Wednesday, November 4, 2009

UNCOVERING FALL’S SURPRISES!

Yesterday’s new ride schedule, resulting from the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST), provided me the opportunity to get out around mid-day and enjoy the bright sunshine and cooler temps of the season. The fall season gave me the opportunity to contemplate the differences between “crisp” and “brisk”. The day also gave me the opportunity to become more aware of roadside bounties.

My first ride on the new schedule turned out to be solo, which simply continues a recent pattern. I left my office sharply on time at High Noon with the hopes of getting in at least 20 miles before needing to return to work. With the end of DST, High Noon is truly High Noon now and not really 11:00 a.m. The weather was beautiful with crystal clear blue skies and a temperature in the low 60’s. Traffic was moderately heavy as folks tried to get out and about on their lunch breaks. 

Not only did I depart sharply at High Noon but, I must say, I was sharply dressed in my fall riding outfit. About the only articles NOT Pearl Izumi were my helmet and my heart monitor. Otherwise, I could have been the “Pearl Izumi Man” – not to be confused with the Marlboro Man. I was a walking billboard in my Pearl Izumi shirt, my Pearl Izumi bibbed knickers, and my Pearl Izumi socks and gloves. Oh yeah, one other non-Pearl Izumi item was my Specialized shoes. (Full disclosure: I am not now nor have I ever been paid as a shill for Pearl Izumi.)

This brings me, in a round-about, manner to the contemplation of “crisp” vs. “brisk.” I had calculated that my aforementioned outfit sans jacket would suffice to keep me warm in the low 60’s yesterday. After all, I had on longer shorts and full length sleeves made with a warmer material. Well, as I started out from my office I discovered that I was riding along in “crisp” air.  In fact, I was downright cool! I began to question the wisdom of my calculations. Fortunately, after 5 to 8 minutes of easy spinning, my body temp went up and I found myself to be quite comfortable. A few miles later as I was climbing Poison Cove Gap in the noon day sun, I was breaking a sweat and downright hot.

Once I topped the Gap and headed downhill on the non-sun side of the mountain, my sweat and the cool air at 35 mph served to bring my temperature down quite a bit over the next mile descent. Still, I quickly hit flat ground and warmed right back up and remained that way as I pedaled along the Pigeon River to my next climb on Hyder Mountain. This was my second climb over this gap that, according to my VDO Z1 bike computer has a 12% grade at the top, and is still a breath robbing experience for me. Again, I was well above “crisp” as I topped out at Fincher’s Chapel and headed downhill again.

A short time later having returned to Lake Junaluska via NC 209, I was reminded of just how “brisk” the weather can get on South Lakeshore Dr. A wind had kicked up and the waves in the lake were just short of white capping. Lots of citizens were out walking and exercising their dogs on the walking path. South Lakeshore drive is obviously on the south side of the lake. Hmm – south you say – must be warm! Not so fast! South Lakeshore Dr. lies in the shadow of a mountain and, for the most part, doesn’t see the sun this time of year and will not see it again until next spring when ‘Ol Sol returns to a higher arc in the sky. Yesterday, with the wind blowing and being in the shade, I moved from riding in the “crisp” fall air to riding in the “brisk” fall air. So, I deduced that the difference in “crisp” and “brisk” is about 8 degrees and a 5 to 10 mile an hour wind in the shade! Tomorrow’s ride, with temps forecast only to reach 55 degrees may add to my new definition of “brisk”! I have a feeling that I’ll be more warmly dressed tomorrow in yet another set of fine, fine Pearl Izumi clothing!

Speaking of ROADSIDE BOUNTIES…

The final leg of my ride covers a portion of Howell Mill Road, which is a two lane road connecting Business 23on the east side of town and Russ Avenue on the north side of town. With the leaves vacating their places on the tree limbs and vegetation, in general, beginning to take on brown hues, I noted quite a bit of new color in the form of roadside detritus that I’ve been overlooking.

CycleTrash01

It seems that the good folk using this road, as well as most roads, prefer the “dump as you go” method of recycling. For some reason, I was struck yesterday with how much trash was in this one short section of road.

CycleTrash02 

CycleTrash03

CycleTrash05

Howell Mill is actually a rather picturesque little back road. It is on the short list to be widened and expanded in the near future. We’re all hopeful that bike lanes will be part of that process!

HowellMill01    (Howell Mill Road going east)

HowellMill02(Howell Mill Road going west) 

I know every community has its share of litter. I keep wondering when we’re all going to “get it” and quit spoiling the views for others and creating roadside dump sites. I keep hoping that, as a people, we’re smarter than this…

Until later,

- Zeke

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