Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring Flowers, Showers, and Auto Vs. Man Run-ins

Our return home from the Folly Beach Retreat of '09 has been accomplished. On our last morning on the island, we were commenting at breakfast that the bad weather made it easier to leave. Little did we know just how bad it was going to get for our return trip! We had heavy rains almost every mile back up I-26 and I-40. We skirted at least two automobile accidents on the interstate. I had to keep reminding myself to take the foot out of the accelerator and slow down... After all, I did want us to arrive alive as the old saying goes.

Riding the Fuji has not been part of my return home. I had the unfortunate pleasure of waking Saturday morning to a fried laptop - my constant companion for the last 6 years. I can't complain though, the 'ol Dell stood up well until it had enough. When I raised the display Saturday morning, I was greeted by 5 columns of multiple colors and ZERO words or graphics. Turns out the graphics card had gone to sleep and chosen not to awaken again. So, my last 72 hours have been spent prepping another laptop in order that I get my work done on the "paying" job! I'm almost there...

We all know that spring brings with it the usual bursting forth of color from flowers and plants. Our Yellow Belles have been as pretty as ever this year. The warming weather also brings about renewed cyclist vs. auto events. A recent event in Clyde, NC, was the first of what one hopes will be minimal such interactions. According to the local paper, Roger Hinson, a Clyde native now residing in Springfield, MO, was home visiting his mother. He was out for a spin when he was run over by a local truck driver. Hinson was severely injured but the truck driver was not cited for the accident and received no legal reprimand. This has caused quite a stir in the local paper and numerous letters to the editor have followed. Most of the letters have chided the Chief of Police of Clyde for not citing the truck driver. (I have assumed that this was a 1/2 ton truck.) While the story is somewhat more complicated than my brief description here, it does serve to remind us that cyclists rarely, if ever, win in these situations. The text of the story as printed in the Waynesville Mountaineer on March 20, 2009 is as follows: (Note: I couldn't get the link to work with this article. The story is the property of the Waynesville Mountaineer, Inc. of Waynesville, NC.)

