2016 Snipe North American Championships

Note my finest hour sailing-wise, but I had a great time sailing with Lisa – despite being DSQed in a race for not doing my penalty turns fast enough after getting flagged for pumping.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Doug Hart Back On Top After 20 Years

Doug Hart has always been near the top of the score sheet but it took 20 years to repeat as North American Champion, having won last in the Bahamas in 1996. Sailing this year with Ryan Hopps they took the 2016 North Americans Birney Mills Trophy by a scant two points over George Szabo and Dianna Waterbury after a close last day. The winner was not known by the competitors until the scores were posted at the club because the variety of conditions over the three day regatta resulted in very inconsistent scores over the eight races sailed. In an unusual turn, the scores posted by Szabo/Waterbury were overall more consistent, but Hart/Hopps despite counting a 17 had four top 3 finishes. Nick Voss/Nicole Popp had been lurking well down the results sheet, but once they were able to drop a 45th from day one, they slid up to third overall. Fourth place team Jensen McTighe/Brendan Feeney counted no finish worse than ninth, a great result just ahead of their departure for the Snipe Western Hemispheres in Brazil. Edgar Diminich/Iberth Constante rounded out the top 5.

upwind 31313

Upwind on the Chesapeake Bay.

Annapolis Snipe Fleet 532 is experiencing its own comeback. Regatta Chairman and Annapolis Fleet 532 Captain Chris Ryan is a relentless promoter of the Snipe Class and had as a goal to get together the largest collection of Snipes seen on the East Coast for a long time. He succeeded attracting 69 registrants and beat the last two NAs held in Annapolis in 1994 (62 boats) and 1985 (68 boats) as well as being the largest regatta in North America since 2009 with boats arriving on single, double, and triple trailers from all over the continent. This was in part due to encouraging sailors with older model boats to participate with a Silver division and arranging many chartered or borrowed boats to insure that every available local boat would make it on the water. A great sign for the continued growth of the class were a significant number of junior sailors at the event, fresh faces from new teams or new crew members, and a re-emergence of less travelled class members. The event created a significant number of class membership renewals as part of the registration process as all skippers, crews, and boats were registered for the event.

Chris along with the rest of the fleet volunteers, the Severn Sailing Association (SSA), PRO Steve Podlich and his handpicked race committee put together a great event despite tryingly light conditions at the beginning of the regatta. Annapolis typically holds this regatta in the fall when the breeze is freshening as the temperatures drop, but for this edition the NAs was held concurrently with the Colonial Cup, the annual SSA Snipe Spring Invitational. In keeping with the nutty weather the mid-Atlantic has been experiencing this year – the spring felt more like Seattle than Annapolis – with less than a week to go, the forecast was for light easterly breezes and cooler temperatures throughout the weekend. For those who don’t know the Chesapeake Bay weather, easterly breezes coupled with cool overcast conditions are almost never a good prognosis.

As boats streamed in on Thursday, fleet members Brett Davis, Steve Pickle and Jon and Happy Anthony with their teams got all boats through measurement and registration. The class approach to streamlining measurement helped speed the process by limiting measurement to boat weight and new sail measurements. It was hoped to run a practice race Thursday afternoon, but the breeze completely turned off after a few boats left the dock for a practice sail: a bad omen. On the social side, the regatta saw the return of a large tent to be used for evening dinners as well as a real beer truck (well trailer, but close enough!), something not seen on the SSA lot for some years: a good omen.

Friday morning started as predicted with a light, but sailable easterly and racing began promptly at 11am. Fortunately, being a weekday the pleasure boat traffic was nonexistent so the 5-7 knot breeze, although tricky, was enough. Starts were very competitive causing multiple recalls and a steady appearance of I and Z flags. The downstream current at the start pushing competitors towards the starting line did not help and contributed to the number of general recalls and affected which side of the course was favored. As the first race progressed the breeze got lighter and lighter, but still a fair test of skill and the first boat finished within several minutes of the 90 minute time limit, but unfortunately a number of boats did not make the time limit window. After a pause, the wind came back up and a second race was run in similar conditions, with only a few boats not making the time limit window. Hart/Hopps showed their light air prowess with two firsts. Eventually Steve Podlich called it a day and the fleet headed in for the evening’s social activities and Taco Bar dinner.

On Saturday, a very patient race committee ran three races. The first was (as expected) sailed in a very light southeast wind. The ebbing current was wreaking even more havoc on the starting line than the day before and the Z flag (20%) penalties figured prominently on the scoresheet for race 3. It looked like it might be the end of the day after race three with the breeze going down to nearly zero, but wisely Steve Podlich chose to keep us out waiting and eventually the breeze came around to a southerly direction and increased slightly when the clouds began to clear. With the current abated and the wind shift to the south, the second two starts were much more manageable for the competitors (and the race committee) and even got crews and skippers into the hiking straps by the last leg. With more consistent scores and no drop (yet) Szabo/Waterbury finished the day tied with Hart/Hopps. Back on shore the competitors participated in a post-race debrief followed by a crab-themed dinner including MD hard shelled crabs. The “locals” had a lot of fun introducing “out of towners” to the proper technique for “picking crabs” as it is called.

