Wednesday, March 14, 2012

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT COMING!

Yep, a very exciting announcement is on the horizon. I can say that it is connected to the third Annual Blue Ridge Breakaway. I can say that it relates to cycling advocacy and cycling tourism. I can say that it involves speakers of national and now international renown.

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What I can’t say – just yet – is………

… who those renowned guests will be. Final details are being pulled together and an announcement will be forthcoming. You can follow the news as it happens by following the Blue Ridge Breakaway on Twitter at @BlueRidgeBreak. Suffice it to say that we believe the scheduled speakers bring a wealth of information to the event regarding cyclo-tourism and how communities can benefit from being more bicycle friendly. Feel free to register your best guess as to the identities of these speakers by adding a comment at the end of this post.

Longer days, warmer nights…

Coinciding with the arrival of Daylight Savings Time has been summer-like temperatures here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Folks of all persuasions have been making their way outdoors for the past several days. On my way to speak to the Town of Canton Board of Alderman last evening, the air temperature was a balmy 74 degrees at 5:15 p.m.  Nice!

Myself and our Bike Plan Project Coordinator Extraordinaire, Don Kostelec, addressed the Town of Canton Board bringing them up-to-date on the Comprehensive Haywood County Bike Plan. We had an excellent reception from the Board followed up by a request by the Mayor for BicycleHaywoodNC to provide a bike rodeo at the town’s local recreation park this spring. Suffice it to say that plans are already in the making for the event! The Board also clarified the Town’s policy regarding where riders should walk their bikes vs. riding them in the local park. Signage at the park and directions from the local safety officer have been at odds in the past and cyclists formed the opinion that they weren’t welcome at the site. Nothing appears to be further from the truth as evidenced by the Alderman’s statement last night, “We are very bike friendly! Please let cyclists know that they are welcome at our park. We just ask that they walk their bikes on the sidewalks to the restrooms rather than riding them.”

My 23rd cycling column of the past year hit the print media this morning. For those so interested, here is the text:

Ah, The Days Are Getting Longer…

With more daylight now available, walkers, cyclists, and participants in varied outdoor sports are enjoying the greening of the grass and the warming of the air. It is great to see so many folks out exercising and shaking off those winter blahs!

To help get things going, BicycleHaywoodNC, the local bicycle advocacy group, will be offering “new and newly returning riders” cycling rides beginning the first Thursday in April. For the 3rd year in a row, members of the group will assist those starting out as cyclists or those returning to the sport after some time away in getting back into the groove of proper riding within a group and appropriately sharing the road with motorists. These rides will all start at Rolls Rite Bicycle Shop on North Main in Waynesville. Gathering time is 5:30 p.m. and the weekly ride will begin moving around 5:45 p.m.

New this year will be some additional rides at different times and starting locations for more “seasoned” riders. These rides will focus more on fitness through longer rides of higher endurance requirements and will feature roads in and around Haywood County. The 4 routes of the Blue Ridge Breakaway will figure prominently in these rides and should serve to give local riders a “leg up” on being ready for the 3rd Annual Blue Ridge Breakaway on August 18th.

Also, new this year will be the addition of themed rides. These rides will have a central concept behind the ride and may be educational, culinary, or just plain fun in nature. Rides of this type are generally slower and include a wider variety of skill levels and tend to be more along a cruise speed than a fitness speed. For more information on all the scheduled rides, visit www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org .

With more pedestrians and cyclists on the roads, opportunities for more interaction with motorists will certainly occur. In a perfect world, we’d all “just get along” and “share” like they tried to teach us in kindergarten. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. While the vast majority of Haywood motorists and cyclists are courteous to each other, there is always the small minority in both groups that keeps the relationships, shall we say, in a state of dynamic flux!

I find that lots of folks confuse what is legal with what is courteous. For instance, cyclists riding two abreast are perfectly legal in North Carolina but it may not be the courteous thing to do at all times. Motorists hanging out windows screaming at cyclists may be legal but is certainly not courteous and is a distraction to motorists and cyclists alike.

In a Nation that is seemingly increasingly hostile toward each other, we would all do better if we behaved by the higher standard of behavior (courteous) rather than the lower standard (legal). I wonder how our daily existence would be different if we all tried to operate by the Golden Rule more often…

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.

 

Our local Bicycle Advocacy Council, BicycleHaywoodNC, is at work developing our list of rides for the coming season. The group will be providing, for the 3rd year in a row, a Thursday evening group ride for “new and newly returning” riders. These rides help get folks accustomed to riding safely within a group and within the rules of the road. It helps them build fitness for longer rides and it helps the motoring public get used to seeing cyclists sharing the roads. In the two previous seasons, we’ve also been blessed with new members becoming advocates for cycling as a result of their participation in this group. New this year, will be an “All Women’s” Tuesday morning ride that will be for more seasoned riders. The routes will vary between 25 and 40 miles and cover increasingly tough climbs in and around Haywood County. We will also be adding weekend rides for the more “seasoned” group this year. These rides will be open to all but will not be for the new, out of shape cyclist. The four routes of the Blue Ridge Breakaway will play prominently in these rides. We also have themed rides on the drawing board that will be announced later in the year. All in all, it looks like a good riding season is headed our way!

I hope you get out on your “steed” and enjoy the breaking spring weather. I intend to do exactly that as I need to get some miles under my belt before meeting Bro Dave in the Low Country of S.C. in just over 3 weeks!

Until later,

Zeke

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