Friday, November 27, 2009


As I rise from bed today amidst the plethora of advertisements winging their way toward me on TV, radio, and computer, I find myself drawn to watching the sun rise above Mt. Pisgah on what is starting out as a gorgeous but brisk day. Yesterday’s heavy cloud cover and intermittent rain/snow showers didn’t amount to much here at home and now seem to have moved on east and north.

My “best half” and I spent yesterday enjoying the Thanksgiving meal with family and friends. Both the cycle and the computer enjoyed their own kind of mechanical “day of rest.” I was tempted to pack up the bike and ride back from my niece's home in northern Buncombe County but other duties kept that from happening. As it turned out, the call of “nap time” was stronger than the call to ride yesterday. Maybe all that turkey and dressing had something to do with it…

Cycling wasn’t far from my thoughts though as the “Wood-man”, Ron-Jon, and I kept a cycling thread of conversation going throughout the meal. We discussed various routes we could have taken back home had we but brought our bikes. Some discussion about Italian frames and component parts was interspersed with the remarks about the dressing and a new broccoli-onion-sunflower seeds-raisin salad my wife brought to the table.

Recent Rides…

Our outstanding November weather continued right up to the cold front that made its way into Western North Carolina yesterday, which allowed me get in a couple more good lunch time rides. Both rides included parts of NC 209 from my office and parts of Iron Duff Road. On the first road, I enjoyed some time on Riverside Drive that runs along the Pigeon River before making my way back up Iron Duff Road to the “triangle” and on back to my office. One aspect of riding in Haywood County is that on almost ANY ride, you are going to pass a local church.


(Crabtree Baptist Church)





and the attendant cemetery.




(Crabtree Baptist Church cemetery)

My second ride of the week took me across Coleman Mountain and to the intersection of US 276 on Jonathan Creek. I needed to get some climbing in that day and Coleman Mountain offers up some decent climbing over the course of .75 mile or so to an elevation of 3054’ with a maximum 10% grade. At it’s peak, Coleman Mountain Road sits above what is now a relatively quiet I-40 due to the ongoing closure of the interstate due to a massive rock slide.

After a nice long descent that was cool and resulted in “goose bumps” on this day, I intersected with US 276 and headed back south and east toward my office. This stretch of road initially served as a conduit from Business 19/23 to I-40 while segments of I-40 were being built many years ago. As such, the road was constructed to essentially interstate standards. With the opening of the section of I-40 connecting Jonathan Creek with Clyde, NC, US 276 became one great road for farmers to get their produce to market. Now that the valley is being taken over, first by trailer parks and now developments on the mountain sides surrounding Jonathan Valley, traffic is more commuter in nature. Still, it is a fine road that is generally flat and good for practicing spinning or just enjoying a fine ride on a warm day. Headwinds can occasionally present some barriers but this day was just a fine spin up the valley.

JCreekInter01(Intersection of Coleman Mountain Road and US 276 – northwest view) 


(Jonathan Creek remains agricultural in nature despite surrounding developments)

ColemanMtnRd(The end of Coleman Mountain Road as it intersects US 276)

Some last thoughts on the assault of an Asheville cyclist…

I’ve been following the recent case in Asheville, NC where an individual stopped a cyclist and his family because he felt compelled to educate the parents on the dangers of cycling for their child. In the end, the citizen pulled a gun, fired at the cyclist and the bullet went through the cyclist’s helmet. (You can read more details on my earlier posts.) My points today really concern the aftermath of the conviction and the dialog that has ensued in the local papers and, for that matter, nationally.

Dave Moulton, writing in his November 23rd post, did a very good job of addressing the ongoing rhetoric in similar events. While he was not, to my knowledge, speaking directly of the Asheville incident, his points that we accomplish nothing for cyclists by inflaming the situation with useless polarized rhetoric were well taken and timely to this situation. To be painfully honest, the responses both locally and nationally ON BOTH SIDES of the debate have been, for the most part, less than intelligent. Somehow the situation in Asheville got tied into the tragedy at Fort Hood, our trust of law enforcement personnel, “the cancer of cyclists” etc, etc, etc… Again, there was enough stupidity in the public dialog to make one wonder how we ever expect to resolve our differences.