Once again, Sunday started light with current pushing competitors over the line, the appearance of the Z flag, multiple recalls and a lot of alphabet soup on the score sheet in race 6. But for race 7 the breeze finally increased out the south to the point where skipper and crews were full out hiking and the “Annapolis Washing Machine” was on – at least the medium rinse setting anyway – thanks to the Chesapeake chop and pleasure boat wake. This was the quintessential Annapolis condition that we all know and love and it was great to finally see it given the earlier forecast. Despite the breeze beginning to fade, after race 7 the race committee “leap frogged” the course to start the last race with plenty of time to spare. It was a shorter course, a little less than an hour race to close out the 8 race series, a pleasant surprise the way it looked on Thursday. The fleet blasted in as the breeze increased with the impending approach of a cold front, but thankfully the predicted thunderstorms didn’t materialize until after most competitors had packed up.

In addition to the awarding the Birney Mills Trophy to the North American champion, the Kim Thompson Trophy for the top crew and the Colonial Cup Trophy to Hart and Hopps, awards were presented to Fleet 532 members Joe Hidalgo/Ethan Schroud for the Silver division and Jensen McTighe/Brenden Feeney for the Junior division, both scored separately within those divisions. The Chuck Loomis Trophy was also awarded to Jensen McTighe as the top placing Junior in the overall score.

This was definitely not a “one setting” regatta and being able to perform consistently in the top three in a wide variety of conditions was the key to success. Variety may be the spice of life, but it is also a great test of skill.

