Thursday, April 30, 2009

Early Morning Considerations

While I await my first cup of freshly brewed Organic Guatemalan coffee, several miscellaneous and fragmented thoughts are running through my head. Some of them are quite clearly cycling related while others are considerably more tangential in their connectedness to the world of cycling. Let’s see what flows caffeine free for the moment…

Local Bicycle Advisory Council grows: I am please that our little troupe has grown by one more person with the acceptance of my invitation to join our fledgling group. Michelle Trantham comes highly recommended as someone who can get things done. She is the current Publicity Officer for the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club. In fact, she has already started making an impact in our county by offering up the following upcoming information on the Ride of Silence.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

National Ride of Silence
WHAT: Join cyclists worldwide in a silent slow-paced ride (max. 12 mph) in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways.
LOCATION: Hundreds of locations world wide, or hold your own selected ride.
ASHEVILLE, NC: There will be a relatively flat, 5 mile ride in Asheville. It will begin and end at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. The route travels through downtown, toward UNCA, and through Montford.

CONTACT: Pattie Moore at 828-225-4941 or

On May 20, 2009, at 7:00 PM, the Ride of Silence will begin in North America and roll across the globe. Cyclists will take to the roads in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Although cyclists have a legal right to share the road with motorists, the motoring public often isn't aware of these rights, and sometimes not aware of the cyclists themselves.

In 2003, Chris Phelan organized the first Ride Of Silence in Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and was killed. (Read the full history at

The Ride Of Silence is a free ride that asks its cyclists to ride no faster than 12 mph and remain silent during the ride. There is no brochure, no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride, which is held during Bike Safety month, aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for those who have been killed or injured.

Please check the resources on the National Ride of Silence website:

If there is a Ride Of Silence in your area, we encourage you to join them. If there is not a ride planned in your area, please consider adding your city to the ever-growing list of sites. To get information on how to organize and host a Ride of Silence, please click:

Our county has recently experienced an event in which a 4-wheel vehicle driver ran over a cyclist and did significant harm as would be expected in that kind of encounter. I’ve written previously on the matter so I’ll not include the details again in this post but you can refresh your memory by clicking HERE! The incident remains alive and keeps garnering fresh Letters to the Editors in our local paper each week.

(Hmm, that first taste of coffee goes down smooth… I think a couple of more linking neurons just awakened for the day!)

Somewhat related to cycling: At first blush, you may wonder what the following link has to do with cycling. The sheer excitement of what you’ll see here should stand on its own merits but, for me, the cycling connection is that of seeking out the rush of a controlled descent or maybe its the endorphin rush of taking risk in physical activities. At any rate, I post this here to get your blood flowing!


Even further afield: A friend sent this to me the other day and it is just so darned good I want to share it with as wide an audience as possible. I’ve been impressed with the sense of community I’ve observed in cyclists. While I don’t necessarily find it any more or less intense/acute/ingrained than other groups with whom I’ve been lucky enough to be involved, it nevertheless is significant. This music video link really speaks to the greater community and perhaps holds out hope for an even larger sense of community that we can all share. Besides that, it is just a fine song! Click HERE for an excellent respite from your day or to just get your day started or, heck, to end your day on a pleasant note!

This weekend, my “better half” and I will be heading to Myrtle Beach, SC for our annual Rotary District Conference. We’ll get a chance to see up close and personal the damage done from the largest wildfire in 30 years to afflict S.C. The weather forecast is for rain throughout the weekend so riding time will be limited to non-existent for me. We need the rain here in Western North Carolina as we have our own wildfires burning. Day before yesterday, there were 4 separate wildfires burning on the Cherokee Boundary according to local news reports.

Well, I’ve enjoyed that first cup of java and the first rays of sun for the day have made themselves known over Mt. Pisgah. I think it’s time for that second cup of coffee on the deck.  I’ll sign-off for now…

Until later,

-- Zeke

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Local Bicycle Advisory Council One Step Closer To Reality

As this week draws to a close on a great Sunday with summer like conditions, I’m pleased to know that one goal of helping to establish a local Bicycle Advisory Council has taken several steps forward. We now have a planned date for our first meeting. Thus far, we have 12 outstanding members representing a wide range of interests committed to being part of the Council. We are fortunate enough to have a former member of the NC DOT on board, members of the local health and county recreation departments, a member of the local police department, who is himself a cyclist, as well as, one of the town’s officers on bikes, a local cycle shop owner, a former competitive road racer turned fund raiser/consultant, a cyclist whose work background includes counseling with “at risk” youth, and another competitive cyclist with a background in financial advisement. We also have a general contractor committed to “green” initiatives and we’ve been joined by the town’s public works director. We have the support of our N.C. Bicycle Committee representative Claudia Nix. Each of the people recruited to this committee are well known individuals, who have served their community in many, many different venues throughout the years. Hopefully, these backgrounds will meld together into something where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts!

