Kicking Off

This past Wednesday we had our annual Kick Off Meeting with a little help from Zoom. Last year’s Kick Off took place at the end of February before the SHTF and we locked down, so doing our annual membership meeting on Zoom was, unfortunately, another first for us. Next year we should be back live, in person, at Sports Basement. If not, then we probably will have much more significant things to worry about.

Zoom is not conducive to fervid schmoozing and, alas, all snacks and drinks were bring-your-own. Ah, but the trade-off was that all the food money got ploughed into raffle prizes!

Speaking of raffle prizes our winners were:

• Grand prize – a training session with Nick Nagy (our kickoff meeting’s speaker): Donald C
• Second prize – DSSF club jersey of your choice, from our Jakroo site:  Jeff M
• Third prize – $50 Emporio Rulli gift card (or other coffee shop of your choice):  Roger H
• DSSF club neck wrap, from our Jakroo site:  Roger S
• Primalwear mask (courtesy of David Gaus): Nancy L
• DSSF club cap, from our Jakroo site:  Greg M
• Trailbutter 3-pack: Stephen S

Congratulations to our lucky winners!

We could have gone really total pig, hog-wild on the prizes but we’re saving our ammo for, um, something later…

Oh yeah, the rest of the meeting: Prez David recapped the past year—basically, we were locked down, the board squirmed and writhed in impatience getting a reopening plan in order, we opened up carefully, and we now exercise patience hoping that the pandemic will ebb sufficiently that we can do the nasty on our Pride Ride, club picnic, pool party, fall social, and holiday party later this year. Despite the paucity of rides David thanked those ride leaders who managed to squeeze in some rides pre- and post-lockdown, the latter mainly being Jeff Pekrul, who’s Mr. Jersey Ride 2020-21; the rest of the board continue to emulate Punxsutawney Phil and wait for spring (or the vaccine, or Godot).

Our presentation this year was by the personable Nick Nagy, an excellent and experienced personal trainer and fellow ALCer, who led an online workout and provided a plethora of information and advice about stretching and conditioning. As someone who is currently rehabbing a knee due to starting up too impatiently, I can say that Nick’s sage words fit in precisely with what my physical therapist is telling me. Nick knows his stuff! Oh, and Nick, next time please wear even tighter workout shorts and I guarantee you that at least the boys will be even more attentive! Those attendees who want more attention from Nick can contact him through the club to arrange a training or for follow-up questions to his Kick Off presentation. Big thanks to Nick for sharing his time and wisdom with us!

Still Closed But Never Closeted

And Future Awesomeness Awaits!

Long story short: we are not restarting club rides yet and we will revisit the issue in six weeks.

After a long discussion the board came to a consensus that we were not comfortable with allowing club rides at this time. What led to that decision? Frankly it was a surprise to me because in the previous discussions there was a palpable feeling that we were open to the idea of having group rides again as long as the membership and ride leaders were comfortable with it, hence the poll on the website. In case you haven’t looked at the poll recently, over a third of the club responded and a little over half were inclined to attend a club ride, about a third weren’t, and rest were undecided. If that were representative of the whole club, I personally would have been in favor of allowing club rides all other things being equal because there was probably enough interest for small group rides (three or four participants). That said, personally I probably would not be leading rides at this point.

But in the past month the situation in the real world changed: the COVID-19 positivity rate started to inch up in the Bay Area, and as you know many other sections of the country including Southern California have seen alarming increases in infection, hospitalization, and ICU admissions. The Governor has put all Bay Area counties except San Mateo on alert because the numbers have not been going in the right direction. Face mask use has been inconsistent if not mostly absent. Counties have had to backtrack on reopening and there is even talk of going back to the initial lockdown to squelch the virus. So all other things are not equal after all!

When the board met again last week most of us now turned out to be more wary of restarting rides. Everyone on the board is a ride leader and obviously more involved and active than the “average” member yet we were feeling that now is not the right time to reopen. Most of us were also ambivalent or not enthusiastic about joining any group ride right now, club or otherwise.

So we decided to punt and wait roughly two more cycles of county health orders to see if the infection rates can be reduced or whether they’re still going to worsen. (County health departments generally wait two or three weeks to see how the rates respond to a new health order or alert.)

