Wednesday, June 2, 2010

FIRST RIDE OF NEW MONTH HAS SAD INTERLUDE

After my return to work following 12 days of vacation, I was ready to ride and discharge pent up stress resulting in catching up, getting subpoenaed to Court, and other aspects of my job. We’re in another wet pattern here in lovely and VERY GREEN Western North Carolina. I was keeping an eye on the local radar trying to gauge whether a break in the rain bands would allow the 20+ mile commute home.

After a steady rainfall of 30 minutes around 3:00 p.m., the radar seemed to indicate that no more moisture would be arriving for 3 or 4 hours. The next big band was well off to my northwest in Tennessee. So, it was on – my first commute of the month and my first ride on familiar roads since returning from our 2 week camping adventure.

At the close of business, I loaded up and headed out only to discover that the cadence sending unit on my VDO-Z1 bike computer wasn’t working. I’ve been meaning to change batteries and I guess it is now clearly time to do so. This was my first ride with my new SPOT II on the bike. I used it extensively to track our course while camping but it was always based in the truck so this was my first real test to see if it would report through my cycling jersey. (Note: upon returning home, I discovered the SPOT had nicely charted my course. I carried it in the back left pocket of my jersey. It is so light that I didn’t notice it once. The arm band that comes with it was not to my liking so I’m pleased that if functioned through the jersey.)

The streets had largely dried off except in very low lying areas so there was no road spray to speak of that would affect the ride. I was hitting the roads just as the end-of-workday traffic was picking up but I fortunately didn’t seem to hold anyone up so the only horn blowing I received was a friendly “toot” letting me know that the person was behind me. I waved them around when I could see the road ahead was clear and they threw up a hand in greeting as they went by me.

I was interested to see if the knife that I had previously placed on a bridge railing several weeks ago would still be in place. The knife served to get my mind off an unpleasant interaction with an auto driver and I’ve maintained, admittedly silly, interest in seeing how long it would remain on the bridge. Yesterday was the first time in over 2 weeks that I’ve been on the bridge. The knife had finally been taken. Someone came across it and took it away. It lasted longer than I thought it would in that location.

I ran the length of the Pigeon from the intersection of Richland Creek Rd. and NC 209 to east Canton where the road and river diverge. I was struck by how calm the river was yesterday. In places it barely appeared to be moving, which made for enhanced observation of the dark tea color of the water that results from the tannins in the paper making process at the mill in Canton.

As I passed the second of two churches and two climbs, the road had a clear view looking east of Canton and along I-40. One home in particular still had all of its Memorial Day colors on display. Thickety Road north of Canton, NC(Thickety Road northwest of Canton. Note I-40 ribbon in distance.)

I-40 through Haywood County into and from Tennessee has now reopened following the clearance of debris resulting from a rock slide months ago. The good news for local business owners is that the return of traffic has begun to bring business transactions back toward normal. The following image was taken from the same location as the shot above. I used the maximum zoom option of the Canon PowerShot to show how busy I-40 was on this first day after Memorial Day 2010.

I-40 traffice post Memorial Day 2010(Traffic on reopened I-40) 

My ride continued on pleasantly for another couple of miles before taking a very sad turn of events. I made a short climb up to a 3 way intersection where I was the right hand turning “vehicle”. I waved a truck to my left on so they could go in front of me and clipped back into my pedals to get moving. As I made the right hand turn, a small dog at a home diagonally across the road spotted me as I began moving and started giving chase. A woman, whom I assume to be the owner, started calling him/her but the dog would have none of it. The dog had a full head of steam and was coming my way. This was a short, small dog and I was already well out in front of it so it posed no threat to me but I realized that it wasn’t going to stop and stay in its yard. It dashed underneath some pine trees on the edge of the road to continue its pursuit of me. I started trying to point it out to oncoming traffic as I realized the dog was coming into the main road. The lead car did start slowing down but then I heard a loud crunching sound following by a wailing dog as it tried to drag itself back home. Several other vehicles were approaching and I tried to slow them down as well. At least 3 of them stopped to offer assistance.

I was torn between going back or going on. I realized that there wasn’t anything I could do to offer aid and was concerned that my presence might be an added stressor for the owner of the dog. Even though I did nothing to cause the accident, I know that human beings see things differently in times of stress and I feared I might have been seen as the instigator of the event although I know that not to be the case. I chose to continue toward home and said a short prayer for the little dog. I hope that its injuries are not life threatening.

The unpleasantness of the situation made the remaining 10 miles of the ride home significantly less bright. I caught a few rain drops on the south side of Canton but otherwise arrived home wet only from my own perspiration. The few rain drops I did catch felt pretty good in reality. So, it’s home again and riding familiar roads, which is a fine feeling!

Until later,

- Zeke

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