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Taliban Steals Local Bicycle Club
- Bob Fugett, President American Road Cycling

The following is an account of a local bike club abdicating its responsibility to its membership by failing to support the local cycling community's legitimate rights. The story will be of interest to other cycling organizations, as well as individuals who may be facing a situation similar to SlingShot's Freedom of Speech difficulties.

U.S. Citizens have rather broad rights which allow bicycling on public roadways. However, lack of understanding by the public at large causes those rights to be in constant jeopardy. If bicyclists, as a community, do not press for public education, along with legislative and administrative confirmation that these rights exist, they will be lost forever—with opportunities missed which would increase the legitimate, safe and healthful use of our public roadways.

The American Road Cycling organization helps assure that these rights will remain constant by assembling a database of concerned citizens to be used as supporting evidence that strong interest in shared roadways exists, thus allowing pressure to be applied to the appropriate administrative and legislative bodies.

Anyone can add to this LIST by submitting a MEMBERSHIP FORM, while the following describes a local problem that has relevance to numerous cycling organizations.


A local cycling club has sold out its membership by failing to protect cycling rights that are under attack. A situation exists where local drivers are complaining that cyclists are filling the roadways and impeding traffic. Actually, these complaints are not aimed at bringing the cyclists into mere conformance with the letter of the law but are meant to totally remove cyclists from the streets altogether. Unfortunately the drivers are not being made aware of the fact that the cyclists do have the right to be on the road and that the compliance they are looking for would actually only make things worse for the drivers.

The local club's leadership seems unable to grasp the idea that the drivers are truly asking for unreasonable compliance, and club officials have rolled over several times when the question has been brought to their attention. Instead of asking that drivers be better educated with regard to road sharing laws, they have attacked their own membership.

At this point in the narrative, many people will save themselves time by simply submitting a MEMBERSHIP FORM in order to add their name to the LIST and forgo the lengthy explanation below. Otherwise, here's the background. We can start with my e-mail response to my nephew's reaction after he first saw the American Road Cycling web site. His reaction is bracketed (<<...>>), and my response follows.

Response to e-mail query, regarding first viewing of American Road Cycling web site.

Hey j : )

> Very nice. Is it a bit of real animosity that I
> am picking up about another organization?

Yep, and that other organization will be punished by never having their name mentioned on the American Road Cycling web site.

When I joined that other Club, there were lots of real cyclists in it. Eventually the place loaded up with socialites who were more interested in eating snacks at meetings than they were in biking.

Eventually, and unfortunately, the Editor of the Newsletter quit because her husband was retiring, and they were setting off on their own U.S. bike tour, which would dip up into Canada.

She was the best possible Editor. Near the time of her quitting I got a chance to see her Pagemaker templates. They took my breath away. I was pretty certain the Club would not survive without her. Plus her husband was definitely the spiritual leader of the B riders. It was a horrible loss.

I was asked to take over as Editor of the newsletter but demurred explaining that my writing a monthly column was a far cry from editing the whole Newsletter. When the Perfect Editor left, my predictions came true. The Club was not the same without its central core.

That's when the Taliban took over.

My next article, after the Taliban took over the Club and Newsletter, received a letter of complaint which itself ran in the issue afterwards, without me being given an opportunity to respond. The person who wrote the letter said that they had thrown down their Newsletter in disgust when they read the words "Spin Bitch," and how horrible it was "...that somebody could say such a demeaning thing about a woman."

Apparently the complainer had not considered that the woman in question might like to have some say in the matter herself. In fact it was the "Spin Bitch" herself who chose "Bitch" over "Witch." I gave her the choice before submitting the article. She taught spin classes at a local gym, and she also planned a Dear Spin Bitch column for the newsletter in which she would harangue questioners, then provide them with good training advice. Her first article was hilarious, and I was the butt of it. Unfortunately, her e-mail submitting that first article to the Taliban was totally ignored, not so much as a "No, thank you." I can hardly endure the irony: now that she's dead, the Taliban is putting her on the Club's riding jersey, but that's another story.

I did not so much mind my not being given a chance to respond to the complaint, but my article in the very same newsletter in which the complaint ran was CENSORED—not edited mind you, but CENSORED. The article began with, "Holy Shit!" which was changed to, "Holy S__t!"  which was the only edit in 1200 words. Plus my byline was bumped to the bottom of the article, which meant that all the people who had told me they generally opened up their newsletters, found my article, read it and then tossed out their newsletter, would not even see it. Although my articles are humorous, I take Freedom of Speech very, very seriously. Therefore, that was the last article I submitted.

In contrast, an article about a famous female mountain bike racer ran in that week's issue of Velo News ending with the honorific, "Spin Bitch Spin." Apparently, only the fast and the furious can understand the fast and the furious.

In any case, I stopped submitting articles because of my acute awareness that a Taliban takeover never ever starts out with women being dragged down to the soccer field and having bullets summarily snapped into their heads—they work up to that real slow like. I had no choice but to stop supporting such shenanigans in the early stages, so in further protest I also stopped paying dues.

