July 2020 WheelPeople


Message from the CRW President

Larry Kernan


The big news story for CRW is that our group rides are scheduled to re-start on July 1st!!!!

Nothing could bring a bigger smile to my face.  Please take a look at the WheelPeople article announcing the re-start for the details.  Clearly, we’re not back to where we were or want to be, but it’s a new beginning.  We can only do this with the co-operation of our members and I’m confident that you’re up to the challenge.  There are lots of new rules, but not as cumbersome as we were talking about last month.  Distances between riders can now be 20 feet, side-by-side riding is permitted and passing is permitted.  Masks are required at the ride start and whenever social distancing can not be maintained.

On another important front, the CRW Board affirmed its support of racial diversity.  A copy of the statement that was mailed to all CRW members is included in this issue of WheelPeople.  CRW stated that racial discrimination has no place in our nation, our community and in our club.  Most importantly, as a club, we pledge to be welcoming to all.  Lisa Najavits and André Wolff have volunteered to collect member suggestions and comments and to prepare a report with recommendations to the CRW Board.  Please send Lisa and André your comments at diversity [at] crw.org ().

I was pleased to see that many of you took us up on the challenge to ride a Covid edition of Climb to the Clouds.  Despite the high temperatures, many of you succeeded with your rides this past weekend.  The Century Committee will review your entries and pick some winners which we will present in next month’s WheelPeople.


I truly look forward to seeing you on a CRW group ride in the very near future.

Stay well, stay safe and keep on pedaling!















CRW Covid-19 Task Force


After 3½ months of home confinement, the world is beginning to re-emerge from its cocoons. We are planning to re-start group rides on July 1st.

The CRW Covid-19 Task Force has spent a great deal of time trying to understand the science of riding, government regulations and the plethora of medical advice available.  We have also taken into consideration the group behavior of our riders and the potential risk and burden on Ride Leaders.  We know that trying to satisfy all Club members is a difficult task and our objective is simply to bring back riding in a safe way for all.  We appreciate your support.

We have changed our ride procedures in several major ways:

Registration and Waivers

  • All CRW members are required to sign a new Release and Waiver.  This new release calls for riders to not participate in CRW rides if you are ill, symptomatic or had recent exposure to a person with a possible contagious illness.
  • You must sign up in advance to participate in a CRW group ride.  This allows us to limit group sizes and enables contact tracing if a rider later appears to have become infected.  People who have not signed up will not be allowed to participate in the group ride.
  • Do not sign up unless you are sure that you will use the slot.  We do not have provisions for wait lists at this time.
  • Riders must also agree to follow Covid-19 riding rules.  
  • At this time, non-members will not be allowed on CRW rides.

Group Size

  • Group rides will be limited in size.  At the discretion of a ride leader, the ride may be limited to a group of 10 or can be up to 30 with staggered start times.  Some show and go rides may allow larger groups.

Check In

  • When riders arrive at the ride start, they must wear masks and maintain a 6 foot social distance.  Riders check in with the Ride Leader and will be given a start time if the ride has staggered starts.  (Some ride leaders will send start times in advance.)  Riders then move away from the Ride Leader to allow other riders to check in.


  • Rides will not be arrowed.  They may or may not be led.  Please come to the ride with a pre-printed cue sheet or a GPS device pre-loaded with the route.

On the Ride

  • Riders must be self-sufficient.  Riders must carry sufficient food and water to sustain themselves for the ride.  Do not count on finding public restrooms or porta-johns.  Riders must carry bike tools and a spare tube and are encouraged to carry hand sanitizer and latex gloves.
  • Masks are required at the ride start and when social distancing cannot be maintained during the ride.
  • Riders should ride no closer than 20 feet (1 car length) behind a rider in front of them.  Side-by-side riding is permitted when traffic allows.  Passing is allowed when a 6 foot passing distance is possible.  Pacelines are prohibited.

We will not be running Wednesday Wheelers or Bike Thursday rides until further notice.

If we receive formal guidance from Massachusetts regarding outdoor group road cycling that contravenes our opening, we will be forced to delay the re-start.  CRW, at the discretion of the Board, may modify these rules or shut down group rides with no prior notice if problems should arise such as:

  • Changes in government regulation
  • Stay-at-home rules are re-imposed
  • Riders appear to be spreading disease
  • Rogue riders show up and disrupt these procedures
  • These rules are not being followed


We hope to bring back a full, less restrictive group ride program later this year, when Massachusetts enters Phase 4, the “new normal”.  This is a start and we are learning as we go.  Please be patient and supportive of Ride Leaders and your fellow riders!