Feeling accident prone? Head to Clyde
Beth Pleming Staff writer

Clyde police won’t charge man who ran down cyclist

A recent collision that left a bicyclist with numerous broken bones, nearly 100 stitches in his face, permanently deaf in one ear, and leaking brain fluid through a fracture in his skull cannot understand why the driver who nearly killed him won’t be issued a citation. Roger Hinson is a Clyde native, now living in Springfield, Mo. Dauring a recent visit with his mother in Clyde, the avid cyclist was struck by a truck driven by James Welch. While Welch’s driving history cites numerous infractions, this most recent incident will not be one of them. Clyde Police Chief Derek Dendy, who investigated the collision, said Welch isn’t being cited “because that’s not something I would normally do ... unless (the at-fault driver) is impaired or there’s a problem with the accident. We do not issue citations. It’s just not how we do things here.” The problematic part of this particular collision, said Hinson, is the severity of injuries that resulted. Following the collision, Hinson was transported from the scene to the trauma unit at Mission St. Joseph in Asheville. “The (first) several hours were horrible and uncertain,” he said. “I had over 80 stitches in my face. My right eye socket was fractured in three places. I had a severe concussion, permanently lost hearing in my right ear, suffered six broken ribs, a bruised lung and had to have a finger stitched to keep it attached. I was told I was lucky to be alive.” Since Hinson’s return to Springfield, doctors further discovered a basal fracturearound the inner ear section of his skull. Hinson, who calls himself a “safety fanatic,” said he’s clocked over 50,000 miles of cycling — many of which he rode on Haywood County roads — and has never had a single incident with a motor vehicle — until now. “I’m one of the safest bikers there ever was,” he said. “I obey all traffic laws, and I’m always watching trying to anticipate potential danger. So, it’s not like I was out there doing something I shouldn’t have been doing ... I was wearing visibly read clothing, abiding by all the rules and doing everything like I’m supposed to, and I almost get killed.” Yet Welch, who admits he is at fault for failing to yield, isn’t being cited for anything. His insurance has agreed to accept liability, and “he’s taken full responsibility for this,” said Hinson. “He’s not trying get out of it, nor pass the blame ... but he apparently has (driving) issues.” Welch’s driving history includes a long list of infractions that have prompted the state, and in one case a judge, to place restrictions on his license. Pursuant to those restrictions, Welch must wear corrective eye lenses while driving, is not to drive outside of a 10-mile radius of his home and is restricted from driving at night or on a road with a posted speed limit over 45 miles per hour. That said, Hinson said he is less concerned about seeing Welch punished, but most interested in getting him off the street if he is a danger to the public. “My motive here is not financial. I’ve got a rock-solid case and it makes no difference whatsoever. My concern is the next individual out there who encounters this guy. At what point do we say ‘enough is enough — let’s get this guy off the road?’” said Hinson. “As an officer who is sworn to protect the public, I don’t understand why (Dendy) will not write this guy a ticket to get him back into the system so maybe we can get him off the road. If he didn’t see me, what’s to say he would be able to see a small child crossing the road?” Dendy countered that Welch was within the restrictive boundaries set on his license and therefore those restrictions, nor his history, have no bearing on this case. “It was simply an accident,” he said. “There’s no need to write him a ticket because he’s taking full responsibility. He understands he is at fault, and I have documented that on the accident report. I have sent in for a medical review to be done through the Department of Motor Vehicles, who will bring him in and issue a written and road test. It is my understanding they will review his ability to drive, and if they don’t feel he should have a license, they won’t give him one. I felt that was a better option and best use of the system than to write him a ticket.” While Hinson doesn’t disagree that a re-evaluation is necessary, he believes authorities should nonetheless hold Welch accountable for his actions, as sworn officers are expected to do. But Dendy said decisions about when to issue citations are left up to each individual officer to determine on a case-by-case basis. In this case, Dendy determined it was not necessary. “It’s officer discretion whether we write a ticket or not,” said Dendy. “I told (Hinson) I’m handling this situation like I do all accidents. If there’s not something wrong, we don’t ever write a citation because accidents do happen. As long as the party understands they are at fault, writing him a ticket is not going to get him off the road ... it’s true he does have a bad driving record and did have some restrictions on his license that someone with his record would have. But those had nothing to do with this case. He was well within those restrictions which makes him a valid driver.” Valid, but not necessarily safe, said Hinson. “That doesn’t make any sense to me,” Hinson said. “I would think the state of North Carolina which has already placed four restrictions on his license due to the number of (infractions) on his driving record should know about this,” he said. “And as a police chief I would think he would want the state to know this driver almost killed someone.” Other area law enforcement agencies agree that issuing traffic citations are a matter of officer discretion and not necessary in all cases. However, within other agencies throughout the county it is common practice, although not policy, to issue a citation where there is a personal injury or significant property damage. In Hinson’s case, Dendy said there are “two ways to look at what caused him to hit the ground so hard” — be it the truck’s collision with the bike, or the rate of speed at which the bike was traveling. “He was injured because he fell to the ground,” said Dendy. “The car didn’t run over him ... I feel like he was very lucky to walk away from that. But just because he was on a bike doesn’t mean I should treat him any differently. Isn’t that singling out a particular group, bikers? The guy feels terrible about what happened and has been very concerned about Mr. Hinson. What would it have done for his accident for this guy to get a ticket?”

As I say to all my motorcycling friends, "Keep the rubber side down!" and be ever vigilant...

Until later,

-- Zeke

Friday, March 27, 2009

500th "Visitor" to Blog Realized!

O.K., so I said I wouldn't post again until returning home... I just wanted to post a short entry noting that I just had my 500th visitor to my blog since starting it. The visit came in from someone in Northfield, NJ with the search terms for "Fuji CCR3". I realize this is a small number compared to most (cyclingexperiences.com, kentsbikeblog.com, ecovelo)but it feels pretty good right now as I close out the week and a vacation.

So, thanks to all those known and unknown folks, who by intent or accident have logged into my blog. I hope you'll keep coming back and find interesting posts!

Until later,

-- Zeke

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Folly Island Retreat Winding Down

We're beginning to see the end of the light at the tunnel as our week long retreat to Folly Island is on the downward run now. Today's cycling related matters include another enjoyable run around Folly as I opted to stay on the island today with a goal of getting 15 miles in before the forecasted bad weather arrived. I also had a first in my increasing database of cycling related adventures - my first flat tire since I was a kid.

