Sunday, December 27, 2009


What may have been my last ride of the calendar year for 2009 managed to get me to my personal mileage goal of 1000 miles. Yesterday morning, December 26th, I perused the extended weather forecasts for the rest of the calendar year and determined, based upon what I read, that yesterday was likely to be the best remaining riding day of the calendar year. While I was ready to hope for more, I didn’t want to miss out on a chance to get in that last ride needed to get to my personal goal of having ridden 1000 miles this year. Given that I am recently returned to riding a bike of the self-powered type after a 27 year absence, I realize that I’m still building my cycling “chops” and that 1000 miles is a mere drop in the bucket to so many seasoned riders.

I returned to cycling in the spring of 2008 and totaled 520 miles for the remainder of that year. My condition was so poor those first rides that I could barely do 3 miles. In fact, on my first ride from my office to my LBS (RollsRite), I had to stop during the roughly 1 mile ride in order to catch my breath and let my heart rate drop. Fortunately, conditioning returned fairly quickly and I was doing much better by mid-summer of 2008.

I felt like I really reached another level of cycling beginning in July 2009 when I topped 100 miles in the month for the first time. Since then, I’ve been pleased to continue increased mileage and having found some climbing legs somewhere along the line. I managed to ascend a number of climbs in my local area that I would never have believed I could do. With some good guidance and encouragement from the “Wood-man”, “Big Ben”, “Cross-country Stan” and “Bro Dave”, I found new joy in climbing.

So, what will the mileage goal be for 2010? Should I go for double again, which would be 2000 miles in 2010 or shoot for 3000 miles. That would only be an average of 60 miles a week for roughly 50 weeks. Seems doable…

The goal reaching ride…

I left for my office in town mid-day yesterday to get my bike and start the final ride. I was looking forward to trying out my new Navara Stratos jacket. I layered up nicely (Under Armour turtle neck for a base layer topped by my Pearl Izumi winter weight bibbed riding pants, followed by a Pearl Izumi winter weight cycling jersey, and the Stratos. I also had on a Harley Davidson fleece neck wrap and a Pearl Izumi skull cap. On my hands were Pearl Izumi winter gloves.) I started out from my office avoiding the remaining snow clumps and discovered in about .2 miles that I didn’t have on a helmet! I had so much other stuff on I hadn’t even noticed the missing lid. So, I turned around and headed back to the office for said helmet.

After that little disruption, I headed out again only to discover that my bike computer wasn’t working properly. I wasn’t registering any mileage or speed data. So…. I pull over to the side of the road in a bank parking lot, removed my gloves, and started resetting my bike computer. Finally, I seemed to have everything working and was able to hit the road again. My primary goal was to get in enough miles to meet my 1000 threshold. I wasn’t particularly interested in climbing or finding new things to climb. Given a starting temperature of 42 degrees, it took just a bit longer to warm up than usual.

Once warmed though, I headed out of town to NC 209 hoping that the roads were clear enough for both me and normal traffic. I quickly discovered that the road salt and grime was coating me and my Fuji CCR3. Normally, I ride the gutter along NC 209 but not this day. It was full of snow/ice chunks and gravel that had been spread by the NC DOT as they made the roads passable. So, I shared the actual lane of travel with trucks and cars alike. I was even forced to ride somewhat closer to the middle than normal because of the impediments to travel along the roadside.

Upon reaching Hyder Mountain Road, I left NC 209 behind and began a more leisurely run along the Pigeon River. It was running at full capacity given the recent heavy rains and ongoing snow melt. I stopped for a couple of pictures along the way.

Dec26_PigeonRiv01(The snow has melted nicely in places touched by the sun.) 

Following Hyder Mountain Road into Clyde and then just beyond town brought me to a turnout alongside a large pasture. Remnants of the recent snowfall were still very much in evidence.


(No kickstand needed!)









(Snow covered field looking north from Clyde, NC)

While returning to NC 209 via Old Clyde Highway, I was passed by multiple Haywood County Sheriff’s and eventually ended up with a N.C. State Trooper riding, at a safe distance, on my rear wheel. He had multiple opportunities to pass me in straight sections of the road and I was riding as far to the right as was possible. When I came to an intersection, I pulled off to let him by and discovered that he had been holding back about 4 other vehicles. I let them all pass before resuming my return trip.

At Lake Junaluska, I came across the coldest and snowiest portions of the ride. The road on South Lakeshore Drive has a northern exposure and doesn’t see the sun this time of year. Snow that had been scraped to the side remained there and snow that hadn’t been scraped remained on the road. The temperatures here were in the mid-30’s.


(South Lakeshore Drive, Lake Junaluska, NC)


(Zeke in cold weather riding attire)

Once back in the sun, I warmed up and made it back to my office in fine fashion  having accomplished one of several goals for this calendar year. 1000 miles was now under my belt. I celebrated by giving my bike a quick “bath” in the office bathtub to get all of the road salt and grime off of sensitive places. I figured “she” had taken care of me this year so I’d better return the favor!

