Saturday, October 31, 2009


I thought today I might discuss some weighty matters – those things of significant gravity that affect us as cyclists. I could address the trial of Dr. Christopher Thompson in Los Angeles as the case has now gone to the jury. I could review a recent film by StreetFilms in New York as they present the varied options for bike paths and sharing the road.

Instead, I’m choosing to report on a true matter of weight or at least how to measure it. In recent days, my friend Jim at Cycling Experiences got me to thinking along the lines of improving my ability to monitor my ongoing physical condition. In corresponding with Jim on the topic, I reported the dissatisfaction I have with the current weight scales in the Zekester’s home. You can step on the scales 3 times under the same exact conditions and get 3 different measurements.

In response to my whining, Jim made an offer to transfer his Tanita BC 554 from the flatlands of North Carolina to the mountains of Western North Carolina. After all, Jim had just ordered the Tanita BC 1000! (Dang, aren’t these weighty discussions stimulating!) So, feeling that I must “put up or shut up” as he had offered me a fine solution to my unimportant crisis of weight management, I eagerly agreed to the transfer at a very reasonable expense. His efforts at making the transfer are well documented on his site (see link above).

I felt it important to close the loop and report the very timely arrival of the Tanita BC 554 at its new home. I received a phone call from my office late on Friday saying “Santa”, otherwise known in the Yount household as the UPS Dude had arrived in his brown sleigh and dropped off a package for me. I jumped, well, slowly dismounted my John Deere Yard tractor and moseyed on over (literary phrase intended to impart the image of a man in no particular hurry) to my office and grabbed my package.

I let it sit overnight, resting in it’s box, knowing that the optimal time to open it would be with my better half whilst having that first cup of coffee in the morning. The moment arrived. My spouse looked at me like “what have you spent our money on now?” but I pushed through knowing that she too would soon be immersed in the joy of knowing her BMR. In retrospect, I may have over-thought that one…

At any rate, the Tanita BC 554 is now fully functional and programmed. It awaits only tomorrow’s weigh-in. I eagerly look forward to more data to track. In fact, Saturday may be spent incorporating new data analysis computations into my spreadsheet. I won’t ride today – you see IT IS RAINING AGAIN!

I’m excited, my “best half” is excited, heck – the cats are excited! In fact, I’m so excited (note reference to Pointer Sisters’ song…), I had some pictures taken with my new Tanita BC 554!











(Interested reader ALERT!---- There will be no public reporting of any data measured tomorrow per household order of Zeke’s ‘best half!”)

Until later,

- Zeke

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Before I get to the recap of Sunday’s exquisite ride, Gr8SmokiesZeke was very pleasantly surprised and appreciative of the wonderful reference and support received from my friend Jim Artis on his most excellent site “Cycling Experiences.” His October 26th entry resulted in the single largest day of visits to this site since its inception in January 2009. Be sure to stop by Cycling Experiences and visit with Jim, Faye, Silk and their stablemates! Thanks again, Jim!

Sunday’s ride…

My “best half” and her sister decided over supper on Saturday night that Sunday presented an excellent opportunity for some shopping in nearby Asheville, NC. Being fairly bright individuals, the “Wood-man” and I deduced that it would be an excellent opportunity for us to ride to Asheville, have a nice meal, and catch a ride home with the girls. Plans were laid…

Sunday dawned as one of those incredibly beautiful mountain days when the air is crisp and there is still lots of fall color left. This year those days have been limited due to the frequent days of rain our region has experienced. Unknown to us, the recent heavy rains paired with some early freezes and snowfalls in the northern end of our county had resulted overnight in a major rockslide closing I-40 east and west bound 3 miles inside the Tennessee border with North Carolina. Predictions from the DOT engineers indicate that I-40 may be closed for several months in order to complete clean-up. (More on this later…)




Our Sunday ride began on Ratcliffe Cove Road just outside of Waynesville and took us through Poison Cove Gap to the east.






Climbing the southwest side of Poison Cove Gap.




