Charles River Wheelers

WheelPeople: Your Bike Club Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest Charles River Wheelers news, events, and rides. Our WheelPeople newsletter is tailored for current and prospective members seeking bike-related updates, expert advice, and cycling inspiration. Don't miss a beat – join our vibrant community today! Access our archived issues here.

WheelPeople Articles

  • 2023-08-20 6:23 PM | Anonymous

    By Doctor Gabe Mirkin,

    This article is courtesy of Dr.Gabe Mirkin MD

    Dramatic results in a study from the Cleveland Clinic show that:
    • You can’t be too fit: Elite athletes who do tremendous amounts of exercise have a much lower risk of dying than non-exercisers.
    • Exercise is healthful: Not exercising is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes or heart disease. The vigorous exercisers had nearly a 500 percent reduced risk of death during the study period, compared to the non-exercisers (JAMA Network Open, Oct 19, 2018;1(6):e183605).

    More than 120,000 patients, average age 53, were given an exercise stress treadmill test between 1991 and 2014 and were followed up at the Cleveland Clinic. The researchers used the stress test results to classify their fitness level as low (the bottom 25th percentile), below average (25th to 49th percentile), above average (50th to 74th percentile), high (75th to 97.6th percentile), and elite (above 97.7th percentile). By January 1, 2018, 13,637 of the participants had died.

    The study results were overwhelming. The more fit a person was, the less likely he was to die. There was no limit to the increase in benefits from improving fitness to very high levels. The elite athletes had an 80 percent reduction in risk for death during the study period. The greatest differences were seen among patients who had high blood pressure in the high and elite groups compared to those in the low fitness group. The lead researcher concluded, “We found that there was no ceiling for benefit . . . with no toxicity at the higher end.”

    Can Extreme Amounts of Exercise Be Harmful?
    This new study counters the findings of earlier studies on elite athletes that suggested they are at increased risk for irregular heartbeats, increased arterial plaque size or thickened heart valves.
    • Even though master athletes may be at increased risk for irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation), they can still benefit from continuing to exercise. Compared to non-exercisers, they appear to be at reduced risk for suffering from serious side effects such as clots. See Irregular Heartbeats in Senior Athletes and Exercisers.

    • Elite athletes may be at increased risk for larger plaques in their arteries than non-exercisers, but narrowing of arteries by plaques does not cause a heart attack. Heart attacks are caused by plaques breaking off from arteries, and exercise helps to prevent heart attacks by making plaques more stable and less likely to break off. See Exercisers Have More Stable Plaques.

    • Vigorous exercisers may be at increased risk for thickened heart valves, but compared to non-exercisers, athletes with thickened heart valves still have stronger heart muscles so that they are less likely to suffer heart failure. See Exercise to Prevent a Heart Attack

    Exercise Reduces Inflammation
    Aging is associated with inflammation, an overactive immune system. Your immune system is supposed to kill germs when they attack you, but as soon as the germs are gone, your immunity is supposed to dampen down. However if your immunity stays active all the time, it attacks you in the same way that it kills germs. It can punch holes in arteries to cause plaques, break off the plaques to cause heart attacks, destroy your DNA to cause cancer, cause various auto-immune diseases and so forth. As you age, inflammation increases to cause loss of muscles and bone, osteoarthritis, loss of cell function associated with aging, and other harmful effects. Exercise helps to dampen down inflammation, and thus helps to prevent diseases and prolong life. One study of 111 women, ages 65 to 70, showed that replacing 30 minutes of sitting time with the same amount of time in light or moderate exercise very significantly reduced markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein and fibrinogen) and diabetes (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, July 2018).

    Intense Exercise is More Beneficial than Casual Exercise
    This new study agrees with many earlier studies that have shown greater benefits from vigorous exercise than from low-intensity exercise:
    • The SUN Study on 18,737 middle-aged people showed that those who exercise intensely have half the rate of heart attacks as those who did the same amount of exercise less intensely (Am J of Cardiology, Sept 11, 2018).
    • Increased time spent exercising intensely gives adolescents a healthier metabolic profile than more time spent just exercising (PLOS Medicine, Sept 2018; 15 (9): e1002649).
    • Vigorous exercise is associated with a much lower rate of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, compared to low-intensity exercise (American J of Prev Med, April 2017;52(4):e95–e101).

    My Recommendations
    I think everyone should have a regular exercise program, and it is never too late to start. See How to Start an Exercise Program. Do not start an intense exercise program until you have spent several months exercising at a casual pace.

    Socialization usually improves the length of time, intensity and enjoyment of exercise, so it is best to join a group, exercise with your mate, or do your exercise regularly with friends (Am J Alzheimer’s Dis Other Demen, June 2014; 29(4): 372–378).