Until later,

- Zeke

Saturday, December 26, 2009


We are now 5 days into our trip toward the 2010 longest day of the year and 4 days away from a new calendar year when mileage and other goals get reset for the coming year. December in Western North Carolina has been interesting to say the least. After a very favorable fall riding season that lasted well into late November and early December, Mother Nature brought the end of the year to a climax with the snowfall of December 19th. While our snowfall amounts (14” to 23”) probably wouldn’t faze the upper mid-westerners or other parts of the country used to larger amounts, it did put some serious kinks in travel and holiday plans for thousands of folks in this area.

Today, Saturday December 26th, looks to be the best road cycling day left in this calendar year so I hope to get in a good ride later this afternoon. Our extended forecast calls for chances of snow each of the days through New Year’s. Skinny tires and snow/ice don’t seem to be a good match… I’ll get to try out my snazzy new Novara Stratos Jacket from REI that my “better half” gifted me with yesterday.

IMG_2730 (That’s a 17’ tall variegated Dieffenbachia over my left shoulder.) 

The jacket adds a much needed outer layer of warmth to my riding outfit. I’ve been using a many layered approach thus far, which relied upon a 3 season Pearl Izumi wind breaking jacket to cut the cold air. This new addition should help keep my core temps up and help with warmer extremities. I ordered a pair of Pearl Izumi AmFIB Shoe Covers from Nashbar yesterday to take advantage of some holiday shopping sales.

Now I’ve got a Christmas tale to tell…

I think many of us grew up hearing the older generation talk about the hardships of getting to and fro in the snow or other complicated weather conditions. I know we used to hear  how our Dad “walked 5 miles in knee deep snow to get to school.” Of course, he heard it from his Dad and on down the line. Well, I never had to do that although I do recall when, as a youth, we used to REALLY have snow here in the mountains. The recent snowfall helped provide me with my own Christmas tale to be told in years to come if I can only get my nieces or others to listen.

Since my father’s death in 1995, my sister has graciously moved the Christmas Day traditions to her home. Understandably, my mother had difficulty, as did we all, those first few years after Dad’s passing with having any kind of celebration at her home. Christmas was especially difficult I think because he was so central to getting the day started. He always arose first, got a fire going, and started breakfast for the rest of us. His laughter and smiles filled the house with warmth and his delight in watching us kids open our gifts was joyous.

So, the trip to my sister’s for Christmas Day lunch as become part of the new traditions with the passing of our parents. Christmas Day 2009’s celebration was somewhat in doubt up until yesterday morning because we didn’t know if we could get near her home on the top of the mountain. The snowfall that had changed over to packed ice was a major barrier to getting up the road. We discussed the possibility that we might not make it this year.

However, very heavy rains beginning on Christmas Eve day helped to remove vast amounts of snow and actually made it possible for us to get to the bottom of her mountain. Along with the rain, 3 days of partial sunshine and improved temperatures had cleared much of her pastureland. The road, however, remained impassable. We could slip and slide out way to the bottom of the mountain in our 4 wheel drive Ford F-150 and my brother-in-law could get to the top of the steepest part of their road on his 4 wheel drive tractor. The plan was set – my “best half” and I would drive as far as possible and then hike to the tractor, which would then cart us the rest of the way up the mountain.

Once at the bottom of the hill, a quick look led me to believe it was much easier to hike the pasture than the road so we loaded up my Timbuk2 Messenger Bag and grabbed the cooler of food that we had prepared and set off on our climb. We startled the goats and sheep as we ascended the pasture to the drive leading to the house. Once at the top of the hill, we were pleased to see a gorgeous mountain snow scene as we looked back west toward Tennessee.

IMG_2734(The grasses of the meadow beginning to reemerge from the snow.) 

From the point where this picture was taken, it is only a short hop, skip, and a jump to the house. I was pleased to arrive at the house after having hiked through “my 5’ of snow to get to Christmas lunch.” Of course, it wasn’t really 5’ of snow at all but I bet it will be at least that much by the time I finish retelling the story of Christmas 2009 to my niece’s children someday…

IMG_2732(Zeke with Christmas Day provisions on “the Hike”)

Until later,

- Zeke

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I arose earlier than intended today, the day before Christmas. I guess I had achieved my maximum amount of needed sleep and was beginning to get those 56 year old body creaks and moans. I wanted my “better half” to get as much sleep as possible before she starts her annual “cookfest” for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals so I left, as quietly as I could, the warmth of our bed to get the first pot of today’s coffee brewing.

The day dawned without a cloud in the sky. As the sun first peaked over the right shoulder of Mt. Pisgah, I enjoyed seeing the birds beginning to populate the feeders for their morning meal. As far as I can see, the mountains and coves are still solid white from the recent snow storm. We still have 6” of snow on our deck after 3 days of melt. Another winter storm watch is currently in effect for areas to our immediate northeast. A small movement of the pending moisture to the west may easily result in some further snow for our area. Otherwise, we are predicted to have a rainy Christmas day. Of course, rain will melt the remaining snow and probably result in some local flooding as the watersheds drain to the creeks.