Gluck Legal Takeaway

Ronald Gluck

The Gluck Legal Takeaway

Watch Out! Trucks And Right Hooks

All too often cyclists are injured or killed by trucks. In many cases, the cyclist had the right of way. The cyclist may have been riding exactly where she should have been riding, to the right of traffic or in a bike lane. The truck driver seemingly should have seen the cyclist as the truck passed her on the way to the intersection. Surely, thought the cyclist, the trucker would then check the side view mirrors before making a right turn at the intersection.  Except he didn’t check.  He somehow had not taken notice of the cyclist as he passed her. He made the turn and gave the cyclist no place to go, no time to stop. The rest of the story is tragic and predictable.  

Massachusetts General Laws ch. 90 section 14 (M.G.L ch. 90 sec. 14) prohibits operators of motor vehicles from passing a cyclist and then making a right turn into a driveway or intersecting street unless the turn can be made at a safe distance at a speed that is reasonable and proper. If those conditions cannot be met then the cyclist has the right of way and these “right hook” turns are illegal. So how is it that a cyclist could be blamed by the police for the happening of a tragic collision when the trucker passes the cyclist and then “right hooks” and in so doing severely injures or kills the cyclist? Because Massachusetts law also requires cyclists to use due care for their own safety,  the cyclist is often deemed by the police to have substantial fault for the collision.  It is then left to the civil attorney representing the injured cyclist or the family of the deceased cyclist to undo the conclusions of the police department because the insurers for the operators of the trucks rely heavily on the opinions of the police, and their accident reconstruction teams, to either deny liability altogether or to attempt to low ball the value of the case on damages. 

Often the police and then the insurers take the position that the cyclist was in the best position to prevent the collision because they saw or should have seen the truck passing them and then should have kept a watchful eye on the truck to make sure that it did not intend to make a right turn. This is in contravention of M.G.L ch. 90 sec. 14 cited above. Legally, the truck was required to yield the right of way to the cyclist.   In reality, to protect themselves, cyclists would be well advised to slow down as the truck passes them. Next, let the truck gain distance to be clear of any possible involvement with the truck.  In other words, get away from the truck and stay away from the truck.

Real life example of the legal ramifications of right hook collisions:

Just a leisurely pedal to work on a beautiful summer morning. No rush. Wearing dress shoes and business attire. That’s how it started for a client I’ll call Andy. After saying goodbye to his wife and three children he began his ride from his urban condo to his downtown office.  20 minutes is all it should have taken.  As Andy pedaled onto the main street staying close to the right curb, he was traveling approximately ten miles per hour.   The garbage truck passed him and came to full stop at the red light.  Andy did not see the right blinker flashing as he pulled even with the truck which was still stopped at the red light. When the light turned green, they both proceeded forward toward the intersection. Andy entered the intersection planning to go straight through it. As he did so the truck turned right, knocking him off his bike and then running over his leg as the driver attempted to complete the right turn.  Right hook maneuver by the truck.   Violation of M.G.L. ch 90 sec. 14, right?  Not in the opinion of the police and subsequently not in the opinion of the trucker’s insurance company.  No citation was given to the driver of the truck.  That emboldened the insurance company. Litigation ensued. A full accident reconstruction was performed by an expert hired by my law firm.  Our conclusion was that the truck right hooked Andy and violated M.G. L. ch. 90 sec. 14. I set out to prove it through depositions of witnesses and of the driver and co- employees who were on the back of the truck at the time of the incident.   After two years of litigation a trial date was set.  Several weeks before the scheduled trial date the parties participated in a day long mediation session.  Ultimately the case settled one week before trial.  At the mediation session the primary point of contention was whether a jury would conclude that while the truck driver should not have made the turn when he did, the cyclist shared responsibility for the collision for his failure to slow down and not travel parallel to the truck as they both reached the intersection.  Would the jury conclude that the cyclist was in a better position to see the truck than the truck driver was to see the cyclist?  When the truck driver’s insurer finally accepted the lion’s share of the liability on behalf of its driver, the case was able to be resolved for a sum that was fair and reasonable to compensate Andy for his injuries and damages.  For Andy’s sake, I just wish the case did not exist in the first place.