You might be wondering what other clubs are doing. Here in the Bay Area initially in March all clubs shut down their rides. Now about two-thirds of recreational cycling and racing clubs still do not allow group rides. The only clubs that currently allow outdoor group rides are Western Wheelers, Sunnyvale Cupertino Cycling Club, Santa Rosa Cycling Club, Benicia Cycling Club, Hercules Cycling Club, and Alto Velo Racing (in Santa Clara County). Western Wheelers now has club rides in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, their home turf, because those counties allow outdoor recreation of up to 50 and 60 participants respectively; Sunnyvale Cupertino CC has rides also in Santa Clara and San Mateo. Santa Rosa Cycling Club has rides in Sonoma where recreation businesses may do so after creating a COVID-19 compliance plan. Hercules and Benicia are two clubs that have just gone ahead with group rides despite their counties—Contra Costa and Solano respectively–not allowing group gatherings. Diablo Cyclists in Contra Costa County also seem to have group rides listed on their website but it’s not clear if those rides are actually taking place or not.

Here is the list of Bay Area clubs that do not allow group rides at this time: in the East Bay, Veloraptors (Oakland), Oakland Yellow Jackets, Cherry City Cyclists (Hayward) , Grizzly Peak Cyclists (Berkeley), Fremont Freewheelers, Berkeley Bicycle Club, and Valley Spokesmen (Dublin/Livermore); in the South Bay, Almaden Cycle Touring Club, San Jose Bicycle Club, and Velogirls; in the North Bay, Marin Cyclists; in the West Bay, Golden Gate Cyclists and Peninsula Velo. That said you would have to be blind not to see groups of cyclists, some in club kit, riding together. However they are doing it unofficially and not under the auspices of any club (not including the exceptions listed above).

Feedback from Western Wheelers and Santa Rosa Cycling Club has been that their members—since both clubs restrict their rides right now only to members—have been very good with social distancing and using face coverings on rides so far. According to our bylaws we cannot restrict club rides just to members, so we are not in a position to exert that much control over whom we allow to join club rides.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Conduct A Poll

In June both Sonoma and San Mateo counties announced revisions in their shelter in place orders that allow group outdoor recreation with a capped number as long as the usual social distancing protocols and use of face coverings are followed. San Mateo allows groups of up to 50 to bike, run, hike, etc. and Sonoma allows groups of up to 12 for recreation businesses. Santa Clara County will allow outdoor group gatherings up to 60 starting July 13. San Francisco’s and Marin’s latest orders are more ambiguous but seem to allow outdoor recreation businesses to take place with restrictions; whether that applies to us is unclear. The other counties either do not allow group gatherings or allow very limited gatherings of social bubbles or at most members of two households, so riding as a club in those counties is not feasible right now.

Already some clubs are rousing from their forced hibernation and have rides on the calendar. Western Wheelers on the Midpeninsula is allowing club rides in San Mateo (and shortly, Santa Clara also) and Santa Rosa Cycling Club is calendaring club rides in Sonoma, Marin, and Mendocino counties.

The board is currently discussing the details of how we can offer rides safely in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. We know that there need to be some new rules for club rides—maintaining social distancing, bringing a face covering and using it in specific situations, no physical contact—and there are others that are subject to debate and discussion, eg. mandatory preregistration to control for numbers, also use of the electronic waiver to avoid having to pass around paper and pen, and what responsibilities the ride leaders should have around safety on rides. There are also other issues that have to be resolved such as whether our liability insurance covers the club for suits around COVID-19 infection and whether we’ll need a separate COVID-19 waiver. The club also needs to decide whether to apply as a non-profit business for group gatherings in counties such as Sonoma that require COVID-19 compliance plans on file.

It may not appear so on the surface but getting the club ready to offer ride again has and will continue to involve a fair amount of work and obviously will require a change in how we conduct rides and how participants comport themselves. In other words it will not be the same as before and we will all have to cooperate in altering our conduct. Given the work involved and the degree of change we’ll all have to adopt, the board doesn’t want the cart get ahead of the horse, so to speak. We need to know: how do members feel personally about joining a group ride right now especially with the infection rate beginning to spike in California? If members are not ready to join group rides or are unsure and ambivalent, then there is little reason for the board to charge ahead at this time. If you are a current member, we would like to know how you feel about personally participating in a club ride. Please log in to the club website and respond to the poll, which you will find under the “Resources” tab or just hit this link. If you would like to leave more detailed input, go to the general forum at the website and respond on the thread about reopening rides.

Coronavirus and DSSF: ‘Playing Safe’ Has A New Meaning

Today the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 is now a global pandemic. Community transmission in the Bay Area of the coronavirus is now a fact; there have been cases in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties that are not due to travel or contact with someone who is known to have been exposed to the coronavirus. As you know public events are being cancelled or postponed and commercial sports events such as Warriors games will take place without a live audience.