    CAUTION: Intense exercise can cause a heart attack in a person who has blocked arteries or heart damage. Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program or make a sudden increase in the intensity of your existing program.

  • 2023-08-20 5:52 PM | Anonymous

    Amazon Smile If you have an Amazon Prime account please look into making CRW your charity. Details here

    Comeback Club Last month, we reported on members who had an accident and were injured but went back to biking. We called them the Comeback Crew. We missed some riders, but we have enough people to start a CRW Comeback Club, and those mentioned in the article can become founding members. The Club, however, is intended to be inclusive, and it is our fond hope that no one else qualifies. We would be pleased if we didn’t hear about any more accidents, and wish you all safe riding.

  • 2023-08-20 12:12 PM | Anonymous

    As a member of any organization, you want to have your preferences known to the managing authority. That’s the case whether you want more exciting menus at organization dinners, learning opportunities for beginners, or events in your area. And it’s well known that successful businesses listen to what customers are telling them.

    The goal of a volunteer organization such as CRW is not profitability. Our mission is primarily serving our members and consequently understanding their needs. The best way to do this is by listening to what you tell us. We, of course, ask questions, conduct surveys, and get specific around certain issues.

    Ironically, during informal conversations, a member may raise an issue or make a request and we reluctantly must respond “no, we don’t do that.” But the response to issues raised or requests made doesn’t end with the “no.” Getting this input helps us define changes in how we go about planning our rides.

    Over the past few years, for example, we’ve made changes to our century rides in response to rider feedback. This includes additional and earlier water stops and much-appreciated iced Gatorade on brutally hot days. We’ve also run introductory group rides for those new to the club and follow-the-leader rides periodically. Several times a season we host after-ride events so riders can socialize.

    We can’t accommodate all requests, however, and probably the single most frequent “no” response is in regard to restrooms at ride starts. We try to have restrooms available at starts when we can but here the costs and more the logistics work against us.

    Club leadership actively seeks your point of view, which is vital to our overall success.

    Feel free to contact us via with any suggestions or concerns as to how we go about our business. But please keep in mind, we are not a business. In any case, your opinion can only lead to improved member satisfaction and a better club for all of us.

  • 2023-08-20 10:54 AM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    We engage in pleasantries in our normal life. That’s what civilized people do. That practice also extends to bike riding. Perhaps the most common courtesy is saying “passing on your left,” so those ahead of you know you are approaching from behind and coming their way. This is not only courteous. It is also a simple way to avoid collisions.

    There are other commonly used courtesies, which all apply to group riding and make us safer on the road.

    Communicate when Slowing or Stopping: It may not be apparent to those behind you that you are slowing down or even stopping. You must call out “slowing” to avoid a pile up of riders. Signaling this will make a difference between a safe stop and a dangerous situation. The signal is to call out “slowing” or “stopping” and raise one hand fingers flat.

    Indicating a Turn: Those behind you need to know in advance when the group is turning. Whether it’s a turn on a city street, or even a fork in the road. Raise your hand to shoulder height and point straight-arm in the direction of the turn. It’s best to initiate the signal well in advance of the turn. This courtesy should also be extended to motorists for your own good

    Pointing out a Hazard, Pothole or Debris: When approaching a hazard such as a large pothole, extend your arm and point at it, calling out “hole” or whatever the hazard. This call is for deep holes that can swallow a wheel, and not for merely rough pavement. and not for merely rough pavement.

    Alerting Riders to Tracks and Speedbumps:

    Some speedbumps are particularly large and call for a warning. Tracks are especially dangerous if they cross your route at a severe angle rather than perpendicular.

    Warning of Oncoming Hazard: This is a warning call that is in the eye of the beholder. You see a large truck coming in your direction. It is wide and fills if not overlaps the lane. You signal to move right so no one is in the path of the truck. Again, the call is only to alert riders to hazards that could startle or hit them. This can come into play on particularly narrow roads.

    Calling Car Back or Car Up:

    This warns of a car approaching from behind or coming toward the group from ahead. The more critical is “car back” so riders know to move to the right. This call comes from the back of the group, and depending on the numbers of riders, must be repeated so riders more forward hear the call. “Car up” can be important on narrow, winding rural roads where riders may be riding in the middle of a travel lane.

    All Clear:

    We do not recommend the use of the “all clear” call. Conditions change in an instant. Cars going 60 mph cover a lot of ground in seconds. It may be “clear” for you or the person directly behind you, but someone down the line who hears it, could be in danger from approaching vehicles.

    This article was edited by Tim Wilson

  • 2023-08-20 10:35 AM | Anonymous

    By Nancy Clark

    At the May 2023 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting (ACSM;, more than 3,000 sports medicine professionals and researchers from around the globe gathered to share knowledge. Several sports nutrition presentations offered updates that might be of interest you. Here are summaries from a few of those presentations.


