Tuesday, November 19, 2013

GWB Cable Restoration Could Disrupt Cyclists For Decade

Story by Max Almenas Photos courtesy of John Ford & NJBWC

In 2015, hundreds of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians traversing the George Washington Bridge (GWB) could experience dramatic changes if the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) moves forward with their cable replacement project. The 1.2 billion dollar effort, which is expected to last 8 years, will replace all 592 suspender ropes and clean all four main cables on the GWB.

The cables are 10 years overdue for replacement. But in order to replace the cables, paths to bicycle, walk, or run across the bridge will be closed or rerouted. The PANYNJ will close off the north path while the south path is repaired, and vice versa for safety precautions.

While it is not clear which path will be closed first, the north path is clearly the more difficult of the two to traverse. Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director of New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition (NJBWC), is concerned the closures could have widespread effects for pedestrians and cyclists who utilize the GWB daily for commuting, leisure, or training for world class cycling events such as Gran Fondo New York.

"The south side is bike and wheelchair accessible,” said Steiner. “There are 171 steps on the north side spread out over more than a handful of staircases. Some of the staircases are on the New Jersey side, and some are on the New York side.”

The staircases on the north path are steep and covered with metal grating, which could be particularly difficult for cyclists attempting to carry their bikes up multiple sets of stairs while wearing cycling cleats. During inclement weather, the metal grating can provide less than perfect traction.

“So the concern is when the south path is closed, many cyclists are just not going to come across the bridge or carry their bikes up those steps,” Steiner said. “As of 2012, there are 500,000 cyclists who cross the George Washington Bridge every year. “And that number doubles every five years. That’s going to be severely limited once this project gets started.”

Everyday, hundreds of cyclists cross over the GWB onto Hudson Terrace and pedal past Strictly Bicycles with friends or in group rides enroute to 9W, the most traveled cycling route in the United States. In February, members of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Transportation Alternatives (NYC), and New York Cycle Club attended a PANYNJ board meeting on behalf of non-motorists.

"We made them aware that this was an unacceptable situation for us. We [cyclists and pedestrians] are valid users of the bridge, we’re a constituency also, and they need to think about us,” Steiner explained. "Two weeks later, the PANYNJ contacted the advocacy groups and arranged to spend a day in April walking the north and south paths with bridge engineers, planners and operation managers."

Representatives from PANYNJ, Planning Corps,
the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, and the engineering firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. attended the meeting. They brainstormed to find solutions that could move the project forward without impeding cyclists and pedestrians.

“We had a bike with us and showed engineers what it’s like riding a bike on both sides of that bridge,” Steiner said. “And in the afternoon we brainstormed solutions mainly focused on removing the steps on the north side because that seems to be the biggest barrier.”

The groups also pointed to the low visibility at the towers, crowded ramps leading to the bridge, tight squeezes where the paths narrow at gateways, and standpipes, all which the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition believes is a clear and present danger for thousands of bicyclists daily.

While the advocacy groups were expecting the PANYNJ to get back to them with a set of potential designs this summer, Steiner says she expects to hear from them in the coming weeks and hopes the general public will connect with the advocacy groups to mainstream the communication channels without disrupting the efforts.

“The Port Authority asked us to keep the advocacy among the organizations that were already involved, because they said, ‘Look, we’ve never done this before, we’ve never worked with a group of advocates, this is new to us, we want to do this right,’” Steiner said. “So if you look at that list, you’ve got a recreational touring club on each side of the bridge and you’ve got advocacy groups on each side of the bridge, so we feel we’re adequately represented.”

Anyone concerned with how their cycling to and from 9W and New York City will be impacted, is encouraged to visit websites for the following organizations: New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Transportation Alternatives (NYC), Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey, and New York Cycle Club.

"Sign up for our (NJBWC) newsletter, let us know that you’re interested in updates on the bridge, provide us with any feedback or any ideas you have, and we’ll keep you informed as to what’s going on,” Steiner said. “But it does help to hear from cyclists so we can count you in our numbers.”

“We have a rough idea who our constituency is but the more numbers we have, the better when we work with the Port Authority,” Steiner added. “What we don’t want is a barrage of communication directly to Port Authority because we’re trying to abide by what they asked us to do, and that was to funnel all of the communication between the two advocacy groups.”

To stay informed on developments regarding the cable restoration project, sign up for the Strictly Bicycles newsletter.