As an attorney representing injured cyclists, I come into the picture after the damage has been done.  My experience tells me that right hook “accidents” are almost always avoidable if both the driver and cyclist keep a watchful eye out on the other.  Even though the cyclist may have the right of way, and be legally in the right, best safety practices dictate that the cyclist should always assume that truckers, who pass the cyclist while approaching an intersecting street, do not take notice of the cyclist. Prepare for the possibility that the truck is going to make that right hook turn, in violation of M.G.L. ch. 90 sec. 14.  Reduce your speed and let the truck gain distance.  Stay away from the truck.  Get home that night and see your family, healthy and exercised from a nice day at work and on your bike.  

The Gluck Legal Takeaway:

While truckers are prohibited from making right hook turns by M.G.L. ch. 90 sec. 14, they sometimes make the potentially fatal mistake of doing it anyhow. As a cyclist on the roads in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, anticipate that right hook turn. Assume the trucker did not see you as he passed you. Keep a watchful eye on that truck, let it gain distance from you. Although after an accident it may very well turn out that you, the cyclist, had the legal right of way at that intersecting street,  we all know that it is better to let the trucker make the turn,  rather than run the risk of suffering serious injury or death, only to have the police and insurers say that you were in the better position to see and avoid the truck.   While I appreciate the business, I would much rather meet you on a bike or at a barbeque than in the hospital where we would be discussing your new case.

Stay healthy and ride safely!


If you have questions about a particular incident or more generally about the subject matter of this column, feel free to contact Ron Gluck at gluck [at] bwglaw.com

Ron Gluck is a founder and principal at Breakstone White and Gluck in Boston. Throughout his 35 year legal career Ron has represented seriously injured individuals in a variety of cases including cycling accidents involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death. Ron is a CRW member.   







CRW Supports Racial Diversity

On June 15th, Larry Kernan sent the following letter to all CRW members to explain the CRW stand on racial diversity:

Dear CRW Members,

Charles River Wheelers is a bike club, not an advocacy organization. We ordinarily do not take positions on political matters, but we would be remiss if we did not support those who are trying to create critical systemic changes in the area of racial discrimination, which has no place in our nation, our community and in our club.  As a club, we pledge to be welcoming to all.

I’m proud of CRW’s work to improve diversity over the past 4 years, including our name change, and our grants which have largely been focused on assisting underprivileged and underserved areas to gain access to bikes, bike training and bike safety programs.  This year, we have made $15,000 in grants to Bikes Not Bombs, Boston Cyclists Union and MassBike.  In previous years, we have supported Livable Streets and Cycle Kids.

However, we can do more with your help. Our hope is that your passion and ideas will help create the climate you envision for the club. Several suggestions have already emerged on our discussion groups and If you have additional feedback, we would like to hear from you.  Please send your comments to diversity [at] crw.org. We will review all suggestions and prepare a report with recommendations to the Charles River Wheelers Board.

I will update you on our findings and where we go from there.

Larry Kernan
CRW President




Radar Comes to GPS

Eli Post

Just when you thought you had the latest technology for your biking, a new gadget comes along that cries out to be purchased. The one we report on today feels more like science fiction, but we assure you it is real, it is available, and it will make biking safer for you. Essentially, we speak of a radar device that tells you about overtaking traffic and the speed of approach. Yes indeed, space age technology to support your bike riding.

Ride With GPS and Garmin have teamed up to provide a device and connecting software to make your riding safer. Garmin developed Varia, a rearview bike radar and smart bike lights system, which warns cyclists of vehicles approaching from behind, while also alerting approaching vehicles of a cyclist ahead. Users now have the ability to connect the Garmin Varia rearview radar or the tail light unit with their Ride with GPS mobile app and receive in-app notifications about approaching vehicles in real-time.

During a ride, the app will change colors to indicate when vehicles are approaching and to provide warning of vehicles traveling at high speed. Audio notifications will allow riders to keep their eyes on the road, with different tones to indicate when there are vehicles approaching, to warn of vehicles traveling at higher speeds, and alert when all’s clear. Gray band for all clear, green for cars detected, and red for high-alert cars approaching.