I am not naive enough to believe that we will ever resolve all of our differences but I would sure like to see some reasonable conversation about how we can avoid similar situations such as the Asheville incident or the Mandeville Canyon incident in the future. For the record:

  • The now convicted FELON was not then nor is he now representative of all law enforcement or firefighter personnel or military personnel. He was and is a lone individual, who took it upon himself, to act stupidly and dangerously. He is not to be glorified nor is he to become the face of negative law enforcement and cyclist interactions. (he wasn’t even law enforcement to begin with…)
  • The actual VICTIM could have helped avoid the situation by continuing to spin on and not have approached the assaulter, if in fact, that is what happened. The actual news reports were never really clear on this point.
  • Anyone who thinks Superior Court Judge Downs is a liberal judge should come on down, commit a crime, and ask to be sentenced by him. You might be surprised at how long you’ll get to review your decision courtesy of the penal system. The point here is that, at this time, nothing has been published that gives the details of how the plea bargain came about. Angered readers are responding based upon their SPECULATION about the personalities of those involved and not the facts of the case. Hopefully, the trial transcripts will be made public and we can all review the FACTS of the case. (I’m not defending the good Judge here, I’m just saying that his long time reputation is NOT one of giving out light sentences and that something that none of us knows about was at play in this case. The local District Attorney could have rejected the plea bargain and pursued the case with the same vigor that ADA Mary Stone did in the Mandeville Canyon case. Again, we aren’t privy to their decisions on this matter.)

So, I suppose that is enough of my “two cents” worth of conversation on the topic. I’m feeling the need to ride now… If you’re still reading at this point, please know that one of the things for which I am thankful this year is the ability to put some words together, float them out there, and have some folks read them!

Happy Holidays to All – cyclists and non-cyclists alike!

Until later,

- Zeke

Monday, November 23, 2009


As one might expect in this day and age, reaction to the recent conviction of former Asheville, NC city fireman Charles Diez has been fast, frequent and all over the place. Diez plead guilty to Assault With a Deadly Weapon With Intent To Kill. Diez was originally charged with First Degree Attempted Murder but a local Grand Jury returned indictments on the lesser charge.  The charges were a result of a July 26, 2009 incident in which Diez, off-duty at the time, pulled over the defendant and his family to castigate Alan Ray Simons for riding his child in what Diez felt was unsafe circumstances on a busy city street. The child was in an approved seat attached to Simons’s bike and his wife was following him on another bike at the time.

Judge James Downs sentenced Diez to 15 to 27 months in prison and suspended all but 4 months of the sentence. Additionally, Diez must serve 30 months on probation, conform to a curfew, and complete anger management courses. Diez lost his job with the Asheville City Fire Department on August 8th.

Local responses range from seeing Diez as a “public servant doing his job” and now being frivolously prosecuting to outrage that such a “light sentence was handed down” for such a grievous offense. An increasing number of responses are taking issue with what the writers see as too much focus on Diez’s profession and thereby impugning all firefighters. One or two writers have noted that of 5 witness accounts only one supported the defendant’s contention that Simons reached into his car and grabbed his shirt thus putting him in fear for his life. The one witness to present this perception was apparently Diez himself.

One local columnist, John Boyle,  addressed the issue in his posting today (November 23rd). To view his comments and related remarks, CLICK HERE!

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the benefit of our own local attorney DJWheels, a cyclist and attorney in Los Angeles, in the courtroom each day as was the case in the Mandeville Canyon case in Los Angeles. It is unclear to me what machinations went on behind the scenes to result in the sentencing. Having worked in the Court system for a number of years throughout my career, I know that the Presiding Superior Court Judge, James Downs, does not carry the reputation of giving out light sentences. The opposite is actually the case.