    Body Composition:
     Historically, sports teams would routinely have their body fat measured, with the data posted for all to see. Many athletes experienced intense pressure both internally and externally to have a lean physique. Often, the measurements were not even used to assess for extreme leanness and under-nutrition.

    • Today, we know that athletic performance is not dictated primarily by an athlete’s percent body fat but rather by volume of training, mental state, adequacy of sleep, and sufficient food intake—among other factors.

    • Today’s recommendations state measurement of body fat should only be done if 1) the athlete consents, 2) the measurement is done in private by a trained measurer using the most reliable method for that particular athlete, 3) the information is discussed in confidence with the athlete and health care team, and 4) the mental and physical health of the athlete is top priority.

    • Athletes, please understand you will perform better if you focus on getting stronger and gaining power, as opposed to restricting food. If the cost of losing body fat is having to train for long periods of time with poorly fueled muscles, your performance will suffer and your risk of injuries will increase.


    Ultra-Processed Foods and Athletes

    • About 95% of athletes enjoy ultra-processed foods (UPFs) such as instant oatmeal, boxed mac ‘n cheese, chips, etc.. The average American consumes about 60% of total calories from UPFs; they are readily available, easy to prepare, have a long shelf-life, and can save time.

    • What do athletes need to know about UPFs? First, let’s define what they are: UPFs contain substances that are rarely used in home cooking—emulsifiers, thickeners, protein isolates, etc. You’ll find those substances in breakfast cereals, energy bars, fruit yogurts, commercially baked breads, and many grab-and-go foods that busy athletes commonly consume.

    • UPFs also include sport drinks and protein powders. They are not only convenient, but also digest easily. During extended exercise, when athletes need quick and easy carbs, a gel, chomp, or sports drink can easily do the job. Energy bars can effortlessly get tucked into pockets. While a swig of maple syrup or a banana can be equally energizing, UPFs are generally easier to deal with.

    • In the general population, UPFs are linked with obesity. The more UPFs consumed, the greater the risk for weight gain. In a carefully controlled study with menus matched for carbs, protein, fat, fiber, and palatability, the UPF-menu led to weight gain. The UPF-eaters consumed about 500 additional calories a day when compared to when they ate from the whole foods menu—and they gained about two pounds in two weeks. Yikes! Why did that happen? Are UPFs easier to overeat because they require less chewing? Can be eaten quickly? Are super-tasty so you want to keep eating more of them?

          The answer is yet to be determined. Until such time, your better bet is to consume homemade foods whenever possible. The less packaging in your grocery cart, the better for your waistline (most likely) and if not, the better for the environment (less trash in landfills).

        That said, balance & moderation pave a prudent path. There’s a time and a place for UPFs. If you have a low protein intake, grabbing a protein bar on the run can help you hit your 20-to-30-gram protein target for the meal. If you consume little red meat, an iron-enriched breakfast cereal like GrapeNuts can fill that gap. For traveling athletes, carrying bars, gels, and carb-based recovery drinks are “safe” (uncontaminated). Safety matters!



    • Muscle is constantly being broken down into amino acids and then rebuilt into new muscle tissue. Resistance exercise, such as weightlifting, stimulates the synthesis of new muscle during the 24-hours post-exercise. Including ~0.15 grams high-quality protein per pound of body weight (0.3 g/kg) per meal maximizes muscle protein synthesis. That comes to about 20 grams protein for a 120-lb (54.5 kg) athlete and ~30 grams for a 180-lb (82 kg) athlete. Athletes can easily  consume that amount in (chocolate) milk, eggs, or tofu.

    • Protein’s food matrix, with all the bioactive compounds that accompany the amino acids in natural foods, has a positive influence on the muscle-building effectiveness of the amino acids. For example, eating a whole egg, not just the egg white, more effectively builds muscle tissue. Hence, your best bet is to choose protein rich foods in their natural state, such as nuts, yogurt, tuna, beans & rice, etc. Whole foods are preferable to the protein isolates in powders and bars.
    • Including protein at each meal and snack also offers benefits. Many athletes eat too little protein at breakfast and lunch, then devour 2 to 3 chicken breasts at dinner. They’d be better-off enjoying eggs along with oatmeal at breakfast, lentil soup with the lunchtime-salad, and peanut butter with the banana for afternoon snack.

    • Vegan athletes can indeed consume adequate protein if they are responsible. A vegan meal with just pasta and greens doesn’t do the job. How much protein from plants is enough? The goal is ~1 gram plant-protein/lb 
    (2.1 g/kg) body weight per day. For a 120-lb (54.5 kg) athlete this comes to about 30 grams  per meal plus 10 to 15 grams in each of two snacks.