In Italy where the disease is uncontained the national government has locked down the entire country and restricted movement until April 3 in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. Traveling outside of your immediate community now requires special permission, all public gatherings such as at cultural sites, sporting events, and festivals are forbidden, restaurants and bars are open only for limited hours and patrons must stay at least one meter apart.

Cascade Cycling Club up in the Seattle area, the country’s largest cycling club, has issued guidelines for its group rides in order to keep participants safe, mainly asking ride leaders to brief riders—asking them to limit physical contact such as shaking hands and hugs, give each other space, and not coming on rides if you are feeling ill. In addition Cascade is asking ride leaders not to post rides that involve stopping at “heavily used spaces (such as coffee shops) or that have a post ride event.”

Closer to home we’ve had cycling events cancelled such as the Sea Otter Classic and the Cinderella Century although they are mass events rather than small group rides.

We are fortunate that our favorite recreational sport takes place outdoors and doesn’t involve close physical contact, so Different Spokes rides during the epidemic should mostly be safe as long as we exercise some precautions. Ride leaders should brief their groups on the following:

• Please refrain from attending rides/events if you’re feeling sick. If you’re the ride leader, please find a replacement ride host or just cancel/postpone your ride.

• Ask participants to refrain from physical greetings—shaking (gloved or ungloved—both can transmit the virus) hands, hugs, etc.

• Use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands before eating and before and after contact with others.

• If your ride has stops at coffee shops, restaurants, or other indoor venues, remind riders about possible exposure to coronavirus.

• If you’re a ride leader, plan stops that don’t involve entering crowded public venues. Please consider suggesting to participants that they bring their ride snacks/lunch rather than going to a restaurant/market/coffee shop.

• The risk of transmission of the coronavirus is highest when within one meter (three feet) of an infected person. An infected person may be not be ill or even aware that they are harboring the virus.

The Future of Saddle Challenge

Astute Spokers will notice that this March there is no Saddle Challenge. We’ve had the Saddle Challenge every year since 2002 and beginning in 2003 it became a fundraising event for Project Inform. Last year Saddle Challenge commenced and mid-March the beneficiary, Project Inform, closed its doors and ceased operation leaving Saddle Challenge without a substantial purpose. The monies gathered eventually were gifted to the club and were used to purchase a one-year club membership in RideWithGPS.

After the end of Project Inform the club board engaged in a discussion about whether SC should or could continue and if so, what form would the event take. The club has for much of its history engaged in fundraising for the LGBT community. The club ran the first AIDS Bike-A-Thon for ten years (1985-1994), and during the existence of the California AIDS Ride (CAR) and the beginning of the AIDS LifeCycle many Different Spokes members participated and led training rides. Then we began Saddle Challenge and then from 2012-2016 member Chris Thomas ran Double Bay Double—although generously the club got credit—for the SF AIDS Foundation. So SC has been the last remnant charity fundraising event the club sponsored. Although Different Spokes formed as ‘merely’ a LGBT recreational cycling club, from the beginning there was a sense that the club should give back to its community.

Is there a future for Saddle Challenge? Originally it was just a friendly in-club competition to encourage members to start riding after the winter. Is that something the club still needs? Probably not. As a charity fundraiser SC takes place at a suboptimal time of year because during March it can still raining a lot such as in 2018 when it rained virtually every weekend. If SC remains primarily a fundraiser, then it would do better to take place later in the year when members are riding more.

Who should the beneficiary be? The board has talked about a LGBT beneficiary as being a natural affiliation although it did not rule out the possibility of a non-LGBT organization. We’ve had some discussion about raising funds for non-profits focusing on LGBT youth. Outcycling in NYC sponsors a LGBT youth section called Fearless Flyers that provides cycling as a healthy alternative activity for queer youth. This not so coincidentally also encourages membership of young people at a time when most clubs are aging up.

The board would like to engage in a discussion with members about whether or not Saddle Challenge should continue, particularly as a fundraising event that the whole club can get behind. What are your thoughts? Do you think the club should put on a fundraising event? What form should it be and who or what should be the beneficiary?


Well, everyone else seems to be focused on that other election. But we’re focused on the election that really matters: the DSSF 2020 Board! Current Different Spokes SF members are eligible to vote for the 2020 board candidates during the election period, which runs from January 1 to 31. We currently have about 73 members who may vote but only 19 of you have done so to date. (If you’re one of the 23 whose membership expired on January 1 and haven’t renewed yet, you can rejoin and then vote.) Why put it off? Just log into the DSSF website and cast your ballot before it’s too late. You’re determining the future of our club!