In the aftermath of the verdict, I’m left with some ongoing questions that, of course, will probably never be answered:

  • Accepting that Diez was trained in the use of firearms, as evidenced by his military service, and even IF Simons approached him, reached into his vehicle and grabbed his shirt, where the heck did Diez think his bullet was going to end up on that day? Tunnel Road is a very busy highway with many businesses surrounding it and a stray bullet could easily have hit an uninvolved citizen causing injury or death.
  • What are the odds that an unarmed cyclist would knowingly reach into a vehicle grab a man’s shirt all the while staring at a loaded gun pointed at him or her?
  • Why was Diez, a firefighter on this occasion and not a policeman, exercising police powers of stopping a citizen?  He had no authority based in law to be pulling over anyone for riding a bicycle or probably for much of anything else.  Don’t even deal with the fact that Diez allegedly admitted on the stand that he knew Simons was not breaking the law when he accosted him.
  • Is there any possibility that any good can come of this sordid event? Similar to the Mandeville Canyon case, one would hope that the opportunity to develop some public education around the need to share the road and tolerance for others ON BOTH SIDES of the debate would come of this. The cynic in me doubts it will happen though because, in so many areas of our lives, we rarely seem to demonstrate tolerance toward others who are “marching to a different drum.” On the other hand, I am an optimist and see the good work of others sharing and helping every day so hope does spring eternal that maybe one day we’ll get it together.

Ah well, stay tuned! I’m certain there will be more!

Until later,

- Zeke

Thursday, November 19, 2009


WLOS news in Asheville, NC is reporting that former Asheville Fireman Charles Diaz has plead guilty to assaulting a cyclist in the summer of 2009. The assault occurred when Diaz pulled over an Asheville cyclist and his family “out of concern” for the safety of the couple’s child, whom they were carrying in an approved seat on their bike.  The confrontation escalated to the point where Diaz fired his gun at the cyclist. The bullet pierced the helmet of the victim.

For further information, CLICK HERE!

The Asheville Citizen report on November 20th may be found HERE!

Until later,

- Zeke

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today looked to be and was forecast to be the last day before the rains arrived in Western North Carolina. We are facing increasing cloudiness as the day goes on with a 30% chance of rain appearing late this afternoon. One of the aspects of blogging and reading other blogs that I enjoy is seeing how the weather moves mostly from northwest to southeast this time of the year and, more importantly how it affects riding across the country.

The weather that we are getting this afternoon and tomorrow is the system that Tracy, The Springfield Cyclist, was writing about yesterday in his November 16th post. The weather that we’re beginning to get will probably make its way overnight to Fayetteville, NC, which is the home of Jim Artis and his blog Cycling Experiences. So, Tracy’s rain in Missouri yesterday is likely to be my rain today in the mountains of Western North Carolina and we’ll send the whole system on down to Jim in Fayetteville for his Wednesday and Thursday adventures.

As good riding days are beginning to get numbered now, I made sure to take advantage of getting out for a lunch ride today. The ride started under partly cloudy skies and temps in the low 60’s. It was quite pleasant although a fairly significant headwind made itself known at different times today. I’m sure the wind is pulling in the moisture.

As I was riding solo today, I decided for a mix of rural roads with some decent moderate to more significant climbs. My initial route took me across Howell Mill Road out to Business 19 and then back to Francis Farm Road. FFR is a very pretty rural two lane road that runs by the Francis family properties. The Francis family is one of the oldest families in the county and have been influential in the development of Haywood County.

Nov17_FrancisFrmRd_01 (Looking west across Francis Farm Road)

There is one mild to moderate climb on FFR followed by a short descent to Ratcliffe Cove Road. Today, I chose to head back toward town proper so I turned right and took another mild climb before dropping down to the intersection of Raccoon Road. Traffic was very light today and I had large segments of the road to myself to enjoy.