Here was my theory, "Ok, somebody got upset, but when you CENSORED you lost MONEY plus a whole lot more."

The next spring, a new Club President chose to make an example of me in the parking lot before a ride. Actually it happened at two rides before my wife went off on the guy. She pointed out, rather loudly, that I had personally paid dues for six other people the year before (so they would not get harassed at rides), and I had worked several years writing Newsletter articles which received raves, and I had provided SAG vehicles and done my fair share of volunteering and bringing food to the yearly Big Ride, and especially that most of the people in the parking lot that day (both days actually) were also not paying dues.

Since there are more than enough rides around here outside the Club to attend, I never went back. As protest, my wife Mary immediately put a little "Bitch" license plate on her own bike, in order to show up to rides and put it in front of the original letter of complaint writer every possible chance. Of course that complainer (we call her PunchBag) is slow, so Mary gets to put the "Bitch" license plate in her face only momentarily. The complainer is so enamored of her own myopic little world, she has probably never even seen it. As you might expect, I have been asked not to mention the American Road Cycling web site to the complainer, because it would get her upset to see the kind of language that is used.

These days I keep hearing through the grape vine that the Taliban would like the Club to be split in two, "...because the A riders are out of control." It seems the local motorists are complaining about bikers on the road Saturday mornings. The Club's answer is to disown the best and fastest, and try to rein in the rest. What the Taliban does not understand is that the people complaining are not complaining because cyclists are taking up the WHOLE ROAD. They are complaining because cyclists are on the road AT ALL.

There is a widespread misunderstanding about the fact that cyclists DO have a legal and legitimate right to be on the roads. The motorists who are complaining would be complaining whether the letter of the law (two abreast) is met or not. They would only complain more if the fast group went a step further than mere compliance and actually stayed single file. In that case, motorists would have to pass a single line of 50+ cyclists, as apposed to waiting a few moments for the ride to take the next turn and get out of their way. Besides, the fast ride is progressing only slightly slower (and sometimes a little faster) than the posted speed limit. What's the big deal? As the Starkmeister best described it, "Oooh, sorry I made you move your big toe over to the left." [read: "Touch your brake."]

Apparently, couch potatoes need to get back to their couches (or the jobs that support those couches) as fast as they can possibly drive.

So rather than confront the issue head on, the local Club chooses to attack the best and most enthusiastic riders they have. At one point I was asked to say something to the front group. There was even a suggestion to split up Saturday's fast ride into Team Time Trials, so there would be smaller more controlled groups going out at intervals!?!

The person who asked me to do it was clueless about how NOBODY talks to the front group. It is not the nature of the members of that beast to listen to, and comply with direct address. Not to mention that the riders in the front group have a legitimate right to be doing what they are doing, local club or not.

I hear reports that a great number of rides such as the Club's fast ride proceed regularly without any club attachments whatsoever. There is even one ride near here that generally hosts over 400 riders—no club, no insurance, no newsletter. I also know a famous ride all the way down in San Antonio, Florida that sometimes has Pro Race Teams from Europe show up—again, no club, no insurance, no newsletter—and it's been going on for 50 years. It is the ride that attracts, not the social accoutrements.

In our case, the local club has descended into being a Social Club of slow riders who give themselves titles and use their positions to realize their dreams of being petit bureaucrats, something they are not allowed to do in real life where things are serious.

I am in pretty good shape this year and will be attending The Hump again (per popular demand), because it is truly one of the best ways to test yourself. Plus there is no better way to achieve that level of workout, even if being egged on by a legion of personal trainers.

Thanks to American Road Cycling I have a sanctioned event, an ID Card, and a perfectly good excuse to show up. So does everybody else. Hopefully this will outweigh the Taliban's lack of acknowledgement that the local Club is providing no services for this ride, that the ride is held on public roads (which we are all paying for and have a right to ride on), and that the Club does not own the parking lot they are trying to control. The Club has no legal standing in these matters.

A number of the members of the Club have contacted me personally and expressed their horror at the leadership's lack of acknowledgement regarding their lack of standing, along with their intransigence. Maybe the Club leadership will finally catch on that it might be nice to encourage riders to show up for rides instead of throwing up bull-shit barriers.

In any case, American Road Cycling sanctioning now makes The Hump accessible to ALL riders who would like (and who have the cycling prowess) to be there...not that anyone ever needed permission in the first place.


Since this page was first posted, the heat applied to Mr. Fugett has only increased.

He believes the next step will be the Club trying to extract dues from migrant workers who ride their bikes along the roads at the same time as the Saturday morning ride. Something like, "Hola, muchacho. Hold on there. You can't be riding your bike along these roads like this. Our Club's insurance is in jeopardy."

After that the Club may even begin attacking people in the parking lot on their way to the ice-cream stand, "Sorry, buddy. You can't park here. This is a CLUB RIDE! You are fucking up our insurance."

Thankfully, Mr. Fugett finally suckered the club president on the record stating the honest truth.


this page last updated: 02/01/2015 10:38:49 PM

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