Yep, I had a very enjoyable 14.86 miles on a planned 15 mile ride. The good news was that my rear tire went flat within 2 blocks of our beach house. When I couldn't pump enough air into the tire to finish the ride, I was fortunately close enough to simply walk the rest of the way. I haven't fixed a flat tire on ANY kind of vehicle in years so this may be an opporunity for a relearning experience.

Riding the island has been an interesting contrast between riding at home in the mountains of Western Norh Carolina. I've been quite impressed by the resistance created by headwinds and the action the wind creates on the handling of the bike. I'm quite used to headwinds and crosswinds on the Harley but this is a different animal for sure. My learning experience has elated to developing an understanding of how the much lighter Fuji can jump sideways! Riding consistently at sea level has also provided me with exended opportunities to practice spinning rather than mashing. I've noticed an increase in my average cadence when I spin more.

I've been searching for a set of earbuds that would stay in my ear while riding after building up a sweat. I've tried some different options including jabra ear gels, which turned out to be a major disappointment. I finally found a product at Best Buy last night called Earglove Sport Stereo by Body Glove Accessories. Today was my first ride using them and I'm pleased to report that not only did they stay put in my ear, they also provided excellent sound. My previous earbuds would pop out as soon as I worked up any sweat but this product has earloops, which kept the earbuds firmly in my ear even when riding into 15 mph headwinds. Thus far, I'm very pleased with their performance. They have a 2.5 mm plug, which is what I needed for my Audiovox XV6700 unit. The cost was a reasonable $36.00. I was contemplating upgrading my phone so this is much more cost effective. (My better half will be proud of me!)

A couple of clean-up items from yesterday: We had an excellent lunch at Hyman's on Meeting Street. Hyman's is well known for the quality and freshness of their seafood. Our server, Daniel Shahid, turns out to be the drummer for Plainfield Project, the Charleston area's Reader Pick as best band in 2008 and 2009. Their music is described by Daniel as rock/reggae/funk. Check out Plainfield Project! You will be pleased!

Now, it is time to remove fingers from keyboard and follow my nose to the already wafting smells coming from Chef Richard's nightly effort. The next post will probably be after I return to home sweet home this weekend.

Until later,

-- Zeke

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Folly Fun and Festivities Are Just Fine

The old song "nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina" is proving to be correct once again. I'm in day 3 (or is it 4) of our annual Magic Circle Folly Island beach retreat and it has been fine indeed! Thus far the weather has cooperated with lots of sunshine and mild temperatures. Yesterday was probably our peak good weather as we're now predicted to have sustained winds in the 10 to 15 mph hour range with some cloud cover and occasional rain during the remainder of our stay.

Chef Richard has continued his tradition of keeping us well fed and, as I write this post today, I'm aware that my mouth is already watering with the anticipation of Shrimp 'n Grits tonight. Last night's delectable sword fish under a Balsamic Vinagrette sauce was just perfect. It's a good thing I brought the Fuji CCR3 with me or I'd be packing on the pounds.

I had an enjoyable ride today. I left Folly Island behind long enough to explore a little bit of James Island. My goal was to catch 20 miles today and to also see some of the other islands. I started to John's Island but a sign pointing to Fort Lamar's Heritage Center caught my attention. It was on my side of the 5 lane Folly Road and that helped encourage me to change plans and check out the site. After leaving Folly Road behind, I was on nice residential 2 lane roads until I arrived at the heritage site, which consisted of some parking places and 3 monuments. There may be more but I wanted to keep my heart rate up so I didn't do any foot exploring. The monument stands in honor of the Battle of Secessionville in June of 1862. According to the monuments, it was a pivotal battle that broke the Union's flank and saved Charleston.

After leaving the monuments, I headed back south and traversed Battery Island Drive back to Folly Road. Battery Island Drive runs parallel to the marshes separating Folly Island and the Intercoastal Waterway from James Island. I saw a number of marsh birds looking for food in the low tide of the marsh. Upon returning to Folly Island, the police license check/road block that I had skirted earlier was packed up and gone. Traffic was moving smoothly again onto the island. I was about 5 miles short of my goal of 20 miles so I headed toward some back roads of Folly and enjoyed seeing the residences on the marsh side of the island.

After getting back on the main road heading to the "washout" and Lighthouse, I was riding into some strong headwinds, which really gave me a good workout. It was hard riding to maintain 9 or 10 mph going directly into the wind. It was all worth it as I enjoyed riding on the big ring back to our abode at a really good tailwind enhanced pace.