After traversing Raccoon and making a quick turn onto US 276 and then back left onto Crymes Cove Road, I started the most significant climb of the day. Crymes Cove has a 12% to 13% grade for about .75 mile. Climbing this little hill will definitely get your heart rate and respiration rates up! Crymes Cove Rd. terminates in Country Club Drive and yet another climb. Unfortunately, this was my nemesis for the day. I made it just short of the gap before my legs turned to noodles. I dropped into a residential driveway to rest my weary legs and let my heart rate return to something approximating normal. I must have looked worse than I felt because the nice owner came out to see if I was having a heart attack! I assured her I was fine (in between gulps of air) and just needed to catch my breath. I told her I didn’t feel like wobbling over in front of a car or truck in the oncoming lane. After a moment or two, well maybe three, I clipped back in and crossed over the remaining part of the hill.

Shortly thereafter, I had travelled past Waynesville Commons, home of the Wal-Mart Super Store, and was spinning up Hyatt Creek toward the last climb of the day. Hyatt Creek is another one of those 2 lane rural roads that climb up a watershed and through a gap dropping down into another valley. I had not ridden this road in years. What had been mostly small family farms seems to have been taken over by small independent businesses interspersed with the remaining small farms. The gap itself remains free of development.


(Looking south toward the Balsams through Hyatt Creek Gap)









(Back where I came from – looking northeast through the gap…)

After passing through the gap, I crossed over the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway and connected with Old Balsam Road. Turning east takes you back to town and onto South Main St. Traffic was definitely busier around the Waynesville Commons area. I then followed Brown Avenue back to Boyd Avenue and then to Main Street before returning to my office for the rest of the work day.

Before getting to Main Street, I had one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moments. I was sitting at an intersection keeping an eye on fairly heavy traffic moving from left to right plus several cars waiting to pull across my lane of traffic as well. The lead car dead across from me kept sitting there and I’m thinking they were afraid to try and get out into the main stream of traffic. The glare on the windshield prevented me from seeing what the driver’s intent was so I simply sat there rather than making a move that might end up getting me crunched. I wasn’t fully up to the intersection so I expected the traffic would go ahead, make their turns, and clear out. Finally, the car across from me blows there horn and I could detect a motion of both arms of the driver being held up in frustration (apparently with me!) . The driver had been waiting to see what I was going to do! Oh well, better safe than sorry I suppose. I wonder if I’ll get branded as one of those rogue cyclists that never follow traffic rules!

On a more pleasant note!

In my most recent post, I wrote of the 18th Annual Haywood County Motorcycle Parade and Toy Run, which was held this past Saturday. My friend Jim Artis, graciously picked up the story and carried it forth on his blog. Please check out Jim’s account of the events by visiting Cycling Experiences.

I was also pleased to see that EcoVelo selected my image of “Big Ben and the Tobacco Barn” for display in their currently running photo contest. I doubt I’ll win anything but it is nice to see Ben’s smiling face on-line. Visit EcoVelo to see some incredible photography from some real pros and accomplished amateurs. (I don’t qualify as either..) Scroll down to the November 16th images to see “Da Man” in all his Southern Appalachian glory!

Until later and after the coming rain!

- Zeke

Monday, November 16, 2009


So the weather is supposed to be incredibly gorgeous for mid-November and 2000 of your closest friends are coming to town. What’s a guy to do….? Well, you could have a 2 wheeled cycle rally. Yep, that’s what’ll happen! Except this 2 wheeled weekend of a different sort has been in the planning stages for 11 months and 29 days.

