Monthly Archive for October, 2009

Remembering a fallen friend and Davis’ greatest cyclist, Steve Larsen

The Davis Enterprise: October 23, 2009

Davis Bicycles! column #30
Author: Lydia Delis-Schlosser

photo caption:
Steve Larsen, left, and Lydia Delis-Schlosser, second from left, are joined by other members of the Mad Cow Racing Team at the 2002 Ironman Triathlon on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Passion, commitment, dedication, loving father, devoted husband and friend. These words define what Steve Larsen was and will always be.

Raised in Davis and a 1988 Davis High School graduate, Steve was the greatest cyclist to come from our town and the most versatile professional cyclist of our time. He died suddenly in May of coronary artery disease at the age of 39, leaving behind his wife Carrie, and their five children.

Steve and Carrie moved back to Davis in 2000 and purchased Wheelworks. I had been pursuing triathlons for a few years and was having success in the shorter distances, but I was interested in exploring the more challenging events of half and full Ironman triathlons.

I met Steve through Wheelworks and other triathletes. I was eager to succeed in the sport. I was also a 44-year-old mother of two boys and a professional designer. Steve was generous and inspiring. He was a pro; I was a much older triathlete, semi-content with my current success.

Steve didn’t consider my age and he respected my commitments to family and career. He mentored me and recognized my ability to excel. Steve encouraged me to ride Saturday morning training rides and participate in workouts with local triathletes. My confidence and strength grew. Over time, I elevated my performance in each discipline, especially in cycling.

Many of us who were motivated by Steve’s passion for the sport went on to compete and claim podium spots in races all over the country, including the coveted Hawaii Ironman World Championships. As for me, I qualified for the world championships in Hawaii my last six seasons. Each year I have placed in the top four, in 2004 I was world champion in my age group, and in 2003, at age 46, I had the fastest amateur women’s bike split of all divisions and that was all about Steve.

Steve Larsen is the only American to compete in world championships in five different disciplines: road, mountain bike, track, cyclocross and triathlon. His cycling rsum included many junior and professional cycling and mountain biking championships, racing for Motorola in Europe with Lance Armstrong, and shattering course records in both road triathlon and XTERRA mountain bike triathlons.

Steve’s Davis contributions were different from his stellar national accomplishments. What resonates in the memory of many here is not his individual victories, but rather how he encouraged and inspired countless others.

As a Davisite and shop owner, Steve’s passion for mentoring shined through. He motivated cyclists and triathletes regardless of age or ability. If an athlete had the desire to improve, Steve was the first to offer encouragement and advice. Steve’s humble assistance transcended his business associates and friends. Steve made Davis still more of a community.

Steve’s passion for life and competition, his love of his family and community, and his desire to encourage active healthy lifestyles inspired me to honor his memory through my participation in this year’s Hawaii Ironman two Saturdays ago.

What went through my mind as I competed in the most challenging race a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile cycle across windswept lava fields and then a marathon under the blazing Kona sun? Once out of the water, I took off on the bike course with the goal of leading the field after 112 miles. Thoughts of Steve and his words of wisdom ran through my mind, especially in the tough sections.

Uplifted and motivated, I led my division off the bike and after the 26.2-mile marathon I had finished in fourth place, grateful for the experience and the amazing pride and joy one feels when completing the Hawaii Ironman.

Thank you, Steve, for your inspiration and encouragement. You will forever be part of my athletic soul.

Together with the DHS Blue & White Foundation, Janus Ironman Fundraising program, Davis Bicycles! and other cycling groups in town, our goal is to raise $100,000 for the Steve Larsen Memorial Plaza (with great bike parking!) at the entrance to the newly renovated DHS stadium.

We want Steve’s community and national accomplishments to inspire others. We’ll be taking our efforts very public at the DB! Film Festival Saturday night. Meet me there to hear more about Steve, join our efforts and to enjoy an evening with Davis’ great community.

— Lydia Delis-Schlosser is a 30-year Davis resident, UC Davis graduate, mother of two, triathlete, design consultant and project coordinator. She loves spending time with her kids, sports and taking on new challenges.

Critical Mass, Mardrid style

The Davis Enterprise: October 16, 2009

Davis Bicycles! column #29
Author: Tom Burton

photo caption:
Tom Burton found a Critical Mass experience in Madrid intoxicating.