This was a good warm-up and served to reinforce my decision to dress relatively lightly for the day’s ride. We started with temps in the mid-60’s and calm winds. After descending to Stamey Cove Road, we headed into downtown Clyde and connected with Business 19/23 east to Canton. Traffic had been light to this point and we were making good time.

We rode up the slight but long grade of Radio Hill going into Canton, NC in the shadows of the mountain with notably cooler temperatures. Due to the steep slope of the mountain, this section of the road is almost always without sun this time of the year and is one of the first places to freeze with black ice in the winter. The grade is deceptive in that it doesn’t look steep but has just enough inclination to be the site of many an accident in bad winter weather. This day though we were cruising in the upper 50’s so it was just about right to cool down some from the 3 miles or so ride from Clyde.

As is almost always the case, what goes up must come down and we were certainly no exception as we dropped off of Radio Hill into Canton proper. The fast food restaurants and gas stations were busy with Sunday travelers. On the east end of town, we made the final short climb out of town before enjoying a long glide down to river grade riding. This section has numerous manhole covers sitting 2/3rds of the way out into the road so you have to be careful not to crunch a wheel or get a pinch flat.

Once we bottomed out, Mother Nature greeted us with an approximate 10 – 12 mph headwind as we traversed several miles of the old Asheville Highway, a fairly straight road heading east to western Buncombe County.

Ride102509_EastCantonThe “Wood-man’s” shadow takes first wheel…

Just after crossing into Buncombe County, we bore right onto the old US 23. At this point, we’re riding along about the 3rd set of parallel roads that have been built through the years to move traffic east and west. This section of road goes for several miles and is almost all rural/residential with the occasional home business on the side. Traffic is typically very light on this section and offers some pleasant cycling. We did have the pleasure of being “announced” by two small dogs as they joined us in the road for a few moments. The biggest danger they represented was running under our wheels. We apparently moved through their zone of watchfulness to their satisfaction as they returned to their guard stations at their residence. I hate to think what may become of them if they greet a 4 wheeled vehicle with similar bravado.

We eventually head east southeast on the Candler School Road and drop down yet again in elevation to South Hominy. This short section of road included trees draping their beautiful yellow colors across the road and brightened up the entire area.


Our route eventually tied us back in to Sand Hill Road behind the Enka Manufacturing plant, another major mountain industrial plant lost to the ever changing global economy. At its peak, Enka employed hundreds of WNC people from multiple counties. The company was busing employees to work back before busing became a negative term. This section of road is being re-worked and appears to have the makings of a nice bike lane. Time will tell if that is the case. We followed Sand Hill Road to its merger with State Road 3412, which brought us into West Asheville’s residential areas. This section of the ride is characterized by short but steep climbs and ultimately brought us to an intersection with Haywood Road in West Asheville.

Ride102509_WAshvl1“Wood-man” leads through West Asheville”

Haywood Road then drops down to the French Broad River where we crossed over and began the final climb of the ride up Clingman Avenue by the Grey Eagle, a local hot spot for music, to Hillard Avenue and then cross town to the Block. The Block is recognized as the center of Asheville’s African-American community with numerous restaurants and businesses finding some recent resurgence. From the Block, it is a short climb up to Pack Square and then to Tripps Restaurant to meet the lovely shopping duo of Kathy and Sherry.

Ride102509_Z&WEndZeke (l) and “Wood-man” (r) completing another ride!

Skipping our usual post-ride cold libation, the four of us headed out to Biltmore Park Town Square to try out a new restaurant – 131 Main. The restaurant is located in the recently developed Biltmore Park section off of I-26 near Skyland. We’ve watched the restaurant under construction for some time and were eager to give it a try. We were not disappointed! All of our meals were outstanding and we had excellent service from several of the wait staff, especially Tabitha. My dish was the chef’s version of Shrimp ‘N Grits, a low country dish becoming increasingly popular with local restaurants as they expand their culinary arts into our mountain culture. The grits were creamy and spicy and perfectly complimented by the shrimp. This dish rates highly beside Charleston, SC’s Magnolia’s restaurant, which I’ve always considered the “gold standard” of Shrimp ‘N Grits!