I’m planning a newspaper article on National Bike Month and specifically on “Bike to Work” week. Our first meeting will coincide with “Bike to Work” week and hopefully this symbolic starting point will grow over time into a meaningful part of our community.

My last week hasn’t seen much riding unfortunately. I did get out today and enjoy a quick spin around the Pigeon Valley area. I could tell that I’ve been remiss in keeping up my mileage and workouts. It was a struggle in the 87 degree weather. Still, I know I will sleep better tonight!

My brother, David, out in L.A. is returning to the world of recumbents. He bought a “new to him” bike this week. He says he mostly wanted the frame and has plans for Dana at Bent Up Cycles to do some serious reworking of the components. Here is an image of the “before” bike as purchased.



We’ll hope for an “after” image in a week or so… Also in from David this week was a link to a positive article from the US Department of Transportation. Check it out here: Click Me!

Well, the sun has dropped below the horizon now.  A gentle breeze is blowing off of Richland Balsam and down the valley feathering its way across my deck. I swear I hear the deck chair calling me…

Until later,

-- Zeke

Friday, April 17, 2009

One Year Anniversary Approaches

Whew! What a non-cycling week this has been! Between finishing up taxes, end of year Rotary reports, poor weather early in the week, ongoing recovery from my computer meltdown, and an increase in work hours, this has simply not been a cycling week. It is a good feeling to be able to see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” I suppose it would be fair for some to question my priorities this week as I’ve not been on the Fuji since last weekend. In fact, my normal daily reading of multiple blogs has even taken a hit. But, as we say here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, “sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.” I think the bear won this week!

I digress from this entry’s title. This coming week will be my one year anniversary of having returned to cycling. Many years ago, as in prior to marriage, I enjoyed the time spent riding and the benefits that accrued from the exercise. Cycling was a companion to my running and we rode, what I then considered to be, all over the place. In fact, I made that critical 1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd impression on the lovely young woman destined to be my wife as I rode by her residence one sunny afternoon while she was getting her mail. (I still remember what she was wearing that fateful day. But, that’s a story for another time.)

Time and career marched on and cycling of the self-powered variety went by the wayside.Other exercise modalities (racquetball, step aerobics, etc.) dominated my exercise efforts. Somewhere along in my 40’s, even those efforts began to drop off with the predictable result being weight gain and poor cardio condition. The miracles of medications became my chief way of managing my cholesterol issues.  Breathing became harder and what used to be a hard day’s physical work became a hard couple of hours as I was worn out, tired, and bedraggled much sooner. Offering up excuses of “well, I’m not as young as I used to be…”, I accepted my slow decline to “couch potato-hood.”

MAGICCIRCLE Flash forward to this time last year: Our close friends (above) dating back to high school (the early 70’s for those counting) make an annual pilgrimage to Folly Beach, SC each spring. Last year’s event included a Wii video game. We were all quite smitten with the thing and had bowling and tennis matches galore each day. Well, the darn thing actually required some physical movement and that paired with the old competitive urges had me up and “bowling” and using other muscles that were apparently under the impression that a week at the beach meant a week of rest. Long story short, I couldn’t move my right arm without pain within 2 days and I ultimately pulled a muscle in my right gluteus maximus while striving for a score of 128. (I’m apparently not a very good Wii bowler.)

As I limped around the house and along the shoreline, my disgust with my physical condition finally rose to a crescendo in my head and, in a moment of great clarity,  I declared to my wife “Something is wrong with this picture! I’m getting back in shape.” So, this week one year ago, I purchased a new bike and started riding again.

My first day I barely made it to my local bike shop. I had 1 mile to ride and 1 minor hill  to crest before getting to my LBS (see, I can now use neat cycling slang/shortcuts). I thought my heart was going to explode through my chest and pull my lungs out with it! Fortunately, I stuck with the program and kept riding. I enjoyed what I consider to be a fairly rapid return to improved health. I set a goal of being able to ride the 20 miles from my office to my home by July 1st. I made it by June 1st. Today, I’m a not quite svelte 178 lbs. down from 209 lbs. and I really don’t think I’ll die from a heart attack anymore, Jim Fixx not withstanding.