         The information on food labels tells the grams protein/serving, as does a quick google-search (protein in ahlaf-cup of hummus). Don’t be among the many athletes who comment “most Americans consume way too much protein” and make little effort to replace chicken with enough beans. A big dallop (1/2 c)  of hummus with 8 grams of protein does not equate to the 35 grams of protein in a small (4-oz) chicken breast. Vegans, educate yourself!


    Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD  counsels both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a popular resource, as is her online workshop. Visit for info.

    -- Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD Sports nutrition counselor Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 6th Edition (Books, presentations, blog) Twitter: @nclarkrd Office: 1155 Walnut St., Newton Highlands, MA 02460 Phone:617-795-1875 "Helping active people win with good nutrition."

  • 2023-08-20 10:26 AM | Anonymous

    By WheelPeople Editors

    As a member of any organization, you want to have your preferences known to the
    managing authority. That’s the case whether you want more exciting menus at
    organization dinners, learning opportunities for beginners, or events in your area. And
    it’s well known that successful businesses listen to what customers are telling them.
    The goal of a volunteer organization such as CRW is not profitability. Our mission is
    primarily serving our members and consequently understanding their needs. The best
    way to do this is by listening to what you tell us. We, of course, ask questions, conduct
    surveys, and get specific around certain issues.
    Ironically, during informal conversations, a member may raise an issue or make a
    request and we reluctantly must respond “no, we don’t do that.” But the response to
    issues raised or requests made doesn’t end with the “no.” Getting this input helps us
    define changes in how we go about planning our rides.
    Over the past few years, for example, we’ve made changes to our century rides in
    response to rider feedback. This includes additional and earlier water stops and much-
    appreciated iced Gatorade on brutally hot days. We’ve also run introductory group rides
    for those new to the club and follow-the-leader rides periodically. Several times a
    season we host after-ride events so riders can socialize.
    We can’t accommodate all requests, however, and probably the single most frequent
    “no” response is in regard to restrooms at ride starts. We try to have restrooms available
    at starts when we can but here the costs and more the logistics work against us.
    Club leadership actively seeks your point of view, which is vital to our overall success.
    Feel free to contact us via
    with any suggestions or concerns as to how we
    go about our business. But please keep in mind, we are not a business. In any case,
    your opinion can only lead to improved member satisfaction and a better club for all of

  • 2023-08-17 10:58 AM | Anonymous

    By Coach John Hughes

    My club had a party for anciens et anciennes (veterans) of Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) as well as rookies. I talked with nine old friends, some dating back to the 1990s, now all in their 60s and 70s.  I had moved from Boulder to the mountains and hadn’t seen some of my cycling buddies for years. I was interested to learn after their PBPs what kind of cycling they do now? 

    I was one of the first Americans to complete PBP back in 1979. PBP is 1200 km (750 miles) long and you have to finish in under 90 hours including all your time off the bike. So you don’t get a lot of sleep. I’ve finished PBP five times as well as the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200 and the Rocky Mountain 1200.

    To ride PBP you have to complete a series of qualifying brevets with time limits: 200 km (124 mi.) in 13:30; 300 km (187 mi.) in 20:00; 400 km (249 mi.) in 27:00 and 600 km (373 mi.) in 40 hours. I have ridden the brevets multiple times and it was fun to reminisce with my fellow riders.  Remember the brevet it hailed so hard we had to crawl under a parked semitrailer? Remember riding the 400 km at 2 a.m. still a couple of hours from the finish? Remember riding all night on the 600 km and watching the sun rise?

    Ted is still a very strong rider, but his interests have shifted. He has a place in the mountains and enjoys all day rides on a mix of gravel and pavement. He’d gone backpacking earlier this summer and last weekend volunteered to build a couple of bridges in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

    Mary and Stan live on a steep gravel road in the foothills above Boulder. Their downhill commutes to Boulder are relatively easy and their return commutes get their attention. They enjoy riding with friends up into the mountains above their house. Mary now coaches cyclists and Stan works for a company making bicycle parts.

    Bill didn’t make the party — he was riding across the United States with his daughter and his wife driving the RV in support.

    Joe still loves riding and organizes our Rocky Mountain Cycling Club’s brevets. He’s a strong climber and hasn’t lost much speed climbing a single canyon out of Boulder, but his age starts to show on a multi-canyon climb. Joe enjoys taking photos and posting illustrated stories on Facebook.

    Jack and I rode many brevets together. On our ride today we reminisced. We miss the camaraderie of riding brevets and the sense of accomplishment when we finish. We agreed we’re glad we don’t have to spend 10s of hours a week getting in shape for the brevets. Jack still loves multi-hour rides and the sense of freedom – all he has to do is ride his bike, he doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He also volunteers as a mechanic in a not-for-profit bike shop.

