Please Stop Perpetuating a non-existent Tacoma Inferiority Complex – An open letter to the Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club

I woke up this morning to messages from cyclist friends of mine asking what in the hell is wrong with the Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club (TWBC) and what their beef with the Cascade bicycle club is.

It didn’t take long to find a news article about the president of the TWBC, Darrell Eslinger, with all the civility and grace of a GOP presidential candidate on the debate platform throwing a tantrum because Cascade Bicycle Club is holding a ride on the new 520 bridge and he feels that he and everyone else should be able to ride it for free (which they can at any other time once the bridge is opened to the public for cycling)

As the alleged leader of an organization that hosts paid rides such as the Daffodil Classic which are also held on public roads, he of all people should understand the cost of liability insurance, port a potties, security and staffing for such an event. I don’t think he, or the Daffodil committee would appreciate someone from another bicycle club in another town demanding to be able to ride it for free.

Seriously? Are we in middle school?

This pathological need for the TWBC to perpetuate an inferiority complex in the name of Tacoma is embarrassing and insulting.

I’ve looked the other way for years as TWBC has hosted “anti Chilly Hilly” and “anti STP” events. Offering less expensive alternatives closer to home is a great idea, but does it have to come with such immature snark and intentionally creating animosity?

My membership is up for renewal, but I am not renewing it this year because I do not want to be associated with a group who promotes this sort of antagonistic agenda.

It’s time for the TWBC to grow up and focus on making positive contributions here in Tacoma, instead of worrying about what someone else is doing in another city and creating adolescent drama for no good reason.

Tacoma deserves better.

Tacoma is better than this.




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How to be a Cascade Bicycle Club Ride Ref


Rule number #1 for ride reffing for Cascade Bicycle Club events

You ARE the “dancing bear”

people respond to humor.

We “encourage” safe and courteous riding by EXAMPLE. Don’t get “into it” with anyone, it’s not worth it; call the police, rat them out to CBC, but don’t be an asshole

TAKE the horn offered to you in training (take two if you can get away with it).

HONK the horn

HONK the horn as often as possible.

Coordinate obnoxious horn honking with a ride partner.

Tell bad jokes (best if at the expense of a CBC volunteer you’re riding with.)

Sing bad songs.

Military cadence….

“LEFT…. LEFT… Passing on your LEFT….”

“When you Ride the STP….”

Filk showtunes

“Stopping and going and going and stopping…”

When someone displays safe and courteous and safe riding. HONK YOUR HORN!!! Celebrate it! Call them out and THANK them!

Tell bad jokes

Harass your CBC volunteer ride partners…

overheard on the 2008 STP while leaving the REI rest stop..

[Leo – wearing a ride ref jersey] Hey, see that star of life on her jersey? That means she’s a professional proctologist in real life.

[Lisa, wearing medical jersey] Better than being an amateur procotologist like you are Leo…

[Rim Shot]

[Lisa, totally gloating over the perfectly timed BURN] Thank you folks, we’ll be here all weekend.

Stop for every flat tire, blown chain, blister, splinter, road rash, person sitting on the corner staring at map completely clueless as the where they are.

Be one of the last riders into Portland because you have stopped for every person who needed it (and some who didn’t), either in pouring rain or scorching heat, have no time for beer, haul butt to get your bike on the last truck and hop on the last bus without showering.

Love every minute of it.

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Mood: Amused


not so Chilly but still Hilly

Chilly Hilly was a BLAST this year.

Michale F and I arrived early because he needed to register; because of this, we got “Doris Day” parking on the Waterfront a bit South of the ferry dock.

There were a lot of people registered already and since the weather was sunny and spectacular (very unFebruary like) we knew that thousands of people who were waiting to see what the weather was going to do would be registering at the last minute. The final rider count was 6,028. Yikes!

The person on the loudspeaker kept saying, “plenty of time to catch the ferry”. I looked across the street and saw the loading area nearly full and barely got in the queue. This was when I realized that no matter how much I fantasize about a lovely island home on Vashon or another one of our beautiful islands, I’d want to shoot myself if I had to use a ferry to commute every day (maybe after I retire and just want to write and do photography)


I had a brief visit with fellow ride ref Michael Snyder at the registration area before I headed over.

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I discovered that I was only one row over from Allyson and Marizel, so I managed to squeeze over their direction and hang out with them while waiting to load.

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I was one of the last people to make it in the queue and as the boat pulled away from the dock, we saw that the queue was full again. A quick phone check of my facebook status replies showed that Michael didn’t quite make it and there is a cutoff on the number of cyclists, not due to space limitations (it was weird not to see the deck covered in bikes) but to the number of life jackets available on the ship (that’s the law)

I ran into lots of friends on the boat (hey, with well over 6,000 people on the ride, it’s impossible not to find people you know) and spent a lot of time answering text and voice mail messages of friends I was trying to connect up with.