I’ve managed to maintain my pursuit of better health. At my last doctor’s visit, my blood work was the best it has been since my 20’s. My cholesterol medication has been cut in half. I’m wearing pants that I couldn’t get into for years but, most of all, I’m enjoying exercise again. I’m still not growing new hair on my head, but hey!, hair is over-rated! I maintained my pace through the winter months thanks to a trainer and occasional good weather. I’ve rediscovered an interest in writing via this blog and the efforts of so many of the other cyclist bloggers with whom I’ve connected. My daily coffee companions are those folks on my favorite links listed in my blog roll.

Goals revisited: As I move into my second year, I’m looking forward to achieving new goals. I have new specific targets that include increased mileage/distances and an improved climbing ability, having a greater impact on my local community by helping bring to reality a bicycle/pedestrian advisory committee, and ongoing involvement in the virtual cycling community. I have truly been astounded at the breadth of cycling issues that I’ve discovered via blogging and the internet.

As I bring to a close this particular entry, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my appreciation to some folks that gave me a real and/or virtual “steadying hand on the back” as I enjoyed this past year’s journey. My wifeKatCapital (seen here on our recent HonorAir visit to Washington, DC) has been incredibly supportive of my riding and, “yes, dear, I really did buy a mid-priced bike, I promise!”, to the Wood-man, who has been incredibly patient and supportive in both answering questions and being a riding partner, to John Mudge at Rolls Rite Bicycle Shop for his excellent customer support, to my brother in L.A., who has been supportive of both riding and writing, and to Kent Peterson and to Jim at Cycling Experiences as they both gave me and this blog important “shots in the arm of vitality and connection.

If you’ve read this far and are still with me, I appreciate your interest and hope that you’ll return soon!

Until Later,

-- Zeke

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sunny Ride Closes Out Day

Thursday, April 8th, came to a very pleasant end as I was able to get in a nice post work ride through some beautiful country. The day lived up to its forecasted promise as sunny skies and temperatures in the 70’s caressed me on my walk back to my office from lunch. This served to whet my appetite for the planned end-of-day ride. If there were still such a thing as a clock with hands in my office, I’m sure it would have seemed that the movement of the sweeping bars appeared to be moving through Jell-O.

I started my ride at the intersection of NC 209 and Lake Junaluska and proceeded north as I have been doing recently. The wider gutter of NC 209 lets me ride reasonably secure while the folks headed home shoot by me at significantly faster speeds. Rather than continuing on NC 209 this ride, I turned west onto Coleman Mountain Road. I’ve been trying to work more climbs into my rides in order to build up some climbing strength and Coleman Mountain offered that option.

I rode to my friends’ driveway at Jack Pine Dr., which is a little over half way up the mountain before my heart rate threatened to shut me down. The driveway offered a couple of opportunities. One was to go visit my friends and probably get a cold drink and the other was to stick to the plan and keep riding. Option one would almost certainly have meant the end of the day’s ride. As my heart rate was dropping, I realized I was in a place to get a nice rural picture. I broke out my Gorillapod tripod and attached my wife’s Canon Powershot to it in order to grab a picture. The Gorillapod and Powershot combination are small enough to pack along for rides without significantly adding weight. The Gorillapod will allow you to mount your camera to just about anything in order to get the desired shot.

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For this shot, I had the Gorillapod wrapped around a street sign with one leg acting as a stabilizer on the sign mounting bracket. This image is looking east-southeast from Jack Pine Drive on Coleman Mountain Road.


Once my heart rate dropped back to a more normal training range, I remounted and rode to the top of the mountain, which overlooks I-40. I squeezed off another couple of shots on the Canon. This image is of the upcoming long descent toward Jonathan Creek and US 276. Ride040809 002

The descent lasts for a couple of miles and terminates at Jonathan Creek. From here, I could have continued on down to Rabbit Skin Road and had a significant climb before dropping back to the Pigeon River and Riverside Drive, which I’ve previously written about. However, the sun was getting lower in the sky and I was riding solo so I decided that perhaps better judgment would dictate that I simply reverse direction and head back to my point of origin.

Ride040809 003 As you all know, that wonderful descent’s “other side of the coin” was an ascent of equal length but considerably more difficult challenge. The grade of the climb wasn’t nearly as steep as coming up from the NC 209 side but the length was quite a bit longer. I managed to cross under I-40 though and make it back to the top of Coleman Mountain. Interestingly, looking east didn’t result in a much different view!