–Alex Pline

Series Standing – 8 races scored

Pos Bow/Sail Skipper/Crew Club 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
Points
Pos
1 20/ 31297 Doug Hart/Ryan Hopps Mission Bay Yacht Club 1 1 2 [25] 4 17 6 3 34.00 1
2 57/ 30337 George Szabo/Dianna Waterbury San Diego Yacht Club 4 8 7 [11] 3 4 4 6 36.00 2
3 63/ 28814 Nicholas Voss/Nicole Popp Coral Reef Yacht Club 3 [45] 5 4 6 12 8 5 43.00 3
4 36/ 30027 Jensen McTighe/Brenden Feeney Lauderdale Yacht Club 8 5 [32] 8 9 7 3 8 48.00 4
5 09/ 31027 Edgar Diminich/Iberth Constante FEVELA/SYC [70/OCS] 2 10 13 5 2 2 16 50.00 5
6 49/ 31130 Ernesto Rodriguez/Eduardo Supercrew no club affiliation 7 [22] 3 16 7 11 5 2 51.00 6
7 08/ 30288 Augie Diaz/Julia Melton BBYC/CRYC/CGSC 21 6 6 7 1 1 [24] 10 52.00 7
8 02/ 30473 Arthur Blodgett/Terra Berlinski no club affiliation 9 7 1 3 [27] 3 12 17 52.00 8
9 34/ 28854 Randy Lake/Nikki Bruno no club affiliation 5 4 12 [19] 2 14 19 1 57.00 9
10 05/ 30860 Carol Cronin/Kim Couranz Severn Sailing Association 16 [18] 13 2 11 6 11 4 63.00 10
11 21/ 29114 David Hernandez/Christine DeSilva Coral Reef Yacht Club 6 11 [21] 10 10 15 1 11 64.00 11
12 16/ 8653 Hal Gilreath/Andre Guaragna Florida Yacht Club 12 3 17 18 8 5 [22] 9 72.00 12
13 03/ 31171 Jim Bowers/Julia Rabin Winchester Boat Club 2 24 [27] 5 17 9 25 12 94.00 13
14 67/ 29682 Wilson Stout/Byran Stout no club affiliation 15 19 18 1 12 19 [23] 20 104.00 14
15 47/ 30759 Enrique Quintero/Simon Sanders Coral Reef Yacht Club 20 [62] 15 12 15 10 9 23 104.00 15
16 14/ 30903 Cameron Fraser/Elizabeth Glivinski Medford Boat Club 22 9 [47] 15 23 18 10 21 118.00 16
17 45/ 31355 Andrew Pimental/Megan Place Sail Newport [29] 27 14 27 14 22/ZFP 7 13 124.00 17
18 18/ 30904 Lee Griffith/Hillary Noble Surf City Yacht Club 19 20 4 30 13 22 20 [32] 128.00 18
19 51/ 31280 Art Rousmaniere/Jesscia Bennett Winchester Boat Club 23 23 9 9 20 27/ZFP 17 [37] 128.00 19
20 12/ 30552 Christian Filter/Declan Lombard Severn Sailing Association 18 13 8 28 21 24 [32] 22 134.00 20
21 55/ 29044 Sonya Smith/Steve Pickel Severn Sailing Association 10 16 [36] 22 26 26 15 26 141.00 21
22 31/ 29782 Zachery Kelchner/Lauren Schoene Severn Sailing Association 13 31 23 26 19 20 [35] 19 151.00 22
23 07/ 29671 Tarasa Davis/Kim Calnan Atlanta Yacht Club 25 26 30 24 34 [42/ZFP] 13 7 159.00 23
24 13/ 28142 Bryan Fishback/Lorie Stout Severn Sailing Association 11 33 26 36 31 [41/ZFP] 21 14 172.00 24
25 39/ 30629 Gavin O’Hare/Holly O’Hare Eastport Yacht Club 24 21 [42] 31 22 32 27 25 182.00 25
26 58/ 31013 John Tagliamonte/Linda Epstein Winchester Boat Club 37 [70/DNF] 39 20 16 31 18 27 188.00 26
27 65/ 30606 Peter Wolcott/Kerri Wolcott Quassapaug Sailing Center 34 28 24 6 32 [54/ZFP] 41 24 189.00 27
28 23/ 30500 Brian Hetherington/Max Hetherington SSA 40 15 [54/ZFP] 17 37 30 28 28 195.00 28
29 56/ 30749 Christopher Stang/Lindsey Stang no club affiliation 41 [42] 16 32 25 37/ZFP 29 18 198.00 29
30 06/ 30391 Brett Davis/Christina Perrson SSA 17 10 41 39 36 35/ZFP [70/DNF] 30 208.00 30
31 46/ 31313 Alex Pline/Lisa Pline SSA 30 32 59/ZFP 14 24 [70/DSQ] 38 15 212.00 31
32 32/ 30687 Sean Kelly/Trisha Kutkiewicz SSA 38 25 44 40 29 [45] 30 29 235.00 32
33 48/ 31357 Eric Reinke/Morgan Commette SSA 33 12 25 29 28 43/ZFP [70/DNS] 70/DNS 240.00 33
34 68/ 29016 Phillip Schofield/Katherine Bennett SSA [53/TLE] 40 19 23 38 52 36 33 241.00 34
35 64/ 30325 Harry Waskow/Rosalind Hansen Surf City Yacht Club 14 48 22 [52] 41 48/ZFP 43 31 247.00 35
36 04/ 30262 John Coolidge Atlanta Yacht Club 44 37 [70/ZFP] 21 35 36 39 36 248.00 36
37 53/ 24089 David Schoene/Sandy Westphal SSA 35 17 34/ZFP 48 46 [70/DNF] 34 38 252.00 37
38 29/ 30928 Chris Jankowski/Eleanor Wells SSA 31 30 38 33 18 39/ZFP [70/DNS] 70/DNS 259.00 38
39 10/ 29147 Liz Dubovik/Alex Romagnoli Chatham Yacht Club [53/TLE] 14 33 34 53 37 45 44 260.00 39
40 35/ 31256 Ed Machado/Jon Robertson Mission Bay YC 39 29 37 54 [58] 42 14 46 261.00 40
41 28/ 29536 Julian Inglis/Nathan Poulton GCBC 36 38 28 45 [49] 47/ZFP 33 34 261.00 41
42 66/ 29111 Joel Zackin/Pam Corwin Quassapaug Sailing Center 42 41 [59] 42 40 50 16 35 266.00 42
43 22/ 30600 Kevin Hetherington-Young/Audrey x2 Winchester Boat Club 28 47 53 38 42 [61/ZFP] 26 41 275.00 43
44 52/ 29499 Adam Rousmaniere/Jennifer Rousmaniere Winchester Boat Club 26 51 [57] 47 43 41 42 39 289.00 44
45 54/ 31344 Luciano Secchin/Cicero Barcelos Iate Clube do Espirito Santo [53/TLE] 49 48 41 51 16 37 49 291.00 45
46 17/ 305 James Golden/George Kaye Annapolis Yacht Club 53/TLE [56] 31 53 30 44 40 45 296.00 46
47 33/ 31259 William Kibler/Harrison Reisinger Atlanta Yacht Club [53/TLE] 34 29 50 47 48 48 42 298.00 47
48 19/ 29318 Christopher Hains/Barbara Mann Guelph Community BC 45 52 [70/ZFP] 49 39 38 31 47 301.00 48
49 01/ 31157 Martin Bebb/Anne Rusnak no club affiliation 47 60 11 44 48 54 50 [70/DNS] 314.00 49
50 70/ 30301 Chris Ryan/Nicole Ryan SSA 27 36 43 43 33 [70/DNF] 70/DNS 70/DNS 322.00 50
51 41/ 29964 Robert Panza/Charlie Baywood Quassapaug 48 46 46 35 54 [56] 49 50 328.00 51
52 62/ 30236 Kenneth Voss/Kay Voss CRYC/CGSC 53/TLE 54 51 [56] 55 35 44 43 335.00 52
53 37/ 30510 Keisha Meyer/Josh Meyer Bellport Bay Yacht Club 53/TLE 43 49 [59] 50 43 47 51 336.00 53
54 26/ 29987 Jason Hill/Maryl Ludden no club affiliation 53/TLE 39 [64/ZFP] 55 45 49 53 48 342.00 54
55 40/ 29311 Gilmore O’Neill/Connor O’Neill Medford Boat Club 50 [58] 54 57 56 53 46 40 356.00 55
56 11/ 31061 David Eggleton/Tyler Eggleton SSA 32 35 48/ZFP 37 [70/DNS] 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 362.00 56
57 43/ 26280 Gareth Petko-Bunney/Kimberly Leonard Cowan Lake SA 53/TLE 50 [64] 62 57 57 51 52 382.00 57
58 44/ 30819 Francisco Perez/Kerry OBrien OHCC 46 44 55 [70/DNS] 70/DNS 39 70/DNS 70/DNS 394.00 58
59 24/ 28714 Matt Heywood/Chris Bickley North Cape Yacht Club 49 53 [70/ZFP] 51 44 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 407.00 59
60 61/ 28277 Jon Virden/John Quay SSA 53/TLE 65/TLE 35 60 61 [70/DNS] 70/DNS 70/DNS 414.00 60
61 38/ 30390 Howard Miller/David Miller Cowan Lake SA 53/TLE 59 56 58 60 58 [70/DNS] 70/DNS 414.00 61
62 25/ 26895 Joe Hidalgo/Ethan Schroud SSA 53/TLE 61 60 [70/DNF] 52 55 70/DNS 70/DNS 421.00 62
63 15/ 27734 Mark Fuhrmann/Lee Polites SSA [70/DNS] 70/DNS 52 46 59 59 70/DNS 70/DNS 426.00 63
64 50/ 29645 Danielle Romme/Josh Romme SSA 53/TLE 55 [70/ZFP] 61 62 60 70/DNS 70/DNS 431.00 64
65 30/ 31322 Todd Johnson/Faye Ferguson SSA 43 57 [70/DNS] 70/DNS 70/DNS 60/ZFP 70/DNS 70/DNS 440.00 65
66 27/ 26109 Randy Holl/Dawn Hamilton SSA 53/TLE 63 [70/ZFP] 63 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 459.00 66
67 59/ 31007 Guy Thomas/Will Thomas Lincoln Sailing Club [70/DNS] 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 65/ZFP 52 70/DNS 467.00 67
68T 42/ 28999 Jaimie Peva SSA [70/DNS] 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 490.00T 68T
68T 60/ 29908 John Upton Rush Creek Yacht Club [70/DNS] 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 70/DNS 490.00T 68T

