Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THE QUESTION OF THE DAY…

 

ZekeMeetsAndy

Zeke meets Andy!

So, here is today’s question. What happens when two motorcyclists meet by a garbage dumpster? (No, this isn’t a slam on motorcyclists – I’m one myself!) The story behind the answer goes like this…

This past Saturday, in fact all of last week, was consumed by final planning and holding the 21st Annual Haywood County Motorcycle Parade and Toy Run. The weather was incredible – upper 60’s by High Noon and not a cloud in the gorgeous blue sky. 1468 registered bikes and approximately 2200 people (riders/passengers) made their way through the rural and city roads of Haywood County from Canton, NC to the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC. Following the consumption of some 700 lbs. of barbecue lovingly cooked overnight by our crack (no – not THAT kind of “crack”) cookin'’ crew, we had raised a truck load of new toys and lots and lots of cash for the children and families of Haywood County.

The story of the “question of the day” begins post event clean-up. I was busily helping empty the food and drink remains into an open garbage dumpster when I struck up a conversation with another cyclist, who had offered to help. I didn’t know the fellow but enjoyed his conversation – especially his foreign accent.

We talked on as we emptied trash and “policed” the area for plastic wrappers, spoons and forks, and the occasion flattened water bottle or crushed drink can. We finally got around to actually introducing ourselves. Knowing that I had not seen this particular gregarious fellow at the Museum before, I asked if he was a new employee or volunteer. Both conditions are relatively common at the Wheels Through Time. It is a place people come to and just don’t want to leave.

My pleasant conversation partner replied, “No, my name is Andy and I’m on a bicycle trip around the world and have stopped here briefly.” I’m sure my response of “Ah ha! You’re THAT Andy!” took him by surprise. At least the look on his face led me to think that might have been his reaction.

AndysBag01

(Andy’s touring bag. Note the feather from an Amish encounter.)

I informed him that my friend in nearby Sylva, NC and written to me a week earlier and told me about this British cyclist he had met in Sylva and housed for the evening and what a great “chap” (my word as I’m trying to be culturally sensitive here…) he was and how EVERYONE who had met him just enjoyed him so much. I had been watching for him on our roads in Haywood earlier in the week but, honestly, had since forgotten thinking he had moved on in his trip.

As it turns out, Andy was quite taken with the world class museum and Dale and Matt Walksler, curators of the museum, were quite taken with Andy and had invited him to hang out for a while. Now, please understand that “hanging out” with Dale often means more than a day or two.

Andy was staying through the MC Parade and Toy Run at the behest of Dale and others because, well, it is such an awesome fun event. Andy shared with me that he was torn with staying longer or moving on as he needs to get to New York shortly before his visa expires. Andy is doing this ride in honor of his friend who, for some reason I’m not privy to, can’t do it himself. Andy is an accomplished long distance cyclist with trips already under his belt that include rides from England through and around Africa and other long distance rides around Europe.

AndysBike01

(Andy’s world travelled ride!)

Unfortunately, our time was limited on this day and I didn’t get to hear more details of his rides. Should he have decided to stay on a while in our great county, I’m hopeful he will join me at our monthly BicycleHaywoodNC advocacy meeting on the 27th.

So the answer to today’s question of “What happens when two motorcyclists meet at a dumpster?” is “They turn out to be bicyclists and have a great, if short, conversation about bicycling and riding around the world!” (Note: Andy’s full name is Andy Norris and he is from Manchester, England. This particular trip started in Houston, TX and is slated to end in New York, NY – if he can tear himself away from the Museum…)

On other news…

Building upon our successful presentation by Russ Roca and Laura Crawford of The Path Less Pedaled in August as part of the 2012 Blue Ridge Breakaway, I, along with Don Kostelec of Kostelec Planning, Asheville, NC, was pleased to be the presenters at a Haywood Economic Development Commission meeting targeted toward cycling as an economic development opportunity for Haywood County.

That presentation was funded in part by a grant received from the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club Advocacy Committee. The focus of the meeting was to develop Destination Rides for Haywood County and the associated marketing materials to bring cyclo-tourists and other tourists to the mountain community. Attendees included representatives from the municipalities of Haywood, the Board of Commissioners, the Tourism Development Authority, the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, NC DOT, and Haywood Community College.

At the end of the meeting, commitments were made by the participants, including funding for brochures and other materials, to move forward as a group in developing the Destination Rides, which are initially likely to include the Coleman Mountain Loop and several rides in the Pigeon Valley area. Additionally, the Haywood Hub, as depicted in the Comprehensive Haywood County Bike Plan, will be brought into greater focus as the official route crossing Haywood from Buncombe County to Jackson County and vice versa. Additional focus will be brought on an alternate course through Maggie to the Qualla Boundary.

So despite colder temps and the arrival of winter, cycling development moves forward. More, much more, to come!

Until later,

- Zeke

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