I’ve had to think and read more about riding than actually getting to ride since the storm. My Fuji CCR3 has remained safely ensconced in my office since the day before the storm. I had hoped to get out and get a ride in yesterday but simply walking to lunch from my downtown office is, in itself, an interesting adventure. The sidewalks are still piled high with snowfall remnants and that is topped by the snow scraped by town maintenance as they pushed snow to the side clearing the roads. Pedestrian traffic is still forced to walk along the edges of the roadways.

After a couple of days of this, I’ve decided that being a pedestrian is actually scarier than being on my bike. I have had the unnerving experience of actually looking into the eyes of the drivers as they come toward me too fast for conditions with their cell phones stuck to their ears with one hand and the other hand resting upon the steering wheel while holding a cigarette. As they approach closer, I realize that my presence isn’t registering with them so I begin to look for my escape routes. Fortunately, I’ve only been nearly clipped 3 or 4 times on my lunch walkabouts since Monday. I’m thankful that I haven’t found out what one of those protruding mirrors might feel like at 30 to 35 mph. On the cycle and trying to be a proper riding cyclist, I ride with the traffic and therefore don’t see what is coming up behind me. Being a pedestrian, I see what is coming and it sometimes scares me! It certainly always keeps me wary of my environment and that is a good thing. When riding, I try to adhere to the “Wood-man’s” philosophy: Ride so hard that if they hit you, you’ll want to say “thank ye for stopping my pain!

Another consideration for riding in the snow…

Thanks to Jim at Cycling Experiences for posting this link to some serious winter riding: He also has an interesting video link for some truly winter cycling. These whet my appetite for a mountain bike or alternative to my road bike so that I too could ride in the snow… Santa? Are you listening?

Just because I’m not riding doesn’t mean I can’t “flat”…

I consider myself to be fairly fortunate in that I’ve only flatted a couple of times this year and they’ve both been within quite reasonable distances from safe havens. The downside of that is that I’m still not accomplished at quickly changing a tube out. On Tuesday, I did have the unique (to me) experience of having a flat while sitting at my office desk! I noted that my front tire had lost its pressure so I whipped out my bike pump and quickly brought the tire pressure back up to the 110 lb psi that I try to maintain. Well, to say that I did it quickly is a mis-statement because nothing is quick with the bike pump I keep in my office. The pump accepts both Shraeder and Presta valves and is always a pain in the posterior to get it to work properly. At any rate, I pumped up the tire and returned to my desk. In about 10 minutes, I heard a whooshing of air coming from the bike and looked over just in time to see the front end of my bike drop down. I clearly had “flatted” while sitting 15 feet away from the bike!

When I pulled the tube, it had about a 4” opening where it appeared a seam had separated. I took the tube down the hall to a co-worker, who is bike wrench, and showed it to him. To MY surprise, he wasn’t at all surprised. He joined me in my office and while telling me about the general weaknesses of tubes, quickly took my replacement tube, installed it, pumped it up, and checked out the work all inside of two minutes AT MOST. Heck, it would have taken me 30 or 40 minutes to pull that off. So, in addition to creating some new mileage goals and hill climb goals for the 2010 riding season, I’m now resolving to learn to fix a flat as quickly as my co-worker pulled off. I do hope to accomplish this goal without having to have my own flats in the number required to get as good as he was at the procedure. Maybe my LBS will give me some “hands-on” experience!

The generosity of bikers still impresses me…

As the calendar year winds down, I find myself continuing to be impressed by and thankful for the generosity of bikers. I don’t just mean cyclists in this statement. I have a much longer and more intense relationship with MOTORcyclists than I do BIcyclists. I have many years of being involved with Toy Runs and other fund raising efforts with the gas powered 2 wheelers and have been proud to be part of those incredibly generous adventures. This year, in particular, I’ve been equally impressed with the good works and efforts of BIcyclists across the country. I continue to be amazed at the recent fund raising that occurred with the Fat Cyclist and I see numerous examples of cyclist generosity on the many blogs that I read each day. The uninformed public quite often bases their opinions of cyclists on the actions of the few scofflaw cyclists just as motorcyclists are often inappropriately judged by the behaviors of the rogue biker elements. Here’s hoping that 2010 can bring about more balanced perceptions and behaviors on the part of both the cycling and non-cycling interests.

I am also thankful that my “better half” is recovering nicely from bouncing her head off of the icy pavement on Monday. Thanks to those folks, who suggested that I stuff her stocking with a bike helmet and pair of crampons. I’ve been looking for ideas for those last minute shopping needs!

