RBR Newsletter

In Iowa, a Cyclist’s Life is Worth About $1,500

“According to Iowa law, Shawn Gosch's life was worth about $1,500 — or $3,500 less than the bicycle he was riding this year when a car hit and killed him on a rural highway.”

That’s the opening paragraph of another eye-opening article by Kyle Munson in the Des Moines Register on what amounts to getting away with murder when it comes to motorists running down cyclists.

So many U.S. states have such feeble laws regarding motorist-on-cyclist deaths that the “punishment” for these crimes is sadly, laughably lenient – to the point of being the final, indignant slap in the face to the cyclist’s family. Gosch’s wife called his death, and the lack of real justice, a lingering “open wound.”

The driver who ran down Shawn Gosch – a 47-year-old husband, father and grandfather – on a clear, sunny, “picture-perfect day” on a wide open Iowa road claimed in his 911 call, "I hit a bicyclist. I didn't see him in the glare."

That’s all it took to shield 30-year-old Eric Meyer from anything more than a $1,500 penalty – the claim that he didn’t see the defenseless cyclist.

Mark Wyatt, co-founder and executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, who attended Meyer's sentencing in Rockwell City (after a 10-minute non-jury trial), asked, rhetorically, "Can we raise the penalty high enough that drivers start paying attention? This 'I didn't see him on the road' is not an excuse. It's a confession."

"Had (the driver) been on his cellphone or under the influence of something, we would've had more to work with," said Calhoun County Attorney Tina Meth-Farrington.

But in Iowa, a cyclist’s life taken by a driver just not paying attention (or, being the only living witness in the case, as it so often happens, whose word is all there is) is worth the sum of $1,500.

The Des Moines Register article also cited a New York Times op-ed last year by Daniel Duane, a contributing editor for Men's Journal, who wrote of such “gets away with murder” cases: "There is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people even when it is clearly your fault, as long you're driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you're not obviously drunk and don't flee the scene."

This is why we as cyclists need to support our local and national cycling advocacy organizations, and do what we can as individual citizens. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again.

I shudder to think that one of the victims of such a cruel death, and cruel adjudication, will be a friend of mine, or an RBR reader. I don’t ever want that to happen. And it’s a damn shame that so many fellow roadies have experienced this outcome. Who among you does not know someone who knows someone who’s died on the road?

Six degrees may separate any one person from another on our shared, small planet. But I’m guessing that among road cyclists, only 2 or 3 degrees of separation exist between each of us and someone who’s died while doing what we love.

It’s got to stop.

Here’s the full Des Moines Register article.

--- John Marsh


Bike Fit 101, and Other Upcoming eBookstore Titles

Just launched last week: A terrific new eBook from Rick Schultz, who in addition to being one of our regular product reviewers, runs his own bike-fitting business.

What sets Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit apart from other fitting books is this: It is packed with details that you can use to do a complete self-fitBUT it is also designed to give you the “tools” and knowledge to help ensure you can find and work with a professional fitter to get the best possible fit for you.

Like most of us, Rick has heard legion horror stories about “professional” fittings that left riders less comfortable, in more pain, etc., AFTER the fitting. That should never happen. And Rick’s eBook was written as a response to ensure that it doesn’t happen for you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For the many of you who purchased the eBook last week, Rick has added some detail about how to measure sit bone width and measure for handlebar width, as well as some additional info on goniometers. The updated version of the eBook is now in your Downloads folder on the site; simply log in and download the new version for the additional info.

On Tap from Coach John Hughes and Dr. Alan Bragman

We’ve got a few new eArticles and eBooks on the way soon from Coach John Hughes.

  • In early November, look for a new edition in his Cycling Past 50, 60 and Beyond series: Fit for Life, Why training different ways is better. It will describe the different ways the body degenerates over time and how different types of exercise are needed to help stave this off. Aerobic capacity, power, strength, balance and flexibility all get worse with age and need to be addressed.
  • Next up will be another Cycling Past 50, 60 and Beyond installment, in early January tentatively titled Your Best Year Ever. It will utilize the concept of periodization – from the off-season into base training, build (spring) training, and peaking – to show you how to achieve your best year ever on the bike.
  • And then, starting in February, we’ll bring you a new Touring series of eArticles that will provide loads of useful information on how best to plan, train for, and ride multi-day tours. It’s something that will benefit both old touring hands and touring neophytes alike.

New Shoulder Injury Treatment and Prevention eArticle

Dr. Alan Bragman has a new title, as well, Shoulder Injuries and Cycling: A Guide to Treatment and Prevention, coming soon.

Shoulder injuries are extremely common with cyclists, Dr. Bragman points out. In fact, both he and I have had one.

Understanding the shoulder’s anatomy, and the various exercises used to address the different types of shoulder injuries or problems, can benefit cyclists – whether you’re trying on your own to overcome a less-serious shoulder problem or working with a physical therapist or other medical professional to rehabilitate a traumatic injury.

This knowledge, and the various strengthening exercises, may also help you avoid some of the typical shoulder problems as well. They are recommended for overall strengthening and stability of the upper extremities, with the goal of increasing your riding comfort and avoiding injury.