Darn, now I’m hungry…. Gotta go!

Until later,

- Zeke

P.S. To follow this ride on MapMyRide, CLICK HERE!

Friday, October 23, 2009


The American Heritage Dictionary defines trend as “a general tendency or course; a direction or movement; flow.” Wikipedia defines pattern as “A pattern, from the French patron, is a type of theme of recurring events of or objects, sometimes referred to as elements of a set. These elements repeat in a predictable manner.” Both of these words are resonating with me today as we enter another weekend with wet weather moving into the area. We certainly have had a trend or pattern develop over what subjectively seems like the entire summer but, in reality, is probably something less enduring. For several weeks now, we seem to have been trending toward clearing skies on Sunday afternoons followed by pleasant Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. On Thursdays, precipitation begins forming and by Friday and Saturday, we are under high percentages of rain forecast. In fact, the weather prognosticators have gotten it pretty much right the last 3 weekends in a row. Rain, followed by rain, leading to more rain… This weekend appears to be no exception to the rule.

In anticipation of this pattern of wet weather, I swapped my typical riding schedule around and hit the road on Wednesday this week instead of the usual Thursday. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were gorgeous days here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. We’ve had a bit of a warming spell as we head to Indian Summer. (Wikipedia lists I.S. as “Indian summer is a name given to a period of sunny, warm weather in autumn, not long before winter. Usually occurring after the first frost, Indian summer can be in September, October, or November in the northern hemisphere, and March, April, or early May in the Southern hemisphere..”) In fact, we had a couple of heavy frosts early in the week and even had the first snowfall of the season last weekend.

Wednesday’s ride was another solo event. The “Wood-man” and I had a sort of “well, I’m riding then – may see you on the road” understanding. In this case, “two needles didn’t find the same haystack”. In post ride discussion, I determined that “Wood-man” was coming around the bend below my office about the same time I was accelerating into traffic on the other side of the building with the result being my solo excursion for the day.

As I’ve written before, I’ve moved my starting time up slightly to avoid failing light as the sun sets earlier. One advantage to this has been that I manage to avoid a lot of the traffic associated with end of work day travel. I’m usually off the main drags now by 5:00 p.m. As I started my ride on Wednesday, the skies were a beautiful blue with the fall colors now peaking at the lower elevations. Temperatures were a very pleasant upper 70’s.

My route this date was along Howell Mill Road out to Business 19 and then connecting to NC 209 for a journey down into northern Haywood County. Howell Mill is a two lane surface road that is narrow and carries a moderate amount of traffic from the east end of town to the busy neon-sign sector of Waynesville  on the north side of town. There is one short descent to a railroad crossing over the Richland Creek. On this day, I found a bad point to cross over the RR track and immediately began to experience a THUMP, THUMP, THUMP. I feared that I had flatted but that turned out not to be the case so I kept riding. Clearly though, the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP was going to join me for awhile. I kept surveying my wheels and couldn’t see an overt problem and I did so want to ride… Shortly, it seemed my THUMP, THUMP, THUMP had become a thump, thump, thump and my anxiety levels about having a mechanical issue eased to the point I became involved in the ride again.

I broke off of NC 209 at the intersection with Iron Duff Road and headed for the “triangle” where Iron Duff goes right and Coleman Mountain Road goes left. I wanted to climb so I headed left just past Frog Holler.


I rounded a couple of curves before starting the ascent and had the chance to “holler out” at my friend Bo, who was on his tractor fluffing his hay. He too was trying to beat the trend of weather and get his 3rd cutting of hay in the barn before the end of week rains returned. Bo has managed to put up 300+ bales of hay during this wet summer!

We exchanged the usual social niceties: he from his John Deere saddle and me from my Fuji CCR3 saddle. Both are made of leather and both suit their function well. Form is a whole different matter though!