    I enjoy our two to four hour weekly road rides but to be honest I have more fun — and get a better workout — on my mountain bike. On it I’m cruising through the curves, come around a corner and there’s a 10 meter stiff climb. Shut up legs … I did it!  At the top there’s a corkscrew descent, which I walk down. I don’t want to risk a broken bone. And my wife and I have started kayaking, an activity we enjoy together. We don’t try to kayak fast and aren’t breathing deeply on the water but when we get ashore we’re amazed at how tired we feel. And there are no drivers texting instead of watching out for cyclists.

    Brian and Betty are going to Paris-Brest-Paris. He’s finished PBP twice; this PBP on their tandem will be a new adventure. They’re strong riders on their tandem with many ultradistance rides under their wheels. They’re going not for a personal best or bragging rights but to enjoy the camaraderie of the multi-national groups and the fun of riding through the French countryside and small towns. I told them, “Just keep pedaling.” to which he responded, “Just keep the wheels turning.”

    Coach Hughes PBP 1999

    I write these columns and coach a few clients to keep in touch with the sport and to share what I’ve learned in over the 40+ years I’ve been riding. I get great satisfaction out of my riders’ finishes, especially older rookies. I spare them my mistakes: One brevet I made the mistake of loosening my seat bolt, raising my saddle a bit, tightening and snapping the bolt. I bought a roll of duct tape, taped the seat post to the seat tube, the seat post slowly slipped down and every 25 miles I’d retape it. Unless essential never change anything on your bike during an event!

    About training, Greg LeMond said, “It never gets easier, you just get faster.” As one ages, serious training never gets easier and, unfortunately, eventually one gets slower.

    My nine friends and I have recognized how we’re changing both in body and mind as we age. Rather than just grinding ourselves into the ground trying to ride like we did 10 years ago, we’ve made conscious choices about how to continue cycling, adding other physical activities we enjoy and how to stay in contact with the sport.

    The 8,000 participants in the 2023 PBP can choose three different starting groups with time limits of 80 hours, 84 hours and 90 hours. For example, the solo riders in the 90 hour group start this Sunday August 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. guaranteeing they’ll ride all night. They have to finish by 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday August 24. Bonne chance et bonne route. (Good luck and safe journey)

    My eBook Stop Cycling’s Showstoppers is about prevention. I address all of the things that can go wrong and interfere with a ride. I explain how to avoid issues involving equipment, nutrition, weather, ailments, injuries, discouragement, and more. In addition, this eBook is a valuable primer on topics such as riding comfort, training and riding skills. Stop Cycling’s Showstoppers is a workbook to help you diagnose and prevent problems. The 65-page Stop Cycling’s Showstoppers is $14.95.

    My eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process has chapters on the training principles to build endurance, how to gauge intensity, cardiovascular endurance exercise and recovery. I include plans you can easily modify for different amounts of riding. One plan increases over two years your annual riding from around 4,000 miles (6,500 km) to over 5,000 miles (8,000 km) a year. I give you plans to build up to 100 km and 100-mile rides. I discuss the importance of recovery and how to gauge if you are getting enough recovery. The book includes chapters on how to meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations on aerobic, high intensity aerobic, strength training, weight-bearing exercises, balance and flexibility. I include sample weeks and months for different types and amounts of exercise. I combine the different kinds of training into programs that balance training and recovery. The 106-page Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process is $14.99.

    Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.

  • 2023-07-20 7:19 PM | Anonymous

    By Alex Post

    Last month we reviewed the Most Epic Climbs in the US , and now this month we expand to the world. There are of course numerous rides that could be included, but here we’ll follow the list created by the nicely done, which focuses on cycle climbing. This is purely their subjective opinion, but includes among other things, the length, vertical gain, average percent grade, and scenery.

    The details for each of the 10 rides can found here.

    Death Road, Bolivia

    38.7 miles, 11,624 ft gain, 5.5% avg grade

    I’ve seen pictures of this road before, with cars barely fitting along the cliff edge. But a bike, an easy fit! 12,624 feet of vertical gain though, not as easy. Combined with the beautiful jungle scenery, Pjamm ranks this as a truly exceptional and epic ride.


    Punta Olimpica, Peru

    28.9 miles, 6,958 ft gain, 4.5% avg grade

    In addition to the physical challenge, this climb is described as stunningly scenic, with mountains, glaciers, and lakes. 

    Passo dello Stelvio, Italy

    14.8 miles, 5,972 ft gain, 7.6% avg grade

    With 48 hairpin turns, it’s considered one of the most famous climbs in the world, and has been featured numerous times in the Giro d’Italia race.

