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Calvin's Corner

Commuter Bike League

May 13th, 2008-Bike To Work Week Interview with Captain Josh:

This is a big week in the QBP Commuter League, so we will celebrate by interviewing our Psych-lers team hero, Captain Josh Abrahamson:

Calvin: Good morning Captain, how is our team doing in the Commuter League?

Captain Josh: Pretty good, could be doing better, but it's just the start of the season.

Calvin: Are we kicking commuter tail and taking names?

Captain Josh: Our tail is getting a little kicked. Some of our strong players are on business trips. We are trailing by 14 points.

Calvin: Who are our strong riders?

Captain Josh: Walt Huemmer, Brad Crosby and Noah Jensen. Noah rides all the time, we've been without him for two weeks. (Editor's note: Captain must have just forgotten Calvin from the list. Josh is a busy man, so he can be forgiven.)

Calvin: Who are we up against in League Play?

Captain Josh: We are playing the "Gearly Beloved." They have some strong players that don't even have cars, and ride in the rain.

Calvin: How's the commuter league going overall for QBP?

Captain Josh: It is terrific, a lot more people ride when part of a team. They have the motivation to become involved.

Calvin: Does the Commuter League make you ride more then normal?

Captain Josh: Me personally, no, I rode more in the winter then now. It's because I've been training off road, but I changed my scheudle at work so I can do some off roading on the way.

Calvin: As captain of our team what techniques do you use to keep our team going?

Captain Josh: Bribery. Beer and pizza. I sent little witty says and thoughts to inspire the team. If we win, we will have a pizza party. Plus I'm trying to challenge the other team captains to a 12 pack challenge. When we win, they will have to buy us a 12 pack.

Calvin: Any inspiring last words for the Ride to Work Week?

Captain Josh: It's the day that counts, if there's one time your gonig to ride, make it Wednesday. We get double points. Plus it's the Specialized Commuter Cup.

Calvin: Thanks, Captain. Let's see if we can take down the "Gearly Beloved."

Captain Josh: Let's do it!


April: NEWS FLASH: We lost. My team lost. I cannot believe it. Captain Josh is putting it in the nicest of ways, "...it looks like we may not have won this round but there are many more to come." What a great guy, next week Josh, every commuter mile is for you.

Friday, a week later. Rode a couple of times, but it is raining here. An excuse? Certainly. Captain Josh is sending me H.G. Wells quotes to inspire me, something about, "...the future of the human race." With me on the team, it feels more like, "...the decline of Western Civilization."

Friday, in spite of a forecast of a cold hard rain, I rode in. The Pych-lers were counting on me, or maybe what Captain Josh said he was "counting me out," whatever it was, I sped through the dark in my cute matching red Goretex® outfit.

Thursday. No ride. Couldn't, had a sick kid at home, but I would of, but luckily, I didn't. I mean lucky for the other team that is.

Wednesday. Not a good ride. In fact, not a ride at all. Got up early, downed the usual amount of coffee, but my pistons just wouldn't react. Perhaps I will plagiarize an excuse and say, "Circumstances beyond my control dictated driving today." Like circumstances like I am falling apart? My team captain Abrahamson sent a note, "...I will stop by your work with a BLACK coffee." Is that code for he's after me? Suddenly I am afraid.

Tuesday. Second day. Great ride this AM. Springtime sounds everywhere, and the chorus frogs were going nuts. My team captain, Joshua Abrahamson, says he will buy us pizza if we win the first game, but he'd have to mail me my slice. Still, not so fast coming in. I wore lycra, which usually gives me my superhuman strength, but today something was missing. Maybe the Mill City Rollerz will grind me up, time will tell.

Monday! First day, opening season, let the Commuter Bike League Games begin! My team, the Psych-lers are going up against the Cream Puffs... no, my mistake, it is the Mill City Rollerz. So time to shut up and ride to work, and that I do. You might be asking, "Wait a minute, isn't Park Tool closed Mondays?" Yes, we are but I am still riding to "work." Okay, maybe this is really a coffee shop, not Park Tool, and maybe that is a chocolate "hockey puck" and a mug of dark roast. So what, I'm working, see, there's a laptop. Someone put a new cable in and cannot shift her gears, some else needs to know the right tool for a Falcon freewheel, articles must be written, thinking must occur. Besides, I put in my five miles, one way, to get here, and I'm doing another 5 to get home. I earned those 10 points, and I'd better get them, or Commissioner Shidell will learn all about the Psych-O's, I mean the Psych-lers, see?

