Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In The Back Of The Line


 
(Winners to the end!)
Much has been written about last Saturday’s Gateway to TheSmokies Half-Marathon. Facebook, along with the printed media, has thoroughly covered the event. Many kudos have rightfully been broadcast concerning the outstanding volunteers that put on the event, the exceptionally friendly behavior of local motorists as they waited for runners to clear, and of the experiences of those crossing the finish line first.

I had a different view. I was the oddly dressed fellow on the bicycle at the end of the pack. I had on layers of Under Armour, topped by mountain bike padded shorts, a winter weight cycling jersey, a Hi-Viz wind breaker, a cycling cap under my helmet, and finally a protuberance upon my helmet. Said protuberance was my GoPro camera.  I later saw a picture of myself and came away scared. Putting this in context, it was 36 degrees when I left my home in beautiful Buzzards Roost at 6:00 a.m. and near 44 degrees at the start of the race. I was dressed to keep from getting cold! The only thing missing from my apparel was full fingered gloves. I could’ve used them.

My job, along with Price my cycling compadre, was to remain at the back of the pack and provide assistance to runners as needed, keep our Haywood County Amateur Radio Club command center aware of our location on the routes, and to generally try to provide some protection to the riders from passing vehicles. We were armed with GPS trackers affixed to our bicycles that reported our presence on a map observed in the command center and our handheld HAM radios. In short, we were in constant contact with the organizers of the event and local law enforcement.

When you are at the back of the pack, you see things that others fail to absorb. You see the gaps beginning to open as the runners separate into fastest, faster, and steadfast. You see the lines of motorists, who waited patiently without honking of horns or rude gestures as the runners made their way along the route. You see the lead runner turning the corner on Country Club Drive at the first water station and you realize he has opened up a 2.1 mile lead on your current position.

During our near 4 hours on the bicycles, we saw residents come out and cheer the runners, smiling volunteers of all ages handing out water and Gatorade, and law enforcement officers at intersections with words of encouragement to those runners at the back. As we entered the Village of Hazelwood, we saw owners of the local shops out cheering on our last two participants as if they were the two leaders even though it had been some 40 minutes since the previous runner made their way along the route.

But, most of all, we saw the dogged determination of two runners, Nicole Hill and Joanna Rathbone, finishing their first ever event. We happily celebrated with them as they crossed the finish line, dead last, but perhaps the biggest winners of all!
Cycling Event Planning Continues
We continue to plan for the 2015 Blue Ridge Breakaway and the Mountains to the Coast Ride of CycleNC. This past Monday we had the opportunity to meet with Ragan Williams of CycleNC to continue our community wide planning for this event as Waynesville is the host town for the beginning of this year's event. One frequently asked question thus far has been "what will be the route from Waynesville to Hendersonville, the stop for day one?" Preliminarily, and I emphasize the word preliminarily, Williams believes the route will leave Waynesville on US 276 and traverse Pisgah Mountain into Brevard and then on into Hendersonville. If this proves to be the case, riders are in for some great scenery as they pedal through the community of Crusoe, by the Shining Rock Wilderness Area, and crossing under the Blue Ridge Parkway above the 5,000' elevation level. A descent into the Cradle of Forestry will include sharp hairpin curves into longer segments of straight, narrow two lane road in the Pisgah National Forest. A stop by Looking Glass Falls should be mandatory!
Preceding the CycleNC event is this year's Blue Ridge Breakaway, which continues to show signs of healthy growth. A variety of routes for riders is included and will again include both the 75 miler and the Century running along the Blue Ridge Parkway before descending into Maggie Valley and a return to beautiful Lake Junaluska. Registration is now open for both events.
Please visit both websites if you have questions and feel free to post me back here (gr8smokieszeke AT gmail.com. Replace the word AT with @ so I can avoid even more spammers) with any questions. I'll be happy to assist readers in getting questions answered.
Until later,
-Zeke

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dogwood Winter Provides Great Scenery For Riding!



 (Carolyn solar charging as she spins along)

Dogwood Winter has hung around for a few days here in beautiful Western North Carolina. The spring flowering trees and plants have made for some great scenery and visual stimulation as we've been out and about on two wheels. Thursday nights have included loops around Lake Junaluska, the United Methodist World Headquarters. The entire area around the Lake has become a major recreational area for Haywood County citizens thanks to the Directors of the Lake Assembly properties. Last night was certainly no exception as we pedaled around on our “old man’s pace” ride enjoying the sights and smells of spring.


There were too many walkers of both two legged and four legged varieties to count. Runners were abundant as well. There were multiple kayakers some of whom were fishing and others who just seemed to be paddling for fun and exercise. Of course, the lake’s population of duck and geese were in the mix everywhere.