Clicking Out – Interesting Question Yields Interesting Results

I really enjoy the types of quirky questions that readers sometimes submit for the Question of the Week. (And we’re always open to your Questions! Please send them in!) Such was the case last week, with the question: With Which Foot Do You Click Out?

It seems that it was an engaging topic to you, too, as it yielded about 800 votes, and a few comments as well. Here’s how you voted:

45%: I am right-handed and click out with my right foot.

42%: I am right-handed and click out with my left foot.

8%: I am left-handed and click out with my right foot.

6%: I am left-handed and click out with my left foot.

I was somewhat surprised by the results, as I suspected more riders consciously tried to click out with their left foot to avoid the possibility of contacting the drivetrain while clicking in and out. (This is something I had heard years ago when just starting out, but I have always clicked out with my right foot; it’s simply what comes naturally to me.)

In fact, a few months ago when I was having some issues with my right cleat, I switched to the left foot during a ride and found it very challenging to click in with my left. It just was not at all comfortable or natural.

But the comments we received suggested there may be other reasons to favor the left or right foot.

Fred A. Lewis wrote:

It's an interesting question this week....Here is, perhaps, some insight into a contributing factor. For most of my life I resided in Canada and during that time I developed the habit of a right handed - right foot release. I never gave much thought as to why.

Since I moved to Japan (Sapporo) almost 14 years ago I seemed to and have transitioned to a RH - Left foot release. Frankly, I never gave it much thought until you posed this question today in the Newsletter.

I have surmised that, in my case anyways, I have changed sides because we drive on the left-hand side of the road here (as in the UK) and thus a left foot release allows me to put my foot on the curb when coming to a stop at intersections.

A U.K. reader, pajama, seconded that opinion:

I would imagine that most people would clip out the foot nearest the side of the road -- that's left for me in the UK. Maybe another poll? Great read every week. Keep up the good work!

A couple of other comments suggested yet other explanations:

Rick Schultz (author of Bike Fit 101 and one of our regular product reviewers) wrote:

I have noticed that cyclists that unclick with the right foot also (1) skateboard with the right foot back, (2) surf with the right foot back. For those that unclick with the left foot, it’s left foot back, or, in surfing terms, called goofy foot. Look up goofy foot in So next time you see a cyclist unclick with the left foot, ask if he/she is goofy-footed!

Here's another thing I noticed: I unclick with my right foot and the right cleat wears out twice as fast as the left cleat. So, for every other time, I only change the right cleat. This will save you some money since you don’t need to change the cleat that doesn’t get unclipped each time as often as the one that does.

Finally, Bryan Nystrom (another Premium Member and product reviewer), wrote:

I'm right-handed, but I intentionally try to alternate which foot I click out. That way I don't wear out the contact surface of one cleat faster than the other.

--- J.M.


Quick Note About JerseyBins and the iPhone 6

As many of you know, we sell the very handy JerseyBin Waterproof Storage Pouches on the site. I’ve used one for years to carry my mobile phone, some ID, contact information and a little cash.

As phones have gotten bigger in recent years, we’ve started offering 2 sizes, but even those are not big enough for some phones.

I, and at least one reader, were curious recently when the new iPhone 6 came out as to whether it (NOT the iPhone 6 Plus – the phablet version) would fit in the TrimBin-sized JerseyBin.

The answer is, Yes, an iPhone 6 (without a case, as is recommended by the maker of JerseyBin) will fit in a TrimBin with no problem.


43% of Readers Still Don’t Resistance Train

As cyclists, we all know that we should mix in resistance training as part of our overall workout and fitness routine, in part for the high-impact benefit on bone strength that cycling lacks.

And most of us know that resistance training becomes even more important as we reach age 50 or so – to help stave off the loss of muscle mass that comes with aging.

So, to gauge our readers’ use of resistance training in their workouts, in our reader poll of a couple weeks ago, we asked: Do You Do Weight or Resistance Training? Seasonally, or Year-Round?

Here’s how you answered:

34% replied: Yes. Year-round.

11% replied: Yes. In the off-season.

12% replied: Yes. Off and on throughout the year.

14% replied: Every once in a while, but not at all regularly.

12% replied: No. I know I need to, but I do not do it.

5% replied: I used to, but I quit doing it.

12% replied: No. Period.

So, more than a third of readers resistance train year-round. Another 23% do resistance work either in the off-season or on occasion throughout the year. That makes 57% who utilize resistance training in a fairly regular way.

Of course, that leaves 43% of you who not. And that’s not good.

If you’re either looking for a program to get you started with resistance training, or you’re in the market for something specific to cyclists, look no further than Coach Harvey Newton’s Strength Training for Cyclists SYSTEM, which includes the 132-page electronic Strength Training for Cyclists Manual, plus a 42-minute DVD Training Program and 28-page hard copy Quick Start Guide.

Coach Newton, a veteran roadie and former coach of the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team, is unequaled in his understanding of how cyclists benefit from strength training. And his Strength Training for Cyclists system has benefitted hundreds of RBR readers over the years.


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