Wednesday, June 1, 2011


As I sit here this evening, the first day of June 2011 is beginning to wind down. Summer simply jumped up and skipped all that nice preparatory stuff normal for May and seemingly went straight to the hot sunny dry days of late July and August. I hope this isn’t the harbinger of things to come this summer.

Stamey Cove, Haywood County, NC

(Stamey Cove gets “its green on!”)

After doing my final stats for the month last night, I was not feeling good about my riding during May…

I looked at my total miles for the month and realized that I had come in way under my goal. I knew I would be short but wasn’t expecting to be as short as the final calculation shows. Between a spreadsheet error, too many meetings, and an unpleasant “head” cold that robbed me of my desire to do much of anything, I simply didn’t get out and about on the bike as much as I “shoulda/woulda/coulda” done.

But, then I looked at my calendar and realized that a lot of good cycling related stuff was actually accomplished during May even if I wasn’t on the bike. We continue to make strides in our Bike Plan for Haywood County. Most of the meetings I attended in May were related to getting the word out about the bike plan, so I have to feel good about that. My cycling column is still running in the local paper and there have been no orchestrated efforts to get rid of it. Finally, we had our successful first ever Bike to Work Day ride along with activities throughout the week. So, my actual miles were down but it would seem my “cycling mileage” held steady as measured by getting the word out about the benefits of riding a bicycle – of any kind!

The darned head cold wasn’t much fun and I really can’t find a “silver lining to that cloud.” As close as I can get is to be thankful it wasn’t as bad as the Navigator endured two weeks ago and that the worst of it came and went in about a 48 hour period. I did ride one day at the end of the cold but boy was I zapped. I just didn’t have the energy to move forward…

Polished off the month with a ride!

I did get to finish the month on a high note though. I was determined to ride on the last day of the month and truly thought I was closer to my monthly mileage goal than I turned out to be. I figured a good ride home would get me right at where I wanted to be. (I had not found the calculation error at this point…) I car-pooled in to work Tuesday with the Navigator and off-loaded my bike, backpack with computer, and my Timbuk 2 messenger bag with all of my riding gear.

The end of the work day arrived soon enough and I encountered my first surprise of the day: I loaded my knickers instead of my summer weight bibs. Oh well, I figured it would just feel good in the 89 degree weather. Surprise number two came when the steering on my bike tightened up all of a sudden after about a mile of riding. Fortunately, I was near my LBS and was able to make it there without further difficulty. The Wood-Man had correctly diagnosed a loose headset on my Fuji CCR3 over the weekend. Unfortunately, we over tightened it a bit and after riding that first mile, the previously loose fork, really locked down and wouldn’t turn. It was odd because the bike felt good for that first half mile and then the steering got progressively tighter. A quick release of the nut though and backing off a tad had me on my way again.

The short delay also served to let some of the end of work day traffic get cleared out and I had Raccoon Road, Ratcliffe Cove Road, and Poison Cove Gap almost to myself. I had set in my mind that I wasn’t going to push it hard getting home as this was my first full ride since the head cold. I managed to keep my heart rate in the 145 range until I started the climb over Stamey Cove.

There was no way I was going to make any forward progress at 145 bpm as I would have simply fallen over. Stamey Cove is steep and long to the gap reaching near the 3000’ mark in elevation. I was quite satisfied to simply get to the top and enjoy the descent to the Pigeon River on the Canton side of the mountain.

Climbing Stamey Cove

(Nearing the top of Stamey Cove…)

Once down to river grade, it was just a nice cruise up NC 215 to Bethel to meet the Navigator. The heat of the day had driven numerous local citizens to the river to cool off as evidenced by the numbers of cars parked along the river banks. By this point, I was nearing 7:00 p.m. on my commute home and folks were still cooling it in the stream. It was a pretty ride along the freshly planted fields of the Pigeon Valley as the sun was dropping in the sky.

Bethel Elementary

Bethel Farmhouse









(Shots of two of the community structures that I pass by on my way home.)

The field behind the school sign is actually a full scale water treatment project that gathers all the run off water from the school buildings and parking lots and filters it through large rain gardens and then into massive tanks buried in the bank behind the sign. The water then works its way into the soil through packing within the pipes and by the time it reaches the nearby river, has already been treated and cleaned of impurities. It is truly a “green” initiative that is paying dividends already.

The farmhouse sits across from the school along the river bank. This is one of my favorite houses in the Pigeon Valley. I’ve never been on the inside but would love to do so one day. Maybe it will find its way on to the local heritage day parade of homes…

May 2011 ended quietly for me – short of my monthly goal but full of other, more important cycling related accomplishments. The final day’s ride was a nice ending to the month. Now, I get to see if I can meet my monthly goal in June!

Until later,

- Zeke

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