Sunday, October 30, 2011

LITTLE EAST FORK RIDE CLEARS THE COBWEBS

Thursday past looked to be the last pleasant day for local riding before the cold front accompanied by rain invaded Western North Carolina so it seemed prudent to get out and enjoy it. A late afternoon ride up NC 215 helped work out the cobwebs and stiff muscles associated with little sleep and uncomfortable time spent in chairs in the family waiting room at our local hospital ICU where the Navigator and I spent the early morning hours attending to a family medical emergency. The ride proved to be a perfect antidote to that “stove up” feeling in my bones…

Road Fish Jersey

(Enjoying my colorful new Road Fish jersey from our recent trip…)

The ride started amidst a crowded parking lot of Bethel Middle School footballers…

… and included the Love Joy Road loop up to Lake Logan Road. As I started out, the sun was shining and the air was quite warm. I briefly pondered the need for my wind breaker. That all changed, however, as I made the transition to Lake Logan Road and noted the approaching cold front ushering in thick heavy clouds. It looked as if a deluge would occur at any moment and I could feel the air cooling rapidly.

My timing for the ride turned out to be pretty good as I was ahead of the “end-of-work-day” traffic and had the road largely to myself. A few heavy trucks and construction types passed me heading down the mountain as I climbed the gentle slope of the road. The only meaningful traffic in my direction was a school bus disgorging students from their day of learning at the local school. We played leap frog as I would give way and let the bus pass me on the narrow road and then sometime later, the bus would be behind me again as it had taken off on some side road before returning to Lake Logan Road. We repeated the “give and take” swap a couple of times until the final encounter in which I saw the bus as it was returning to the school. The driver gave me a final big wave as she headed home from her work.

I was on my Fuji CCR3 road bike for the second ride in a row and enjoying the ride although I must admit that I began to miss the Brooks B17 saddle on my Salsa Fargo around mile 10 or so.

Just before having to start the climb above Lake Logan, I took a left onto Little East Fork. This has quickly become one of my favorite spots to ride as it is so pretty and the traffic is quite low. The residents have been generally friendly and respond with waves and greetings as I pass. I took a short break at the Pisgah Camping Club sign to finish off an energy bar and get some liquid into my system although I certainly had not overheated on this ride.

The Pisgah Camping Club is simply a small quarter mile to half mile of park model campers and larger campers that line both sides of the road. The Little East Fork of the Pigeon River runs alongside and the speed limit drops from a high of 45 mph to 25 mph in this one section. As I resumed my spin up the cove, I passed two campers armed with their cameras as they took a hike in the area.

The sky had lightened slightly as I made my way up the road. For the most part, the climb is never more than a mild grade although there was one spot where I hit a 12% climb for a brief spell. It was along this section that I spotted a pretty barn back dropped by fall’s remaining colors.

Barn and pond on Little East Fork

(The rock silo gives this barn some nice character)

Just beyond the short climb the road levels out until it meets the gravel entrance to Camp Daniel Boone, site of many fond memories for me when I was a Boy Scout. I still recall the night I was “tapped” into the Tsali Lodge of the Order of the Arrow and spent the night alone on the mountain. It was one of those events that stays with you through the years.

Mounting Disappointment…

Last winter, I failed to keep myself as active as I should and paid for it this spring by being in notably poorer condition than I should have been. My weight crept back up slightly but mostly I lost muscle tone and cardio conditioning. Determined not to let that happen again this year, I placed an order for a ProForm Tour De France spin bike on September 5th. Delivery was to be within 2 weeks. I also purchased an extended warranty for the equipment as a safeguard.

I received a rubber mat near the two week mark but no spin bike ever arrived. I received notice that my warranty was in effect, but no spin bike arrived. Finally, I contacted the company via the on-line chat at their website and was informed “they didn’t know when the bike would ship.” This was not an acceptable answer so I managed to connect with the original salesperson, who informed me the company had been dissatisfied with the quality of shipping that was being done and they they were working out the problems.

Prior to that correspondence, I read of a number of customer complaints about the TdF bike not working once they received it. I certainly would prefer getting a working model in good condition so I was mollified by the decision to work out the shipping bugs so that items arrived in good condition. Eventually, I was told by yet another employee of the company that I would have the bike by October 21st. In a follow-up, I was told, by the original salesman, the bike would ship October 21st. Well, October 21st has come and gone and no bike has been received. To my latest query at the end of last week (28th), I was told that the bike would ship by November 11th. So, some 60+ days will have elapsed if the bike actually ships on the 11th.

I note on the company website that they are still advertising the TdF bike and do not have any disclaimers or notices about shipping delays. As I expressed in my latest email to the company, this has been a very negative shopping experience. The only good thing I can see is that they haven’t charged my credit card as yet. The Better Business website reports the following for the company:

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To this point, receiving the TdF bike has been a minor irritant. However, with the riding season here becoming shorter and the frequency of nasty weather increasing, the ongoing lack of delivery is going to become significantly more than irritation. I would be interested in knowing if any readers out there have had similar issues with this company. Please feel free to post a comment if you’ve had good or bad interaction with the company or the product.

Ending On A Positive Note…

Bro Dave, he of the sunny Southern Cal area, was to have gotten back on his own Fargo yesterday for the first time since his unfortunate crash a few weeks ago in which he fractured his wrist and endured a laceration above his eye. Hopefully, he had a nice ride yesterday under sunny skies!

Until later,

- Zeke

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