There are two Garmin units available for under $200 from Amazon. Both provide alerts for rear-approaching vehicles, and the higher priced one does so from a shorter distance, and also features a red flasher light..

One of our members, Dom Jorge, purchased a Garmin Varia about a year ago and loves it. He reports that the warnings are reliable, and finds it especially useful on solo rides. If there is a steady stream of traffic you only get one aural warning but you can see how many vehicles are approaching, which Dom finds helpful. Dom is a retired commercial pilot who is familiar with radar applications so his observations have added value.

Bernie Flynn is a former CRW President and has been using a Varia for years. He says "Personally I find mirrors distracting and of limited usefulness so the radar is what I rely on to inform me of approaching vehicles. I can keep my eyes on the road." Bernie also reports that the battery lasts about 5-8 hours depending on what mode you have it on and how many cars are passing. He feels "It could last a century ride depending on how fast you rode." 

This article was intended to alert you to the existence of a radar device for your riding. Unfortunately as of this writing, we have not met anyone who has the newer units that integrate with your RWGPS cell phone app.We hope to have an update for you in the near future, and would like to report on such issues as installation, and use of the various displays. 

For more information:

RWGPS Product Description


RWGPS Product Help


Garmin Product Information


Amazon Product Information
Eli Post is Editor of WheelPeople.










The Athlete’s Kitchen - Building a Better Vegan/Vegetarian Sports Diet

Nancy Clark

The Athlete’s Kitchen - Building a Better Vegan/Vegetarian Sports Diet

Copyright: Nancy Clark June 2020

Among athletes, “turning vegan” (or vegetarian) is not a passing fad. Given the most popular ages for embarking upon a vegan lifestyle are 19, 20 and 21, many college athletes are asking me how to eat a meatless sports diet.

First, I want to understand why they are choosing to cut out animal-based foods. The standard reasons are:

1. Vegan and vegetarian diets tend to be healthier than a diet based on burgers and bacon. Indeed, plant-based meals with beans, veggies, and whole grains are nutrient dense, fiber-rich, and abundant in healthful phytochemicals and healthy fats. (Yet, vegan diets are not always healthier. Coke, Oreos, Skittles, Doritos are vegan-friendly…)

2. Vegans/vegetarians are leaner than omnivores, so some athletes embark upon a vegan lifestyle in hopes of losing weight. That might happen if your vegan/vegetarian diet coincides with limiting your intake of calories. Knocking off 300 calories of ice cream and replacing it with 100 calories of berries creates a significant calorie reduction. 

3. Plant-based diets address concerns about animal rights and the environment. Hence, vegan/vegetarian diets appeal to animal lovers and folks who want to help save the planet. Reducing animal agriculture is one small way to curb global warming (and every little bit helps). But according to Frank Mitloehner PhD professor and air quality specialist at UC-Davis, industry and transportation are far bigger polluters— as is wasted food. (Forty percent of food we produce never gets to the table.) This podcast with Dr. Mitloehner offers science-based climate-change facts:


4, Though not verbalized as a reason to go vegan, meatless diets, unfortunately, are a popular way for athletes with anorexia to cut out chicken, beef, fish, eggs, dairy… to the point they are living on little more than fruits and veggies. Eating disorders can change healthy vegan meals into diets deficient in not only protein, but many nutrients, including iron, calcium, zinc, B-12, vitamin D, iodine, and omega-3 fats. Within a few months, good health can dwindle into injuries, hair falling out in clumps, low energy, and poor athletic performance.

Considerations when building a vegan sports diet

The busy lifestyle of vegan athletes can create nutrition challenges. For example, when eating on the run, vegans may find Oreos are more readily available than, let’s say, roasted chickpeas. Grab-and-go snacks of just a bagel or a banana should get balanced with some protein — but is hummus or soymilk readily available? All this means vegan athletes have to be responsible and plan ahead.

When listening to my vegan/vegetarian clients, I often hear “red flag” statements that signal misinformation. Let’s take a look at some common misconceptions and correct some myths related to vegan/vegetarian sports diets. 

 “Carbs” are fattening, a waste of calories? False! 