There were more than a few jokes about being glad that our tsunami was the day before (our tsunami was inches rather than feet)

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I met Leo and my friend Bill on the Island side and waited until after the screaming hordes attacked the first hill to start our ride and ride ref duties. We figured that it would be helpful to sweep for those having mechanical problems or other issues (it was mentioned to me by a club member that they never see ride refs in the back of the pack) and that the slower riders might be more in need of support and learning about safe and courteous riding. The added bonus was that it was much less stressful than riding up the first hill in the middle of all the wobbles, stops and crashes (which there were plenty of refs already doing).

We honked our ride ref horns a LOT, made lots of bad jokes, sang silly songs, and made a huge deal out of thanking people engaging in safe and courteous riding behavior.

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We got a lot of thank yous for being out there and only a few dirty looks from people we asked nicely to “please remember to call “on your left” when passing”. (thinking to myself here… Uh, excuse me? You are the one breaking the rules of the ride you signed up for and agreed to abide by are breaking laws, endangering others and when I ask you nicely to remember to follow the rules/laws I’m the jerk? Whatever…)

I’d say my biggest frustration was riders for whom “CAR BACK” seemed to mean “ride three abreast, pass people and take up the entire lane so that cars need to cross the double yellow line (bonus for doing so on blind corners) to get around slower riders.” (there are always a few buttheads in every crowd)

I was riding up one of the big steep hills at the end (the first of the series just before the church with the water stop and blessings) and thanked a gentleman for saying “on your left” as he passed me (we believe in loudly thanking people for doing the right thing in order to encourage such behavior from all parties in the future). The woman I had passed a hundred yards or so back who was walking her bike up the hill (and yes, I said on your left when I passed her) starting yelling at me… “WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?” I don’t know how she could have thought I was talking to her, I was nowhere near her. (and how is “thank you” offensive?) At this point I was sucking wind and couldn’t have yelled back if I wanted to. Luckily, Leo was behind me and explained to her that I was thanking the gentleman who had just passed me courteously.

The positive interactions far outweighed the negative. Overall, I’d say that the riders this year were more courteous than last year which is surprising given the huge volume of riders.

Leo and I pulled into the finish line, chatted with friends, turned in our ride ref bibs and met Bill in the beer garden.

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I ran into Crystal, Michael F joined us and then we headed over to Docs Marina Grill (with a few detours around the ferry dock and other areas looking for the place because we just hadn’t ridden enough hills already) to meet Marizel, Allyson and others for beer, chowder and a bit of the USA/Canada hockey game. We were in there when team USA tied up the game in overtime. The place went NUTS!

Michael and I headed out to catch the 2:55 ferry. OMG, the lines (of cars and bikes) were the longest I’ve ever seen them. We weren’t convinced that we were going to make it on that boat, but we managed to get on just before the cutoff. It wouldn’t have been a crisis as the weather was lovely, but we were tired and didn’t feel like hanging out on line to wait for the next boat.

It was a lovely ride back.

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I ran into my friend Lynne in line so we got to hang out a bit.

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of course, we had to do the obligatory “Look at us on the boat with Seattle in the background picture”

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On a physical note, I felt MUCH better than last year (pretty easy to do)

I was in better shape, as I’ve been exercising more consistently. Last year I hadn’t eaten or slept for 3-days and had been very sick from the stress of my mother’s impending death, layoffs at work and some other things (not the least of which was the selfish jerk I was dating at the time who made everything more stressful).

I ended being SAGed off the course just after the rest stop because I was bonking (as it turned out, after I uploaded my Garmin data, I discovered that my heart rate had peaked at 215 and stayed there for over an hour)

That nasty hill just before the rest stop got me again this year; which was mostly due to lack of legs, my cardio-vascular system is in great shape. Perhaps I just psyched myself out.

When I saw Baker Hill, I almost died (I had been SAGed off the course before this point last year so it was the first time I’d seen it) and said to the guy next to me, “I see a walk in my immediate future” but I cruised up that sucker as well as those bad nasties at the end with no problem at all. (not saying I was fast, just saying I made it without stopping or walking)

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The weather was great, seeing so many friends was great; and the fact that we got beer at the beer garden before they ran out was great.

The rest of the pictures are available here:

Today, I’m resting in the morning, cleaning my filthy apartment, going grocery shopping, and running errands. Tonight, I’m doing masters swim and TWBC ride leader training.

Tomorrow I go back to work to rest.


Mood: Tired