Fresh air

Yesterday I sponsored a peloton skills clinic, taught by Rahsaan Bahati and assisted by Big Orange club members Greg Seyranian and Jon Stark. We had thirty-two riders show up for the free event, which took place on Westchester Parkway.

For ninety minutes Rahsaan talked, answered questions, and rode two laps around the Parkway so that we could practice the things he taught.

Education is a critically missing component from most bicycling organizations. It’s hard to understand why, as a condition of its existence, every bike club doesn’t have an ongoing education requirement. Actually, it’s easy to understand.

  1. Most people who run a club think they are experts with nothing to learn.
  2. Most people who race bikes think they invented cycling.
  3. Most club members are wholly unaware of educational opportunities, because typically THERE ARE NONE.
  4. Most cyclists would rather ride badly and get hurt than devote several Saturdays a year to improving or, dog forbid, teaching others.
  5. 99.99999% of all non-cycling family members have no idea, none at all, how dangerous riding a bike can be if you do it wrong.
  6. Safety has no place in any racing club I’ve ever belonged to except, if you’re incredibly lucky, as an add-on to kit design, race reimbursement, board squabbles, fights over sponsorship, training, and Strava competitions. Usually it’s completely non-existent.
  7. Most clubs refuse to pay money for professional instruction. But they will pay for parties!
  8. Most racers think race survival skills = road safety skills.
  9. Most new cyclists ape the attitudes of the more experienced ignoramuses.
  10. There’s never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over … in the hospital.

This clinic was strongly supported by the Big Orange membership, with about forty riders and three board members giving up the precious, golden Saturday riding hours of 8:00 to 10:00 to enjoy the clinic, which was an outgrowth of the first one put together by Big Orange rider and board member Joann Zwagerman.

I’ve been racing since 1984 and riding competitively (i.e. like a freddie) since 1982, and I learned so much listening to Rahsaan. Few people in LA have any inkling how knowledgeable this man is, and it’s not until you’ve actually listened to him that you can even begin to appreciate his warmth, kindness, gentle instruction, and profound understanding of what goes into competent bike handling.

Even though we’re the only community with a Rahsaan, your community has experts who possess great knowledge about riding safely, and they would love to share it. If you’re on a club board or in any position of leadership and are not aggressively pushing education to your membership, you are failing everyone. And if you don’t think you can find someone who knows enough to teach, visit the CyclingSavvy website to get started.



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12 thoughts on “Fresh air”

  1. great to see you doing this! A few locations I have lived one or two clubs would do this. it does so much good. and i learn something new at each one too. Thanks for making biking better!

  2. Worth $2.99 alone “Most people who race bikes think they invented cycling” ha ha ha

  3. New respect for the guys in the orange kit that says ORANGE on it… you know, just in case. Turns out, you guys are doing some good.

  4. You’re spot-on and what a great idea this was. Kudos to all who came out to learn. I’ve seen Rahsaan race the Davis 4th of July Crit, and he moved all around the pack like the pro he is, then finished #1 like the pro he is. I’m proud of your and his biketivism. I may have to look into organizing something similar (sans Rahsaan) here in NorCal. Some of the group rides are race-wannabe rides, and that is as dangerous as it gets.

    I took some bike handling skills clinics in ’06, when I was just seriously getting back into cycling, and later, when I picked up racing (part of my mid-life crisis), the Early Birds training series, and I cannot recommend them enough. If more people would invest in bike-ducation the roads for the rest of us would be so much safer.

    Keep up the good work — and riding.

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