A very nice descent with only a small climb back up to US 209 led back to Lake Junaluska and a “cool down” ride across the wooden bridge spanning the dam and onto the final short climb of the day up Lambuth Inn hill. At the top of this climb is the Cross that overlooks the Junaluska Methodist Assembly. I took a short break to enjoy the dying light the day and grab one more image from the day’s ride. The Cross is lit at night and the automatic switch had just illuminated it. I propped the Fuji CCR3 on the foundation of the Cross and shot this image:

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I closed out this very nice ride by spinning on out to US 19 along the recently completed greenway and then back to my point of origin via South Lakeshore Drive. While on that leg of the trip, I met Big Ben and 4 or 5 other local cyclists as they were traversing the lake property on their weekly group ride. They had a pretty good pace going and were quickly by me and on the way to their ultimate destination.

I finally returned to my truck and headed home for the day being aware of  my very tired body but also having a very nice sense of serenity that was a result of enjoying the beauty of the rural scenery, the solitude of my brief stops, and of being alive now in this time and in this place…


Until later,


-- Zeke

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Old Man Weather Revisits WNC

The April flowers of Western North Carolina ended up with a white blanket overnight. Heavier snow than was predicted moved into the southern end of the county just after daybreak and created some interesting driving conditions. The roads had not been treated with the usual salt brine so they quickly became a skating rink on the southern side of Pigeon Gap. Numerous vehicles were doing the 4-wheel pirouette as we made our way to work today. Snowfall accumulations were reported to be heavier, as expected, along the northern boundary of N.C. – Tennessee. Here are 3 images taken as we left for work today:

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Tomorrow’s forecast calls for a return to spring with temperatures in the mid-60’s. While this snow is pretty, I’m ready for SPRING!!!

Until later,

-- Zeke

P.S. – more images from walk to lunch!


AprilSno_040709 004 My office building at 131 Walnut St., Waynesville, NC 28786







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Looking southwest from the top of the Haywood County Justice Center Parking Garage.







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Shot toward the Balsams and Jackson County, N.C.







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A favorite photo op site in downtown Waynesville, N.C.







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One for Jim as requested! A flower against the snow!






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Downtown Waynesville at lunch looking south…

Monday, April 6, 2009

Outstanding Weekend Followed by Touch of Winter

Coming off of two absolutely gorgeous days over the weekend, we’re now getting a touch of “old man winter” to start the work week. I’m getting reports of snow beginning to accumulate in the higher elevations of the Smokies with more expected overnight and into tomorrow morning. Still, it should be short lived with a return to spring temps by Wednesday.

While Saturday was taken up with yard work and no riding time, Sunday turned out to be an excellent day to get out and about. Folks were clearly of that mind as the walkers, runners, and cyclists were all taking advantage of the mid-70’s temperatures under beautiful blue skies. I had the good fortune to get out for a ride on NC 209 and around Lake Junaluska.

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I must admit that I was struggling with my ride on Sunday as I just didn’t feel like I had any legs whatsoever. This formula kept popping into my head as I was riding:

(Early season yardwork * too many hours) + (poor eating habits/2) = weak legs

I can certainly tell that I’m not getting in enough ride time or enough climbing work as I seem to have reached some kind of plateau in my conditioning. Still, it is early in the season and I realize that I need to keep the chin up and keep working toward those personal goals I’ve set.

I polished off Sunday’s ride by circling the Lake Junaluska Assembly grounds. The grounds were packed with folks out enjoying the day. The Assembly has in recent years opened their facilities to the public as part of the Haywood County Recreational plan and it was abundantly clear yesterday that the public was taking advantage of the options.

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This image is shot looking north from the south shore of Lake Junaluska.

A very nice walking path circles the lake and affords about a 2.3 mile walk that includes crossing the dam on the northeastern end of the lake. You can see George Stuart Auditorium in the background of the image above. Cyclists can circumnavigate a larger area by circling both the upper and lower sections of the lake. The following view is from the Cross that overlooks the lake with views back to the south and west.

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For those of you perhaps somewhat interested in the technology of writing this blog, I am using Window’s new Live Writer for the first time. It is certainly easier to work with text and images than my previous efforts through Blogger. I especially like the WYSIWYG feature.

With the impending bad weather for the next couple of days, it is a good time to take the Fuji in for a quick check up at my LBS, Rolls Rite Bicycles. I’ve developed a rotational “thump” in my rear wheel since I had a flat last week as I ended the Folly Retreat. The “thump” became quite irritating yesterday as it jarred my spine each time a revolution was made. So, I’m off to the shop…

Until later,

-- Zeke