My BIcycling time took a definite hit this past weekend but my MOTORcycling time got a big boost. Well, actually MY motorcycling time didn’t increase because I was rushing back and forth carting tables, toys, and other goodies during our 18th Annual Haywood County Motorcycle Parade and Toy Run. As two of the event coordinators for all 18 of the parade’s years, my wife, Kathy, and I got to spend Friday and Saturday with 2000 of our “closest” friends enjoying another successful fund raiser for the children of Haywood and Buncombe Counties.

18th Annual Haywood County Motorcycle Parade and Toy Run

The weather truly could not have been better. It was a phenomenal day in the mountains of Western North Carolina in November. Heck, this was a phenomenal weather day if it had been September! We had gorgeous blue skies and temperatures in the mid-70’s. It actually got quite warm and riders started shedding layers of leather and cordura. (It was a family event so not TOO many layers of clothing got shed.)

In all 1016 bikes and 2000 folks enjoyed the law enforcement escorted parade through all 4 towns of Haywood County before ending up at the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley. The Museum is an incredible gathering of two wheeled machines that draws thousands of visitors to the small mountain town of Maggie Valley each year. Curator, Dale Walksler, spent lots of time giving rides on his 1918 Harley Davidson and side car to kids and probably a few adults as well.

We served up 450 lbs of barbecue and over 40 cases of cold drinks. Participants got to enjoy the music of the Rafe Hollister Band as they performed pro bono for the charity event. When final totals are in, we expect to have raised another $14,000.00 in cash and another full Salvation Army Truck load of toys bringing the 18 year old event over the $100,000.00 mark for distribution to local charities serving children.

Lest I forget this is a BIcycling blog, I’ll be happy to point out the presence of a bicycle at the event. They say a picture is worth a thousand words…


Now, I get to return my attention to the self-powered 2 wheel vehicle of my dreams… Here’s hoping for one more day of good weather before the rains return!

Until later,

- Zeke

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Haywood County, NC resident George Ivey has recently had his first novel published. The literary effort focuses on the main character Peter Bailey, a Charleston, SC native, who moves to the Southern Appalachian Mountains to save a river. The plot includes twists and turns as things don’t quite go the way Bailey first envisioned. Cycling has a prominent role in the book as Bailey often turns to his bike for stress relief and strength in times of disquiet. Of course, his appearance in cycling kit in the local mountain convenience store is a topic of some discussion as well.

Up River Front Cover

Ivey, who himself is a cyclist and recently finished a 8 day ride from north to south on the Natchez Trace, captures the mood and issues involved with being an “outsider” moving into what is typically a closed culture. Ivey is the former Director of the “Friends of the Smokies” and is now a private consultant to non-profit agencies both locally and internationally. He is a member of the BICYCLEHAYWOODNC advisory council and a Waynesville Rotarian.




For more information on Up River, visit

The book may be purchased locally in Waynesville, NC at Blue Ridge Books or Osondu’s Book Store, both located in downtown Waynesville, NC.




Until later,

- Zeke

Monday, November 9, 2009


It seems by Bro Dave had as great a day riding on Sunday as I had. The weather sounded equally great in the Los Angeles area. Bro Dave was impressed with one of the riders in his small group – 8 year old Desmond. He reported that Desmond kept up with him and Desmond’s Dad, Rob, throughout their single track adventure.

This morning Rob was kind enough to send along an image of Desmond with Bro Dave on his crank forward.

Dyount_singletrack(Hmm, whose keeping up with whom?)

Here’s to some great fall riding on both coasts and all points in between!

Until later,


- Zeke

Sunday, November 8, 2009


It is Sunday evening and I’m sitting before the computer wrapping up the week of riding, writin’, and rememberin’… This week has been incredible here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. We’ve been blessed with clear blue skies, excellent riding temperatures, and some outstanding views from the seat of the bike. Heck, we’ve had outstanding views pretty much from every seat I’ve been in this week! I must be living in a dream world. Five days without rain this summer and fall is practically unheard of this year.