Until later,

- Zeke

Monday, December 21, 2009


…and that’s a good thing! We’re headed back toward more sunlight and more riding time. December 21st was a long day in many ways but not when counting sunlight hours. Tomorrow the sun will graciously rise slightly earlier and set slightly later marking the turn toward the longest day of the year, June 21st.

Since the winter storm blanketed our area this past Friday, I’ve discovered another benefit to cycling. The outstanding cardiovascular fitness that comes with riding also prepares you for… are your ready for it?… unlimited shoveling of snow! I’m pretty sure that I kept my max heart rate at no more than 150 bps during the long hours of shoveling that I’ve done since Saturday. Well, o.k., so it wasn’t long hours as in 10 or more hours but it was long enough for me – probably 3 hours anyway.

We started our shoveling extravaganza on Saturday when we couldn’t get back up the mountain to our house. The melting snow created a fine slush mixture that kept the tires from getting a grip even though 4 wheel drive was engaged. So, as we’ve done in the past, my “better half” and I shoveled out two paths for the truck to travel. We’d shovel awhile then make another run at it in the truck followed by shoveling further up the mountain when we drifted off the road. Ah, the joys of a beautiful white snowfall.

Today, I further worked on my slide, lift, toss technique while shoveling off a friend’s drive so he can get in tomorrow when he arrives for the holidays. Unfortunately, about as much snow would stick to the shovel as I would move so I was tossing a heavy weight on the end of a stick for much of the time. Still, that heart rate stayed down. Now, if my mid and lower back, my arms, and my upper back were in as good a condition as my legs and heart, I’d be in outstanding shape! Maybe two or three more snowstorms this year will get me in peak condition for the next riding season, which starts in only 9 more days! I’m somewhat surprised that I haven’t read about this form of off-season workout in any of the cycling mags that I read and I read a lot of them!

Unfortunately, with melting snow followed by temperatures dropping into the low teens comes ice of the very slippery nature. On the way to work this morning, we topped the gap on Waynesville Mountain and came upon a pick-up truck that had turned over. The youngish woman driving was still in the vehicle but couldn’t get out. After assisting another passerby in stopping oncoming traffic through the gap, we assisted the woman out of her truck through the high side window, which is normally the passenger window. Luckily for her, she was unscathed in the incident and did not appear to have any notable injuries or any altered cognition that might be the result of a head injury. In fact, her powers of observation were quite intact. As she sat upon the top of her overturned vehicle surveying the scene, she quickly stated, “Golly gosh, oh no, geez beans! My beer is all over the highway.” Sure enough, when she turned over, the contents in the rear of her pickup had disembarked. What looked to be two cases of UNOPENED beer was strewn all along the highway. Uh, seeing as I try to keep this “family sensitive”, I will point out she didn’t really say “Golly gosh, oh no, geez beans!” Her euphemism was somewhat stronger and led me to consider that her father may have been a sailor.

I suppose that nature had to find a way to balance itself today. Since the young woman didn’t get hurt in the wreck, Mother Nature must have decided to reach out and trip someone else up. Dagnabit – it had to be my “better half”. She was in the parking lot at her office attempting to strike a deal with a local man to scrape the parking lot when she fell and proved once again that icy pavement is harder than the human head. After a wonderfully short visit to the local ER and a CAT Scan, it was determined that she is o.k., not concussed, and will have one heck of a headache for a couple of days. She is home resting comfortably having had some of Dr. Zeke’s homemade soup that is guaranteed to fix what ails ye. I’m hoping I can talk her out of going to work tomorrow.  Oh yeah, I didn’t really say “dagnabit” and I know for a fact that my father was a sailor.

Until later,


Saturday, December 19, 2009


The snowstorm of 12/18/2009 has moved on out of Western North Carolina and left us with an incredibly beautiful morning – no power but a beautiful morning none the less.

SnoFall_121909_01 (The morning after – 14” of snow left a beautiful blanket of quiet)

We briefly had power before losing it again around 9:00 p.m. The snow had let up significantly by that point and it was peacefully quiet outside except for trees snapping off in the cove around us. We finally called it a night and bundled up after getting the dogs safely ensconced in their beds. The cats chose to act as foot warmers for us. The skies had begun to clear last night before we piled into bed and this morning dawned with low lying clouds on Cold Mountain and Mt. Pisgah topped off by brilliant blue skies.

P1012182(Cold Mountain looks to be really cold today!) 

Thanks to our generator, my “best half” is prepping for a ride into town and hopefully a warm meal. I must say that our 27th Wedding Anniversary yesterday was of a different variety than any from the past. I would rank it up there with one of the best!

SnoFall_121909_10(I don’t think we’ll be riding the Harley to that warm lunch!) 


Until later,


Friday, December 18, 2009


Somewhat earlier than predicted, the snow has started falling in Western North Carolina on this 27th Wedding Anniversary and 27th Date of Great Speechlessness as its known in the Gr8SmokiesZeke lair. When I checked at 4:30 a.m. this morning, there was just a light dusting of snow, which wasn’t predicted to get here until after noon. Now at 7:30 a.m., the snowfall has intensified and is beginning to accumulate. At 7:49 a.m., we have:

  • Temperature of 30.3 degrees
  • Dew Point of 28.3 degrees
  • Barometric Pressure of 30.67 and it is beginning to fall now indicating the storm center is moving our way.