David, Carolyn, and I enjoyed two fun loops around the lake. This weekly ride is intended for folks wanting to ride themselves back into condition and/or hone their skills at riding in a group. It is intentionally slow paced and open to anyone wishing to join us.  It is certainly a “no drop” ride. We meet on Thursday evening at 5:45 p.m. at the Welcome Center at Lake Junaluska and have wheels rolling at 6:00 p.m.


(Evening rest at Lake Junaluska)

16 Year Old Arrested for Abuse of People Riding Bicycles!

Thanks to the Greenville County, SC Sheriff’s office for investigating and charging a 16 year old male for serial abuse of people riding bikes. The Greenville Spinners Bicycle Club in Greenville, SC had been documenting the ongoing abuse and harassment on their Facebook page. An investigator from the Sheriff’s Department became involved and located the alleged criminal. Charges filed against him include six counts of Attempted Murder, two counts of Assault & Battery 1st Degree, two counts of Assault & Battery 3rd Degree, two counts of throwing fireworks from a motor vehicle, and 11 counts of taunting a bicyclist. Thus far, there is no word that his defense is based upon “Gee, officer, I didn’t see them…”


Gateway to the Smokies Half-Marathon Nearing!

On a lighter note, it is only 8 days now until the inaugural Gateway to the Smokies Half-Marathon! The event will be held in my hometown of Waynesville, NC and features beautiful mountain scenery and friendly people. The Haywood County Amateur Radio Club will be providing radio linked support throughout the course. I (KM4DOP) and Price (W4CPB), another club member, will be bicycle mounted with APRS trackers and our handheld radios providing participants with on-road support. I’m looking forward to putting my HAM radio license to work for a good cause. More details about the event are available on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SmokiesHalfMarathon?fref=ts or at the event website: http://smokieshalfmarathon.com.

... and a hearty welcome back!

Welcome back to John Bryan and his family as they return to their mountain home. John is working on getting his “mountain legs” back in shape with rides in the local area. It would be heard to beat the beauty of the last two days!


This is a short post today as I try to work myself back into “writing shape”. If you’re still with me, thanks for reading!

Until later,

-Zeke

Friday, April 17, 2015

BicycleHaywoodNC - Matters of Note!


(BicycleHaywoodNC Council meeting attendees)
 
Last night’s  April 2015 meeting of BicycleHaywoodNC was well attended at Sid’s On Main in Canton, NC. We were pleased to have a number of guests attending.They brought us up to date on pending and received grants and a proposal for BicycleHaywoodNC to become sponsors of a Health on Wheels group.

Chair Jennifer Jacobson called the meeting to order and introduced Charlie Clogston of Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and Melissa Rocket of Mountainwise. Along with our own member, Michelle Trantham, they have developed the beginnings of a ride program to work with survivors of chronic diseases. In their model, survivors of cancer, heart disease, and other medical maladies would be supported in bicycle rides as they recover. The rides would initially be of short duration and would be adaptable to the individual rider’s physical and mental functioning at the time. Hopes are that the local medical community would support the program through referrals and/or other means. The program would have a number of commonalities with novice ride groups. Ride leaders and “ride guides” would support the participants during the events. The hope is that, as survivors gain strength and experience, they will take on the roles of ride leader and “ride guides”. Ride guides are viewed as supportive members of the Council that would ride within the group and offer guidance and support to any participant that might request additional assistance. There is much more to come on this topic!
(Seth Hendler-Voss addresses the group)
 
Canton Town Manager Seth Hendler-Voss attended the meeting and updated Council members on a very nice pedestrian/bike grant recently received by the town. The grant, one of 10 awarded in N.C., will allow the town to move forward with planning to make the municipality more pedestrian and bike friendly. The plan will be complementary to existing Comprehensive Haywood County Bike Plan and the Blue Ridge Regional plan. Hendler-Voss also discussed long term intentions to improve access to the Rough Creek mountain bike trails in the Beaverdam community of Haywood County.

 A couple of ride notes...

Despite a week of near solid rain, I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of rides.  It was certainly a pretty weekend here in the Western North Carolina to be out and about. Last Thursday evening, we had a small group ride intended to help new and newly returning riders to learn/relearn how to ride in a group and to work on their fitness. The ride only attracted people whose names start with “C”: Cecil, Carolyn, and Carena.  The three of us enjoyed a 4.5 mile loop around beautiful Lake Junaluska. The initial lap was what I call “Old Man Pace”, meaning my pace. This was Carolyn’s first time on a bike since last year and I’ve not logged that many miles myself. Carena is another story. She rides quite a bit and is in the process of prepping for a 100k in the next few weeks.