Notes

(1) Scoring System is ISAF Low Point 2013-2016
(2) Time limit expired (TLE) penalty is: Finishers plus 2
(3) Finishes in [brackets] denote throwouts


Subdivision: Junior (5 boats) (top)

Pos Bow/Sail Skipper/Crew Club 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
Points
Pos
1 36/ 30027 Jensen McTighe/Brenden Feeney Lauderdale Yacht Club 1 1 [5] 1 1 1 1 1 7.00 1
2 12/ 30552 Christian Filter/Declan Lombard SSA 2 2 1 [3] 2 2 2 2 13.00 2
3 68/ 29016 Phillip Schofield/Katherine Bennett SSA 4/TLE 4 2 2 4 [5] 3 3 22.00 3
4 33/ 31259 William Kibler/Harrison Reisinger Atlanta Yacht Club 4/TLE 3 3 4 [5] 4 5 4 27.00 4
5 17/ 305 James Golden/George Kaye Annapolis Yacht Club 4/TLE [5] 4 5 3 3 4 5 28.00 5

Notes

(1) Scoring System is ISAF Low Point 2013-2016
(2) Time limit expired (TLE) penalty is: Finishers plus 2
(3) Finishes in [brackets] denote throwouts


Subdivision: Silver (5 boats) (top)

Pos Bow/Sail Skipper/Crew Club 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
Points
Pos
1 25/ 26895 Joe Hidalgo/Ethan Schroud SSA 2/TLE 2 2 [6/DNF] 1 1 6/DNS 6/DNS 20.00 1
2 50/ 29645 Danielle Romme/Josh Romme SSA 2/TLE 1 4/ZFP 2 3 2 [6/DNS] 6/DNS 20.00 2
3 61/ 28277 Jon Virden/John Quay SSA 2/TLE 5/TLE 1 1 2 [6/DNS] 6/DNS 6/DNS 23.00 3
4 27/ 26109 Randy Holl/Dawn Hamilton SSA 2/TLE 3 5/ZFP 3 [6/DNS] 6/DNS 6/DNS 6/DNS 31.00 4
5 42/ 28999 Jaimie Peva SSA [6/DNS] 6/DNS 6/DNS 6/DNS 6/DNS 6/DNS 6/DNS 6/DNS 42.00 5

Notes

(1) Scoring System is ISAF Low Point 2013-2016
(2) Time limit expired (TLE) penalty is: Finishers plus 2
(3) Finishes in [brackets] denote throwouts

Information is final

Principal Race Officer: Steve Podlich
Jury Chair: Elliott Levy

New Annapolis Library: Is It Good Urbanism?

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When The Capital published an article about the new Annapolis library design – you can see the site plan and initial renders here: http://www.aacpl.net/new-annapolis – my initial reaction and comment on The Capital site was the snarky “Call the architecture police!”. In our  West Annapolis Civic Association neighborhood Facebook group I ditched the snark and made two substantive comments, which I also submitted to the Library association:

  1.  Of course this is subjective, but looks too modern for the surrounding architecture. A variant of colonial revival would be much more in keeping with Annapolis.
  2. The preferred site plan with the parking in back is best and they acknowledge a “strong connection to West Street” but the MAIN entrance needs to be on West Street, not on the parking lot. Front doors facing a parking lot are counter to traditional urban architecture.

What ultimately bothers me about the design and site renderings is that this building is not sensitive to the area. It is a generic modern design that could exist in virtually any suburban location. This section of West Street is the transition from the loved “inner” and the unloved “outer” or “upper” West Street. The comprehensive plan and the Upper West Street Sector Study both spend a lot of time saying essentially, we need to extend the things that make inner West Street work out farther. Look at the renderings in the sector study. Do they look this the picture above? Architectural preferences aside, it is how the building addresses the street that is most important. We want this street to be people oriented and for that to happen we need the building to respect people on the street, making it appealing and inviting for people walking, not favoring auto mobility. This means putting cars in the back, siting the building closer to the street and having the main entrance on West Street, not turning it’s back to the street and facing the parking lot for motorists convenience.

