Tuesday, May 3, 2011

RAMPS, BROKEN CHAINS, AND OTHER NICETIES OF LIFE!

Aarrggh! It seems like forever since I’ve posted anything here. The days have been jammed full of other activities and, to be quite frank, I’ve not felt like writing when I finally made it home. I’ve managed to keep up somewhat with my reading on a daily basis and have enjoyed Kent “Mountain Turtle” Peterson’s month long “30 days of Biking.” I’ve also enjoyed watching my colleague and friend Jack, the VeloHobo, begin his partial commute to work each day. Jack and I work for the same company although the geographic area that separates us is a couple of hours away. I still recall the day that I discovered that this guy I worked with turned out to be the VeloHobo…

A great deal of my discretionary time (is that like discretionary income- something you think you should have but really don’t?) has been spent on planning for our Bike Week activities and of getting our Haywood County Bike Plan off the ground. We had a “kick-off” meeting last night with our Project Manager, Don Kostelec, who led part of our steering committee and interested others in understanding the scope of matters before us. He also had some great images from around the country of how integrated and not-so-integrated bike plans and facilities work. I was impressed with the breadth of approaches!

A Lesson Relearned…

Last Thursday evening was our weekly BicycleHaywoodNC sponsored group ride for new and newly returning riders. As the riding hour approached, it was clear that we had a group of folks, who were perhaps a little stronger than usual. The appointed ride leader for the evening came down sick so I stepped in to lead the ride. After a short discussion with my co-ride leaders, we decided to add some short moderate climbs to the typical ride and to head out into the country side instead of town surface streets.

After a brief safety chat and identification of ride leaders, we took a right hand turn out of Rolls Rite Bicycle shop and began coasting down to the roundabout, which would take us out Raccoon Creek Rd and to the first short climb up Dock Ratcliff Road. As I was trying to let the group come together, I was just coasting and don’t really recall even having turned a crank until exiting right at the roundabout.

A short dip in the road let me pick up further speed before having to actually put some force behind the pedals. I made about two revolutions and I felt my right foot shoot toward the pavement as all resistance from the drive train was gone. Next, I recall seeing the chain pooling below my pedal and my first thought was the chain had, for some reason unknown to me, slipped off the gears.

Were I only that lucky… It seems the chain, for some reason still unknown to me, had decided to break. So, lesson, relearned… Chain driven bicycles require a functioning chain in order to propel the bicycle. Of course, that fine downhill coast to this point was about to be rewarded with a fine uphill walk back to the shop as I did not have the necessary parts or tools to repair the chain. Additionally, I didn’t want the group held up from their ride and everyone was standing along the side of a two lane road with more than the usual traffic passing.

I convinced the group to move on and began my walk back to the shop. It was only a moment until I spotted my brother-in-law Ron Jon, himself a newly returning rider, headed back to the shop on his bike. In just a few moments, he was back with his pickup and we were loading up my Fuji. It sure saved me about 3/4’s of a mile of walking in cleats and pushing my bike! I was quite appreciative.

I convinced Ron Jon to let me drive his truck and took him to catch up with the group so he could get his ride completed. After getting him back on the road, I headed back to the shop, locked his truck up, dropped my bike off, and jumped into my truck. I decided this was a golden opportunity to get some pictures of the group riding. I headed out the route I expected them to take and finally found them. I did get a few images although they didn’t turn out as nice as I would have hoped. (Thus, you don’t see them here…)

Being “Car Lite” Has Its Challenges…

The last couple of weeks have been challenging to be “car lite” and with gas prices still increasing, it is more irksome than usual. The Navigator and I have seemingly been headed in different directions every day so carpooling in with her and riding home has been infrequent. I’ve had late night meetings almost every night and that has put me in the truck more than I would like. I’ve been more dependent upon my truck the last two weeks because the Harley is still in the shop getting some much needed bodywork completed. So, I’ve reacquainted myself with my F150.

Hopefully, the Harley will soon be home and I can get back to 46 mpg instead of 12 mpg. I’m now carrying a set of power links and a chain break tool (thanks Bro Dave!) on the Fuji and the meeting schedule is slacking up slightly so the forecast for more riding in the near future is rosier.

I did manage a late Sunday afternoon ride. The Navigator had to do some shopping at the Waynesville Super Wal-mart so I loaded up the Fuji on the bike rack and caught a ride into town with her. I then enjoyed a nice 24 mile ride through Waynesville, down NC 209 to the Pigeon River, along the Pigeon to Canton, and then into Canton before turning south on NC 110 toward home. It was a pleasant day and I experienced no negative effects from having eaten Ramps in meatloaf, scrambled eggs, cornbread, and beans at lunch when the Wood-man, the Navigator, Sherry Shazam, and I attended the American Legion Ramp Festival. (For those of you unfamiliar with the delicacy of Ramps, I suggest this reading.)

Hmmm, a Ramp burger – I’m getting kind of hungry…

Until later,

Zeke

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