Today’s ride was another one of those peak experiences. The “Wood-man” and I headed out mid-day for what he titled “an easy spin and ride.” When all was said and done, we’d climbed 2160’ in elevation over the course of 10.5 miles out of our 23.24 little spin. We’d averaged a 4% gradient increase over the course of the ride with a maximum of 12% grade as we summitted the backside of “Madam Rush Fork.” (I’ve previously expounded upon my travails and successes of climbing the sunny side of “Madam Rush Fork”. You can see those entries by clicking on the links below:

Yep, today was a easy spin and cycle day in the Wood-man’s world! We started off at the Haywood Cafe at the intersection of I-40 and NC 209. The Cafe was cooking (pun intended) with the post-Church families beginning to polish off their meals. Given that I-40 is shut down, it was good to see the local business still supporting the Cafe. We then followed Iron Duff Road west through some pretty agricultural areas. This section of the ride is mostly a descent to the Pigeon River as it makes its way to Tennessee through the gorge.

IronDuff_Countryside01(Iron Duff Road dropping down to the Pigeon River)

We crossed over the river and turned southwest on Panther Creek. This is dairy country! The road runs through numerous dairy farms with all of their attendant images and olfactory experiences! It also runs along a beautiful piece of the river that is below I-40.

FinesCrk_River01(Panther Creek Road on a beautiful sunny fall day!)

One nice side benefit of I-40 being closed is the quiet. Normally, you would hear traffic sounds from above as you traverse this section of road. Today, you could hear the sounds of nature. This truly was an easy spin section and the “Wood-man” and I enjoyed pedaling along the river on a gentle descent. You really just needed to spin the crank enough to stay upright!

Panther Creek ends with a very short climb up to the intersection of Fines Creek Road and the Fines Creek exit off of I-40. Given the silence of the trucks, I wanted a picture on I-40. After all, how many times do you really get to stand in the middle of a major interstate highway on your bike and not get killed?

FinesCrk_I40closed01(Zeke ponders the question “Where did all the traffic go?”)

(Warning! non-Professional stunt man shown here. Do not try this at home.) 


(I-40 west bound… Yep, it really, really is closed!)

After returning to Fines Creek Road, we made our way back northeast toward the intersection of Fines Creek Road and NC 209. Along this segment, you pass by the oldest church in Haywood County, the former Fines Creek School, and more dairy farms. The former Fines Creek School is now home to multiple community events including the very popular Fines Creek Bluegrass Festival held in August of each year.

We passed several vehicles, with out of state license plates, today and the drivers had puzzled looks on their faces. A couple were pulled over looking at maps. We guessed that they had missed an important turn on the trip to Tennessee and points west. In their current direction of travel, they were just going to run into barricades at the I-40 on-ramp.

The “highlight” of the day for me began at the intersection of Fines Creek Road and NC 209. This is the beginning of the climb up “Madam Rush Fork” on the north side. “Wood-man” and I had already had one serious climb along the Panther Creek Road so I was eager to see what strength my legs had left. I positioned myself on “Wood-man’s” rear wheel and kept my head down. I’ve ridden this road many times on my Harley but this was to be my first ‘person powered” 2 wheeled climb. “Wood-man” had been telling me that the north side ascent was easier than the southern ascent. I had trouble settling my mind on this fact as I recall the uphill runs on the Harley. Nevertheless, this was one more self-imposed challenge I was eager to experience.

I discovered or, at least fooled myself into believing, that if I kept my head down and focused only on the distance between his rear wheel and my front wheel, I was really riding on level ground. Never find the contradictory messages being sent from my legs to my brain. Hey, this is easy! Well, O.K., I believed that briefly anyway. Again, I was living in a dream world…

RushFrk_NorthSideClmb01(The summit is in sight!)

Truth be told though, the northern ascent was easier and we did make it. I stayed on my middle ring and held on to the “Wood-man’s” rear wheel and sure enough we popped through that gap at the top of “Madam Rush Fork” at a heart beat escalating 10 mph. The long rapid descent that followed was merely icing on the cake.