The loop around Lake Junaluska is about as flat as you’ll find in the mountains. We left the grounds twice in making the transit of the lake. Once was to cut across to Old County Road and come out under the dam and the second was when we left South Lake Shore Drive for US 19 and a half mile jaunt to Wheldon Road, which is the start/finish point of the Blue Ridge Breakaway. A second lap around the lake brought us near a 10 mile ride for the day.

On Sunday, I ventured out by myself for a solo ride again under wonderful blue skies, white fluffy clouds, and warmer than usual temperatures. This time I was on my Fuji CCR, which I haven’t ridden in over a year. My Salsa Fargo has simply become my bike of choice so it gets most of the workouts.  The Fuji is about three times lighter in weight than the Fargo so I was expecting to feel as if I were flying when I got into a steady cadence. Well, not so much as it turns out.

I was surprised at how uncomfortable I was in adapting to the Fuji geometry, skinny tires, triple ring, and gear changes. I could have used a good dose or two of a dry lubricant myself to get rid of some of my “rust.” And the saddle, oh, the saddle! After 30 minutes, I was sorely missing my Brooks on the Fargo.

I saw only one other person riding a bike on this day, which really surprised me. Fellow BicycleHaywoodNC member, George Ivey, and I crossed paths near Bethel, NC. Otherwise, I saw no other cyclists on this sunny Sunday afternoon. My five mile return to Canton along Old River Road (NC 215) was pleasant except for a few moments when the headwind made an appearance. The recently repaved road retains a smooth surface and allowed me a very smooth trip back.

Politics, politics, politics…

Legislators, in Raleigh, are making yet more attempts to place barriers in the way of alternative forms of transportation. A bill (SenateBill 617) currently under consideration would require a two thirds vote of the NC Transportation Committee to approve ANY ROAD DIET in North Carolina. As I’m quite sure the introducers of the bill plan, getting an approval vote of two thirds of a committee historically non-supportive of people who ride bicycles, would be next to impossible and likely kill any local efforts at reducing high speed traffic and adding safe bike lanes and facilities for pedestrians. The following text is from the bill itself:

“AN ACT TO REFORM VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF THE LAW RELATED TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT.”

A provision in the bill appears to make it more difficult to accommodate bicyclists, seems to contradict the state’s Complete Streets policy, and seems to politicize local development decisions by requiring approval by the politically-appointed Transportation Board.  The bill provision is as follows:

(b)        Reduction of travel lanes to accommodate the addition of bike lanes within the existing paved and marked travel lanes of any State highway system street or highway located within a municipality shall be approved by a vote of two-thirds of all the members of the Board of Transportation.”

On a more hopeful note, House Bill 232 would direct the NC Department of Transportation to review and investigate existing laws aimed at updating safety laws regarding bicycles. North Carolina hasn’t revised those rules since around 1974 so there is a hope that a new review will result in laws that advance the safety of people who ride bikes in this state. The original membership of the committee raised some concerns that there were insufficient representatives from the bicycle community on the study group. Latest word is that those concerns were addressed by the bill sponsors. The bill has passed the House and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

And finally… On Wednesday of this week, one of the heavier rain days, I noted bicycles on bike racks at two local businesses and a third person riding a bike in downtown Waynesville. The first bike I noted was at a local mattress store and was there through breakfast and lunch so I’m guessing an employee rode to work. A second bike was located at the new bike rack at the new Bojangles at lunch and the third bike was unfortunately being ridden on the sidewalk in downtown Waynesville, which is both unsafe and against local ordinances for the downtown area. Still, it was good to see people riding bikes even in inclement weather.

Until later,

-Zeke

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

SPRING ABOUT TO BE SPRUNG!


(Lake Junaluska Memorial Chapel and my Salsa Fargo)

Spring 2015 must be near. Along with the typical signs of spring associated with Yellowbells, Daffodils, and amorous squirrels, I’m seeing big increases in the numbers of folks outdoors pursuing various recreational and fitness activities.

The walking track at the Canton Recreation Area this year has been busy with walkers of two legged and four legged varieties and the ball fields have been full of various baseball and softball teams getting in games mercifully played in Daylight Savings Time.


More people, who ride bikes, are also out and about. I’ve noted an increase in the numbers of individuals getting their exercise pedaling steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber machines all over Haywood County. I’ve spotted people riding bikes on Newfound, downtown Canton, Lake Junaluska grounds, NC 209, and through the Towns of Waynesville and Clyde. No doubt there are many other areas being ridden as well.





