Popularity of cycling spreading in Calaveras County; pros discuss safety concerns

The Mother Lode Bicycle Coalition stresses safety in cycling.

NorCal Regional Cyclist Dustyn and Ultra Cycling Professional Seana Hogan both train throughout the year in the Mother Lode.

Though training can be brutal at times, staying safe on somewhat unsafe roads can be just as harrowing.

Part of the training process for the single-named Dustyn includes being on her bike for 12,000 miles a year. The cyclist said that Milton Road and Camanche Reservoir are superior places to ride because of the visibility between bikers and cars.

Dustyn is currently training to compete in Race Across the West, which takes place starting June 11. The race spans from Oceanside north of Carlsbad in Southern California to Durango, Colo. While she trains for the forthcoming race, Dustyn will be studying and learning from cycling groups to know what to expect from the race when she enters in 2020.

Cycling is a whole-body workout. Eating right and staying fit are important aspects to the sport. Thanks to Dustyn’s sponsor, Hammer Nutrition, she is able to intake professional-grade electrolytes, avoiding cramps on the road, she said.

“People think that all you need is water, but then your legs cramp up. And Gatorade is full of sugar. Most athletes I know eat gel. It’s easy to digest,” Dustyn said.

On top of eating right, she delegates two days a week to building upper-body strength. Contrary to popular belief, cycling will take a toll on the arms. In competition, riders are expected to grip the handle bars for up to 12 hours. If a rider does not consider this, he or she is in for a painful trek.

While Hogan was unavailable for an interview, Dustyn describes her fellow cyclist as “private and scholarly.”

Cycling is a popular sport among retired members of the Valley Springs community. As the town grows, many recreational and competitive riders have banded together with a goal to spread awareness of road safety for both drivers and bikers.

Rob Williams, co-founder of the Motherlode Bicycle Coalition, said his ideal biking relationship with cars would be modeled after the standards of Italy or France, where biking events are so common that drivers respect cyclists on any road.

As the biking scene takes off, Williams and retired Caltrans Supervisor Carl Baker have reached out to local California Highway Patrol Officer Tobias Butzler for help to spread awareness for biking safety.

It’s also beholden upon cyclists to make their presence known. One way is for all riders to always wear colorful and reflective gear, no matter the time of day.

Butzler said that cyclists are just as responsible as drivers on the road. While the common misconception about cyclists paints them as impulsive, aggressive, young adults, Williams said that the majority of riders are between the ages 55 and 75 years old.

As awareness of bikers on the road is gained throughout the county and surrounding areas, cyclists have reached out to Caltrans to express the inconvenience of rumble strips. Dustyn describes many roads that would be “perfect” for speed training if they were not narrowed by the strips.

“On my last ride, I asked Caltrans workers if they were putting more rumble strips in and they said, ‘We heard you cyclists; we only put them where they’re needed,’” Williams said.

Williams claimed that as more cyclists become interested in the Mother Lode and ride through the region, more money will be brought in by the industry.

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Reporter

Vivienne is an aspiring journalist currently studying at San Joaquin Delta College. This winter she has set out to learn more about the field as an intern with The Calaveras Enterprise. Vivienne is native to Valley Springs.

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