Final thoughts…

Today was simply one of those great days. Maybe I was delusional or maybe the endorphins were really kicking in. It doesn’t really matter. It was a great day to be out on 2 wheels in the company of a good friend and a cyclist, whom I admire greatly. If it gets any better than this, my brain may explode…

Until later,

- Zeke

Friday, November 6, 2009


This week has been an outstanding week for getting some rides in at lunch. The skies have been clear, some color from the fall season remains, and the temperatures have been just cool enough to energize you initially and just warm enough to break a good sweat during the ride.


UpperCrabtree01 (Upper Crabtree Road – Thursday lunch ride.)

I was joined on my Thursday ride by Big Ben, who is in the process of building a new home and changing work schedules. His riding time has been cut short lately so he was eager to take advantage of this new riding schedule to get some miles under his saddle. I could tell he was eager to ride as he set a pretty good warm-up pace as we left the busier town streets behind us. He was also wearing his snazzy new bibbed cycling tights. (How much that added to his eagerness to ride is unknown to me although he did say he “really, really liked them!”)

We headed out our favorite north Haywood County road NC 209 and turned into the Upper Crabtree section. This departure from NC 209 comes at about the 11 mile marker from my office. The road is a gentle 2 lane route through some beautiful agricultural land. Traffic is typically fairly light and the drivers in the area have always been courteous to me as we ride along. The road travels 5 miles up the cove before the pavement terminates. It is mostly river grade with a slight incline until about the 4th mile and then you get some mild to moderate increase in the grade.

We were enjoying the “spin and chat time” as we headed up the road past barns, churches, and livestock. I spotted our favorite Australian Blue Heeler as we went up the road and warned Big Ben to be on the look-out as we descended. I know well that this 4 legged “pal” likes to try and herd us as we go by. Sure enough, we rounded the curve on our way out of the cove and here he came! Knowing he was headed our way made it easy to avoid him and we were by him in a jiffy.

Upper Crabtree_Zeke(Zeke on the way up the cove)

Mother Nature had “treated” us to a 10 to 15 mph headwind on the way out of town making the ride out a pretty good workout. Once in the cove, the winds had abated somewhat. We were hoping that “Mom” would keep her winds blowing in the same direction when we made our way back to the office.

On the way out, I noticed the early afternoon sun was shining upon an old tobacco barn just right and asked Big Ben for a proper pose to go with it. I mean after all, he had on those snazzy new riding tights!

UpperCrabtree_BigBen02(Big Ben and the new riding tights!)

As you can see, he granted my request and helped me grab this little shot of Southern Appalachia culture. I liked this photo and have submitted it to EcoVelo’s current photo contest. We’ll see if it gets selected for a submission.

Our ride back to town continued in a very pleasant manner and the tailwind we were hoping for granted us some speedy times back. Lots of folks were out enjoying the fall weather at Lake Junaluska as we traversed South Lakeshore Drive. Big Ben and I parted ways near town as he headed to meet his contractor and I headed back to my desk. Another day and another great 28 miler was complete.

Check it out…

My friend and fellow blogger, Jim Artis, is working on quite the little project. Jim is known for his attention to detail in all of his projects. Check out his latest at CYCLING EXPERIENCES.

Here’s hoping that your riding conditions are great this coming weekend and beyond!

Until later,

- Zeke

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Yesterday’s new ride schedule, resulting from the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST), provided me the opportunity to get out around mid-day and enjoy the bright sunshine and cooler temps of the season. The fall season gave me the opportunity to contemplate the differences between “crisp” and “brisk”. The day also gave me the opportunity to become more aware of roadside bounties.

My first ride on the new schedule turned out to be solo, which simply continues a recent pattern. I left my office sharply on time at High Noon with the hopes of getting in at least 20 miles before needing to return to work. With the end of DST, High Noon is truly High Noon now and not really 11:00 a.m. The weather was beautiful with crystal clear blue skies and a temperature in the low 60’s. Traffic was moderately heavy as folks tried to get out and about on their lunch breaks. 