Plants are carbs! While you want to limit nutrient-poor carbs (like Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts, ramen), wholesome carbs (preferably called grain-foods) should be the foundation of every meal to fully fuel muscles. Athletes who train one to three hours a day can easily end up with needless fatigue if they try to thrive on fruit and salads. Grains (and all “carbs”) are NOT inherently fattening. Excess calories of any food can be fattening.

 As a vegan/vegetarian athlete, you would be wise to eat grains (such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice) as the foundation of each meal/snack. Combine them with a colorful assortment of fruits and/or vegetables for more muscle-fuel, and of course, a dose of protein. 

Lunchtime salads are a healthy vegan meal? Sometimes.

While salads can be nutrient-rich, they can also be protein and carb-poor—but high in calories given a “little bit” of olive oil on a big salad ends up being a lot of dressing. Filling up on calories from fat will not refuel depleted muscle glycogen. Vegan athletes could better refuel their muscles with a grain-protein combination such as a hummus wrap or beans and rice. 

Quinoa can be the “protein” in a vegan meal? No!

Quinoa is reputed to be a protein-rich grain, containing all the essential amino acids needed to build muscle. It is not a stand-along protein-rich food. If you compare quinoa to other grains, you’ll see it offers only 6 grams of protein per 200 calories, similar to rice (4 g), and less than pasta (7 g). Most athletes should target 15 to 25 grams of protein at each meal. That means, you want to add more than just quinoa to your salad. How about tofu? beans? lentils?

Almond milk is a replacement for dairy milk? No way!

Almond juice (it is not milk) has far fewer nutrients than dairy milk. Milk’s 8 grams of high-quality protein is life-sustaining. The 1 gram of low-quality protein in almond beverages is not. Soy or pea milk are acceptable dairy-free alternatives to cows’ milk.

Soy causes cancer and man-boobs? Wrong.

The latest research indicates soy is cancer preventive and is safe— even for women with breast cancer. As for man-boobs, the one case study about unusual male breast development refers to a person who routinely drank three quarts of soymilk a day. That is a LOT of soymilk. For the latest soy updates, enjoy this podcast:


Protein bars and powders can replace real foods? Not really.

Protein-rich foods are preferable to highly processed bars and shakes. Nutrients in natural foods interact synergistically. Instead of yet-another bar or shake for a meal or snack, how about cereal + (soy) milk, crackers + hummus, or banana + nut butter? Aren’t these real foods more in keeping with the spirit of veganism?

Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton MA; 617-795-1875). Her updated (2019) Sports Nutrition Guidebook can help you optimize your eating. Visit www.NancyClarkRD.com for information about appointments, books, and teaching materials.




Wheels of Change (WOC) & The WŌC Project

Randolph Williams
Please hold July 18/19 for
Wheels of Change (WOC) & The WŌC Project
[sounds & acts like woke or spoke] Be WŌC.  Get WŌC


We’re looking for riders and volunteers for this historic event.

Come join the Wheels of Change – a project that sprouted this month when a few local cyclists sought a way to support the abolition of racism and the awakening of an anti-racist America.
From July 18-19, the Wheels of Change ride will spell out “Black Lives Matter” from New York to Maine (via Strava).


Interested in riding? 

The route runs from New York to Portland, Maine along the coast.  Ride, jog, or walk the part of the route that works best for you. We will make routes downloadable, by letter, on multiple platforms.  See the latest route information on the Wheels of Change website.

We will aggregate on Strava into one glorious graphic from all riders at the end of two days. Participants will need to join the Wheels of Change Strava group which will be available 6/27 when our website goes up. 

Go to www.WheelsOfChange.net for more information. Or sign up here.

Note: This is not a fundraising ride. This ride is primarily for visibility.

Interested in helping?

A ride of this magnitude relies heavily on the support of volunteers to recruit riders, publicize the event, map the route, and support riders.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities are sign up to help here.

And start spreading the word to your local cycling group and bike shops!

Notes about the Wheels of Change ride

  1. This ride is not a CRW group ride.
  2. All participants are encouraged to follow safe practices, such as maintaining appropriate social distancing and wearing masks when appropriate. Maintain at least six feet of space between you and other riders and pedestrians, especially when stopped at intersections or when passing on the road or trail. Avoiding popular/crowded paths and trail networks is also key.
  3. We may affiliate with other platforms (e.g. Strava) and other media & partners and/or support other events where riders could count WŌC miles toward other goals.  But we have a small team and limited ability to vet all options so will not be endorsing other events.  We are with you in spirit.