Haywood County will be blessed with two bicycle specific events this year. The annual running of the Blue Ridge Breakaway will occur on August 15th and bring about 500 cyclists plus associated family members to town. CycleNC selected Waynesville as the host town this year for the beginning of the cross-state ride. CycleNC caps their ridership at 1100 registrants. Being the host town means that cyclists and their family members will arrive early for the beginning of the event on Sunday, September 26th. In addition to these two events, the Lake Logan Multi-sport Festival will fill two days in August (8th and 9th) with cycling, running, and swimming. All of these events will bring substantial revenues into the county.

According to the recently completed “Bikes in Beds” study of the impact of cycling on tourism in Haywood County and Western North Carolina, approximately 2% of total tourism trips to Haywood is accounted for by bicyclists having a $3 million dollar impact on the local economy. With the ongoing success of the Breakaway and Lake Logan events and the hosting of CycleNC this year, the future impacts of tourism related to people who ride bikes will only increase.

Putting on these events takes many people working together over many hours. Planning is already well underway for the Breakaway and the first organizational meeting for CycleNC was held on Monday, April 6th. There will be many opportunities for local citizens to demonstrate our famed Haywood County Hospitality this year. Whether it is as simple as a friendly smile and wave to a person riding a bike along your neighborhood road or taking on a volunteer job at one of the events, it will take all of us working together in order to make these events resounding successes. So, get your smile on Haywood!

Registration is now open for both events! For some outstanding Smoky Mountain riding, come to Haywood County, NC! For more information on the local area, contact the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority, or post me back at Gr8SmokesZeke@gmail.com!

Past readers of this blog may be wondering just where I've been since my last post was a long, long time ago. Well, my priorities shifted and my time has been devoted to these two new members of our family.


(l) Cordelia - commonly called "Dilly"                                                                                  (r)  Beauregard - commonly called "Beau"

It has been the “Beau and Dilly show” 24/7 at our home in Beautiful Buzzard’s Roost for a little over a year now. Beau and Dilly were born 4 days apart and, by happenstance or fate, they ended up living with me and the Navigator. Dilly is a Giant Schnauzer born near Lake Erie in Ohio and comes to us from Ramahills Kennels. Beau is a mix of Border Collie and something darned big and joined us from Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation in Waynesville.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Fine Weekend of Rest, Relaxation, and Recovery!

YES! It is that time of the year! Blue Ridge Breakaway in 19 days!

 

BRB_Adv_2014

The twin joys of raising a garden and puppies has certainly detracted from my riding time this year. It seems like every time I go to throw a leg over the saddle of my Salsa Fargo, I end up throwing a leg over a hoe or a dog leash. Be that as it may, I haven’t given up on observing those good folk out riding on two wheels. In fact this past weekend, the Navigator and I had a chance to do a lot of observing during our…

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

NOTES FROM THE GEORGIAN WOODS

The Navigator and I are currently encamped in the north Georgia woods at Fort Mountain State Park for the Memorial Day Weekend. This is our first trip in close to two years. There are a number of firsts on this trip.

One of the more notable firsts is that we are on our first camping trip without …

Thursday, April 3, 2014

GRAVITY 1 – ZEKE 0

The winter rust was quite evident yesterday as I worked on meeting my goal of 30 in 30 during April. I rediscovered what happens when all forward motion ceases to exist and you are clipped into your pedals on a 15 percent or so grade…

Monday, March 3, 2014

Has Anyone Seen Spring?

It’s been a while since I posted. Several squeaky wheels have had my attention and, unfortunately, cycling wasn’t one of the louder ones. We’ve finally experienced winter again here in Western North Carolina after several years of only hearing about snow.

SnoFall_021014_WNCCardiology01

(The storm beginning as I was enjoying an echo stress test at WNC Cardiology)

This year we had a return to the snow of old. You know, the ones where we walked to school every day in knee deep snow just like our forefathers did. Of course, we’ve had nothing like the mid-west and north east have endured and I don’t count Atlanta’s little ice skating party as anything other than poor planning. I’m ready for spring to finally get sprung or whatever spring does. Yesterday’s 60 degree weather was a cruel joke leading up to today’s return to freezing temps with possible snow flurries.

Monday, January 6, 2014

COLD? WHO ME? NAH!

So the National Weather Service is forecasting the coldest temperatures in decades for the mountains of Western North Carolina. So the temperatures have been on a downward trajectory since before we got up this morning. It’s my birthday and I really, really wanted to be able to say I rode on my birthday…

BDayRide_05

(Note new GoPro Hero 3+ camera – gift from the Navigator)

Well, let me tell you…

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Final Excuse for 2013

Today I offer up my final excuse, err, accounting of the year as to why I’m not riding my bicycle as much as I’d like. I could blame it on the weather, you know, days and days of unending rain followed by cold, cold temperatures. How cold was it, you say?

RaccoonBirdFeeder