Not only did I depart sharply at High Noon but, I must say, I was sharply dressed in my fall riding outfit. About the only articles NOT Pearl Izumi were my helmet and my heart monitor. Otherwise, I could have been the “Pearl Izumi Man” – not to be confused with the Marlboro Man. I was a walking billboard in my Pearl Izumi shirt, my Pearl Izumi bibbed knickers, and my Pearl Izumi socks and gloves. Oh yeah, one other non-Pearl Izumi item was my Specialized shoes. (Full disclosure: I am not now nor have I ever been paid as a shill for Pearl Izumi.)

This brings me, in a round-about, manner to the contemplation of “crisp” vs. “brisk.” I had calculated that my aforementioned outfit sans jacket would suffice to keep me warm in the low 60’s yesterday. After all, I had on longer shorts and full length sleeves made with a warmer material. Well, as I started out from my office I discovered that I was riding along in “crisp” air.  In fact, I was downright cool! I began to question the wisdom of my calculations. Fortunately, after 5 to 8 minutes of easy spinning, my body temp went up and I found myself to be quite comfortable. A few miles later as I was climbing Poison Cove Gap in the noon day sun, I was breaking a sweat and downright hot.

Once I topped the Gap and headed downhill on the non-sun side of the mountain, my sweat and the cool air at 35 mph served to bring my temperature down quite a bit over the next mile descent. Still, I quickly hit flat ground and warmed right back up and remained that way as I pedaled along the Pigeon River to my next climb on Hyder Mountain. This was my second climb over this gap that, according to my VDO Z1 bike computer has a 12% grade at the top, and is still a breath robbing experience for me. Again, I was well above “crisp” as I topped out at Fincher’s Chapel and headed downhill again.

A short time later having returned to Lake Junaluska via NC 209, I was reminded of just how “brisk” the weather can get on South Lakeshore Dr. A wind had kicked up and the waves in the lake were just short of white capping. Lots of citizens were out walking and exercising their dogs on the walking path. South Lakeshore drive is obviously on the south side of the lake. Hmm – south you say – must be warm! Not so fast! South Lakeshore Dr. lies in the shadow of a mountain and, for the most part, doesn’t see the sun this time of year and will not see it again until next spring when ‘Ol Sol returns to a higher arc in the sky. Yesterday, with the wind blowing and being in the shade, I moved from riding in the “crisp” fall air to riding in the “brisk” fall air. So, I deduced that the difference in “crisp” and “brisk” is about 8 degrees and a 5 to 10 mile an hour wind in the shade! Tomorrow’s ride, with temps forecast only to reach 55 degrees may add to my new definition of “brisk”! I have a feeling that I’ll be more warmly dressed tomorrow in yet another set of fine, fine Pearl Izumi clothing!


The final leg of my ride covers a portion of Howell Mill Road, which is a two lane road connecting Business 23on the east side of town and Russ Avenue on the north side of town. With the leaves vacating their places on the tree limbs and vegetation, in general, beginning to take on brown hues, I noted quite a bit of new color in the form of roadside detritus that I’ve been overlooking.


It seems that the good folk using this road, as well as most roads, prefer the “dump as you go” method of recycling. For some reason, I was struck yesterday with how much trash was in this one short section of road.




Howell Mill is actually a rather picturesque little back road. It is on the short list to be widened and expanded in the near future. We’re all hopeful that bike lanes will be part of that process!

HowellMill01    (Howell Mill Road going east)

HowellMill02(Howell Mill Road going west) 

I know every community has its share of litter. I keep wondering when we’re all going to “get it” and quit spoiling the views for others and creating roadside dump sites. I keep hoping that, as a people, we’re smarter than this…

Until later,

- Zeke