CRW Members Engage in Diversity Discussions – Join Us

by Lisa Najavits, Randolph Williams, André Wolff, Mabray Andrews, Rosemarie Cepeda, Larry Finison, Malick Ghachem, Bob Persons, Phillip Stern, Wendy Schwartz, Nicole Vassar, Bob Wolf 


Recent events in the news related to diversity prompted a very active discussion on the CRW Google Group. Based on this, a group of members (including two CRW board members) gathered remotely via Zoom to work on how to improve diversity with the club. We are in brainstorming mode, working to identify key suggestions that we will be sending to the CRW board for consideration, and also planning member-based initiatives to pursue. Examples of our topics include:

  •  Improving club diversity
  • ·Partnering with local bike clubs to increase diversity on our rides
  •  Increasing ride accessibility
  •  Hosting themed rides
  •  Working with minority-owned bike shops 

We welcome any member to join us in this important mission. The more the better. Contact Lisa and André. (lisa.najavits [at] treatment-innovations.org).




CRW COVID-Era Crowdsourced Bathrooms & Bubblers Map

John Buten
Experienced cyclists have a lot of know how.  How to change a tire in the rain. When to take the lane to be seen. Where you can find a bathroom that's open in Acton at 7:30AM.  
In a global pandemic, we've continued to ride, but our bathroom knowledge has been rendered useless.  To help the cycling community, I posted a map for people to post the bathrooms and water fountains that are confirmed to be open during COVID summer.  My hope is that this will be helpful to fellow cyclists and will keep down the frequency of roadside relief that can put cyclists in a bad light.
Ground Rules:

Public FacilitiesPlease post *public* bathrooms and water sources.  By state law there's a Dunkin Donuts for every 5,000 people in the metro Boston area so we don't need to list every coffee shop with a bathroom.  This is for public facilities that don't require patronage or encourage public use by cyclists.  I have several nice cafes that are convenient pit stops on my favorite rides that I'd encourage other cyclists to patronize but that's a job for a different map.

Be Descriptive: Please use the naming convention you'll see on the map - Type of Facility and Location in the title - and then add any pertinent info such as whether the facility is closed at certain hours and when you verified it was open.
Be Precise: Try to put the pin on the specific location of the bathroom or bubbler.  If you zoom in, Google allows you to place the pin within 10 feet.  If you just search on the location name (e.g. Town Common) it will place the pin on the center rather than where the bubbler is located... which is less helpful
Like a public restroom, I've created this map as a public resource so let's all do our best to keep it clean!  I'll plan to come through on a regular basis and tidy up titles etc.  Note, you should be able to post locations from your phone, but the interface is kludgy and may result in a blank pin on the map.  Don't sweat it... we'll get it fixed up.
To view the CRW Bathrooms & Bubblers Map:
To add locations to the map:

July Film Festival

Alex Post


There's nothing better than getting out for a ride, but on a rest day a video can almost take us there, so enjoy our little monthly virtual film fest. We welcome any suggestions for future selections.  

Road Biking Off Road
All this rider needs for a great day is his bike, the sounds of the wind and water, and a post ride snack. And maybe 3 or 4 replacement rims.  4 Mins.
Planking Vs Cranking
Tour De France Alternate Route
In case you’ve fallen behind in your training to qualify for the Tour de France this year, this rider found an easier way to get “on” the course, and even to pass the ride leaders.   1 Min.



Alex Post is a CRW member who lives in Virginia, but regularly visits MA to bike with his dad. He has also led rides for CRW.



Time for a New Helmet?

John Allen

I wouldn’t be without: a helmet. I remember when they swept into use in CRW in the mid to late 1970s, following a couple of crashes which club members survived nicely while ruining their helmets. And for over a decade, CRW policy has required helmets on the club’s rides. I have had to replace three helmets over the course of my bicycling career, but I still get by with the same brain.

Thankfully, standards have been established – actually, over the years, a series of several standards – which define the required performance of a helmet. The current standard is from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Any helmet sold as a bicycle helmet in the USA must meet this standard.

