Friday, November 27, 2009

“BLACK FRIDAY” DAWNS SUNNY AND COLD

As I rise from bed today amidst the plethora of advertisements winging their way toward me on TV, radio, and computer, I find myself drawn to watching the sun rise above Mt. Pisgah on what is starting out as a gorgeous but brisk day. Yesterday’s heavy cloud cover and intermittent rain/snow showers didn’t amount to much here at home and now seem to have moved on east and north.

My “best half” and I spent yesterday enjoying the Thanksgiving meal with family and friends. Both the cycle and the computer enjoyed their own kind of mechanical “day of rest.” I was tempted to pack up the bike and ride back from my niece's home in northern Buncombe County but other duties kept that from happening. As it turned out, the call of “nap time” was stronger than the call to ride yesterday. Maybe all that turkey and dressing had something to do with it…

Cycling wasn’t far from my thoughts though as the “Wood-man”, Ron-Jon, and I kept a cycling thread of conversation going throughout the meal. We discussed various routes we could have taken back home had we but brought our bikes. Some discussion about Italian frames and component parts was interspersed with the remarks about the dressing and a new broccoli-onion-sunflower seeds-raisin salad my wife brought to the table.

Recent Rides…

Our outstanding November weather continued right up to the cold front that made its way into Western North Carolina yesterday, which allowed me get in a couple more good lunch time rides. Both rides included parts of NC 209 from my office and parts of Iron Duff Road. On the first road, I enjoyed some time on Riverside Drive that runs along the Pigeon River before making my way back up Iron Duff Road to the “triangle” and on back to my office. One aspect of riding in Haywood County is that on almost ANY ride, you are going to pass a local church.

CrabtreeChurch_01

(Crabtree Baptist Church)

CrabtreeCemet_01

 

 

 

and the attendant cemetery.

 

 

 

(Crabtree Baptist Church cemetery)

My second ride of the week took me across Coleman Mountain and to the intersection of US 276 on Jonathan Creek. I needed to get some climbing in that day and Coleman Mountain offers up some decent climbing over the course of .75 mile or so to an elevation of 3054’ with a maximum 10% grade. At it’s peak, Coleman Mountain Road sits above what is now a relatively quiet I-40 due to the ongoing closure of the interstate due to a massive rock slide.

After a nice long descent that was cool and resulted in “goose bumps” on this day, I intersected with US 276 and headed back south and east toward my office. This stretch of road initially served as a conduit from Business 19/23 to I-40 while segments of I-40 were being built many years ago. As such, the road was constructed to essentially interstate standards. With the opening of the section of I-40 connecting Jonathan Creek with Clyde, NC, US 276 became one great road for farmers to get their produce to market. Now that the valley is being taken over, first by trailer parks and now developments on the mountain sides surrounding Jonathan Valley, traffic is more commuter in nature. Still, it is a fine road that is generally flat and good for practicing spinning or just enjoying a fine ride on a warm day. Headwinds can occasionally present some barriers but this day was just a fine spin up the valley.

JCreekInter01(Intersection of Coleman Mountain Road and US 276 – northwest view) 

JCreek_Brn01

(Jonathan Creek remains agricultural in nature despite surrounding developments)

ColemanMtnRd(The end of Coleman Mountain Road as it intersects US 276)

Some last thoughts on the assault of an Asheville cyclist…

I’ve been following the recent case in Asheville, NC where an individual stopped a cyclist and his family because he felt compelled to educate the parents on the dangers of cycling for their child. In the end, the citizen pulled a gun, fired at the cyclist and the bullet went through the cyclist’s helmet. (You can read more details on my earlier posts.) My points today really concern the aftermath of the conviction and the dialog that has ensued in the local papers and, for that matter, nationally.

Dave Moulton, writing in his November 23rd post, did a very good job of addressing the ongoing rhetoric in similar events. While he was not, to my knowledge, speaking directly of the Asheville incident, his points that we accomplish nothing for cyclists by inflaming the situation with useless polarized rhetoric were well taken and timely to this situation. To be painfully honest, the responses both locally and nationally ON BOTH SIDES of the debate have been, for the most part, less than intelligent. Somehow the situation in Asheville got tied into the tragedy at Fort Hood, our trust of law enforcement personnel, “the cancer of cyclists” etc, etc, etc… Again, there was enough stupidity in the public dialog to make one wonder how we ever expect to resolve our differences.

I am not naive enough to believe that we will ever resolve all of our differences but I would sure like to see some reasonable conversation about how we can avoid similar situations such as the Asheville incident or the Mandeville Canyon incident in the future. For the record:

  • The now convicted FELON was not then nor is he now representative of all law enforcement or firefighter personnel or military personnel. He was and is a lone individual, who took it upon himself, to act stupidly and dangerously. He is not to be glorified nor is he to become the face of negative law enforcement and cyclist interactions. (he wasn’t even law enforcement to begin with…)
  • The actual VICTIM could have helped avoid the situation by continuing to spin on and not have approached the assaulter, if in fact, that is what happened. The actual news reports were never really clear on this point.
  • Anyone who thinks Superior Court Judge Downs is a liberal judge should come on down, commit a crime, and ask to be sentenced by him. You might be surprised at how long you’ll get to review your decision courtesy of the penal system. The point here is that, at this time, nothing has been published that gives the details of how the plea bargain came about. Angered readers are responding based upon their SPECULATION about the personalities of those involved and not the facts of the case. Hopefully, the trial transcripts will be made public and we can all review the FACTS of the case. (I’m not defending the good Judge here, I’m just saying that his long time reputation is NOT one of giving out light sentences and that something that none of us knows about was at play in this case. The local District Attorney could have rejected the plea bargain and pursued the case with the same vigor that ADA Mary Stone did in the Mandeville Canyon case. Again, we aren’t privy to their decisions on this matter.)

So, I suppose that is enough of my “two cents” worth of conversation on the topic. I’m feeling the need to ride now… If you’re still reading at this point, please know that one of the things for which I am thankful this year is the ability to put some words together, float them out there, and have some folks read them!

Happy Holidays to All – cyclists and non-cyclists alike!

Until later,

- Zeke

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