Monday, August 8, 2011

HOW SLOW IS SLOW?

The past week has brought me into contact with two stories of “slow”. One of my own making and one simply shared by a co-rider as we “worked” the BicycleHaywoodNC booth at the Canton, NC “Mater Fest” this past Saturday.

Last Monday, “Cross Country Stan”, Don Kostelec, our Haywood County Comprehensive Bike Plan project manager, Claudia Nix, consultant and co-owner of Liberty Bicycles in nearby Asheville, NC, and myself enjoyed a ride…

… a ride that is being considered as part of the “backbone” of our bike plan. The route may become the central artery for moving cyclists west to east and vice versa throughout the county as we link to Scenic Bike Route #2 in Jackson County to our west and to Buncombe County to our east. The point of the ride was to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the route and to develop associated recommendations for the bike plan.

As I’ve noted previously, my mileage suffered greatly in July and I could certainly tell that my fitness had dropped because of it. Claudia was riding her new Trek electric bike and we were all interested in how it would perform. Right off the bat, we could tell the bike was heavy. Of course, adding a battery to a bike would have to increase the weight.

As we left the Super Wal-Mart near the southern end of Waynesville, I really couldn’t tell much difference in the electric Trek and those of us on the traditional human powered versions. Claudia was still peddling just as she would normally. The grade for the first several miles of the route is flat to no more than 1 to 2 percent so it wasn’t at all difficult to ride under most any circumstance.

We came to the first short but steep climb near Central Elementary School and this was where I was to see the power of the battery kick in. Claudia simply accelerated past the rest of us with seemingly no effort on her part. This would be the first of my experiences of being “slow” on this date. Unfortunately, it wasn’t only Claudia to whom I compared as being “slow.”  I was to discover that I was also “slow” on most every climb when compared to the rest of the group. I was paying for those few miles of pushing the pedals in July. By the end of the ride, I had exceeded my entire month’s mileage for July. I’m not even going to print how low it was… Still, the out and back ride was very enjoyable and will hopefully find fruition in solid recommendations and later implementation in our comprehensive bike plan.

PERHAPS AN OMEN?

Thursdays are our scheduled group rides for “new and newly returning” riders and I was planning on participating in that ride. As the work day ran down, I started my usual preparations. While in the kitchen of our offices, I heard a man’s voice from the living room/reception area (our Behavioral Health Counseling practice is co-located with other professionals in a historic home in Waynesville.) It is uncommon to hear raised voices. The man was imploring someone to speak to him. At first, I didn’t think too much of it but, when it continued, I decided I should check out matters.

I discovered a policeman and my partner attempting to rouse a consumer from the couch. My partner had discovered that this individual had overdosed on medications and could not be brought out of the stupor that currently characterized the individual’s condition. Seeing this emergency, prompted me to put riding plans on hold and I assisted in resolving the crisis.

Once it was over and things had settled down ( Rescue Squad personnel were gone, co-tenants had returned to their offices or left the building completely, etc.) I realized that I could probably catch the group ride. So, I quickly finalized my preparations, pulled my trusty Fuji CCR3 off of the bike rack, mounted it, took off… uh, something isn’t right!

I looked down and my rear tire was completely flat – not a little flat – completely without air. I had checked both tires when I left home that morning and they were fully inflated. The bike had not been off the rack since. So delayed once, now delayed twice, I took it as an omen that riding in traffic on this day was simply not intended for me. The Fates or whatever were sending me a message – first an overdosed consumer in my office and now an inexplicable flat.

I glumly changed back into my work clothes and joined the Navigator and her sister, Sherry Shazam, for supper. It seemed a reasonable thing to do. To further add to the mystery of the flat, I pumped up the tire when I arrived home and it has yet to lose any air!

NOW, THIS IS SLOW!

Several of us who are BicycleHaywoodNC members were working our “booth” this past Saturday at the Mater Fest, a celebration of the beautiful tomato and enjoying each other’s company sharing tales of riding and tales of associated woe. One such story involved a dog, a steep grade, and what may be a new definition of slow.

As the story goes, the rider was participating in a nearby county ride that included some significant mountain grades. She reported that as she made the climb and the grade became steeper, she struggled up the mountain managing to keep pushing around the cranks but going slower, and slower, and slower. She spied a dog, which turned out to be a Golden Retriever (or was it a Yellow Lab?). The dog was taking an interest in her while she was going slower, and slower, and slower.

Finally, the dog came out to investigate this slowly moving human, perhaps impressed that something moving so slow could stay upright. As our rider is trying to make her way up the incline, the dog, at a brisk walking pace, circles her bike checking her out from all angles. No “dog threat” was made – simple curiosity seemed in play. After a full and thorough examination, the dog merely looked at her, stood on his two hind feet, and planted his front paws on her chest – all while she was trying to maintain forward movement. Now, that my friends, is slow!

FREE TO GIVE AWAY! One HEAT WAVE! Currently stationed in Western North Carolina. Needs new home! Free irritable moods to accompany it! No need to call ahead – just come get the darn thing!

ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT! The Blue Ridge Breakaway is August 20th! A couple of days remain for reduced registration fees. Come ride the beautiful roads of Haywood County including the Blue Ridge Parkway ( Century riders only!). We’ll do our best to see that you don’t have a Golden Retriever or a Yellow Lab examine you during the ride!

Until later,

- Zeke

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