My Turn: A Spandex-phobe veers off the trail | SierraSun.com

My Turn: A Spandex-phobe veers off the trail

Zack Beekler

The guest column on the issues surrounding paving the Legacy Trail (“Paving the Legacy Trail caters to the Spandex-set” Sierra Sun April 11) was at once hilarious and embarrassing to the Tahoe, Reno and Bay Area communities. Even more curious was that the Sun would print such opinionated, factless slander clearly aimed toward a group and the community that turned out about 1,000 votes on the subject thus far.

Perhaps the writer has been caught up in the recent Imus-isms, or was passed on his bicycle by some poor local who happened to be riding a Trek bicycle or wearing yellow or something to that effect. Perhaps it WAS Lance. The writer himself seems to have gone Postal.

The riding and nonriding community has embraced the paving of the trail for many reasons, including daily commuting, recreational outings and serious riding for its own sake.

Riders do wear a variety of clothing as well. Skiers wear Gore-Tex, golfers wear khaki, and cyclists wear Lycra or Spandex. Some of the really green cyclists do wear baggies. Who cares? It’s all about being outdoors. And that’s what the trail is all about, really.

The folks who ride in Truckee are mostly locals, as well as second homeowners and a handful of tourists from all over. If the roads and trails were better in quantity and design, we’d probably see a lot more riders from all groups out enjoying a safer cycling environment. Where the writer gets his 1 percent claim is a real mystery.

And fashion shows. Heck, there’s a fashion show everyday on the ski slopes, the golf course and in the cycling community. But not everyone who shows up in a “uniform” is a poser. These are just enthusiasts who know they are serious enough about their sport to don the most appropriate gear for form and function.

And why all the judgment of the many well-intentioned people who pay to ride bikes, drive boats in our lakes or fly their planes around? Like it or not, they have a right to be who they are and do what they want, just like everyone else. Why not poke fun at the downtown shopper and the latte-sipping crowd at Starbucks or Wild Cherries?

In regards to the data on how 80 percent of the regulars who ride the bike path from River Ranch to Tahoe City and back, only do it so they can be near restaurants etc., a lot of things come to mind. First, since the bike path is only paved from the Squaw Valley area to River Ranch and on into Tahoe, it only makes sense that this is the safest and most scenic and enjoyable way to get some time on the bike. Second, isn’t it a good thing that families can pull up to Bridgetender and grab a burger and some lemonade while checking out the rafting scene?

Finally, many other more-serious riders endure Highway 89 from Truckee to the path, at which point they gladly ride it the rest of the way on that out-and-back section versus putting their lives in danger while attempting to ride the narrow, twisty road.

I don’t know of anyone who has ridden that road and come back to brag about it, like surviving a death trap like that was cool or something. The only exception I have ever seen where a cyclist opts for the road versus a trail may be near the West Shore, where congestion and conditions warrant some back and forth between using the trail and road.

In the end, its not about being green or yellow. Many people know how to balance the two. And Truckee has spoken, after well-thought consideration, that it knows what may be best and what it wants. Clearly, a paved trail makes the safest and most sense for all users, not just the Spandexed cyclists. Heck, I’m sure a few of the baggy mountain bikers even wanted it paved. Rough, single-track surfaces for more advanced running, walking, biking, equestrians and the like exist all over the place.

Wonderful trails like Martis, Emigrant and those near east Donner Lake are generally not the areas that weekend warriors, kids and the average Joe venture to in their quest to take in our mountain beauty. They, in fact, are the types of trails that require good health and moderate skills at best to enjoy without risk of a tumble.

Perhaps the writer is color-blind. His biases are many and one can only hope that the next time Lance himself comes to Truckee that we have some nice paths that we can all be proud of. Of course, the writer is welcome to use them, Spandex or not. But I’ll bet that he is a no-show.