Here are some beginning pictures to get us started on the day…






















It's time for that first cup of good coffee and to enjoy the snowfall. We’ll see how close to the total accumulation amounts the forecasters get. Late last night, they were calling for 3” to 6” in Waynesville. I just heard from the “Nickster” and he is reporting that Ray’s Weather Service is calling for upwards of 8” to a foot of snow now.

9:49 a.m. entry…

The snow continued until the last few minutes and we now have sleet mixing in with lighter snow. Our accumulation rate was about an inch per hour at one point although it has dropped off as I write now. After my fourth cup of “joe” , I note I’m typing faster… Here’s a couple of updated images.











Current temperature of 30.6 degrees

Current dew point of 39.3 degrees

Current barometric pressure of 29.99 and still falling


12:10 update…

A new band of moisture has moved into the area and the snowfall accumulation has increased to 4.5” at our house now. We appear to be in a long cylindrical band of moisture moving north from upstate S.C. with the heaviest moisture being in the Knoxville, TN area to our west-northwest. Latest images follow:











  • Current Temperature: 31.5 degrees
  • Current Dew Point: 30.5 degrees
  • Barometric Pressure: 39.86 and still falling…

For a nice video about Winter Cycling (stay with a theme here), visit Cycling Expreriences for today’s post.

16:53 hours update…

Power lost at 15:00 hours. Now running on generator power. Currently at 11” and counting. We made one run down the mountain to get gas for the generator. Had only 1 tree down over road that had to be cut up. Computer with weather station is down and won’t boot up again… Grrrr!

19:30 hours update…

Power has been restored and we are back on-line now. We now appear to be on the outer edge of the final moisture band for the day. Drier weather should be making its way into the area over the next couple of hours. We are at 13” inches with light snow falling. I just heard yet another tree snapping and breaking as I was checking the accumulation. Here are the final two pics of the day.










Thanks to all who followed the storm news today! We are predicted to get more snow tomorrow from the wrap-around moisture as the low moves off to the northeast although no particular further accumulation is expected. I have an idea the road bike will stay safe and sound tomorrow!

Until later,

- Zeke

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The students of MIT have released their latest research project in Copenhagen at the Climate Change Conference. They have developed a bicycle wheel that stores kinetic energy when braking and then releases the energy back to the rider when needed, say for example, on a long climb. Additionally, the wheel can even recognize your friends when they are around and track multiple data variables through an iPhone. I did not see mention of the RIM Blackberry platform or whether it would be included.  For more information, CLICK HERE!

For images of the wheel, CLICK HERE!

Maybe you can start dropping hints for a Christmas present for 2010!

Until later,

- Zeke

Monday, December 14, 2009


The local weather forecasters got this one right today. They predicted heavy fog in the morning followed by warming temperatures and clear skies by mid-day. Bingo! They hit it right on the head. We arose to freezing temperatures of 32 degrees and heavy fog, which led to the formation of black ice on our morning drive to work. For the second work day in a row (last Friday being the first), a vehicle failed to successfully negotiate the ice with the end result being a wreck that blocked both lanes of traffic on US 276 on the segment running from Bethel to Waynesville. We were stuck on the mountain about 30 minutes while they wrestled the offending and now bruised PT Cruiser out of the way so traffic could resume movement. Last Friday, the culprit was a tractor trailer that lost control on the ice as the truck was going up the mountain on the Waynesville side. That little jaunt ended up with a crane being set up in the south bound lane in order to pick up the trailer out of a ditch. One kind soul finally walked up the line of traffic and let everyone know it was going to be another hour before the road would be cleared. We were able to turn around and find an alternative route to work. What is typically an 8 mile drive over 12 minutes or so turned into a 40 minute drive after having waited 30 minutes in the wreck traffic.

At any rate, TODAY turned out, in the word of a Billy Crystal character, MAVELOUS, SIMPLY MAHVELOUS! At least the weather turned out that way… I could certainly tell that I had not ridden in a week! My legs were like dead weights as I started out at noon today. Despite having had a good massage last Friday, my back was still stiff. That along with having eaten poorly this morning kept me from getting into a comfortable rhythm to start the ride.

Fortunately, the good weather and pretty scenes along the route and about 5 miles of riding lubed all my joints up properly and I felt more comfortable on the bike. Initially, I was concerned that I was under-dressed for the weather but I turned out to have hit it just about right. I worked up a nice sweat pulling up Hyatt Creek Road and through the gap and then didn’t get too cold on the descent. After returning to town, I split off on Country Club Drive and managed a short climb over the ridge into the Ninevah section of town. I decided to climb Crymes Cove Road as I haven’t been over it in this direction before.