I've updated the slide show with a few images from today's ride. Now, I'm thinking it is time for some serious mental preparation for supper... (read nap!)

Until later,

-- Zeke

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sitting Easy On Folly

We have arrived successfully on Folly Island, SC known as "the Edge of America." The trip down from the Great Smokies was uneventful and terminated in our now traditional cup of She Crab Soup at the Crab Shack on Center Isle. We're in a new house this year on the western end of the island near the State Park. Last night was spent "getting in Island condition" and that trumped riding yesterday. After an excellent meal of Garlic Shrimp and fresh garden salad whipped up by Chef Richard, most of the Circle called it a day and hit the sack. The weather, while beautiful, has now been forecast to be considerably cooler than we expected so riding apparel may or may not match the environment.

I was able to get out today and loosen up my legs with a nice 15 mile jaunt around Folly. From end of pavement to end of pavement, Folly measures about 4.8 miles. There was a strong headwind while riding the full length of west to east, although it feels more like south to north in my mind. The wind resistance certainly helped get my heart rate up as I rode to the Lighthouse Point. There were a few cyclists out and lots of surfers and wind surfers at the Washout, a narrow stretch of Island where Hurricane Hugo washed over the island.

The return trip was the flip side of the coin as I was able to benefit from the strong tailwind. I was cruising back toward Center Isle and made that length of trip very quickly. I had only logged about 10 miles at that point, so I turned toward the mainland and rode across the Intercoastal Waterway to add some mileage and enjoy the Low Country. After adding about 2 more miles in that direction, it was time to turn around and head home." I enjoyed cruising the mainland side of the island and seeing the homes on that section. It is always interesting to check out my brother's former home and see what is happening with it.

Upon arrival back at the house, I pretty quickly determined that a nap following a warm shower might be in order. We've been struggling with maintaining internet connectivity so whle I had this current connection, I thought I'd post some images (seen in the slide show) and jot a quick note. I now smell fresh fish being seared in a hot pan with Chef Richard's special touch. I'm outta here!

Until later,

-- Zeke

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Heading For Some Coastal Cycling!

This week has been spent wrapping up loose ends at work and home so we can make our annual beach trip with The Magic Circle. I've been clearing out last minute work-related requests, lining up coverage for next week, prepping the Labs for their kennel stay, and packing for the trip. This hasn't left much time for riding. I suppose it is more accurate to say that I chose to spend my time getting ready for the trip rather than riding. I'll make up for it next week in the sunshine of the beach.

My Nashbar Premium Cycling Bibb Shorts arrived yesterday. They will be in the mail on a return trip tomorrow. I was quite disappointed in the quality of the garmet. I tried them on last night and it felt like I had sharp pieces of cardboard sticking into my inner thighs as I walked. After I did some closer examination of the product, I found very poor stitching around the edge of the chamois and several loose threads. There was only 1 zig-zag pattern of stitching holding the chamois to the bibb fabric. The location of the stitch allowed the outer edge of the chamois to curl up and stick out, which must have been the sharp objects I felt.

I compared the stitching to my Pearl Izumi cycling bibbs and noted that the PI brand had double stitching of the chamois and you could run your hand across the fabric and chamois and barely tell by touch where the short ended and the chamois began. The PI chamois also seemed to be thicker than the Nashbar Premium. I contacted Nashbar and they were very accomodating about returning the item. I've purchased from Nashbar in the past and been satisfied with their products. Hopefully, this is a one time thing. There was a notable difference in the price. I guess you really do get what you pay for... So, as I drop off Zeke and Orla at the kennel tomorrow, I'll be making a trip to Liberty Bikes in Asheville to pick up a pair of P.I. Slice Ultra Sensor Bike Bibbs.

My next post will be from Folly Island sometime this weekend! I'll hopefully have some good pics to share at that time. I'm looking forward to some "flat land" cycling and to riding around Folly and John's Island in the Low Country. I'm also REALLY looking forward to some Shrimp 'N Grits!

Until beach time!

-- Zeke

Monday, March 16, 2009

Support App State National Champions!