Yes, it’s an uncontested election with David Goldsmith nominated for President, David Gaus for Vice President, Jeff Pekrul for Secretary, and Roger Sayre for Treasurer. Yes, it’s the roughly the same ‘rogues gallery’ but you can cast a write-in vote if you really want someone else to run the club. If the election is uncontested, why is it important to vote at all? Because the board needs your support. No, not just the other members’ but yours. The club is not the board’s private fiefdom. The board is here to serve you. The board tries to do what it thinks is in the best interests of the club but ultimately it comes down to you giving input. And the most important feedback is the annual election. Voting is the easiest way to show you’re all in with the club and its current direction. (Of course, a better way to show your support is to offer your services to the club either by joining the board or volunteering in other ways such as leading a ride!)

Seriously, the board needs your vote. If your membership has recently lapsed, please rejoin. Voting is easy. If you missed it, here’s the link to the election:

Calling All Sugardaddies!

“Is that a donation in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”

A long black dress may cover a multitude of sins but not budget deficits. A dirty little secret of our club is that these days we need about a hundred paying members to break even and keep the club running like the smoothly oiled machine that it is and we’re not there yet. We’ve been supplementing our coffers by depending on the kindness of strangers: fundraising additional dough with the great help of the Lookout Bar. To stabilize the club we’d love to have 150 members (okay, we’ll settle for 130 members!) But in the meantime Holly Golightly needs some sugardaddies (and -mommies) to keep her afloat! Our $20 member dues provide for our web site, club insurance, taxes, post office box, and membership events run on a shoestring budget. Did you know our membership dues haven’t increased since the 1980s? We are soliciting member donations so that Different Spokes San Francisco can fund additional programs and nicer events. For example, we’re looking to continue our club’s RideWithGPS membership (which we got as a gift from Saddle Challengers last March), provide a Different Spokes app, and give our ride leaders better capabilities so we can fully move to electronic ride waivers. If you would like to help the club out in this way, please consider adding $50, $100, or $200 to your normal $20 dues for the year. Oh yeah Daddy/Mommy, you know we’ll get some extra love in return. (You know generosity is always well rewarded!)

Giving is the Way to Nirvana

Jock Supporters

Wanna buy a jello shot?

A very big thanks to Roger Sayre, Will Bir, Peter Phares, Nick Kovaleski, and Jeff Pekrul for volunteering at Jock Sunday at the Lookout on Sunday November 3. These guys gave pandering a good name by selling jello shots to the packed crowd of Millennials and raising $603 for Different Spokes! Of course a very big thanks to the Lookout for continuing to support local LGBT sports clubs by putting on Jock Sundays and allowing us to participate once again.

Membership fees do not cover the costs of running the club (yet) so fundraising events and generosity are important for us staying above water financially.

Although hanging out in a gay bar isn’t everybody’s fav way to spend a Sunday afternoon (but we’re not sure why not with all the eye candy), volunteering for club events is a great way to contribute to the club. So on behalf of the board thanks to all five of you. Next time you see one of our very own Pro Panderers on a club ride, please be sure to show them how much you appreciate their hard work!

DSSF, Now With RideWithGPS!

You asked for more and you’re getting it!

In case you missed the news we now have a RideWithGPS club account as a member benefit. This all came about because Project Inform unexpectedly shut its doors leaving this year’s Saddle Challenge without a beneficiary. Saddle Challenge participants voted instead to donate their proceeds back to the club to use in opening up a RideWithGPS account for all members.

What is RideWithGPS? RideWithGPS (RWGPS) is an all-purpose Internet tool for creating, maintaining, logging, and storing GPS routes and tracks. You can easily create a GPS route, load that route into a portable GPS device such as a Garmin, Wahoo, Lezyne, and many others so that you can view and follow your route. This is better than most car GPS systems, which you are probably used to, in that you can lay down the exact route you want to follow rather than just inputting a destination and having your car GPS select the route for you. RWGPS automatically generates a cue sheet for a route, so if you don’t have a GPS device, you can still follow the route. Since most cycling and fitness GPS devices can record a track of the route you actually take, you can load that track up to RWGPS to view it or the various metrics such as elevation gain, gradient, average speed, etc. The RWGPS site is full of tracks and routes that members have created from around the world. You can view them and if you like them, you can download them to give their route a spin.
What makes RWGPS such a nice tool is that it is supremely easy to use. The interface for creating or viewing routes and tracks is intuitive and not ‘techy’ at all, making it a great tool for everyday users.