Yet there are still differences in helmet performance. Sometimes fashion and safety are at odds. Specifically, a helmet with an aerodynamic or quasi-aerodynamic tail, emulating an all-out road-racing helmet, poses a greater risk of neck injury than one which is rounded. But on the other hand, air circulation is important in hot weather, and many rounded helmets are skateboard-style helmets without as effective venting as typical bicycle helmets.

If you are in the market for a new helmet, try to find one which is well-vented, has a rounded exterior and is in a bright, conspicuous color. There has been a trend toward more rounded profiles over the past few years (as of 2020). Strap slippage is still an issue, so check for locking strap adjusters. And of course, the helmet must fit.

The helmet market is highly competitive, and saturated, so manufacturers try to come up with new selling points. One is the idea that helmets deteriorate and should be replaced after 5 years or less. This claim has been subjected to testing, and the result was, on average, that a helmet’s effectiveness decreased by 0.7 percent per year. Your 10 year old helmet, if not crashed or otherwise damaged, would be, on average, 7% less effective. The helmet which I wear most often is old enough that its yellow exterior has begun to fade toward white, and has been the object of sales pitches at more than one bike shop! I’ll replace it someday, for sure, but not just yet.

Three developments in helmets in recent years have received a lot of publicity.

One is the Swedish Hövding “airbag” helmet. How nice, a helmet which doesn’t even sit on top of your head. Your hair can blow in the wind. The Hövding sits like a collar around your neck until it deploys in response to what it determines is your falling off the bicycle. But – wait a minute. It won’t deploy to mitigate a direct impact with a car, or a wall, or an overhanging tree branch. And having an explosive device near the carotid artery and the ears might not be such a great idea. Scratch that.

A second development is the so-called “MIPS” helmet, which is designed to rotate slightly on your head in case of an oblique impact. The idea is to reduce rotational stresses on the brain inside the head – a valid concern in and of itself. But – the scalp covers the skull a bit loosely and any helmet will rotate, so the usefulness of this feature is debatable. Testing has shown no improvement, but a manufacturer’s representative disagrees. Most important is for the helmet to have a round, smooth, slick outer surface so it will slide in an oblique impact.

And the third development of note is the so-called “WaveCel” helmet, which uses a plastic mesh to replace part of the expanded polystyrene form impact-absorption material of a helmet. This also allows some rotation, and is the object of disputed claims. One has been that a WaveCel helmet is 48 times safer than an ordinary helmet. How this could be measured or would even be possible, given that the distance over which the liner compresses to soften an impact is not greater, escapes me.

The MIPS and WaveCel helmets meet the standards, but with their newness and promotion, they are expensive. Also, we are beginning to see “smart helmets” with embedded LED lights and other enhancements. Some may pass the test of time. As I said, I am still wearing my faded helmet, I have a good friend who could afford an expensive helmet but bought a $7 helmet at Walmart. It has to meet the same standard!

I could say more, but I don’t have to. The Web site https://helmets.org offers a very thorough and up-to-date look into bicycle helmets. The site includes information on helmet types, design, performance and choices; shapes and sizes for different heads, cleaning, disinfecting and delousing, test reports, you name it. It is recommended reading.

John Allen is CRW SAfety Coordinator.



Don't Straighten Your Knees When You Ride a Bike

Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health e-Zine
Don't Straighten Your Knees When You Ride a Bike

At some time, one out of three cyclists suffers serious knee pain (Am J Sports Med, 2010 Dec;38(12):2494-501). It often occurs with a new bike, upon returning to cycling after a long hiatus, or when you are trying to increase either your intensity or your mileage. If your knee starts to hurt while you are on your bike, stop riding and try to find out the cause.

The most common cause of knee pain in bicycle riders is having the seat set so high that it forces you to fully straighten the knee as the pedal reaches its lowest level. You are never supposed to fully straighten your knee when you do any kind of exercise, particularly cycling or running. If you set your seat too low, you will bend your knee excessively and be at high risk for developing pain behind your knee cap. Other common causes of knee pain are over-training, setting your seat too far forward or backward, not setting your cleats correctly or not having the correct crank length.


Seat Height
Set your seat so that your knee is bent 20 to 30 degrees when one pedal is at its lowest level, and is not bent more than 70 to 80 degrees when the pedal is at its highest level.
• When the seat is set too high: you can feel pain inside your knee, on the lateral side of the knee (iliotibial band), the medial back of the knee (pes anserinus tendon), or the lateral back (biceps femoris) of the knee.
• When the seat is set too low: excess bending of the knee causes the kneecap to rub against the femur, the long bone of your upper leg.

