Sunday, July 10, 2011

DOES ABSENCE REALLY MAKE THE HEART GROW FONDER?

I’ve been absent. I haven’t written in a week due to various and sundry circumstances. I haven’t, in the words of Phil Liggett, “turned a pedal in anger” in about the same time – maybe slightly longer. But, I haven’t been away from cycling…

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(Waiting for the crowd of curious patrons at the Red, White, and Boom festival)

The Navigator and I have managed to stay quite busy with cycling related activities. On Sunday, July 3rd, we had an informational booth setup at the Red, White, and Boom Festival in nearby Maggie Valley, NC. Our BicycleHaywoodNC members worked the booth from 2:00 p.m. until closing at 11:00 p.m. Our goal was to introduce the community members/festival goers to our local advocacy council and solicit input to our Haywood Bike Plan survey.

We were co-located between two amusement rides with another group. The other group was raising funds, which resulted in lots of festival goers making a wider detour around our area than we would have liked. Still, we had a few folk stop by and chat with us about cycling needs in their home locales and graciously completed our surveys as visitors to the area.

BicycleHaywoodNC members chatting in booth

(Project Manager Don Kostelec (r) and “Cross Country Stan chat during the festival in Maggie)

In addition to the Red, White, and Boom festival, Don Kostelec and I have continued our meetings with representatives from local municipalities regarding the Bike Plan. We’ve been very pleased with the responses thus far. The meetings have been very productive and it has been wonderful to be so well received. One municipality that is due to get some monies for bike infrastructure in the next fiscal year reported to us that they solicited our help to be certain the money was properly spent!  Upcoming meetings include the Bethel Community Organization this coming week and two remaining local government groups.

A BRIEF RESURGENCE IN CYCLIST HARASSMENT was noted this week when BicycleHaywoodNC co-Chair, George Ivey, had items thrown at him on 2 of 3 rides. In both instances, vehicles had slowed behind Ivey to wait for a safe passing zone. The vehicles throwing the objects ( a hamburger that found its mark and a drink bottle that didn’t) were third in line and populated by teenagers or young adults. Ivey was able to only get a partial tag number so identification of the offenders was out of the question. In both instances, he reported the events to local law enforcement but it did not result in action against the perpetrators.

As is so often the case, it is hard to duck, keep a bike upright, and gather sufficient evidence to pursue matters. Cars following the offenders apparently made no effort to either check on Ivey or to assist in getting details of the offending vehicles. The silver lining to this cloud is that we may be developing and/or finding an online tool to allow cyclists to report such behavior and use the data for both education and enforcement, which are two of the five E’s of the League of American Bicyclists standards for Bicycle Friendly Communities. Anyone reading this missive, who can suggest such a tool, is encouraged to comment at the end of this post with any appropriate links or suggestions. All input is appreciated.

(Last minute addition: Project Manger Don Kostelec, at the end of a 46 mile ride, was run off the road by a Subaru with a “co-exist” bumper sticker. His new definition of cycle harassment is “BEWILDERMENT!”)

MY BI-WEEKLY COLUMN CONTINUES in our local paper, The Waynesville Mountaineer. For those so interested, here is the text of the most recent issue (July 6, 2011):

HAVE YOU CAUGHT IT YET?

Fever that is… I’m talking about, of course, the Tour De France fever that infects homes round the world for 21 days in July each year. The symptoms usually present themselves as an inability to go outside, loss of interest to mow the yard or do other chores, and a pale pallor of the skin due to lack of exposure to sunshine.

The Yount household has certainly been infected again this year. Fortunately, NBC Sports now broadcasts the daily results of Le Tour almost round the clock on Versus TV and you can watch full Tour events on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Weekend mornings can disappear in 3 to 4 hours of intense Tour watching as we keep up with our favorite riders and teams. Evenings come and go as we watch the daily breakdown and listen for the off the cuff analysis of Bob Roll.

In this post-Armstrong era, Americans have much to be proud of in regard to USA based teams. Garmin-Cervelo, Radio Shack, HTC-Highroad, and BMC are all in the very top tier of the 22 teams competing this year. American Tyler Ferrar bested rival Mark “the Manx Missile” Cavendish in a sprint to take the winning time in Stage 3. This followed Garmin-Cervelo’s winning team trial effort in Stage 2. BMC is led by relatively local homeboy “Big George” Hincapie of Greenville, SC. George is competing in a record tying 16th Tour De France this year.

Want drama in your sporting events? Well, it is never further away than the fewest of inches in the peloton. In Stage 1, a spectator carelessly edged onto the road as the peloton came by and bumped one of the riders causing a massive crash of riders creating a dominos effect as the riders fell on top of each other while at full speed. This particular crash entangled defending champion Alberto Contador perhaps creating an insurmountable time loss for him. A careless spectator may have done what the governing boards of the cycling sport couldn’t do – ended his drive for a 3rd straight Tour championship.

There are races within races and the observant fan can always find some aspect of the Tour to get excited about. Understanding the roles of the various colored jerseys/competitions makes for a much richer viewing experience as does gaining an appreciation for the race tactics of the peloton as they run down the daily breakaways.

At the end of the daily stages, the casual viewer may well be so inspired that they go out and try to climb over Water Rock Knob or ascend to the Blue Ridge Parkway above Bethel. The inspired viewer in a fit of “Tour lust” might try to set a new personal time record climbing Rush Fork or go out and individual time trial around the Pigeon River Valley in Canton and Bethel. But, hey, you have to be careful with your time – the next showing of Le Tour is just a few hours away!

For more information, visit http://gr8smokieszeke.blogspot.com and www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org .

 

AND FINALLY… As I write this, the Navigator and I are enjoying the quiet of our favorite campground. I’m not sure that we’ve heard a man-made sound in about 30 minutes now. The cloud that sat down on the mountain yesterday (elevation 5300’) has yet to mosey on so it has been a mixture of heavy fog and rain since our arrival. This isn’t an issue for us as the solitude that goes with folks staying in their tents and RV’s is quiet enjoyable. The only downside is that I was hoping to see how well my new solar panel charging system would work this trip. So far, I’ve reinforced the idea that solar panels don’t charge under heavy fog, mist, and rain!

Solar Array Under Clouds

(Putting to work my Christmas present from the Navigator!)

I feel a serious nap approaching. Maybe I’ll have dreams of being first on a mountaintop finish and standing on a podium!

Until later,

- Zeke

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