    Wuling Pass East, Taiwan

    54.3 miles, 11,239 ft gain, 3.5% avg grade

    Starting at near sea level, up to over 11k foot altitude, Wuling Pass is considered the second longest climb in the world, second only to Mauna Kea

    Mauna Kea, Hawaii

    42.5 miles, 13,755 ft gain, 6.1% avg grade

    According to Pjamm, Mauna Kea is flat out the hardest climb anywhere in the world. A mind boggling ascent of 13,755 feet. Starting at the ocean and at the top having 42% less oxygen in the air. 

    Alpe d'Huez, France

    8.7 miles, 3,543 ft gain, 7.7% avg grade

    Considered the most famous climb in the world, it’s been featured 32 times in the Tour de France. It’s 21 dramatic hairpin turns have a beautiful mountain backdrop.

    Hwy 27 - Atacama, Chile

    21.4 miles, 7,410 ft gain, 6.5% avg grade

    At over 15k foot altitude, this is the highest paved pass in the Americas. I’m the high Andes desert with little vegetation, it’s described at dramatically beautiful. 

    Al Jaadah Pass, Saudi Arabia

    7.7 miles, 5,777 ft gain, 14.3% avg grade

    With a brutal 14.3% average grade, Pjamm ranks this as the second most difficult climb in the world, second only to Mauna Kea HI. 

    Gotthard Pass, Switzerland

    7.8 miles, 2,858 ft gain, 7% avg grade

    The most famous pass in Switzerland, it has connected northern and southern Switzerland since medieval times. A couple miles of it is still cobblestone.

    Pikes Peak, Colorado

    24.2 miles, 8,007 ft gain, 6.1

    One of the most iconic climbs not just in the US but the world, Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs is a long steep climb averaging 6.1%, and if not counting the couple small descents, it averages 7.9%.

  • 2023-07-20 5:02 PM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    Last month we reported on the new bridge over Route 2 in Concord. It is now open for business, with freshly poured lanes, and a joy to traverse. Join this rider in experiencing the Route 2 bridge.

    You can view the traffic on Route 2, and depending on what time you ride, you might see a traffic jam, and be glad you are not in it.

  • 2023-07-20 1:43 PM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    There are risks in any active sport. You can get hit by a bat or a ball, slide on an icy spot into a tree, or get caught in a pothole or smashed by a car. We don’t know how biking safety relates to other sports, but we do know that some of our friends are involved in accidents and get injured. Not to our surprise, we learn that a broken bone, or whatever, doesn’t discourage most folks from getting back on the bike, which is the point of this article. We review the accident stories of CRW members who were injured but continued riding and put their past injuries aside when they recovered. Reading this article may cause you to question the wisdom of some of the authors as there is a fine line between courage and foolishness. Finally, stories matter, and change how you think about issues. We hope these stories encourage you to keep biking if you have a spill and are even injured.

    Pamela Blalock

    I am always surprised when folks ask how I was able to get back on the bike.  What's the alternative? Not riding is simply not an option.  

    I've had a few setbacks in recent years. I get back on the bike because it brings me joy, pure and simple.  (Photo is Pamela relaxing with her cat)

    It started in 2013, when I was hit by a truck. I was visiting my dad in NC and had gone out for a quick morning ride. An inattentive driver hit me from behind. Luckily, I was riding a fixed gear bike and was thrown clear. When the truck tire hit my rear wheel, the pedals stopped moving, but I kept going. Good thing or my left leg would have been crushed. I broke several vertebrae and ribs. A surgeon who had ridden down the same road a few hours earlier before, put rods and screws in my back to stabilize things.  

    The next day as I started to process what had happened, I spent a split-second wondering if would be able to get back on the bike. I had to wear a back brace for several months and as a result lost a lot of core strength. But I started walking right away and was soon walking 6 to 10 miles a day. I started riding a stationary bike at PT and have photos of me smiling on the bike.  

    I've never been one who enjoys riding indoors, but I got a stationary trainer and set my fixed gear bike on it. I rode it lots over the next few months.  I got out of the brace just after Christmas, just in time for snow and ice to present an additional challenge. But then a mild spell came in January, and I headed out one day for a spin up and down the bike path. And it felt good. Bob Wolf accompanied me on my first road ride and thanks to having no memory of the collision, I had no PTSD. What I felt was the simple pleasure I have always taken from riding a bike.  

    I've had a few setbacks since, with cancer, shoulder replacement and a few broken collarbones. The bike is always there and my source of strength for each recovery. 