Distance of Seat to Handlebars
When you sit on your saddle, you should be able to reach the brake hoods with your elbows slightly bent and relaxed. You can lean slightly forward, but you should not have to slide forward or back on the seat. Move your seat backward or forward so that when you sit on it, your tibial tuberosity (the bump on your lower leg just below the knee cap) is directly above the ball of your foot when the pedal is at its most forward position.
• When the seat is set too far back: you can feel pain on lateral side of the knee (ilio-tibial band) or back of the knee (hamstring tendons).
• When the seat is set too far forward: you can feel pain in the front knee cap (patellofemoral joint), the tendon just above the knee cap (quadriceps) or the tendon just below the knee cap (patella).

Cleat Position
Pain on the inside or outside of your knee is often caused by setting your cleats so that your feet twist inward or outward.
• Cleats rotated too far inward can cause pain on the outside of the leg at the knee.
• Cleats rotated too far outward can cause pain and stress on the inside of the knee.

Grease your cleat bolts and install the cleats in the bike shoes. Make sure the front middle of the cleat is centered in the middle of the cleat box. Set the forward-back position of the cleat so that when you are clipped into the pedal, the pedal spindle will be just behind the ball of the big toe and just in front of the ball of your little toe. Tighten the cleats. Clip in and ride around and make sure that your feet feel comfortable in the pedals. If you do not feel comfortable, ask for help from your bike shop or other experienced cyclists.

Crank Length
Having cranks that are too long for you causes the knee to bend excessively at the top of the stroke and you may feel pain in the knee joint itself.

Searching for the Cause of Your Knee Pain
It is possible to do this by yourself, but it will be a lot easier if you have a friend to help you. It may take several days because with each change you make, you will need to ride for a while to see if your knee has stopped hurting. First, set your seat height: Sit on the seat in your cycling shoes with your heels on the pedals. Pedal slowly backwards. Seat height is right when your knees straighten at the bottom of the pedal circles without the need to rock on the seat to keep your heels in contact. When you are clipped in at this height you will have a 20 to 30 degree knee bend at the bottom of each stroke. Move the seat up or down until you achieve this. A quarter of an inch can make a difference to your knees.

If changing the seat height does not relieve the pain, try the other changes listed above. You may be able to "break in" an uncomfortable saddle, but trying to "break in" painful knees will only lead to a serious knee injury. If one or both knees hurt when you cycle, keep asking questions until you get a solution. Get help from more experienced riders, your local bike shop, or a bike fitter with a special bike-fit machine. A bike fitting can cost you several hundred dollars, but is recommended for serious cyclists, particularly if you are getting a new bike.




This article is courtesy of Dr. Mirkin and Road Biker.

July Picture of the Month: Corey Hill

Lorenz Finison

The Boston Bicycle Club (B.Bi.C.), was first in the nation and first in many recreational and racing events. One popular type was the hill climb, and especially Brookline’s Corey Hill Climb. We are working on a historical review of this exciting time in Boston's cycling history, and also a club ride that climbs Corey Hill for the hardy riders. That ride will of course await the lifting of the club's ride suspension, but for the moment we can show you what 133 years does to the landscape. The top photo is the intersection of Beacon Street and Summit Avenue in 1887 and comes to us from the Brookline Historical Society. Below you can see what the same intersection looks like today. Summit Avenue on the right leads to the top of Corey Hill. The climb is more daunting than it looks.


The same view in April 2020. Google "Street View." Larger image.





Riding Solo

Eli Post


We've heard numerous concerns about the closing of the ride program, which forces riders to ride solo as the only safe option. Well, not so as shown by Harold, a friend of my son, and his pal Huxley. Harold has figured out how to ride solo but still have a riding buddy close by for companionship.





Looking Back

Lisa Najavits



In September, 1979 CRW held The National Century with a half-century option, meeting at “the duck feeding area Routes 30 and 128” (now typically called Commonwealth Ave. and Route 95 in Newton). All completers got a free patch. If any older members still have their patch, we hope you’ll wear it with pride at a CRW ride now forty-odd years later!


John Springfield, a former CRW board member, kindly provided us with photos of two patches from 1975 and 1979