The best way to illustrate this is with an extreme example of the contemporary schlock that passes for “urbanism” in the City of Annapolis (outside the historic district anyway): the new-ish CVS on Bay Ridge Ave (site of the old Mexican Cafe). Before you jump on me and say, yeah, but that’s Forest Drive/Bay Ridge Ave and it’s a car sewer anyway, yeah, I get that but aren’t we trying to change that?

 

IMG_5696

Facing north.

The CVS is chock full of check the box city planning. A little something for every interest group, trees, a wide sidewalk, gobs of parking, brick facades, stormwater management; but it all combines for a horrendous end result and this is what I want to avoid happening at the new West Street Library.

Let’s start to pick this apart: The wide sidewalk with a grass buffer from the street is great, although it needs street trees in the median between the sidewalk and roadway, but the “right in, right out” slip lanes to facilitate quick car turns off the 35-45 mph traffic are horrible for anyone walking as cars don’t naturally pause and if someone gets hit, it will not be pretty. This design telegraphs to motorists that throughput and speed are the most important things, not stopping and looking for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This is the same idea that wide lanes, straight runs and no street trees promotes. But the biggest issue is the front door is located in the far back corner of the building which you can not even see from the road.

IMG_5697

The view from the street.

This is the view from the road which highlights how “disrespectful” the building is to the public realm. Note the service equipment on the left. This type of stuff is usually relegated to the back of the building where people won’t see it. The faux divided light windows and faux second floor (I guarantee there is no actual second floor) are meant to be vaguely reminiscent of Annapolis’ colonial architecture (except for the CVS trademark awnings) for anyone whizzing by at 40 mph and remind people of real colonial architecture like that of the state office buildings on Bladen Street:

state office buildings

Real colonial architecture, although actually built in the 60s.

Now back to the CVS and the coup d’ etat, a drive thru pharmacy.

IMG_5699

Facing south. It almost looks like a prison with superficial accouterments.

IMG_5698

The coup d’ etat: the drive thru.

This is the ultimate in autocentric design. Yeah, yeah, I know people don’t want to get the kids out of the car to pick up a simple prescription, but jeeze couldn’t you put that in the back along with the service equipment and not have it be the predominant feature on the street? This says “don’t bother coming here unless you are in a car”. Furthermore anyone walking to the front (actually, back) door has to walk across the parking lot (there is no pedestrian path from the sidewalk to the door) and perhaps worse, the drive thru lane that is so common on fast food restaurants like my favorite new Taco Bell on West Street.

IMG_5702

The new Taco Bell farther out West Street. Note to walk into the restaurant, you have to cross the drive thru lane. How inviting for a pedestrian. But then again no one walks here.

Now with the sensitivities of extreme examples, go back and look at the preferred site plan along with the image at the top of this piece:

preferred library site plan

The design doesn’t completely turn its back on street but gives it the cold shoulder and is sited like any other typical suburban office park-like building. While not nearly as bad as the CVS or Taco Bell, a suburban office park-like building is not appropriate for the traditional environment of this part of West Street which at least initially celebrated the street’s public realm. Since the lifespan of this building is planned to be more than 50 years, we should make sure that it will integrate with the long term plans for the area so that as West Street is once again celebrated as a wonderful public realm, this building won’t turn into an eyesore.

Why I Ride A Bike

A shorter version also appeared as an Op Ed column in The Capital on May 11, 2016.

Aerial view of Annapolis, Maryland

Aerial view of Annapolis, Maryland (Library of Congress)

Let me get this out of the way: I am a bike guy. I love bikes, all kinds – transportation bikes, off road bikes, racing bikes and classic bikes.

But that’s not why I ride a bike for transportation.

I currently reside in Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland, a smallish city of about 40,000 people. The dominant view of cycling here is that it is an athletic or recreational endeavor. You know, “put the bike on the car and drive somewhere to ride”. However, Annapolis is ideal for getting around by bike. It’s compact, only eight square miles, and you can pretty much get to any part of the city and even the surrounding areas that are experiencing a lot of urbanized growth with a flat two or three mile bike ride.

Annapolis Map

Annapolis is very compact.

This is easily within the ability of most people. I ride my 1972 Schwinn around town because it’s a convenient and economical mode of transportation to accomplish my daily business of getting to the DC commuter bus stop for work, shopping, and socializing around town. But there are too few of us and we often feel like lone voices in the wilderness. Thankfully, many cities around the world and a growing number of cities in the U.S. are proving that bicycles can easily be a part of a modern transportation system. What’s missing here to make transportation cycling appealing for more than just the “Strong and Fearless” – or those who have no other choice – are the connecting off-road paths and bike lanes called for in the city’s excellent, but mostly ignored, bicycle master plan.

Bikes are cheap and save money. Despite this area having a very high median income, many residents in the city pay a disproportionally large portion of their income to own and operate a car, never mind multiple cars. Using a bike for around town trips can easily decrease the number of vehicles a family needs to have and saves wear and tear by using the car only for those trips that require it. Riding a bike for my daily needs saves thousands of dollars per year in my family budget. Relatively inexpensive bikes can easily haul a surprisingly large amount of stuff, require very little maintenance and avoid the city parking costs. And, bike riding if viewed as something regular people do, provides equity of access to our streets as Bike Law’s Peter Wilborn writes about in Charleston SC.

Bike towing a moth sailboat.

Yes, bikes can do real work. Extracycle makes great hauling bikes (I do not own one or have any financial interest in the company) and some awesomeness from a local Moth sailor.

