Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Post 4th of July Meanderings

The 4th of July has come and gone with the weekend’s events already beginning a slow fade to the past. As I sit here writing this post at 5:30 a.m. awaiting my first cup of coffee, thoughts and images of the past few days are running through my still sleepy head.

P7052124 The 4th brought time to spend with family and reflect upon our freedoms. Our local newspaper, the Mountaineer, had a special section and stories on several of our WWII Veterans along with stories of Vets of other wars since. My association this year with the HonorAir program and these WWII Vets has added, for me,  a depth of appreciation and thankfulness for their efforts on our behalf. While I’ve always felt a stirring of pride and awe when the flags fly on the 4th, I think it had an even deeper meaning for me this year. So, to all Vets still out there and to those, like my Dad, who aren’t with us anymore, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Our weather on the 4th allowed for an opportunity to get in a somewhat longer ride than I usually manage to pull off. After watching the opening of Le Tour De France, I checked out my tire pressure, pulled on a jersey and set off for the “Wood-Man’s” house where our family was gathering for a picnic, bonfire, and to watch the fireworks of Maggie Valley. I was pumped from watching Lance Armstrong’s performance in the opening time trial and realized that I needed to start riding within my self if I planned to cover the next 2 hours on my bike as I expected. My route took me down NC 215 from Bethel, NC to Canton, NC and then followed US 19 into Maggie where the “Wood-Man” lives. It was on this route that I confirmed that my bike computer wasn’t properly reflecting my mileage. It turns out that I’ve actually ridden about 20% more miles than I’ve recorded. This was pleasing to discover and I’m happy it wasn’t the other way around – having ridden 20% LESS mileage! I’ve recently been using MapMyRide and the mileages that I’ve recorded have not been matching up to those generated by the computer program or those recorded by “Big J” when we ride together. Suffice it to say that Sunday morning brought about some recalibrating of the bike computer. I’m using a VDO Series Z1 bike computer. It has been a good product and I’m sure that this calculation error was due to error on my part in the setup phase.

The ride to Maggie was mostly uneventful with traffic being moderate to heavy, which I expected on a 4th of July weekend in the mountains. My only brush with discomfort came on NC 215 when the 3rd car in a line of 3 behind me tried to beat an oncoming car in order to get around me. There was some serious horn blowing going on from the oncoming car on this narrow 2 lane mountain road. Fortunately for me, the reckless fool was closer to hitting the oncoming car than to hitting me. I guess he saved an entire 5 or 6 seconds in whipping around me…

I did detour briefly off of US 19 and rode around South Lakeshore Drive of Lake Junaluska. This detour kept me from a particularly dangerous segment of US 19 and allowed me to get an up close view of the decorated homes around the Lake, which is the site of one of the better fireworks displays in our area. Local citizens were already lining the shore with their picnic blankets, flags, and children some 4 hours before the start of the display. Most of the lake residents appeared to be hosting parties and had really decorated their homes in red, white, and blue.



The final run up to the “Wood-Man’s” was uneventful and tiring. US 19 in this area is a busy 4 lane road so I was hyper-alert on this section. I was able to “enjoy” about a 3 mile climb from Dellwood to the intersection of US 19 and US 276. Fortunately, the grade didn’t rise above 3% or so for this section. Once I reached the section of Maggie where the roads have sidewalks, I tried getting out of traffic and riding on the sidewalk. This proved to be intolerable as the sidewalks aren’t laid out level and the constant bumps were sending shock waves up my already tired back. I pretty quickly decided that the smooth road surface was a better alternative – traffic be damned. It was along this section of road that my “better half” passed me as she made her way to the site of our family gathering. I threw up my hand in greeting and to let her know that I was proceeding on. I made it to my destination with time to spare and enjoyed a nice cool shower followed by a nice cool post ride libation…

The light of day is now dawning accompanied by the sounds of the birds outside and Herbert and Rosie (the cats) inside. Work is calling as is that second cup of coffee. One other thing that I’m thankful for on this post 4th of July day is for the readers, who stop by and spend some time here and especially for those that make repeat visits! My thanks to all.

Until later,

- Zeke

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