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Free skills beat stitches

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Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:03 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

It could be a matter of swallowing one’s pride, but when The Girlfriend recently asked me to participate in a couple levels of “free bicycle safety classes,” the reflexive reaction was to scoff.

After all, I bike-commuted my way through college and raced as a team mountain cyclist, back when. Better yet, I’ve also survived light collisions with RVs and liberal amounts of stitches from helmetless dirt-jumping adventures gone astray.

What could I possibly learn? Umm, yeah…

As summer approaches, many riders — myself included — will take to the roads under cover of night, among moderate temperatures and cruddy visibility. But — knock on wood — 2008 is already taxing cyclists’ skins at a quick pace.

Two cyclists have already been killed within city limits this year, double the tally from the past two annums. Surrounding Pima County has been a bit kinder, with only one fatality since 2007.

One of those killed this year kissed a pickup truck’s grille while riding against traffic flow. Without a helmet.

That particular cyclist’s conduct might draw Darwinistic comparisons, but both of his trespasses are covered under those bike courses’ first round of classes, offered by Pima County Department of Transportation and the League of American Bicyclists in celebration of May, a.k.a. Bicycle Safety Month.

Frankly you don’t need to be killed to have a bad day aboard your prized hunk of aluminum (or carbon fibre, if you’re one of those haughty types.) Over 1,500 riders were injured during 2006 in traffic-related accidents.

Those ADOT numbers include everything reported from scraped palms to compound fractures, and don’t take into account incidents absent from automotive issues.

So, you can imagine it only gets worse from there.

Everyone knows that gas prices are skyrocketing, ballooning, levitating. It’s the favorite subject of bored journalists on slow news days. But pump prices are gouging many folks into mimicking students’ actions and biking to work.

Noble a notion as that is during this blossoming era of green responsibility, many novice riders aren’t really prepared to negotiate the hazards of rush hour without airbags and cup holders. Especially when those car doors swing open from nowhere.

Fortunately, bike commuting gets it’s due in the canons of Pima County’s free bike safety classes, once the basic prerequisites are filled.

Most of the courses run three hours, covering maneuvers, crash avoidance and maintenance issues. Fitness and training courses are also available. And you get a bunch of free schwag upon completion — including pricey helmets, light sets, water bottles, patch kits, tire levers and reflective tape.

There’s also a free U-lock in the deal, which helps guarantee that your ride will still be outside Sprouts when you return with that perfect mango hummus you spent the entire afternoon searching for.

Which is a lot tastier than swallowing one’s pride — or teeth.

Check out the full roster of courses, times and availability at or call 243-BIKE.

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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