The “Woodman” had been telling me that it was a tougher climb from the Waynesville side and I do believe he was correct. The climb is longer than from the US 276 side and takes a steeper grade just under the summit. According to my bike computer, it hit a grade of 13% at that point. Fortunately, it was a short segment at the steepest grade. To add to the “fun” of the final climb, the road takes a sharp turn to the left at the top. Traffic coming from the other side would have difficulty spotting you as they top the hill and make what is for them a right hand turn. A little too much speed on their part and they would quickly be in the wrong lane of traffic. There is also a gravel driveway that connects to the road right below the summit. This always means loose gravel is going to be in the road. It is an issue for motorcyclists and bicyclists alike.

The remainder of the ride was mostly on flat ground and I found myself back at my office in short order today. I was happy to be back on the bike today. Our weather has been less than inviting for riding lately and that along with some Christmas gatherings has limited my time on the bike this past week. It looks like we’ve got rain and dreary cold weather moving back in for Tuesday and Wednesday so I’m hoping for a Thursday lunch ride now.

Bits and Pieces!

Congratulations to the Fat Cyclist and all members of Team Fatty for their unbelievable fund raising last week. What started out as a joke open letter from Elden (the Fat Cyclist) turned into a major fund raising effort for the LiveStrong Foundation and a separate bicycle related organization. To see those details, check out the Fat Cyclist by clicking the Fat Cyclist link above and scrolling to the 12/08/2009 entry. (I’d make the link go there but I’m having problems getting it to work today.)

Want to see some pretty sunrise images from the Ozarks as Jim rides to work this morning? CLICK HERE!

And finally, check out the rapidly growing SCEPTER project of my friend Jim at Cycling Experiences!

Until later,

- Zeke

Monday, December 7, 2009


In breaking news from Fayetteville, David “Blue Ridge” Yount was the winning pick in Cycling Experiences 100K contest. Jim Artis, blogmeister and owner of Cycling Experiences has been running a contest to see what date and time his blog would receive the 100,000th visitor. Well, that happened just moments ago.

Yount’s selected date of December 4th at 5:01.10 p.m. was the closest to the actual winning time. Yount donated his winnings of $100.00 to Artis’s favorite charity, which in this case turned out NOT to be moi but the Rails To Trails Conservancy – Southeast Region.


Now living in the Los Angeles area, Yount is a native of Waynesville NC where he was one of the last student athletes to letter in 4 sports at Tuscola High School. Following graduation, he matriculated at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC where he received a full football scholarship. He earned the starting wide receiver job as a freshman and held that position until a back injury cut short his playing career in his sophomore season. He completed his Communication Arts degree in 3 years and entered the field of cable TV communications following employment with WYFF in Greenville, SC where he travelled with the Clemson athletic teams.

Upon moving to Los Angeles with his wife Kimberly, he travelled the world shooting video and producing film for the Children’s Miracle Network. He later became head cameraman at the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles. He moved to the FOX network and worked in both the sports and children’s programming arenas until the birth of his daughter brought about a need for more family time. He continues to work with FOX in production and enjoys time spent with daughter Lizbeth and wife Kimberly. He spends time on the trails and in the hills near his home on his RANS Dynamik Crank Forward bicycle.

Good picking, my man!

Until later,

- Zeke

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Well, the snow event of December 5th didn’t really amount to much as it turns out – at least not here in Waynesville. It sure started out like we were going to get some accumulation. The “Best Half” and I enjoyed our morning coffee while watching horizontal snow and the bending of the big trees across from our house. At times, you couldn’t see across the cove and it reminded me of some blizzards during my collegiate career in Boone, NC at Appalachian State University. Alas, the precip moved on without much accumulation below 3000’.

I took the opportunity to get in a very brisk afternoon ride today. The temperature was at 39 degrees when I started and warmed up to a balmy 40 degrees as I pedaled around town. Per my bike computer, the temp dropped to 33 degrees at about 3000’ elevation as I crossed through Hyatt Creek Gap.

To combat the cold, I had on Under Armour pants and turtle neck shirt as a base layer, my heaviest pair of Pearl Izumi socks, my Pearl Izumi bibbed knickers with my Pearl Izumi winter weight cycling jersey topped off by my lighter weight Pearl Izumi wind jacket. I had on my Pearl Izumi winter weight gloves and could have used my silk gloves as an underlayment for my fingers. I had on a Pearl Izumi skull cap that covered my ears and my Harley Davidson fleece neck wrap, which covered my ears, mouth, and neck. Whew! I certainly could have used a heavier jacket. I’ve been looking at the Novaro Stratos Cycling Jacket at REI for winter riding. Maybe Santa will drop one by the Zekester’s homestead on his flyover this Christmas!

Dec06_CecilHyattCreekGap(Sitting in the gap at Hyatt Creek) 

The ride was pretty uneventful and I did not see a single other cyclist out today. I did enjoy a brief chat with a woman walking her dog on Hyatt Creek. We both agreed it was a good day to be out and about.

