By Yokota Fritz
There's a lot of talk this year about an increase of bicycle use among adults this year. This sad story in the Los Angeles Times, however, shows we have a long ways to go.
One sunny afternoon as our children played nearby, I asked a neighbor at what age she would allow her son to bicycle around the block by himself.
"I don't think I would ever do that," she replied. "The world is a very different place now than it was when we were growing up."
Did she really think the number of child molesters and kidnappers in the world had increased in the last 20 or 30 years, I asked? "Oh, yes, I think it is increasing. Because of the Internet."
At a PTA meeting, during a discussion of traffic problems around the school campus, I asked what we could do to encourage families to walk or bike to school. Other parents looked at me as if I'd suggested we stuff the children into barrels and roll them into the nearest active volcano. One teacher looked at me in shock. "I wouldn't let my children walk to school alone ... would you?"
"Haven't you heard about all of the predators in this area?" asked a father.
"No, I haven't," I said. "I think this is a pretty safe neighborhood."
"You'd be surprised," he replied, lowering his eyebrows. "You should read the Megan's Law website." He continued: "You know how to solve the traffic problem around this school? Get rid of all the predators. Then you won't have any more traffic."
By Yokota Fritz
Jesper Therkildsen coaches junior riders for the Danish national team. Because of his interest in cycling training and exercise physiology, Jesper is now a medical student at the University of Aarhus.
He now shares his knowledge of exercise physiology through his blog, Cycling Training Tips. I asked Jesper a few questions about his cycling background and how cyclists and other athletes can benefit from reading his fitness tips for cyclists.
Denmark is famous for its cycling culture. Is there much recreational road riding there in the style of much American road cycling?
Denmark is a good place for recreational cyclists and there are many great roads to ride. Also Denmark is very flat, making it easier for a broad range of cyclists to ride quite fast. Since Bjarne Riis won the Tour de France back in 1996 there have been a great increment in the number of roadcyclists in Denmark.
Why should cyclists read "Cycling Training Tips"? What type of audience benefits the most from your blog?
When serious mtb and road cyclists spend more than 10 hours per week on training, they do it because they have some goals to achieve. I hope that I can make the road to their goals shorter, smoother or at least more enjoyable. By getting some knowledge about basic exercise physiology, training planning and interval training, there is a good chance that they can improve their performance without spending more time or energy on their cycling.
Cyclists at all level from beginners to pro cyclists can benefit from learning how a power meter works and how to train intervals. Clever training is not rocket science, but I try to get more scientific approach into cycling training since there too many myths out in the cycling clubs about how we should train. The tips you get out in the clubs are almost never evidence based knowledge, but often just an old fellow telling stories about how he won races in the 70's.
My power meter project shows that strong cyclists can benefit from a structured training program with significant improvements after only 6 weeks training. These cyclists are absolutely not un-trained, what make these results even more impressing.
Would other athletes benefit? Do you know, for example, of runners, skiers or other fitness enthusiasts who read or link to Cycling Training Tips?
All endurance athletes can benefit from the basic principles about training, recovery, nutrition etc. Actually most athletes can benefit from a structured, well-planned training program. I think we will see more academic coaches in the future.
What type of cycling do you enjoy?
I do some road cycling in the summer time just for fun. I work as a coach for a couple of mtb and road cyclists. I think it is a lot more fun to see them make results than watching pro cycling. I do watch the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix (cool race!), but the rest of the year I don't watch cycling on TV.
Fear keeping kids indoors, fat, and unhealthy
Fritz, We have the same "parental attitude" problem in our family's neighborhood. Parents now drive their children to school that live only two blocks away! The reason: Too Many Predators!
Even the children have falsely used this "story" to get attention. My boys continue to walk or ride the 1.1 mile to school but we need others to do the same. Only from more pedestrian use will neighborhoods be considered safe again and these childish fears extinguished.
Jack, this cycle of less use is indeed the paradox. If more kids (and parents!) were outdoors and on the streets insted of sequested in their isolation boxes, the neighborhoods would indeed be more safe. This is true not only from the standpoint of weirdos and whatnot, but for traffic also.
People are stupifyingly paranoid. The media has done an amazing job of making everyone afraid of doing anything. Ugghh...
This is a frightening attitude that is indeed all too prevalent. Kids need to learn proper safety rules and etiquette. They also need to be able to go exploring outdoors, but parents are too afraid to let them out of their sight.
Sad, Sad, Sad.
I let my 9 year old daughter ride around the block, down to the park down the street, to her cousins house about a mile away. She's gone for hours at a time but I think she's fine. I think the most likely thing that could go wrong is she'll fall and skin a knee or break a bone. But that's part of growing up.
I want her to ride her bike to school but the principal won't allow it. She says it's "unsafe to have kids walking and riding bikes around the buses". Hopefully we can get them to change that by the next Ride Your Bike To School day.
It's looking like I'm going to end up in Australia before my little (really little, unborn little) one has to go to school. I really hope that "the fear" isn't as prevelant there as it is here in North America.
We have a minimum security prison two blocks from our current home. Our member of parliment organized a press conference there and the local residents rallied to protest the place. I was the only one to say that if you want to live by laws you have to accept that there needs to be a place where people get locked up. Not in my backyard is not an arguement I accept. Their most common complaint was that it was placing their children in danger.
This disconnect between perception and reality is truly frightening. Far more frightening than the likelihood of some guy who was busted for selling pot escaping and then molesting a child rathe than running for the hills. That disconnect is how totalitarian regimes get and keep power, it's how atrocities are justified.
Bradley, great that your daughter is biking to school. My sons have been doing so since first grade. However, many children are poorly trained and last year one 9 year old ran into a public bus.
The problem? He was riding his new bike and didn't know how to use his hand brakes! He was in the hospital for awhile but is fine now.
Administrators are more concerned with liability than our childrens' development. The Ride Your Bike to School idea is completely OFF the charts.
By the way, in the St Louis area, two abducted children were found because one other student noticed the color and type of vehicle of the abductor. We need more kids on our streets and sidewalks!
I just don't know what to say about stories like this. My kids walk about 3 blocks to school. Their elementary school borders our neighborhood, so quite a few kids walk. Still, I am amazed that so many parents who live only blocks away drop their kids off. It takes longer to wait in the car line than to walk, but I guess driving is perceived as safer. For the record, I worry a lot more about all those cars than crazy people lurking in the bushes.
Fitness tips for cyclists
I have been using some supplements from Topform before and after my rides. I know alot of racers and endurance riders are using many different products. Just curious to get some feedback on which ones have good performance and are easy to down, cheers!