My ascent of Coleman was beginning in earnest at this point so my attention was turned to riding smart, trying to relax and rest while climbing as the “Wood-man” has coached me to do. In short order, I topped the mountain and began a nice long descent to the intersection of US 276. It was at this point that I had a decision to make.

My earlier plans had included the possibility of turning north on US 276 to Rabbit Skin Road and climbing the mountain two lane road before dropping back to Iron Duff and a return to NC 209. I haven’t ridden this stretch of road before other than on my Harley, which is not turning out to be the best scouting vehicle for my bicycle rides. It seems that having 1500 ccs of engine under me on the Harley somehow misrepresents the energy required of my legs to get over 10%+ grades.

Being unfamiliar with that road and still being aware of a thump, thump, thump co-rider paired with a clearly setting sun, led me to decide heading home on US 276 south might be the wiser move on this date. I determined that I would be more easily found on a major highway than a narrow 2 lane mountain road should my thump, thump, thump return to THUMP, THUMP, THUMP  status.

So, some 12 miles later after enjoying the muscle building advantages of a headwind, I  and my thump, thump, thump returned to my office as the sun was setting behind Eagles Nest Mountain. My ride was complete and I had successfully beat the trend.

Thursday turned out to be equally beautiful but riding was out of the question as the “Wood-man” stopped by my office and agreed that I still had a thump, thump,thump to resolve. He relieved me of my front wheel after a short test ride and is now exorcising my thump, thump, thump.

Oh yeah, it’s raining…

Until later,

- Zeke

(Note: you may view this route on MayMyRide by CLICKING HERE!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Today’s standing Tuesday ride turned out to be the first solo event I’ve had in awhile. Everyone was busy with other pursuits so it fell to me to motivate myself to get out and ride. Truthfully, it wasn’t terribly hard to motivate myself. I had more trouble deciding where to ride than if to ride.

According to the weather forecasters, this was the last good day of the week to get in a ride. They are predicting a return to rain and much cooler weather for the next several days. Today was actually pretty nice with the sun making an appearance and the temps reaching the low 70’s before tailing off near the end of the day.

Before I get to today’s ride though, I thought I’d recap our past weekend of camping. Since this is a cycling blog, I’ll say that many of the vehicles coming into the campground had various brands of mountain bikes on carriers and in truck beds. That is where they stayed…

Our drive up the mountain was beautiful in the fall colors on this last weekend of camping at our favorite place. Thirty minutes later – BAM!  a cloud fell on the mountain top.

BalsamMtn1009_TonyAppearsCamp Host Tony Sells appears out of the fog…

The clouds stayed and stayed and stayed with us. On Friday, we were basking in the balmy 57 degree weather of the fog when only 18 miles and 2000’ lower elevation, our friends were enjoying 80 degree weather under mostly cloudless skies. With the weather limiting visibility to a matter of feet, most of our time was spent reading and enjoying the campfire when it wasn’t raining. I managed to get in some good cycling reading in the absence of actually being able to cycle.


Our Hobbi kept us dry and warm as the weather managed to stay about the same until 30 minutes before our departure on Sunday. I did take the opportunity to continue honing my coffee making skills. I’ve recently made the move to a French Coffee Press due to ongoing electrical problems with the inverter in our camper. I’ve relearned that “a watched pot never boils.”. It seems like it took forever to get the water up to a boiling point so we could steep the coffee.


(Coffee from my favorite roaster Smoky Mountain Roasters)









(The coffee making setup. Note the ongoing fog…)

We did catch a few brief moments when the fog lifted on Saturday and managed to snap a few images of the fall colors.










(Lots of yellows on this side of the mountain.)






(A few maples and more conifers near the top.)



(Flathead Creek Trail leads to the Heintooga picnic area.)









(Look close to see some real turkeys!)









(Finally, our favorite camping wildlife – Zeke and Orla!)