    Bob Wolf

    In November 2022 I crashed on my own when turning right and landed hard on my left side.  I have no memory of what happened so don’t know what caused the spill. Injuries included concussion, vertigo, broken collar bone, plus other more minor trauma.  I saw 7 doctors for 10 conditions and am still in recovery.  I’m now happily riding with friends. Despite all my medical issues, I never thought of not getting back on the bike. (Photo shows Bob with his precious grand-daughters)

    Author’s Note. Bob is a good friend, and I visited him at home several days after the accident. Although he slipped and fell without contacting an automobile, his injuries were severe. I can’t think of a medical term to use, but I will try my best to describe his injuries as I perceived them. They don’t exist separately and the collection in one body was scary. It is a credit to Bob’s courage, determination, and positive thinking that brought him back to biking.

    Eli Post

    It was the Spring of 2011, and the two of us started out in Brookline, and were heading to Lincoln. My friend was ahead of me and made the light at Center Street in Newton. I remember the light changing and crossing Center Street, but the rest was blank until I found myself on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance. My son arrived the next day and we put together the scenario. A twig got caught in my front wheel, locking it up. I flew over the handlebars and suffered a partial shoulder tear, and cracks in my cervical spine. I’ll spare the gory details, but one incident is revealing. The surgeon came by my hospital room with his medical team. He patiently explained my medical condition vertebra by vertebra and advised that surgery was not warranted but that I would need to wear a massive neck brace for many months. He spoke for several minutes, was serious in tone, and concluded his exhaustive medical analysis by asking if I had any questions. Without thinking, I blurted out “When can I get back on the bike”. His head dropped in utter astonishment, and he never responded.

    Fred Newton

    My accident was so unlikely to happen again, say less than one in a million, that it was easy for me to rationalize continuing riding. (Top photo is Fred out of rehab,and bottom is on a ride three months later.)

    Back in March in 2017 I was on a small group ride on a windy day when a small piece of tree branch fell and bounced into my front spokes, sending me over the bars and landing square on my back. Immediately I couldn’t move either leg, and a friend had to release my feet from the pedals. I was taken to Lahey and after about an hour I regained some movement in my left leg. After a laminectomy and metal rod insertion for fractures of thoracic vertebrae 3 & 4, I regained some movement in the right leg, but was left with a permanent 50% loss of strength due to spinal cord compression. 

    I went home with a back brace and walker, but after a few months I got on my indoor exercise bike and by fall I was able to do a 17-mile road ride with a friend and I did well but was 3-4 mph slower. I was stable for 4 years, but old age creeped up on me and I got an e-bike the spring of 2022. Love it and having as much fun as ever!

    Author’s Note. Fred is a friend, and I visited him at Whittier Rehab in Southborough. He was wearing a monumental back brace and was not able to lift a leg. It was as if his brain could not talk to his legs. I feared he would not be able to walk. However, I was delighted to see Fred return to biking after months of rehab, exercise, and old-fashioned determination. It is truly miraculous that Fred conquered his injury.

    Rich Taylor

    I was on a club ride in 2012 when the disaster struck. I was in Harvard, MA on a long downhill when the front wheel came off my bike. We don’t know what caused this mechanical disfunction, but the consequences were severe. I lost control of the bike and went over a rock wall. My injuries included 12 broken ribs, puncture of the lungs, and a broken shoulder bone. I had to be air transported to the UMass Hospital in Worcester. There was a medical doctor on the ride who stopped and rendered aid. I was in the emergency room for 2 days and in the hospital for 10 days, when they took me to a rehab facility where I spent another week, before recovering at home. In total it took three months to recover. You ask why I didn’t call it quits. I love biking and it would take more than some broken bones to make me stop.

    (Author's Note: Rich is a dear friend, and I visited when he was at UMass Hospital. I thought I was on a movie set as he had all sorts of tubes with multi-color liquids surrounding him. I could not tell which were connected to his body nor whether the liquids were from within him. Needles to say, the picture was of a man with elaborate medical support, and Rich underplays how serious his condition was. I was happy to see him back on the bike, and we recently rode together.)

    Barbara Martin

    Greetings Eli, thank you for this survey of those of us who have had biking accidents and their consequences for our lives going forward.  (Photo shows Barbara with her son after his run in the Boston Marathon) 

    I was within the first 10 miles of an 80-mile ride and was in the lead of a smaller group of friends starting a descent of a smallish hill when I saw a dog owner with his dog on the sidewalk on my right. The dog was straining hard on the leash, and I remember (the last thing to remember till I was in the ambulance moaning about the pain in my lower abdomen) saying to myself, “Oh I hope he can hold that dog”.  

    Needless to say, he was not able, and the dog must have come at me resulting in me crashing.  Elizabeth was the first on the scene and the others followed quickly.  They too found me moaning but seemingly coherent enough to say to them, “I best get up and lay down off the road”. (Again, no memory of this). 