Madrid, May 28

Sounds swirl around me, out of control, the drumbeats of a bad hangover, unstopping … the threat of machinery, whirling … horns on each side, only 6, 5, 4 feet away, an angry, ugly sound that advances and retreats as I roll by, evoking the rasping of an emphysemic patient, amplified by the cement and steel canyon pinning us in.

Welcome to la Crtica, Critical Mass in Madrid.

The noise is simply the machinery of a world metropolis, now only burnished by the smooth quiet continuous comforting clicking of ratcheting freewheels, and the sweet twinkling sounds sonic pixie dust, really of gentle bike bells rung as the bikers cross intersections…

The drummers in front have stopped the parade and with tambores bass drums topped with cow skin, coarse short brown and white hair still attached and accompanied by a ghetto blaster duct-taped to handlebars blaring reggae, they face each other, blocking an intersection on one of Madrid’s toniest streets, Acal, dreds flying, heads thrown back mouths open grinning big brilliant white teeth, beautiful tanned hippy chicks, flared hips swaying seductively…

Oh, but the horns!: Taxi drivers stand perpendicular to our street, protected by the crease between door and car, hunkered over, right hands pressing the center of steering wheels, faces flush, mouths wide open, red in rage, some with fists raised in the air.

The procession restarts. Standing on top of a city bench, I scan the passing crowd. Out of curiosity I count the passing bicycles and give up at 300. Eighteen minutes later the three police riot vans with flashing blue lights, escorting the cyclists, pass by. Eighteen minutes of bicyclists at 2 to 3 mph!

Thousands: skinny twenty-something guys on muddied mountain bikes, commuters in neon orange vests, white haired Brits on three speeds (natch!), the occasional fixie (not as much a trend here as in the U.S.), downhillers with kneepads and massive helmets, kids perched on bike seats (no helmets), couples holding hands as they ride, roadies in full kit, girls in skirts, department store bikes, beater bikes, tallbike freaks, unicycles, recumbents, Rollerbladers, BMXers, suits, shorts, dresses, jeans, high heels, boots, grandparents, kids, parents, singles, gay, straight, sons, daughters, all are here in support of bikes and thus in defiance of a car culture embossed on a 600-year-old city

Each day for the past month I have seen the solo bike commuter, a single ant pivoting its way up Madrid’s shallow hills, a tiny insect, ignored by all the larger more powerful vulgar animals going by unawares. But here, here we are in the center of an ant colony and from sheer numbers does power arise, power to stymie the larger animals, if only for a few minutes.

And it’s intoxicating. For the first time I get Critical Mass. I now recognize that Critical Mass in Davis as an indulgent luxury, an extravagance incongruent with the comparative limitless access the city and its citizens provide for its bicyclists. But even here in Madrid, where righteous celebration and righteous indignation collide, I am still ambivalent about la Crtica …

The police vans pass. I hop on my bike, squeeze by the cops and move through the crowd. Then I see her a stylish thirtysomething business woman in a powder blue BMW sedan, phone to ear talking animatedly. Like a sandbar with a human river flowing by on all sides, she is stuck, perhaps too courteous or too intimidated to push her way through the intersection.

Her grip is white-knuckled on the top of the steering wheel and it is obvious she is frustrated, tears about to spill onto her cheeks: Is she late picking the kids up from the ex, (oh, the arguments that will cause!)? Does she need to get to the hospital to see her mother before visiting hours end? Or is this simply the end of a crappy work week and on this hot … summer … Friday … evening, does she simply want to get home? Who knows?

I glide by her, feeling a little diminished …

We live in a society, where in our own closed-spaced existence, a lot of what we do will impact somebody else, more so in a densely populated city like Madrid. Yes, we want to make our cities and towns and streets more livable and we happen to think promoting bicycling will help.

But the question becomes this: Given basic human nature, is it realistic to expect that any individual, or any group, can advance their cause by making everyone else angry?

Postscript. In defense of Madrileos, I found them to be extremely courteous and safe drivers, consistently giving me plenty of room for me and my bicycle.

— Tom Burton rides an insufferably trendy fixed gear bike. He can be reached at 2gandc@gmail.com.

