Sunday, July 14, 2013

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY…

Aaarrrgh! How do the people in the northwest stand it? I seem to have skin, often referred to as “web”,  growing between my toes. I watch”The Killing” on TV and get depressed because of the all the rain depicted in that show. Having the wettest summer on record here is just wearing me down.

Biking in the rain

(Ever had one of these summers?)

To make matters worse, the best of the few days of riding have been…

Mondays and Tuesdays given the summer long weather pattern. Our BicycleHaywoodNC sponsored rides are on Thursdays and many of them have been wash outs this summer as the heavy rains hit about 4:30 p.m. when the atmosphere heats up and begins to percolate. How wet is it? It is so wet that my heirloom squash plants have developed tiny floating rafts for the squash to form in! It is so wet my tomato plants and gourds have created a whole new layer of cooperating by having the gourds grow up and over the tomatoes to provide an umbrella effect.

It is so wet that some roads no longer exist or their state of existence is so precarious they are closed by the local authorities. Over this current weekend, the Blue Ridge Parkway was shut down between Ox Creek and Mount Mitchell because a 4” crack developed down the middle of the road. Rangers reported being able to see 6 FEET down into the crack.

The rain has also had an impact on our planning for the Blue Ridge Breakaway on August 17th. We’ve planned and re-planned our Metric Century route having to work around roads damaged by heavy trucks and weather related road damage. The local DOT crews have been working round the clock it seems to keep roads open.

Nevertheless, we have settled on our final route for the Metric Century and it should be posted on-line soon. We have just a few final touches to put on the map and cue sheet. Registration is running ahead of last year’s ride so we’re looking for a great event again this year. Our Century ride includes 32 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway including the highest point on the Parkway. Our new Metric Century will be a challenging ride and anyone able to finish it should feel a sense of major accomplishment! Registration is still open at the link listed above. Our fantastic jersey is also for sale on-line. We are very pleased that the good folk at Hincapie are doing our jerseys again this year.

Speaking of the weather…

After six months of residence in beautiful Buzzard’s Roost along the scenic I-40 West route, I’ve managed to get my weather station back up and running. It can be accessed via Weather Underground.  Wonder what the rain totals are above the “big curve”? How about the temps as you exist the “S” curves? Well, check it out at my weather station!

In Other News…

My cycling column has continued in the local newspaper. I’ve been on this “teaching moments” line of thought for a while and am trying to use the column in an advocacy and educational approach. Following is the text of my most recent column, which turns out to be #44.

A “Teaching Moment” Arrives

An incident on NC 110 on Thursday evening June 20th provides us with a “teaching moment” that extends beyond cycling and into a larger realm of accountability that is often not anticipated but, nevertheless, can have dire consequences. Similar to a pebble tossed into a pond, the ripples of accountability and consequence can extend well beyond the initial splash point. In this case and, unfortunately, for the second time within 4 months, a local cyclist has been assaulted while riding along the shoulder of NC 110. On this occasion, the full license plate was recorded and Haywood County Sheriff’s Department personnel were able to bring in the driver of the vehicle involved in the assault. The interesting twist on this particular incident is that the vehicle was a taxi owned and operated by a local company.

The offender in this situation was a passenger in the hired vehicle and represents our “pebble thrower”. The nature of the object thrown from the vehicle is not important because ANY object thrown can cause disastrous results by causing the cyclist to lose control of their vehicle. Most often, assaults on cyclists occur from behind and the cyclist has no warning until they are hit. Potential outcomes include swerving into traffic or off the road resulting in death or injury. We’ll call this Ripple #1. The taxi driver failed to stop to offer aid to the cyclist, which may not have been required legally but certainly falls into the higher standard of ethical behavior, or to cooperate with law enforcement in identifying the perpetrator.

We now have unanticipated accountability kick into our story. The taxi driver could now be facing “obstruction of an investigation” charges and loss of license to operate a taxi given that N.C. law requires taxi drivers to observe “certain legal and ethical rules”. (Ripple #2). Additionally, legal authorities inform me that the taxi company and driver could both be sued in civilly court for damages to the cyclist. (Ripple #3) Notice that to this point, our “pebble thrower” isn’t facing any consequences for the criminal behavior of assault. The taxi driver chose not to cooperate so it is unlikely that the perpetrator will ever face the consequences of their actions.

Regardless of the ultimate ending to this incident, a couple of lessons can be learned. Operators of vehicles, whether commercial or private, are legally responsible for the actions of their passengers. That responsibility can play out in criminal and/or civil courts. Lesson number two is that Haywood County Law Enforcement officials take assault on cyclists and pedestrians seriously and they will follow up and arrest those perpetrators that can be identified.

On behalf of local cyclists and pedestrians, please allow me to express our thanks to the Haywood County Sheriff and his Deputies for taking this situation seriously and taking steps to fully investigate it. Let me also send out thanks to the vast majority of Haywood motorists, who willingly share the road with fellow citizens utilizing other modes of transportation.

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.

 

My next column appears this coming week in The Mountaineer. I’m just awaiting The Navigator’s edit of the copy before submitting it. In the next “teaching moment”, I take to task cyclist behavior I witnessed yesterday. SHARE THE ROAD! is a two-way street and the next “teaching moment” addresses the concept.

It is time to head to the monthly meeting of Blue Ridge Bicycle Club in Asheville, N.C. I’m REALLY looking forward to interstate driving in the rain!

Until later,

- Zeke

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