Dec06_HyattCreekGap (Hyatt Creek Gap looking south)


(Same location 2 weeks ago…)

After descending from the gap, I returned to town via Old Balsam Road and then made my way to Main St. via Brown Avenue. I extended my trip to get a few more miles in by staying on North Main and eventually intersecting with Howell Mill Road. While traversing Howell Mill, I noted again the amount of litter (mostly beer bottles/cans) that line the road. A new observation though was that there were multiple 6 packs of partially imbibed Bud Lite. I’m guessing that the route is taken by the same person frequently and they dump their unopened and opened beers in the same place each time. It is just too much coincidence that this much unopened Bud Lite keeps getting thrown along the same stretch of road.

I now have only 36 miles to go to reach my 1000 mile goal for this year. I’ve still got about 24 days to pull it off… If you’d like to see the map of today’s ride, CLICK HERE! 

P.S., I do not get paid or receive any remuneration from Pearl Izumi or any other company whose product I might mention here. I simply find these to be great products for me.

Until later,

- Zeke

Friday, December 4, 2009


Well, if the fine, fine forecasters haven’t jinxed us, we may get to see some of the white stuff over the next 24 hours. The National Weather Service has now issued a Winter Storm Warning (upgraded from a Watch earlier today) and are calling for 3” to 5” of the fluffy stuff. They’ve also dropped their references to only the higher elevations above 3500’. Who knows, maybe we’ll awaken to a snowscape tomorrow. It would be nice for a change and a good excuse to stay inside. I made the obligatory run to the grocery store and laid in some provisions. I developed a taste for eggs, Jimmy Dean HOT sausage, and Belgian waffles in the morning that forced me back into town and the store…


My blogging friend and fellow cyclist down in Fayetteville, NC has done me a fine honor of mentioning some of my pursuits in his posting today. If you’d like to check it out, CLICK HERE! Many thanks, Jim!


DY_ASUJersey(Appalachian State Alum Bro Dave with his snazzy ASU Cycling Jersey birthday present from ASU Alum Bro Zeke! GO APPS! Beat Richmond!)

My younger brother David, who lives in the L.A. area, gets to celebrate his 47th birthday today. At least I think it is his 47th. There is one short month where he is ONLY 9 years younger than me and then it reverts back to 10 years when I roll over another year on this orb. He still has more hair (although not much) than I do and has combated our familial high cholesterol to the point where I now outweigh him by about 20 lbs. I hope he gets to ride his crank forward bike today or tomorrow and start another year on 2 wheels!


My Tuesday lunch ride comprised the entirety of my riding this week. We were still under the influence of a high pressure system at that point so we had some clear skies with temps getting into the mid-50’s on Tuesday. I took the opportunity to revisit an earlier ride from this season and one I wrote about HERE!

I left my office at High Noon and headed east and north toward NC 209 with the intent of riding to the entrance to WeKirk Farms at Rush Fork. The entrance to the farm is at the crest of the first of two climbs to top Rush Fork. Once I reached Lake Junaluska from Business 19/23, it was a straight out and back ride on NC 209 to accomplish my workout.

The mid-50’s temps were quite pleasant. I simply added my Under Armour long sleeve top and was quite comfortable. I warmed up to the point of needing to unzip my wind breaker. The heavier gloves I was wearing felt quite good, particular on the descent from Rush Fork. A couple of differences I noted in this ride and the earlier ride this year was 1) my significantly improved condition and 2) the increased traffic.

I was pleased with the former and quite careful of the latter. I recall the frustration of not getting to the top of this climb back in the late spring. This time I spun right on up without concern about not making the climb. It is a nice feeling to sense the improvement in my overall conditioning.

The increased traffic is a direct result of the closing of I-40. Travelers now try to save time by climbing over Rush Fork, Betsy’s Gap, and down through Trust and Luck, NC (No, I am NOT making up those names) to Hot Springs where they can scoot back over to I-40 in eastern Tennessee. Unfortunately for way too many of them, all they accomplish is getting lost and having to backtrack. These folks are easy to spot. They are pulled over to the side of the road looking at maps!

Some folks in the Fines Creek section of Haywood, have posted signs along the road that say “Your GPS is WRONG!” Unfortunately, the NC Highway Patrol hasn’t increased their presence on this road so the traffic is moving way, way over the speed limit most of the time. I may well restrict my riding down there for awhile as it really doesn’t feel safe.

However, on this past Tuesday, it was pretty! I took some images of the mountains around Rush Fork and of the property owned by WeKirk Farms.



(WeKirk Farms…)






(WeKirk is a Land Grant to the Kirkpatrick family dating back to King James)


(My Fuji CCR3)

Dec0109_Cecil01 (6)








(Hmm, my blue outfit seems to match the sky on this date!)