Forget the bowling league this year, I'm signing up for the Commuter Bike League, organized by Quality Bike Products, a wholesale distributor in the Twin Cities. The CBL was created in 2007 and is headed by Doug Shidell, the Bud Selig of QBP. Commissioner Shidell is responsible for organizing the teams. running the player draft (as in "selection," not wheel sucking), resolving disputes, encouraging participation, keeping the scores, and anything else needed by the CBL league and the "players."

Just what is a CBL? It is a program created by QBP to encourage commuting by bike. QBP employees join a team, or rather, are actually drafted, just like in the NFL. Each team has a captain, assigned from the previous year, and the captain gets to select ten riders. You then commute to work and that gets your team points. You can ride alone, fortunately, so no one has meet for a TTT (team time trial) each morning.

The multi-mode parking lot at Q. (photo credit- Joe Lake)

Players (riders) earn points for their team based on earned commuter credits, not by speed or power, which is good for me. The points of the top 8 commuters count toward team points for each "game." The points of the two lowest scoring players on each team don't count. There is a three-tiered system for earning bike commuter points:

  • Bicycle rider commutes under 5 miles each way gets 4 credits per direction
  • Bicycle rider commutes over 5 miles each way gets 5 credits per direction
  • Bicycle rider commutes under 5 miles each way but rider adds enough miles on the way to or from work to get a total of 10 miles or more gets 5 credits each direction
  • Riders who car pool, use transit or other methods of transportation, but include at least 2 miles of bicycle riding as part of a multi-modal approach to commuting, earn bike credits based on the number of miles ridden. Ride 4 miles to a park-and-ride, you get 4 credits per direction.

What occurs then is a game, with one team paired against another team, going head-to-head for a two week period. Then, teams are rotated. Kind of like March Madness, but more like April Anarchy as it just keeps going all spring and summer. Teams are then ranked on their respective win-loss record.

Commissioner Shidell says, "The underlying philosophy of the League will be good health, good environment and good fun." He has some impressive results. By the end of 2007, QBP bicyclists commuted 286,176 miles. That's 11.4 times around the earth or nearly one lap per month. In 2006, Q employees rode 155,000 miles. As Mr. Shidell explains, "At the time we thought that was impressive but we blew past that number by mid-summer of 2007. 280 employees rode at least once to work." Mr. Shidell continues to opine, "People love to compete, but most folks don't like intense, high pressure competition. City league softball, bowling, and running events draw large crowds of participants because they give players a chance to compete without pressure."

So why am I in this thing? I don't even work for QBP. This year, Quality Bicycle Products has included vendor representatives on their teams. Luckily I only have to ride to Park Tool, about 18k away (11 miles). Otherwise, it would be 150 kilometer ride round trip.

The draft has yet to take place. I pride myself on being a loyal team man, and no matter what team I am on, I will throw my shoulder to the wheel and push forward for the Team. I will just have to provide my own donuts for incentive.

Stay tuned, the draft is Friday, and the rubber hits the road Monday for the first game.


Some of last year's winners. Are those SNELL approved helmets? I suspect a foul here. (photo credit- Linda Sue Amundson)


The Commuter Bike League teams are selected, and I have been drafted by The Psych-lers.

Here are my fellow Psych-lers:
Joshua Abrahamson- team captain
Noah Jensen
Richard Tauer
Walt Huemmer
Amy Campbell
Julia McCunn
Brad Crosby
Alex Docken
Tyler McKay
Calvin Jones- as vendor rep. (hey, why I am last here, what's that all about?)

Monday, April 14, the Psych-erls going up against the Mill City Rollerz. What's this, "Mill City"? Is that like, flour, as in pastry, as in cream puffs? This should be a cake walk, or ride as the case may be.