Friday, November 1, 2013

From Kona With Love: New York Triathlete’s Dream Comes Full Circle

Story By Max Almenas     Photos courtesy of Paul Dauber and Cervélo

Triathlete Paul Dauber is experiencing fatigue and constant hunger after completing the GoPro Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii October 12, arguably the most challenging one-day endurance event on the planet.

While the Kona event is virtually the same distance as other Ironman races, 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a full 26.2-mile marathon, the Hawaiian version comes packed with its own set of challenges including an emotionally-charged mass swim start with approximately 2,000 triathletes, intense trade winds across the Hawaiian lava desert in the bike segment, and blistering heat and humidity during the run.  

“I can eat all day and nothing happens,” said Dauber. “It’s hilarious. But I’m pleased with the whole thing and how it all turned out. Tired, but happy.”

Dauber, who qualified for Kona after a strong finish at Ironman Mont-Tremblant this summer, admits he went a little too hard on the bike segment, and had a little less “fuel” than he would have liked for the marathon segment.

This was not Dauber’s first trip to Kona. Nine years ago during his honeymoon, Dauber, still a newbie to the sport, had the New York City Triathlon and a half Ironman in Rhode Island checked off. But after witnessing the “great race” he was forever hooked.   

“I had no aspiration at that point until I saw the start line to think about the possibility of ever getting to Kona,” Dauber said. “It never really crossed my mind that someday I could actually have the opportunity to race Kona.”

Transitioning From Ironman Distance to Kona

Dauber, who turned 50 during Ironman Mont-Tremblant, came into the sport as a runner with ankle issues and a friend recommended he purchase a bike to minimize impact during workouts. Shortly after purchasing a road bike, he completed several triathlons and within a few years, five Ironman races.

Dauber believes the trick to finishing well in an Ironman is recognizing the race is not made up of three separate components but one entire experience requiring the greatest emphasis on the bike segment.

“If you’re going to run a marathon after the bike, you have to be so strong on the bike, that the run training doesn’t mater as much,” Dauber explained. “So I spent the bulk of my time training on the bike, getting lost somewhere near Bear Mountain, spending a lot of time on Route 9W, working on the hills and doing some interval training on the flats and going fast.”

“And of course, I was thrilled to buy a new Cervélo P5 at Strictly Bicycles and started riding from the time I knew I was going from Mont-Tremblant to Kona,” Dauber said. “So I spend a lot of time on the bike. That’s probably the most important thing because if you’re not strong off the bike, the rest of the Ironman doesn’t come through so well.”

Making Connections With Local Bike Shop

While Dauber trained for Ironman Mont-Tremblant, he was also transitioning from a home in Chappaqua New York to his new residence in Englewood, New Jersey. When he decided it was time for a new bike, he visited Strictly Bicycles.         

Before the Cervélo P5, Dauber trained on the Scott Plasma 3 Premium, a triathlon bike that set a new world record during the 2011 Ironman championship in Kona, packaged with 11-speed Shimano Durace components.

While he enjoyed the bike, it was a little long for him due to his short torso, and with 35-inch inseam and long legs, he needed a taller yet shorter frame.

“I was interested in going back to Cervélo. My first tri bike was a Cervélo P2 carbon, so I knew the fitting on the P5 was a little bit less aggressive than the old P3s,” Dauber explained. “When I came in [to Strictly Bicycles] to meet with Nelson, get fit, and work with Gato [de Leon, mechanic], it was a no-brainer for me.”

After purchasing the P5, Dauber realized he was more comfortable and could remain in the aero position longer. Now he is generating more power and cycling faster.

According to Cervélo, the P5 landed seven Ironman wins within the first six months of launch with outrageous records in the bike split. Other milestones include David Zabriskie’s win in the U.S. Time Trial Championship, Caroline ”Xena” Steffen’s first place finish in the 2012 Ironman European Championship, and Ryder Hesjedal’s win at the 2012 Giro d’Italia.


“And I’m proud to say that my bike split in Kona was in the range of 5:25, so I averaged close to 21-miles per hour over the whole course, which can be windy with both cross and head winds,” Dauber added. “The bike made a big difference for me, plus I like it, it looks cool, it makes me faster. I’m so glad I made the switch.”

If you're interested in the P5 or any of our triathlon/time trial bikes, email max@strictlybicycles.com or call Max at 201-944-7074.

You can also listen to the full interview at our new podcast station: Strictly Bicycles Cyclecast