Bikes are cheap for the city, too. A lot of the auto-based traffic here is short trips around town, which can easily be done on bikes. The city is geographically constrained by two rivers and the Chesapeake Bay and as a result land is extremely valuable. While the city is in reasonable fiscal shape overall, it has neither the means nor the land to widen roads for more cars. Development is a hot topic here, and the general opinion is we need to lock the door in the Party Analogy. It inevitably conjures the traffic “boogeyman” as the assumption is that an additional person equates to an addition car. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many small bike projects the city could do that would have a high return on investment in mobility. We often hear that Annapolis is not affordable. With a good cycling infrastructure, we can support additional development and can attract younger people who will likely choose bikes for a significant portion of their transportation needs. It doesn’t take much of a shift to bikes to have a large effect on traffic congestion and amount of needed parking.

And finally, there has been a lot of discussion recently in various forums here about rampant speeding in the city. I believe much of this occurs because people spend so much time in their cars in traffic that they have become chronically frustrated, often expressing that frustration as impatience or even road rage towards other drivers, walkers and bike riders. Spending time on the other side of the windshield brings the perspective of non-drivers into clear focus. Everyday riding makes me appreciate the luxury when I do use the car, especially if the weather is bad or I am tired. As a result, I am much more relaxed and courteous behind the wheel when I drive.

May is National Bike Month and we should celebrate transportation cycling. If you are a recreational rider, throw a basket on your bike and make a few trips to the store; if you haven’t ridden in a bike in a while, dust off that bike in your garage or grab an old beater from Craigslist and give it a try. The more people ride, the safer it is for everyone and the more apparent it will become to city governments that bikes can perform real work.

alex_pline_bike (1)That’s why I ride a bike.

Alex Pline is Chairman of the Annapolis Transportation Board, Vice President of Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County and when he jumps out of a telephone booth in spandex, rides with the Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team.

Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Process

This letter was sent my State Reps Speaker Busch, John Astle, and Herb McMillan on February 2, 2016.


Dear Sirs –

As a 25 year resident of Annapolis who cares very deeply about public education in Anne Arundel County, I am appalled at the manipulation of the School Board Nominating process by the current County Executive with the assistance of Governor Hogan. Last night, I, along with many members of the community, attended the second public hearing of the second go-around of the nominating process to voice my concern over the additional unqualified candidates being put forward by the SBNC.

As I understand it, the rationale behind not having an elected school board is to assure that important stakeholders like the AACCPTA, TAAAC, AACC, and the Chamber of Commerce have a voice with the intent of making sure that interest of minorities, parents, students, business leaders, and educators are represented and that the process does not become purely political at the expense of qualified candidates.

Sadly, we were informed that at the December meeting, with a by-laws change that moved from super majority to simple majority approval (that was passed during a session when one of the community group members was absent), this ideal has been gutted. Not only were the candidates put forward last night purely political and not qualified, the votes were squarely along party lines. Only Mr. Boston whom The Capital outed as having a domestic peace order violation and being a failed teacher at Bates Middle was rejected, leaving a pool of all white candidates, none of whom have shown any interest in public education in the Annapolis area for which they are supposed to represent.

While we do not know who Governor Hogan will choose out of the candidate pool, we can assume that he will not pick Solon Webb since the Governor expressly passed him over in June when he was first nominated. This is a huge loss for the Annapolis Cluster of schools and the families who depend on them for the education of our children. Mr. Webb who along with being the only person of color currently on the board and left in the candidate pool is clearly the most qualified. Mr. Webb has been an excellent public servant, very attentive to the needs of the community, winning the endorsement of the Annapolis Education Commission as well as The Capital’s editorial staff. In my years of involvement with the PTA, he was very responsive to our issues. The new choices forwarded last night are clearly inferior: James Appel has never set foot in Annapolis High School – not one PTA meeting (which is very active with monthly nighttime meetings) nor one Coffee with the Principal (at 7:30am 6 times per year) despite having a child in the school. He has no education background and has serious financial issues that according to accounts in The Capital were misrepresented by Mr. Appel. His only qualification seems to be that he is a political appointee of Governor Hogan. Under the old super majority, he would have been rejected, however, he was approved with the Chairman providing the tie-breaking vote. Ms. Sasso has been a Real Estate agent and consultant – she claims to have been a high school principal in some small town in New York over 30 years ago (1984), but her responses to the questions demonstrated a clear lack of knowledge of current educational principles in general and AACPS in particular, and made offensive comments regarding teachers and unions, thus already alienating our teachers who are already under siege.

I am writing to you, my elected representatives mostly out of frustration, but with two questions: 1) Can anything be done today to encourage Governor Hogan to appoint the most qualified candidate (Solon Webb) who is supported by the community to represent District 30 on the School Board? 2) Can anything be done to fix the process so that there is any integrity left and to honor the ideal of diverse representation on the School Board? Every parent, teacher, and community member present at that meeting last night came away sick that something as important to our children and community as the School Board has devolved to a game of political football.

The public trust in the process is broken with this process that yielded this pool of candidates. What can be done to fix it?

Best regards,
Lisa Pline

Fixie Russian Roulette

Note: I wrote this back in 2009 and have not ridden my fixed gear bike much on group rides recently, but nonetheless it also applies to riding a geared bike in a group with many stronger riders. Often, it’s not a question of if I will pop, but when…


Question: When is riding a Fixie like playing Russian Roulette?
Answer: When you ride it for the Saturday D’ville group ride.