Sunday morning saw a lifting of the fog and lessening in the density of the cloud cover so more light actually reached us on the ground. While enjoying our last cup of coffee before beginning to pack, two pick up trucks passed the campground fully loaded with mountain bikes. A few minutes later, the mountain bikers were cycling through the campground checking it out and looking for information on a 28 mile one way unimproved road that goes from the end of the paved section of road down into the Cherokee Boundary. This road is a favorite of cyclists, hikers, and drivers alike as it affords some great views into the Great Smoky Mountains. After a few words with Ranger Jack Campbell and after corralling some of their wayward brethren, the cyclists headed down the mountain. These were the only cyclists we actually saw riding all weekend.


As I was beginning my ride yesterday, the skies were already beginning to fill with clouds and darken so I decided that staying in and around town might be a wise move. As I was riding solo, I had only myself to consult with. After a brief meeting of the mind I(we) determined a circuitous route that included some town streets and rural roads circling the Town of Waynesville.

I departed my office and headed east on Business 19/23 or North Main St. as it is signed. After a short spin to one of the town’s two roundabouts, I had a smooth ride in end-of-workday traffic along Raccoon Creek Road to its intersection with US 276 on the southeast side of town. I took an immediate left onto Crymes Cove Road, which was the only climb of any significance in the day’s ride. 

Crymes Cove Road runs .75 miles from its intersection with US 276 to the top of the climb before dropping down into the Ninevah section of Waynesville. The elevation gain is 273’ and has an average grade of 6.89%. However, the last 4/10th of a mile to the top sees a dramatic incline and has an average grade of 10.78%.

From the top of Crymes Cove, it was a nice and easy descent with a watchful eye for gravel in the road. I made my way back to South Main St. via Auburn Park and then on to the Waynesville Commons area, which is the site of the new Super Wal-Mart in town. From there, a short run up Hyatt Creek led to a crossover to Plott Creek and then back to the Village of Hazelwood, a small former town now fully encompassed by Waynesville. This connected to Brown Ave., which is one segment of our suggested bike pathway through Waynesville. After cruising down Main St., I returned to my office for what turned out to be a short 12 mile ride after work.

I was struck with how long I “thought” I had ridden and how few miles I had actually logged in circumnavigating Waynesville. The conversation I normally have with a riding partner was missing this day and I was aware of how time passes more quickly when you are conversing as you ride.  Still, I had not ridden solo in at least 2 months and it was pleasant to get out and just cruise around town. Here’s looking forward to a return to sunshine in 3 or 4 days…

Until later,

- Zeke

Thursday, October 8, 2009


As I put finger to keyboard on the “day after”, I’m trying to sort out my emotions on having finally topped Rush Fork. I’ve written about this journey of mine previously. (See March post #1 and March post #2) Yesterday was shaping up to be a solo ride as my usual cohorts all had other work duties to address. I had heard from everyone except the “Wood-man” and I know that he likes to ride earlier in the day so I was plotting out a solo journey for my Tuesday night ride.

My phone rang and I was happy to see the “Wood-man” calling. He asked if anyone was riding with me and I informed him “no”. He quickly stated, “well, it’s a good day to get up Rush Fork.” Not wanting to wimp out and knowing that this has been my nemesis this summer, I quickly and without thought said “Sure. Let’s do it!” We made arrangements to meet post work and make the ride.

The climb to Rush Fork begins about 13 miles from my office. This distance used to do me in all by itself but I’m pleased to be able to say, “hey, my legs are getting warm now.” We had an easy ride under cloudy skies as we left Lake Junaluska and headed north on US 209. The workday traffic was relatively heavy as we rode the gutter past the Truck Stop and the overpass for I-40. One fellow must have saved a full 10 seconds as he rocketed around us in his diesel truck only to turn left less than a quarter mile in front of us.

I was riding easy on “Wood-man’s” rear wheel and we were carrying on a nice conversation as the miles passed under our wheels. We finally came around the last curve and topped a short roller just past the G.C. Palmer Dairy Farm, home of the infamous Da Girlz in my prior post. I became aware of the first feelings of edginess as I viewed the beginning of the climb.