WARNING! SHAMELESS SOLICTATION FOLLOWS: Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, is my alma mater and the ASU cycling team is the current defending National Champions in two categories: cyclocross and mountain biking (I think!). These young athletes DO NOT receive financial support from the Athletic Department and have to rely on their own bucks and sponsorships to compete. They will soon be hitting the road to Colorado to defend their titles and perhaps add more. If you are an ASU grad or just a cyclist wanting to support other cyclists and would like to support this team, you can make a tax deductible gift to the ASU Foundation and specify that it go to the cycling team. The address is:

Appalachian Fund
ASU Box 32014
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608-2014

You may also make a donation by going on-line at: http://www.give.appstate.edu/. Be sure to specify that the donations go to the ASU Cycling Team. Any amount of donation will be appreciated. Heck, $10.00 would buy almost 3 gallons of gas now! I'm sure that any amount of donation would be greatly accepted by these athletes!

(Full disclosure: The team does NOT know that I'm posting this request and I have no monetary gain involved in supporting these fine young individuals.)

O.K., end of shameless solicitation...
Until later,
-- Zeke

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Much Needed Rain Keeps The Wheels From Spinning

This weekend's much needed rain has kept me inside for the most part dealing with some of the more dreary parts of life, i.e., printing out tax information, submitting the final medical claims for 2008, etc. We've had steady drizzle pretty much throughout the last 30 hours. The good news is that we've gained almost .90" of rain since yesterday, which will help alleviate our ongoing drought conditions. It also made for a good time to get out and spread some lime and fertilizer today. Of course, that will only lead to wheels on the garden tractor spinning rather than wheels on the bike spinning...

I've not wasted my time though. The taxes are mostly behind me now, as is the medical claims forms, so it is just a matter of waiting to see how much "pain" there will be with the IRS this year. In lieu of riding today, I've spent time perusing George Hincapie's site and checking out his cycling apparel. I'm getting ready for next week's vacation in the Low Country of S.C. and anticipating warmer temps for some extended riding in between my favorite meals. My "better half" did her shopping for the beach trip yesterday. I imagine I'll do with the same bathing suit that has served me quite well for the past 5 years but I did decide that perhaps a new set of bibbed cycling shorts might be in order. Next week's return to the Low Country is my "almost one year" anniversary of getting off the couch and getting back on 2 wheels. It was on last year's beach trip of the Magic Circle that I reached my point of "being sick and tired of being sick and tired." ( Details HERE .) This year, I'm 22 lbs. lighter and my heart doesn't want to gallop away with the slightest exertion.

I'm planning on some longer rides in the flat lands next week. I'm looking forward to exploring Folly and John's Island in more detail than what we normally get while in the automobile. Folly is much shorter than I was recalling but it should still make for some good riding. Today, I've also had a little bit of time to do some blog exploring and found Dave Moulton's Bike Blog located in Charleston, SC. It seems Dave is a former frame builder and racer now turned author and writer of lyrics. Check it out! He has a great image of a bike he built for the National Enquirer many years ago on today's listing. I also enjoyed Ralph's Ozark Bike Blog.

We have 2 or 3 more days of this wet, clammy weather predicted but that's o.k. I'll spend the time looking forward to the arrival of those snappy new cycling shorts and dreaming of my favorite Low Country meal - Shrimp 'n Grits! (Doesn't take much to entertain me apparently...)

Until Later,

-- Zeke

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Da Girlz, Da Girlz!

Just prior to my legs taking a leave of absence on my ride this past Saturday, I recall a light headedness coming over me as my heart rate began to max out. From the corners of my hazy vision, I could see maidens by what seemed the hundreds beginning to line the roadside as I called upon the last of my glycogen reserves. I remember that the maidens were of all races and colors and, in my mind, they were cheering me on toward the peak - demonstrating their solidarity in my quest to top Rush Fork! Their numbers amazed me as they pushed beside each other to watch me throw all I had into, first, my right leg and then my left leg - mashing with every fiber of my being to make it to the top. Weaving was out of the question as I read in a blog somewhere that weaving was cheating. I knew I had to do it the "right" way. I also knew that traffic of the automobile type was surrounding me and weaving seemed to be a poor tactical move at the moment.