Why Would I Use RWGPS? Unlike the “old days” when ride leaders would show up with a fistful of xeroxed AAA maps with a route highlighted in yellow marker and some wonky cue sheets that were likely very time-consuming to create (plus the trip to Kinko’s to make copies), the club is more and more relying on Internet mapping tools like RWGPS to do the heavy lifting. This allows members to view a club route in advance, print their own copy of the map and cue sheet, or load them into a device to use on the day of the ride.
If you have an Android or iPhone, you don’t even need a dedicated GPS device to take advantage of guidance along unfamiliar routes: RWGPS makes phone apps that will do it for you! After you’ve downloaded and installed the app on your phone, you can download routes from RWGPS and the app will provide turn-by-turn voice guidance! You don’t even need the screen on your phone so that saves battery life. And you don’t even need a cell phone connection because RWGPS allows you to download the entire map of your route so that you can use it offline and get navigation just from your phone’s GPS chip.These are features that usually require a paid account to access but are available to members through our club account.
RWGPS, like Strava and Garmin Connect, also allows you to upload your tracks to your own ride library so that you can amuse yourself later or just keep track of where you’ve been.
And if you decide to lead a ride, guess what? It’s going to be super easy to create the ride you want, find a ride, and make a cue sheet, map, and GPS file available to participants. No more going to Kinko’s or burning through another toner cartridge in your printer.

Club Ride Library. We have a route library in the club RWGPS account. At the moment it’s mostly rides from a few board members. But it will grow through time. Currently we have about 400 routes, almost all of them in the greater Bay Area with some in Central California and the Pacific Northwest. You can view and sort rides to find exactly what you’re looking for by distance, elevation, location, name, etc. Looking for inspiration? This is where you can go to find your ‘Goldilocks’ ride!

To view a concise list of benefits with our club account.

If you have questions about the club RWGPS account and how to access it, contact our Vice President or go to our website’s ‘How to’ area after you’ve logged in.

Fashion Makeover: The New DSSF Website!

Why The New Look? I’d like to say it was time for a “fashion makeover” at the House of DSSF. But in reality the real reason why your club website looks so fabulous is more because we had some real problems with the overall structure of our online communications rather than because we wanted to look more chic. But we do look prettier, don’t we?

It’s actually a side benefit of moving the website over to Club Express that we got to play around with the graphics and style, thanks very much to Nick. (That boy has some real fashion sense!) Jerome built us a pretty good website that got the work done. The problem was it was built around the idiosyncrasies of Yahoo! Groups for communication. Our site did most of the heavy lifting—publishing rides, hosting our resources, showing our pictures, and partly communication and partly membership. And it was the “partly” part that got us in trouble. The details are gory, semi-impenetrable, and frankly boring. But in a nutshell trying to coordinate membership between the Yahoo! group and the website was a mountain of unnecessary work, and since access to the Yahoo! group depended on membership that put a crimp on our communications since we could no longer tweak the Yahoo! group into what we wanted. The bottom line was we couldn’t communicate with you, our members, effectively and without a ton of work. No wonder more than half the membership wasn’t accessing our Yahoo! group.

That’s all about to change with the new DSSF site because membership, communication, ride calendar, and to some extent finances are all in one place. Plus, maintaining the membership list will be mostly automatic (since you do it!) rather than cross-checking different email addresses and lists. That Yahoo! email address you had to create in order to access the DSSF group? You won’t need it any longer (at least for DSSF). Instead of wrestling with the craziness of Yahoo! groups and email, that time will be better spent keeping you up to date on club plans and events, and also for board members to actually get out and ride!

At the moment the only component that continues to exist externally is the Different Spokes ChainLetter aka “the DSSF weblog”. It’s still hosted by WordPress rather than CE. But that may change in the future.

The new DSSF site was only a twinkle in the eye until this January—basically, we got a new website after three months of off-and-on again volunteer work. Although the current and previous boards both contributed to where we are today, the heavy lifting was really done by Nick, who put a crapton of hours into designing, laying out, and getting feedback from the other board members and implementing it. The other guy who put the pedal to the metal was David Goldsmith, who put a ton of work into coordinating the transition, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s as well as making sure we didn’t have any egregious errors or oversights in the website. Many thanks to Jerome for assisting in the handoff and for many years of volunteer webmeistership.

And wait there’s more! The website is up and running but the board is working on the improvements that are yet to come…

If you haven’t yet seen the site, go there now. If you’re a current member, you should have received an email giving you temporary access to the site so you can go in, check your personal contact information and emend it, and set up your login. If you haven’t received an email message (and you’re sure you are a current member), please contact David Goldsmith or Nick Kovaleski (see the Leadership page at the site). And if you’d like to join DIfferent Spokes, go the website and click the “Membership” link.