The ride back to the office was equally as nice as the ride out and got me several miles closer to my goal for this year of 1000 miles. I’m easily within striking distance of my goal now and that feels pretty darned good!

I think I’ll go check the weather and pop in the frozen pizza!

Until later,

- Zeke

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Yes, I know the riding season has been full of assaults on cyclists again this year. It seems that every day we read more instances where cyclists have been injured and, unfortunately, where cyclists have injured others. I’m about to add to the plethora of documented assaults. I wouldn’t do it but this one somehow calls out for publication. I’m not asking for sympathy or vindication. I just think it is my duty to highlight one of those lurking dangers along our highways in the hopes of saving someone else’s “bacon.”

The day started ugly. Perhaps it was a harbinger of things to come. Clouds heavy with expected rain closed in the sky covering the tops of Cold Mountain and Sugar Top. The actual rain event wasn’t expected until late afternoon so I took the opportunity to clean up some loose ends in the morning and around noon. My “best half” was off caring for her dad and I was alone at the house. My “honey do” list was mostly complete and I could hear the road calling, “you need to ride…you need to ride…you need to ride.

I listened. After all, it was ugly but in the upper 50’s – certainly pleasant enough to ride even if the sun wasn’t shining. I also knew that the “ridable” days were diminishing in frequency for awhile so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. I dressed, I ate, I hydrated. I headed off to the local middle school to start the ride from there in a nice safe parking lot.

The ride started uneventful enough. There was a little more traffic than is perhaps normal for a Sunday afternoon in the Bethel community. Still, it was pleasant. I had a nice spin going as I took NC 215 toward Canton eventually coming alongside the river. My legs felt pretty good and I was keeping a decent, for me, cadence going.

In the back of my mind, I knew I would be passing Stamey Cove, which is a road that has been part of the Bele Cher road races in the past. I’ve even ridden escort once on my Harley and I’ve ridden through the Stamey Cove Gap many times but never under my own power on two wheels. I went for it. I wanted to add to my rides yet another climb previously not done by me. The road starts up immediately from the river and has a maybe 4% average grade incline for a mile. About the last 1/2 mile, the grade jumps to 7.9%, which is enough to get this middle aged man’s heart rate up into the low 170’s. All in all though, I pedaled up and over in fine fashion and negotiated the “S” curves on the downhill run.

Rather shortly, I turned off Stamey Cove Road and began traversing the side of the mountain on a road that eventually intersects with Broad Street in Clyde.


(Along Stamey Cove Road – November 29, 2009) 


(Chambers Mountain seen from Stamey Cove Rd.)

The pleasant and, thus far, uneventful but delightful ride continued on into Clyde proper, or as proper as Clyde gets anyway, and from there along Business 19 to Canton, NC. As I headed up NC 110 toward Bethel and the end of the ride, I was keeping a close eye on the skies. A few drops of rain had lit upon me while coming through Canton and I really did not want to get soaked in mid-50 degree weather. Unlike the images above, the clouds had become increasingly heavy looking taking on the appearance of dark gray cotton that was twisted and turned and holding back some heavy material, which at any moment might break through and land upon me.

I made the turn at the Pigeon River and was heading to the truck. Traffic on US 276 had picked up and I was frequently being passed by cars and trucks as they headed north toward Waynesville. The road is narrow and has no shoulders so you really are “sharing the road” along this stretch. I made it past the football field of the local middle school and was beginning to spin up a slight grade. I heard the truck behind me. It’s engine rumble dropping quickly as the driver dropped gears and increased his braking as he came upon me. Clearly, he realized he wasn’t going to beat the oncoming traffic and he and I were about to intersect in time and space.

I was trying to remember that the “Wood-man” always tells me to ride so hard it hurts and if someone hits me, I’ll say “thanks for stopping my pain.” The oncoming traffic made it by me and I heard the truck move to my left and drop a gear to get his speed back up. In a flash, I saw him approaching out of the corner of my left eye. Was there room? I had nowhere to go to give him more room.

And that’s when I heard the explosion. It came at me from my right – the side of the road. The sound immediately drew my attention from the truck as my brain registered this new challenge to life and limb. The disturbance was massive, the screeching unimaginably loud as the truck accelerated by me on its way. Fall’s dried leaves along my right side in the gutter were jumping to and fro and that’s when I saw the first wave of the assault. They were running alongside me, helter skelter, like a gazillion squirrels trying to make up their mind which way to go.

I held fast to my handlebars ready to take on any, who might venture in front of me. Fortunately, they stayed away seemingly quite scared of ME! I don’t know if it was the sound of the truck slowing down that spooked them or the amazingly bright apparition moving along the side of the road that energized them into motion. Whatever it was, I learned that free range chickens can sure make one heck of a lot of noise in dry leaves! Truly, it was an assault of a very fowl nature.

(Please note: No 4X4 trucks or free range chickens were harmed in the telling of this story.)

(Xtra note: To view a map of this ride, Click Here!)

Happy Holidays to All!

- Zeke