Wednesday, February 29, 2012

EMERGING FROM THE FUNK…

February 29, 1944

From the daily diary kept by S.Sgt. G.C. Watts, while stationed in Italy during WWII… “Yes, there was an entry for Feb 29th, 1944, which must have also been a leap year! Work with 94 squadron (Harkin-Ring) until noon. A mission so I come back to our squadron area. White wash all walls of barn and everyone is painting their rooms up “American” .”

 

It seems like forever since I’ve posted and, in fact, this may well be the longest time I’ve gone without a post since starting this blog some 3 years ago. I’ve found myself in a funk recently – a funk that I can relate to “too many irons in the fire”, a dying pet, housing decisions to make, wet weather, etc., etc., etc. All of which are just excuses for not getting out and riding and finding…

my inspiration. It isn’t that I’ve been away from cycling. I’ve just not been cycling! I’ve attended multiple cycling related meetings over the past 10 days and continue to be pleased with our progress at implementing the Haywood County Comprehensive Bike Plan. We’re making good strides at bringing together community groups to foster cycling in our community. In fact, yesterday I attended the Regional Bike Plan Executive Committee meeting wherein we hope to connect Western North Carolina with safe routes throughout the region.

My latest cycling column is due. I found my inspiration from it while sitting back and observing things around me. For those so interested, here is a preview of the next column to get into the print media.

IT IS STARTING…

In the last week, I’ve noted the signs. On my way to work, I’ve spotted the “early bird” indicators. At lunch, from my favorite Bicycle Friendly Business the Smoky Mountain CafĂ©, a flash in the corner of my eye let me know that one of the harbingers of the coming season was out and stretching its legs. On other occasions, I’ve seen them darting in and out of the traffic pattern or maybe just slipping around a corner as I turn my head.

A phone call from the West Coast last week let me know that the swell is headed our way. My brother David called and said he had just paid $4.05 a gallon for gas at a CHEAP place! Fortunately, he drives a Prius and commutes via bike to his work on a regular basis. So, as predicted, IT is coming and coming quickly. Gas prices have jumped thirteen cents per gallon just since last week.

So, what are these signs I’m noting? Well, to no one’s surprise, it is an increase in people cycling to and from work and or the stores. I’m not talking about lean fit racing types outfitted in spandex and lycra. I’m talking about work clothes clad and backpack laden individuals adjusting to the new reality of even more expensive gasoline. I’ve seen handlebars so heavily loaded with plastic bags full of groceries, I didn’t know how the rider was keeping the bike upright.

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen way too many instances of very unsafe riding occurring. I watched one rider “salmoning” (riding against the traffic) in and out of empty parking spaces on Walnut Street. I watched as that rider crossed over the road in a blind spot for oncoming traffic and then rode up the right hand side of traffic already stopped at a traffic light just waiting to make a right hand turn. The bike rider was putting him/herself in significant risk of getting run over in a move commonly known as the “right hook” wherein a car turns right and crunches a cyclist moving in a straight line.

Just today, I observed a rider cruising down the sidewalk of Main Street at basically the speed traffic was moving at the time. Perhaps the rider was unaware that it is against Town of Waynesville ordinance to operate a bicycle on the sidewalks in the downtown area. He represented a clear danger to any pedestrian stepping out of a store front.

While I’m very happy to see folks taking on personal responsibilities and actions to reduce their fuel costs, my observations also serve to remind me that we have a lot of ground to cover in educating cyclists and motorists regarding how to share the road safely. As more people take to cycling, we’re certainly going to have more cyclist/motorist interaction. Education is a key to making that interaction a positive one. It is the responsibility of both sides of the transportation debate to make an effort to safely SHARE THE ROAD!

For more information, visit http://gr8smokieszeke.blogspot.com and www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org . You may also link to Zeke’s Great Smoky Mountain 2 Wheeled Adventures under Opinion on the Mountaineer’s website.

 

A final word…

…regarding my Le Tour De France spinner bike. I seem to have finally achieved a fully functioning spinner. Once connected properly with all the right pieces and parts, the heart monitor function has done its job well. I’m now “enjoying” the full performance of the equipment.

We have more wet weather moving into our area for the next couple of days so I may be enjoying more time on that lovely spinner. The weekend isn’t looking so good either right now. It is that time of the year when the weather fluctuates like crazy. I hope you are enjoying your time wherever you are!

It’s only 30 short days until Bro Dave comes east and we get to ride in the Low Country of South Carolina!

Until later,

- Zeke

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