I could see the top of the climb through the haze of perspiration as it ran down the inside of my Lance Armstrong Oakly Radars. I could hear the various exclamations of MY "girls" as they called out sounds of encouragement. I could see them pulling their young ones beside them as if to say, "look, kids, you may never see this again. The effort... The drive!" The heat of the sun was baking me through my long sleeve Team USA cycling jersey. I knew that I must labor on - for the crowd. I couldn't disappoint them. They'd given me such support on the climb! But, alas, it wasn't to be - I was pooped, I was popped, I was done for the day. My moment of achievement was now a mere wisp of thought - secured in my heart for another day, another climb. Now that I was out of the cleats, the girls began to move away. I don't know - maybe they didn't want to see the disappointment in my eyes. Perhaps they too shared some of my sadness at not making it to the top and they needed the separation in order to get away from the scene as well.

As I walked my Fuji CCR3 to the peak and felt my heart rate returning to normal, I looked back hoping to see some glimmer of hope. It was then that I realized that the G.C. Palmer dairy cattle had apparently found me to be some kind of brief entertainment in their day of grazing. Man, he has a big herd!

Until later,

-- Zeke

Sunday, March 8, 2009

One Door Closes, Another Opens...

I was reminded of this lesson in life on yesterday's ride. I had looked forward to getting out on what was predicted to be a beautiful spring day and "enjoying" at least a 20 mile ride around the northern end of Haywood County here in Western North Carolina. Sure enough the day dawned clear with an abundance of blue skies. I took care of my duties and was ready to hit the road pretty close to my planned time of 1:30 p.m. My goal for the day was to climb over Rush Fork, a feat that I've not previously attempted. I convinced myself that if I could get over the peak, the rest of the ride would be easy. Ahh, you're beginning to guess which door closed!

My starting point was the Haywood Cafe at the intersection of US 209 and I-40. The starting temperature was 75 degrees and it was beautiful. There was a lot of traffic out and about including many of my motorcycle friends. As I warmed up heading north on 209, my legs felt good, I was adequately hydrated and had made sure to eat appropriately for the ride. The climb over Rush Fork consists of a long grade of about 1.5 miles leading to a short peak at We-Kirk Farm followed by a short dip and then the final climb through about a 8% percent on average grade to the gap. Unfortunately, the "door closed" on me before I made it to the first peak and I came up about .25 mile short of the first peak. At that point, my heart rate was 187 bpm and I was quite lightheaded. I had no legs left and no lower gears to call into play. I decided it was either time to fall over into the lane of traffic or get out of my cleats. I chose the latter...

I walked the rest of the way to the peak and let my heart rate drop back down to something approximating normalcy and, while doing so, enjoyed the views looking back south toward the Balsams and the Blue Ridge Parkway. My lungs and heart had recovered so I fooled myself into thinking I could make the last climb to the top. So I headed north again only to hit the steepest part of the Rush Fork grade and the more impenetrable barrier of having no legs to pull it. I realized that the Rush Fork "door" was definitely closed on me this particular day.

Fighting my disappointment in not making it over Rush Fork, I reversed direction and enjoyed a nice long descent back toward town. As I was descending and trying to remind myself that this time last year, I couldn't ride 2 miles without thinking my heart was going to explode, the "other door" opened for me in the form of Riverside Dr. I peeled off of NC 209 onto Riverside and, after getting by a highly odiferous farm tractor pulling hog excrement, began to enjoy an easy spin along the Pigeon River. Riverside is a two lane road that runs alongside the Pigeon. The river flows on your left and mountain farms dot the right side of the road. The previously burgeoning housing development boom has left its mark along this road as well.

This was a very pleasant spin alongside the river. Only two vehicles passed me on this section of road. The river was up and running high from the recent snows. In past years, the Pigeon has carried a noxious odor that is the result of a large papermill up river in Canton. The company has made great strides in cleaning up their effluent and the river is now becoming more healthy. The malodorous component of the river is no longer present although the rocks are still stained from the tannins giving the river a dark, almost chocolate appearance in places.

After several miles, I came to the intersection of Riverside and Panther Creek Road where I crossed over the Pigeon and started the climb out of the river valley. I was headed back toward Iron Duff and my truck. After reaching the Triangle (intersection of Coleman Mtn. Rd and Iron Duff Rd.) and making the final climb back to the Haywood Cafe, I made a short extension run out NC 209 to be certain that I managed at least 15 miles on the ride.