Yesterday after ACE asked about who was riding today, there were a few exchanges about the possible pace for the D’ville ride. I think I proposed “sane and steady”, whatever that means, but Ian responded correctly with “Give it up, old habits die hard”. Having been riding my fixie a bit, I think sure, I’m ready to give it a try, especially if others are doing the same (Ian, Doug, Greg et al). I’ll just take my chances with the pace – Russian Roulette.

So I show up at the park and ride with my Steamroller. Given that I have a Corolla and no rack, I can only bring one bike, so I am comitted. At this point, I’m feeling like I have a revolver against my head with 1 bullet somewhere in the rotation. I’m looking around and not seeing any other fixies. I try to talk Tom Aga into riding his fixie (he’s smart, he brings 2 bikes). No dice. Uh oh. Luckily Ian and Doug roll in on theirs. Click. Nothing. Whew.

We roll out down the hill and onto Patuxent River Road. Then the pace starts to ramp up with some of the ususal “we have to go at some ungodly power level (for me anyway) beacause that’s what my coach says” types on the front. Uh oh. Then as the gap opens up they go off the front and the rest of the groups sits back, “steady and sane”. Click. Nothing. Whew.

The pace continues sane and steady, even Bill Neumann appears to be enjoying it! Then we get to Brooks Woods; towards the latter part of it, I’m starting to spin pretty hard, some gaps start. Uh oh. After the turn, it slows and regroups, and I make it comfortably to the store. Click. Nothing. Whew.

We leave the store with ACE leading the charge. All of a sudden I realize that I’m working really hard to keep the wheel in front of me. ACE is doing an interval. Uh oh. He finishes before we get to Boyds turn and I catch my breath. Click. Nothing. Whew.

At Boyds Turn, there is some quick talk about who, if anyone, is doing the shorter route. Looks like no one is, so I keep following. The tandem goes by and I’m on the wheel. We start going down the first big roller, I’m spinning at a gazillion rpms and about 37 mph. Uh oh. Big gap. Click. BANG!

I’m gone. Oh well, I made it 4 rounds. I figure its all for the better anyway as it will spare me the indignation of being left for dead over the wall. After the first roller, there’s a cut in the road so I quickly do a 180 and high tail it for Boyds Turn as the north wind alone all the way from North Beach would not be pleasant. I’m enjoying my “sane and steady” pace through Fairhaven, up the horse farm, over the wall and as I come the stop, I see some ABRT jerseys up the road. Sweet, I guess some people DID take the short cut. I work hard to catch them. It’s Ian, Doug, Heff and John. This will really help with the wind. Nice to have some company all the way back.

The “beach crowd” gets back a few minutes after us, so they must have been hauling the mail to make up 6 miles in a little over an hour as we were not lollygagging. All in all, a nice December ride, and I’m better for the bloody experience.

DC to Cleveland – Route Planning

I am finally getting serious about the “riding to Cleveland” thing. I have been jonesin’ about this ride starting in early in 2012 and even more after riding the C&O canal with friends in 2012 and 2013 thinking this kind of off road bike touring would be a lot of fun. Plus there are some trail additions that make this a breeze such as the filling the GAPs all the way into Pittsburgh and the fact that Amtrak finally has the roll on/roll off bike service on the Capital Limited which runs right through Downtown Cleveland to DC which will make the return logistics much easier.

Using the great routing site Ride With GPS I’ve refined the route west of Pittsburgh. I can’t embed an interactive version here, but click through to see the entire route:

dc-cle-overview

The full route is 530 miles and I have been considering how to break it up into stages. I had originally considered trying to do it in less than a week which would mean sequential 100 mile days, but when I am honest with myself, that just doesn’t seem realistic. Something on the order of 60-75 miles a day seems much more sane given that I will be riding often on unpaved trails on a 29er with 10-20 lbs of stuff. I had also considered camping, but that just sounds much more fun than I’m sure it would actually be. Upon further reflection about this, I think 8 days is easily doable. The stops are chosen to facilitate reasonable lodging and food as well as “interesting” places to see while not riding. I am anticipating average speed to be between 10-12 mph which will make for about 6 hrs a day pedaling time.

dc-cle-elevation

Route/Itinerary

Annapolis to DC

While I wanted to ride out the door of my house to start this journey, I have done this ride enough on a bike to say screw it, I’m taking the early morning commuter bus with the bike in the cargo hold. Easy to do. Ride the 2 miles to the bus stop.

Leg 1 (3 days): C & O Canal Towpath

The C&O in this direction is all “uphill” at a steady 1% grade if you look at the profile, however in reality it’s basically flat with a series of steps at the locks.

Day 1: DC to Harpers Ferry WV – 65 miles. Hotel: Econo Lodge, 25 Union St

Day 2: Harpers Ferry WV to Hancock MD – 60 miles. Hotel: America’s Best Value Inn, 2 Blue Hill Rd

Day 3: Hancock MD to CUmberland MD – 60 miles. Hotel: Fairfield Inn right on the trail.

Leg 2 (2 days): Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail

The GAP is all uphill to the continental divide on the first day, but its a stead 2-3%, not hard but will be a bit slower. The packed cinder surface of the GAP is awesome and I have actually ridden up this section on my road bike, which makes for an awesome 20 mile FTP test because its a rock steady big ring hill.