Students, save a gallon

The Davis Enterprise: October 9, 2009

Davis Bicycles! column #28
Authors: Christal Waters, Tim Starback, and Phil Cox

photo caption:
Tyler Crowell, then a fifth-grader, and his brother Ryan, then a fourth-grader, lock their bikes on the first day of school last year at Korematsu Elementary. Students are encouraged to bike, walk, skateboard, scooter, car-pool or take the bus to school and compete for prizes in a contest sponsored by Davis Bicycles!
SUE COCKRELL/ENTERPRISE PHOTO

Save a gallon, save the world! Transportation is the largest source of global warming emissions in California, responsible for 38 percent of state greenhouse gases. That is a huge percentage of carbon entering our environment that people can reduce using alternative transportation modes anything other than a single-occupant vehicle.

Personal impacts on carbon emission reduction can easily be quantified using saveagallon.org, a user-friendly Web site developed by Davis residents Tim Starback and Phil Cox. Each gallon of gas burned by a car produces almost 20 pounds of carbon; 15 gallons avoided equals nearly 300 pounds of carbon not emitted.

Starback and Cox had always been avid bicyclists, mostly for recreation. But after they moved to Davis, the bike became a mode of transportation rather than just a fun way to exercise. Tim settled into a career of programming and database work and Phil became an elementary school teacher in Sacramento.

One day while discussing bicycling and its fiscal and environmental benefits, Tim’s thirst for creating Web sites and Phil’s love of numbers came together in saveagallon.org (SAG). The purpose of the Web site is to quantify a person’s savings of dollars and gas and the prevention of CO2 as a result of using alternative transportation. In short, SAG tells you the size of your green footprint.

In addition to bicycling miles, SAG allows a user to enter other carbon-reducing modes of transportation, including public transit, walking, skateboarding, foot-powered scooter and two-student car-pooling. The site breaks down efforts with graphs and charts, showing one’s progress in each category.

Phil started using SAG with his third-grade class to help students realize they can have a positive impact on our environment. Most kids knew of global warming caused by greenhouse gases, but few realized they could make a difference. He explained the benefits of new transportation modes and soon his students went from 20 to 80 percent using alternative transportation. His class logged more than 1,300 miles, saved 68 gallons of gasoline and prevented the release of more than 1,300 pounds of CO2 a significant contribution.

This got Tim and Phil thinking, if this was just one class, in one city, what would happen if SAG could interest one whole school district? What about a city? Advocacy for alternative transportation and personal responsibility is their new mission. They encourage anyone to sign up, and would rather have 1,000 people log half a mile a week than 10 log 100, because they know the habit sticks and the more people they reach the better.

Meanwhile, Davis Bicycles! was looking to expand the wildly successful May is Bike Month competition in the Davis schools to a full yearlong campaign. The May is Bike Month Web site went inactive and DB! heard about Save-a-gallon and contacted Tim and Phil. They were enthusiastic about creating a separate area on the Web site to host the competition for Davis schools.

Davis Bicycles! is now using saveagallon.org to sponsor a yearlong contest for K-12 students to log their miles to school, activities, friends’ houses and to run errands. Students will be automatically entered to win small prizes monthly by lottery, periodic prizes based on miles or days logged, and at least two end-of-year prizes.

The student with the most days avoiding the car will win an iPod Nano. The student with the most miles multiplied by the most days logged will win a certificate for $200 that can be used at a Davis bike shop.

Parents are reminded that this contest is only for students. But parents also should log their own miles, just not under a Davis schools team. Parents are encouraged to check their student’s registration, help with estimating their miles down to tenths, and monitor student logging. DB! wants the contest to be a successful and accurate estimate of students’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

The contest starts Monday, Oct. 19. Details of how to enter will be sent through school parent information sources, or go to saveagallon.org after Oct. 19. School coordinators are set for all elementary schools except Patwin and Montgomery, and are also needed to fully implement the program at Emerson, Harper, Holmes, Da Vinci, King and Davis High schools. Please join in, volunteer, log on and enjoy the ride!

— Christal Waters coordinates the Davis Bicycles! Schools Committee and Tim Starback and Phil Cox are the inspiration and implementers of saveagallon.org and loyal members of the schools effort. All love biking for many purposes.