There are actually two climbs to topping Rush Fork. The first is long and straight and lays it all out there for you to see. There are no curves to let your mind begin to think “oh, there will be a nice little level grade just around this corner.” Nope, it’s just one straight forward climb and one that I’ve only topped once before yesterday. My goal was to get to the top of it and catch my breath. Little did I know…

I was mostly confident that I’d make this part of the climb and sure enough we spun our way up getting passed by the occasional vehicle along the way. I was within about 25 yards when I announced to “Wood-man” that I needed to stop and catch my breath at the top. To this he simply and quietly announced “No you don’t…” He provided me some coaching tips on resting as we descended a short drop to the beginning of the second climb on Rush Fork.

This starts with a left hand turn and an immediate jump in grade to about 8% or 9%. There is no buffer on the right hand side of the road and the roadbed is right on the drop off. Only the guard rail and its sharp edges are there to hopefully throw you back into the lane of travel if you wobble off course.  I was on “Wood-man’s” wheel and trying to following his advice of taking my time and letting the climb come to me. I was also thinking of my “Lance Spot” and when I was going to have to go to that mystical place in my head. (See previous post for a description of  the “Lance Spot.” )

I was aware that I was doing O.K. and surviving the initial stages of the climb. I didn’t want to look up because that would have made me aware of how much further there was to go. About a third of the way into the climb, I began losing “Wood-man’s” wheel and distance was growing between us. Workers heading home would come around the first curve fast and then slow down when they saw the two of us climbing the mountain. My legs were beginning to burn as I alternated between getting out of the saddle to try and mash my way up and sitting in the saddle trying to find another position to spin my way up. I was still holding my own with the “Wood-man” not losing too much distance but definitely not on his wheel anymore. I began to measure progress by telephone poles. My goal became to get to the next one.

Two thirds of the way up, my legs were burning but, more importantly, I was beginning to run out of oxygen. My heart was trying to pound its way out of my chest and I was getting dizzy. It was time to go my “Lance spot”. As much as the climb was a matter of physically maintaining my balance and keeping the wheels turning, it was also about overcoming the anxiety creeping into my mind. I began to mark spots where I “might” be able to get out of the clips before I fell over on the guardrail or into the road. I caught myself though and refocused on the climb and tried to bring fresh effort to getting oxygen into my system.

I was only two phone poles away from the crest when I looked up. The “Wood-man” had not only maintained his steady climb and increased the distance between us but, I quickly realized, he was SPRINTING for the top. He was going all out as he crested the mountain and cruised through the gap. I couldn’t believe it!

I was within one telephone pole of the top and I was damned if I wasn’t going to make it now. I couldn’t sprint but, like the turtle, I could keep a relatively slow steady pace and I knew I’d get there. It turns out Rush Fork had one more cruel joke left to throw at me.

As I was beginning to congratulate myself that I was going to actually crest the mountain, “she” threw a full fledged head wind in my face. I was still under the lip of the crest when the wind came howling at me as if to blow me back down the narrow strip of road. I feared I would lose all my momentum this close to the top. I could still see the “Wood-man” as he was turning around and beginning his descent of the mountain. I dug down a little deeper and the winds died down enough for me to pedal into the gap amid fluttering autumn leaves under a dark heavy sky. I had made it. Rush Fork was mine…

Still, today I’m not so sure she was mine. I’m sure I didn’t tame her. I can’t say that I conquered her because I really don’t feel the “thrill of victory”. I think somewhat more accurately, she appreciated my effort and rewarded me with a moment or two of mutual respect. I know that my fear of her has been replaced with more respect for having reached her summit.

Oh yeah, “Wood-man” says for our next trip we’re gonna climb her again, drop down to the other side, and climb her in reverse. Boy, I hope my “Lance Spot” has a never ending supply of power…

Until later,

- Zeke

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Wet weather has returned to Western North Carolina and it looks like it will be with us for several more days. My riding time has been limited since last Thursday due to duties associated with a special HonorAir Flight this past Saturday.