Day 4: Cumberland MD to Confluence PA – 65 miles. Hotel: Confluence B&B, right off the trail

Day 5: Confluence PA to Homestead PA – 80 miles. Hotel: Courtyard Pittsburgh, right off the trail.

Leg 3 (2 day): Transit to the Lake Erie Watershed

Day 6: Homestead PA to Stuebenville OH – 60 miles. This is now “uncharted territory” for me. I want to detour through downtown Pittsburgh so I can see the GAP all the way to the terminus and will do this first thing in the morning (+10 miles). After the detour, make my way out of the city and make my way on surface roads through the southwest suburbs and connect to the Panhandle Trail in Collier Township. That will be the fist 15 miles that is not on trail. Just after the PA/OH border, the Panhandle Tail bends north, so the route exits there onto surface roads into Steubenville, about another 10 miles of non-trail. Hotel: Microtell Steubenville.

Day 7: Stuebenville OH to Massilon OH – 80 miles. This is the longest non-trail section. However, a lot of the roads between Steubenville and Jewett are chip and seal or packed gravel and there is a 15 mile section called the Conotton Creek Trail though Jewett OH. I might also stop by Atwood lake where there is a big Lightning fleet just to see it. In Zoarville OH, it’s back off the road using the Zoar Valley Trail and finally onto the Ohio&Erie Canal Towpath that goes into Massilon OH. This section ends up being about 50 miles on-road. Hotel: Hampton Massilon

Leg 4 (1 day): Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath

Day 8: 80 miles. This section uses the all rest of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath all the way into downtown Cleveland and is primarily downhill in a similar fashion to the C&O and will be fun to ride through the scenic Cuyahoga Valley and into Cleveland through the Flats. There are a bunch of new trails that Bike Cleveland has written about recently that will be fun to see.

Of the total 530 miles, 450 miles are on trails. Pretty neat. More trail could be added by exiting the GAP south of Pittsburgh and using the Montour/Arrowhead Trails as I originally had routed, but I really wanted to go into Pittsburgh so am willing to accept a little more distance on the road.

Once in Cleveland I am sure I will spend a few days with friends and then get on Amtrak at 1:30 am for the ride back to DC.

Tax Cuts Are Devastation to Anne Arundel County Public Schools

On October 21, 2015 the Anne Arundel County Board of Education approved the negotiated contract between AACPS and TAAAC (the Teachers Union). The contract is a major hit for our schools. There are two causes for the problem. The primary is the artificial revenue shortage caused by the County Executive’s tax cut. The second is the deal that TAAAC made with the Devil, funding additional across the board pay increases at the expense for stipends for the one-third of our teachers in “challenge schools”. This is a direct assault to the passionate teachers in those schools who will receive a substantial pay cut and an affront to the concept of closing the Achievement Gap.

Below is my letter to the County Executive with copy to the County Council:

Dear County Executive Schuh,

I am writing to let you know my anger as a taxpayer and a tireless supporter of public schools in the Annapolis Cluster (PTSA leader and former AEC member) at the decisions that have led us to the completely unacceptable Teacher Contract.

The tax cut that your administration implemented in the FY16 budget has caused a self-imposed “financial difficulty” that will have a devastating impact on Anne Arundel County schools, specifically but not limited to Annapolis High School and all the other schools who work tirelessly to reduce the Achievement Gap and turn failing schools into excellent schools. The $19 million tax cut in the FY16 budget would have funded the overdue step increases plus challenge school stipends with some leftover to provide more revenue to our county public safety officers and county support personnel.

Being close to the school, I believe there will be a mass exodus of highly effective and passionate teachers from Annapolis High and other AACPS schools if we do not do something immediately to give them some expectation that they will have their pay restored. It was an absolute kick in the gut to these dedicated professionals that we thank them for their excellent work with a $2-10,000 per year pay cut! Parents are furious that the teachers we love are being treated so callously.

I understand that there is culpability on the part of TAAAC and I will direct some of my anger there as well, but I have been a small but growing voice in our community that believes if we want to compete with our neighboring counties for excellent schools and economic development, we have to provide the tax base necessary to provide those excellent services. We currently spend less than any surrounding county on our public school students and $2,000 PER STUDENT less than Howard and Montgomery Counties. The average salary in the mid-range is $12,000 less than Montgomery Co and $6,000 less than Howard. Is it a wonder that our best teachers are leaving our county?

I read your budget summary, so I am aware of your perceived political “mandate” to lower taxes. The idea that AACo is somehow over-taxed is one of those long-standing Urban Legends that we must dispel. We have the 22nd lowest income tax rate and the 19th lowest property tax rate in the state. Your argument that AACo has the 9th largest “tax burden”, only proves the point since we are the 3rd wealthiest county county in the state per capita. If we were taxed appropriately, we would have the 3rd highest tax burden. If that tax burden has been increasing, it only shows how far back our under-funding goes.

In next year’s budget, I urge you to move from being an expedient politician to being a true leader by recognizing the need to bring more revenue into the county to support needed county services, whether by income tax adjustment, tax cap adjustment or some other means of revenue. Educate citizens what their tax dollars are funding and I truly believe they will support the increase. Even the most ardent Tea Party follower believes that schools should be controlled locally and that government should provide public safety. Since that is all that County Government does, county residents should be willing to pay for it.

Best regards,

Lisa Pline
AHS PTSA Vice President