    At the hospital in Worcester, I was evaluated, and it was discovered I had 2 cracked ribs and a dissected descending aorta (only months later did I find I had fractured my pubic bone).  Only 4 months later did I realize that the impact of the accident had stretched the ligaments that support all my female organs to the point that for the last 3 years I have suffered with prolapse of all female organs with the consequence of needing major surgery.  While the specialists say this condition is due to 2 pregnancies, there is no question that it is a consequence of the accident.  

     Thankfully I can say that I have healed from the injuries (including the stretched ligaments which are, strange as it seems to both my doctors and friends, feeling like they are regaining their strength and elasticity).  Only time will tell how thorough that recovery will be. 

    I always knew the accident would not prevent me from getting back on my bike and I was blessed with a body that knows how to heal itself to allow me to fulfill this resolve.

    Frank Hubbard

    This will be a difficult post. It essentially resolves the benefits of riding varied routes with other people. My last accident was dramatic, but I cannot recall the specifics. I was on a training ride in preparation for the July diabetes ride, but I have no memory of the accident or for several days following the ride. I had a fractured leg but also a fractured spirit. At the time, I did not see a path to return to biking. As I progressed in rehab, I focused on improving my walking and dreamed of a return to swimming. Only with time did I begin to realize that riding with friends and getting out every day was essential to my recovery. I hiked, swam, and did indoor biking but I missed the socialization provided by group riding. I finally analyzed the facets of my riding style that were problematic and realized that if I were willing to return to riding, I would have to accept the risks. If I remained sedentary however, I would lose part of my social identity. The choice was simple.

    Dr. Marc Baskin (Dr. Marc Baskin, MD, is affiliated with Boston Children's Hospital)

    I was in New Hampshire on a CRW ride and was riding in front of the main group. The road ahead was bearing to the right I went to the left side of the lane and signaled as our route showed a left turn. A panel truck that had been behind me, moved out into the passing lane, and then swerved into my lane striking me on the left side and throwing me to the right. I was knocked unconscious for a short time and had a shoulder injury, and eventually recovered.  My impression is that the panel truck, when it went to pass saw an oncoming car, and that they could not see me initially, because the road ahead was bearing to the right.  I assume this caused the driver of the panel truck to move back into my lane striking me. Although it was a scary event, cycling is my main sport and I really enjoy it, so I went back to riding.

    Dom Jorge

    My accident occurred on June 19, 2021, when I hit a pothole that I hadn't seen. Although I did not lose consciousness, others told me that I continued to talk to them the entire time, I don't remember anything after flying over the handlebars until I was in the ambulance on the way to Emerson Hospital. I was told that I was moved to the local fire station where the ambulance picked me up. Ken, who I was riding with, took care of my bike.

    After multiple CT scans it was determined that I had a pelvic fracture and a cracked sternum, as well as abrasions and deep contusions. They told me that no surgery was necessary and that everything would heal naturally in time. That evening I was transferred to the MGH trauma center at MGH Boston as Emerson does not have a trauma center. Also, my PCP and other physicians are at MGH.

    I spent 2 nights at MGH before being released on crutches to my home. They estimated an 8–10-week recovery period. I received at home PT 2-3 times a week for about 5 weeks. 

    My wife spent a lot of time taking care of me and the only reason I thought about not riding again was so that I would not put her through the ordeal again. But she was very supportive of my returning to riding, and I resumed riding in mid-August, first with a few stints on my trainer & then back on the road.

    I had no hesitancy in going back to riding as I missed riding with my cycling friends. I have not suffered any PTSD and have continued riding since then with no adverse effects.

    That's it. If you would like any further details, feel free to let me know.

    Ken Hablow

    October 2005. I was arrowing the Rosy Cheeks ride for, and with, Connie Farb. We were coming down Littleton County Rd. just before the friendly Crossings Hostel. Connie was behind me. A dog ran out from the right, which I did not see until it was too late to slow or make maneuvers.  I remember hitting the dog, then getting airborne. My next memory was lying on the side of the road with the EMTs asking which hospital I wanted to go to, Ayer (NOT!) or Emerson. I spent 3 days in the ICU after having a CT scan. I had; 6 or 7 cracked ribs, a cracked scapular, a fully torn left rotator cuff, and a cracked pelvis. “Cracked” is the operative word since nothing required surgery, except for the rotator cuff. I spent 2 full weeks in the orthopedic ward of the hospital. There was daily PT and OT. They would not release me until I could walk up and down 3 steps. It was the cracked pelvis that kept me immobile. It was several months before I could get back on a bike, and about 6 months of outpatient PT. the objective was always to get back on the road, which I ultimately did. There was never a doubt that I was going to do that, cycling is too addictive.

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