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). The new 6th edition of her best selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook addresses today's questions and concerns about what to eat. For more information, visit NancyClarkRD.com. For her online workshop, visit NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com.


Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health e-Zine: Frostbite

You should never suffer from frostbite: painful freezing that can cause permanent loss of skin, and can be followed by loss of fingers, ears, toes, or even arms and legs. You get plenty of warning before your skin starts to freeze. First your fingers feel cold and then your skin starts to burn or itch. That means that your skin temperature, which is normally a couple degrees below your internal body temperature of 98.6, has dropped low enough to drop your internal body temperature. Your brain notices this drop in body temperature and tries to preserve heat by sending a message to the nerves in your hands and feet to close the blood vessels there. With decreased blood flow, the skin temperature of your hands and feet drops rapidly. When your skin temperature reaches 59 degrees Fahrenheit, your brain sends signals to open up the blood vessels in your hands, causing your fingers to turn red, burn and itch. This is called the “hunting response” and is normal. (If you have chronically cold hands that turn white and hurt whenever they are exposed to temperatures below 60 degrees, you may have a condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon because you do not have the normal “hunting response.”)

You should seek warm shelter immediately when your hands or feet turn red and start to itch and burn. If you don’t get out of the cold, the blood vessels in your hands and feet will close down again and the temperature will drop even more rapidly to below freezing. The progressive signs of frostbite are:
• skin feels cold
• numbness
• burning, itching or a feeling of pins-and-needles
• skin turns red
• then skin turns blue and then white
• blisters can form as the tissue dies, releasing fluid from its cells

Note that if you have dark skin, you may not see color changes, but you will feel the other symptoms of impending frostbite.  The skin on your palms is likely to turn white even if color changes do not show on other skin areas.

Preventing frostbite You feel pain from the cold first in your fingers, ears and toes. During World War II, gunners on bombers complained bitterly about frozen hands, ears and feet, so special insulation was added to their gloves, hats and boots. They stopped complaining, but then they suffered frostbite on their necks and chests because they didn’t feel cold as much there.

Hands: Wear an inner layer of thin gloves made from loosely-woven material that permits sweat to pass through. You may need a middle layer of a more tightly-woven thick material, and if it is very cold, an outer layer that does not let wind or water in. If you don’t need extra hand dexterity, you should wear mittens. The single compartment of mittens retains heat better than gloves that have separate compartments for each finger. You can also buy hand warmers to be used inside your gloves or mittens. They may be:
• iron that is air-activated, lasting for up to 10 hours and not reusable
• crystallization types that can be reused (follow the package directions for reheating)
• electric types that can be cumbersome because they use batteries and wires

Ears and Head: Cover your ears with a headband or wear a balaclava that covers your head and neck and has an opening for your eyes, nose and mouth.
Feet: Avoid cotton socks because cotton holds water, while wool and various synthetic fibers do not. On very cold days, wear layers of socks. Cyclists, skaters and skiers may want to add windproof and waterproof booties that are designed to fit over their special footwear. If cold feet still make you miserable, you can get the same types of warming packets as the hand warmers described above, shaped to fit in your shoes or boots.
Body, Arms and Legs: Use layers of clothing because the air space between layers provides insulation from the cold. You generate a lot of heat when you exercise, so use full-length zippers on your outer layers so you can adjust to your changing needs. By wearing several layers, you have the option of removing layers or unzipping the fronts. The base layer should wick away sweat, so use fabrics made from wool blends, silk or synthetics. Cotton is a poor choice because it holds water. The middle layers should be breathable and provide insulation. Loosely woven wool or synthetic sweaters or vests are a good middle layer because they trap insulating air and wick water to the outside. The outer layer should be of a material that blocks wind and rain, with a full-length zipper so you can remove it easily when you don’t need it.

Emergency Treatment of Frostbite
If you feel excessive cold or pain in your fingers, ears or toes, get to a warm shelter as soon as possible. If you have blisters, broken skin, severe pain, signs of infection, no feeling in your skin, or skin that remains white, seek medical help immediately. You can lose fingers, ears and toes and even your life. Mild frostbite (when you still have feeling, the skin is not broken and normal color returns to the skin) can be treated with rewarming in comfortably warm (not hot) water and drinking warm fluids. Frostbite with any broken skin or blisters or feeling that does not return to the frostbitten area should always be checked by a doctor. Frostbitten skin can be destroyed and the blood supply to an arm or leg can be shut off permanently to cause loss of arms or legs, or an infection can spread through your body.