As I process yesterday's ride and the lessons of the day, I remind myself that out of adversity can come joy, that sometimes falling short of a goal can lead to an appreciation for the distance travelled, and that it is almost always better to stop than to fall into traffic...

Until later,

-- Zeke

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Big Warm-up Begins...

Well, the Lion is either napping or playing with us. After last weekend's winter storm, temperatures have rebounded quite nicely here in the Great Smokies. Snow continues to hide from the sun's rays but the warmer temps may make that hiding ineffective. An old wive's tale that I grew up with says that when snow lies awaiting, more is on the way... We'll see. I don't think it will get here this weekend as we're supposed to have day time temps in the mid 70's on Saturday.

Another late afternoon appointment cancellation aided in getting in a short ride yesterday after work. I can tell that my practice at spinning rather than mashing is paying off. At the end of the 10 mile ride yesterday, my average cadence was up (82), my average speed was up (12.20), and my time for the same length of ride was down (38.17). My ride started at 62 degrees and ended at 59 degrees, which is warmer than my beginning ride temps have been in awhile. We're still not quite to daylight savings time (2 more days!) so a beautiful sunset was my companion yesterday as I enjoyed the time along the Pigeon River.

Of some interest on the local political front, our Town leaders have been meeting with the N.C. Department of Transportation officials to discuss handling traffic around the newly emerging retail center located on the south end of town. The DOT plan seems to be to put in a 3 or 4 lane highway running through a business/residential section. This plan sounds very much like a replication of the 4/5 lane entrance to Waynesville on the north end of town. This massive congestion of vehicles is a constant source of irritation to local residents and tourists alike. It is the site of many vehicular accidents and is quite often at a dead standstill. My brother, the Los Angeles resident, only laughs at me when I complain about traffic. Still, when you are stuck in traffic, it doesn't really matter where you are located - you're still stuck!

The N.C. DOT's own planning process requires that bicycle and pedestrian accomodations be made in the planning and developing phase. Our mayor has said that he wants "a thoughtful process" when making final decisions on how traffic will be handled. Here's hoping that the "thoughtful process" leads to a reversal of decades of paving over land for more and more lanes of traffic and results instead in an attractive two lane road with many traffic calming features. The plan will hopefully include bike paths and pedestrian walkways. The Town leaders really have a chance to step up and plan for an attractive entrance to town that affirms a value of "being green." As in all things, time will tell...

Until later,

-- Zeke

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

WNC Deep Freeze Headed Out Of Here!

It was nice to awaken to sunshine and temperatures 19 degrees warmer today. Hopefully, March's entry on the Lion's Breath is coming to an end. It is hard to believe that we're expecting 70 degree days by the weekend. The last two mornings have started at 5 degrees above zero and 9 degrees above zero respectively. I imagine today's weather in the 40's will melt the remaining snow from this past weekend's storm or, at least, what passes for a winter storm around here anymore...

The cold temperatures have left me with some excellent reading time. I've been meaning to post a link to a 3 part article that I found on Ecovelo. This article is by John Pucher and was printed in Momentum Magazine. Pucher discusses the needed infrastructure for cycling to truly become an alternative transportation opportunity in the U.S. He compares and contrasts to what is going on and has been going on in Europe for years. If you are interested in this aspect of cycling, I believe you will find it quite informative. Click HERE! to access the article.

The second reading I would hold out to you is from Bicycling Magazine and Bill Strickland's commentary on Lance Armstrong's comeback. In reality, the article is about an aspect of Armstrong's comeback that doesn't involve anti-doping issues or how the cycling structure is either welcoming or not welcoming Armstrong back to racing. Rather, it focuses on the very human side of inspiration that Strickland found at the Tour of California. While Armstrong is the entry vehicle to the article, Strickland really writes about much more in this piece. To read this article, click HERE!

Here's hoping for warming temps, safe rides, and improved health for us all!

Until later,

-- Zeke

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March Arrives On the Lion's Breath...

Well, about the only thing cycle related to today's entry is to say "I won't be riding today." The predicted winter storm arrived somewhat earlier than expected today. I've spent most of the day enjoying cups of java and the snow. Just this past Thursday, I was remarking to a friend that I'd like to see one decent snow this year before the warmer weather arrived. Looks like I got my wish! You can see the progression of the storm thus far by watching the slideshow to the right...

Until Later,

-- Zeke