Friday, February 17, 2012

HIGHER GAS PRICES LEADING TO NEW CYCLISTS?

February 17, 1944

From the daily diary kept by S.Sgt. G.C. Watts, while stationed in Italy during WWII… “Beautiful day – Red line instruments in P-38 # 13 that had been replaced after being shot out. Plane ready to fly again. 5 planes are almost finished by 94th Squadron..”

We look to have a nice day headed our way this Friday, February 17th but expecting deteriorating conditions by Saturday evening. I’m hoping to get in a ride tomorrow morning to further document part of our Haywood Hub for cue sheet production.

In the meantime, I’m beginning (I think) to see the impact of higher gas prices…

Gas Pump Prices To Jump Again!

as I’ve noticed several cyclists this week on the roads. These weren’t folks dressed in full kit but were folks with packages hanging from the handlebars and/or backpacks carrying their supplies/equipment. That’s the good news – more people riding. The bad news is that none of them were doing it safely…

My first observation was of a cyclist climbing the hill in front of my office “salmoning” amidst oncoming traffic and darting in and out of empty parking spaces. Also, that section of road has 3 driveway exits on the side of the road the cyclist was riding and no one exiting them would have looked downhill (to the right) for an oncoming cyclist. Motorists tend to accelerate from the turn off of Main Street (left of the driveways) to the next traffic light just below my office. This cyclist was just waiting to be crunched. As I watched the person avoid traffic, they made yet another foolish move when they darted across the street on the blind side of the incoming traffic and went to the curb side of traffic waiting to make a right hand turn onto Main Street.

In another observation, an individual in town has purchased a tricycle with some sort of electric motor. It takes up some space given the wide stance of the two rear wheels. While I applaud his effort to go car-free, the sidewalks just aren’t the place to ride that machine. In fact, bicycles and similar conveyances are prohibited from being ridden on the sidewalk in the downtown Waynesville area. I’ve watched this gentleman ride along the main sidewalk in town and noted pedestrians have to squeeze up against the buildings for him to pass. I imagine it is only a matter of time before the local police have a word with him. I must say that I did envy the ease with which he pulled off from a dead start on an uphill stop!

A third cyclist I observed this week was also on the sidewalk although riding in this particular area is not prohibited by law. In this section, the power poles are embedded into the sidewalk making for very narrow space for pedestrians and others to pass each other. This fellow was waiting to cross the main road to a side road and he was having to pick a time between traffic moving about 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. What struck me most about him was the heavy load of packages he had on his handlebars. The packages were the typical plastic grocery store bag and they were swinging and swaying with his movement. I wondered how that must have affected the handling characteristics of his bike. It looked to be somewhat perilous to me.

I would say we have a way to go to get cyclists properly educated on how to safely participate as a member of the normal traffic in town!

For those so interested, my bi-weekly cycling column was published in the local newspaper this week. I’m pleased that it seems to be developing some local readership as evidenced by comments made to me at meetings and restaurants.

ARE YOU IN THE RIGHT GEAR?

I was coming off of a short, restless night. I had too little sleep and what I had wasn’t restful. I was awakened by a pain in my jaw that would not relent. Going back to sleep wasn’t happening even though it was Sunday morning and I could afford to sleep in a little longer. Three cups of coffee later and a hot shower had minimized the pain in my jaw but left me feeling lethargic and having difficulty concentrating on what my minister was saying in his Sunday message.

Something my minister said brought me out of my fog and an image came to mind of me badly missing a gear on an ascent of a mountain. I was reminded that riding a bicycle often mimics life’s experiences. Today was one of those days that I had badly missed a “gear” in life.

As on a bicycle, when you end up in the wrong gear, smooth movement through life becomes stilted. On good days, I feel so in tune with my bicycle that I nicely negotiate turns, smoothly climb hills, and easily manage descents. Unfortunately, mornings such as today are the equivalent of missing a gear in life. This day my smooth movement through life was impaired and I found myself not focusing on what was happening to me now but rather what had happened to me recently. To me, this is akin to trying to climb a mountain in the wrong gear. I was laboring and not finding the “joy of the ride”. I was missing the important message of the day.

At other times, I’ve been in a climbing gear when descending from the gap of a mountain. In these cases, you spin your pedals faster and faster without having any appreciable impact on your momentum. In life, these times are when I get caught up worrying about what tomorrow will bring. I’m spinning wildly and exerting energy but gaining nothing.

Fortunately, I realized what was happening this morning and refocused on my immediate experience. I became aware of my wife beside me and of the comfort of the padding upon which I sat. Practicing Mindfulness helped me to refocus and find the “right gear” for that moment. The message of my minister came to me clear when I was able to quit worrying about the past. The end result was hearing one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard in a long, long time as the violinist and pianist brought forth beautiful melodies, each playing off of the other.

In my work as a Behavioral Health Counselor, I see this process every day in those around me. Too often, we all get in the “wrong gear” and allow ourselves to get sidetracked losing sight of what we have at this moment. Refocusing on the now and recognizing our place in it works on a bicycle to smooth out the journey and it works in life just the same. Today is the day you have. You can’t change yesterday and you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Spin smoothly now and the rest will take care of itself.

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.

 

Bro Dave shared the following good news about cycling in my general geographic region…

Cycling is alive and well in the southeast! This looks like a great day trip for us to make sometime in the near future. I would also like to get down to upstate S.C. again to ride the Swamp Rabbit Trail

Have a great weekend!

Until later,

- Zeke

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