I was privileged to accompany another 95 World War II Veterans to Washington DC so that they might visit their Memorial along with other important memorials to our country’s Veterans. Friday was filled with getting ready for the trip as there were numerous duties to arrange and coordinate. These took priority over riding.


On Saturday, we were up and meeting our Vets at 5:45 a.m. in order to be at Asheville Regional Airport by 6:30 a.m. The morning fog was thick as soup and visibility was measured in feet rather than miles. As I was going to meet our group, an earlier starting group called back and warned me that the interstate was blocked due to a 5 car pileup at a bridge. The calling group of Rotarians and Vets were about 20 seconds behind the accident when it happened and were fortunate to get stopped in time. Unfortunately, they were now stuck behind a mass of mangled cars and had no way around the bridge to continue their trip to the airport.

We had arranged police escort for our group and, with the other group’s kind warning, were able to skirt around the accident and arrive with 2 minutes to spare. It took some wreckers, police and mayoral intervention, but we finally managed to extricate the stranded group of Vets in time for them to make their flight. We arrived in D.C. on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. (The details of this and other HonorAir flights are too detailed to cover here but, for those interested, you may find out additional information by clicking HERE! You may also see a short video of our trip by clicking HERE!)


From a cycling perspective, I was able to note the considerable biking infrastructure built into Washington. On this day, cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians were out in mass taking advantage of the early fall/late summer weather. If the sections of D.C. and Virginia that I observed on Saturday are reflective of other sections in the city, D.C. must be filled with some very fit individuals!

I am always ready to spend the day with the guys and gals of WWII. Once they start talking (and they don’t often, which is a hallmark of the WWII Vet), I really develop a deeper appreciation for their sacrifices some 50+ years ago. To see citizens come up and shake the hands of these folks and say “thank you!” is remarkable and awe inspiring. They also bring history to life for me. On this trip, I met a Vet, who played sports with my namesake before he was killed on Saipan. We were privileged to share the memory of a Veteran, who was on Iwo Jima when the flag was raised. It is truly an emotional journey each time I’m allowed to join these folks…

The Lance Spot

O.K., I’ll go ahead and admit this is corny for a 56 year old man to be saying but I’m gonna say it anyway! Over this summer, I’ve developed a certain position on my bike and, more importantly, a state of mind when I’m climbing and beginning to wear out. I call it my Lance Spot.

For some reason, a particular image of Lance Armstrong out of the saddle and sweating like the dickens has fully imprinted itself in my mind. I don’t know which particular image it is or where I first saw it. I do know that one day, while I was struggling with a climb, that image came to me between gasping breaths and I realized that my current position on my bike reminded me of the Lance image. I focused on my position – where my hands were, how my body was aligned over the top tube and pedals – and came to appreciate that I was climbing stronger and without as much energy. Through the summer, I’ve come to recognize when I need to find my Lance Spot on climbs and have made more progress in my abilities to climb. Now, this isn’t the end all, be all of climbing for me as I still wear out and feel my legs turn to noodles. Still, I’ve made it over more summits this year than last and my confidence level has improved drastically.


  • When a warrior (cyclist) learns to stop the internal dialogue, everything becomes possible; the most far-fetched schemes become attainable.
    Carlos Castaneda Quote

    I still fight some mental demons when I realize that I’m approaching a loss of momentum and the edges of panic begin to appear in my mind when I fear that I may have to get my feet out of the clips. With apologies to Carlos Casteneda, I’m still learning to stop my internal dialog. I still fall over occasionally when my right foot won’t release and my weight is going in the wrong direction. Thus far, these events have all been at very low speeds so I really do just fall over with minimum negative outcome other than embarrassment. Finding my Lance Spot has given me the confidence to help fight those “falling over demons” of mine.

    Remember that you heard it hear first from a middle aged man – may you find YOUR Lance Spot!


    Until later,

    - Zeke