Monday, March 29, 2010


Now into our second straight day of cool, rainy, cloudy weather, I’m really looking forward to the predicted warm up and clearing up of Western North Carolina temps and skies beginning on Tuesday. Right now, it looks like we’ll be back in the low 60’s and mid 70’s for the rest of the week, which should provide some excellent spring riding opportunities here in the Great Smokies.

Sunday turned out to be a really, really good day to do some resistance training. I got in a couple of hours during some lulls in the, at times, heavy rain. My program consisted of placing 40 lb bags of a grainy material into a hopper on wheels that had a rotary cylinder in the bottom allowing the grainy material to slowly be ejected. I did several sets of these on increasing and decreasing gradients while going from heavier weights to lighter weights. Had you been secretly watching me, you probably would have sworn that I was putting out fertilizer on our yard rather than honing my skills as an “accomplished cyclist to-be”. Given that we live on a mountain, there was ample opportunity for changing the degree of incline that I was forced to push these objects upon. It didn’t do a lot for my cardio function barely getting me into “fat burning” territory. It did however, put some decent workload on my calves, quads, lower back, and forearms.

I did have the opportunity to get in a nice 20 mile commute home at the end of the work week. I chose one of my usual routes down NC 209, along the Pigeon River to Clyde, NC and then up NC 110 as I pedaled through the Pigeon Valley. The late afternoon temps were in the mid-70’s and very pleasurable feeling. I was somewhat surprised at the lack of signs of spring.

While running along the river, I noted that the bulbs are not popping up out of the ground yet nor are the yellow bells showing signs of breaking into bloom.   I imagine that will change drastically over the next couple of weeks. A few garden spots have been plowed and the soil readied for planting. I spotted only two other cyclists on the road that day.  I didn’t recognize either one. One fellow has a nice steady cadence coming up NC 209 as I went north on it. The second cyclist was moving at a race pace and down on his aero bars as I ran along the Pigeon toward Clyde. I was going up river and he was travelling down river.

The local group rides are beginning to reform for the year. A Wednesday afternoon ride beginning at 3:30 p.m. seems to be in the offing as does the usual Tuesday and Thursday evening rides beginning around 5:30 p.m. I will probably be riding solo on Tuesdays as I commute home but am hoping to join the Thursday evening group this year. These guys are all more seasoned cyclists than myself and ride at a higher pace. I’m looking forward to determining if I can hang onto their back wheels! Also, on the horizon, the Wood-man and I are planning some longer rides this year with our first one targeted to be about 70 miles in length. It will probably be a loop to nearby Asheville and back one sunny Sunday afternoon.

I’m thankful that Congestion Charley has moved on. It is good to be able to breathe freely again. I’m hoping that he or one of his cousins doesn’t make a visit to my “best half” in the next few days!

OTHER NEWS: Take a moment and jump on over to Cycling Experiences to review racer profiles for this year’s upcoming Race Across America. Jim has done a top notch job, as always, at presenting some rider bios and a very good promotional video on RAAM.

Until later,


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Psst! “Congestion Charley” here. Some of you return visitors may have noted that Zeke hasn’t posted a new entry since his late night ride with Slipstream Sallie and Headwind Harry. (See previous post for more details) I thought I’d drop by and offer a small explanation for his absence.

What Zeke didn’t know at the time of his recounting of his encounter with Harry was that I, Congestion Charley, was in stealth mode on Harry’s rear wheel. Ol’ Zeke never saw me coming. Harry was sure laughing up a loud storm as we all approached the gap. That was partly because, well, Harry is just a gigantic 2 wheeled jerk, who would rather blow through a traffic light and cause mayhem than take a moment or two of rest and blend in. Nope, that wouldn’t be Harry. Harry, quite a talented rider without all of the crap he pulls, can pull up a headwind to stop the best of ‘em when he wants to. Next time, you’re out doing your favorite loop and fighting a headwind all the way out and then you turn around to go home banking on that nice tailwind only to find that NOW you’ve got another headwind – well, that’s Harry’s work. Look around. You might see him riding off your shoulder enjoying his own freak show and just laughing like the jackass he is . But, I digress…

Ya see, last week I’d been getting itchy and stuffy with boredom and I’ve learned from past experience if I don’t get in some action pretty soon, I’m gonna get major league depressed. So, while me an ol’ Harry were knocking back a couple of cold ones and discussing my general state of mind, we hatched this plan where Harry would jump the first rider we saw on the mountain and distract him. This would let me get in the perfect position to make my assault and dump off some of these old nasty feelings I’ve been getting.

So, I laid up beside the road in behind some old scrub brush just so I’d be hidden while Harry jumped out on the road far enough ahead of the rider as to make it look like he’d been climbing all along. Sure enough, it wasn’t long til we caught wind of some dufus that had been merrily spinning along with that do-gooder Sallie. Zeke, of course we didn’t know his name at the time, predictably closed the gap to Harry as we planned and never even saw me jump on Harry’s rear wheel. I mean, when I go stealth – I GO STEALTH!

Everything was going along just as we intended. Clearly, Zeke was getting freaked and when Harry dropped onto his rear wheel and started laughing, well, let’s just say that I was surprised not to see a spreading discoloration on his shorts. Harry did a marvelous job of keeping up his loud assault on a clearly tiring rider. I don’t think Zeke even looked in his rear view again.

We were closing on the gap at a pretty good pace given Zeke’s fear enhanced mashing but Harry was holding close. Just as Zeke passed through the gap into that interminable sunshine on the western side of the slope, Harry sat up and dropped off to his left letting me slingshot around on the right and directly into ol’ Zeke. Like I say, when I do stealth, I do it right.

It took me a few hours but I worked my way in good and tight and the next thing Zeke knew his head was stopped up, I had about a quart of fluid draining a minute giving him a real good sore throat. I was really proud of how I made his eyeballs and gums hurt from the pressure in his head. I really enjoyed the deep resounding bass of his headache.

I hung around a few days and kept him pretty nicely disrupted to the point he couldn’t ride or write. He started a couple of times to write something but I managed to raise my levels a little and just knocked him back again. I’ve pretty much gotten bored with this scene now and I’m planning on moving along. Zeke’s been such a good host that I thought I’d drop by his place here and let all you good people know what was going on. Oh yeah, I also wanted to brag a little. This has been some of my best work in awhile. I think Zeke will be back riding maybe today or tomorrow. I’m pretty sure his head will clear enough to write by that time.

So, I’m outta here! I’ll move along now. I’ll be seeing…. YOU!

as Zeke would say,

Until Later!

“Congestion Charley”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


The ride started like so many rides before it. The weather was pleasant, traffic was light, and I felt in good mind and spirit. My legs felt strong and the recent weather induced downtime did not seem to have hurt me. I started out on the pleasant rural road at an easy cadence as I warmed up my muscles.

As I was cruising along, I noticed that the spring jonquils and other early bloomers were beginning to make themselves known. The pretty yellow colors and those of the paper white Narcissus were bunched together in small groupings against the downed logs and in little clusters against the few remaining snow banks. I can’t recall when the air smelled fresher.

I was called back from my reveries by the pleasant sound of a bell tinkling and realized that I had been joined on my ride by a young lady whom I had never met.  She was riding effortlessly beside me on what I took to be a step-through hybrid of some sort. Her bike appeared to be nicely setup for commuting. She was riding in an upright position and had some fatter road tires mounted. I thought I detected 3 rings upfront and what looked to be a 9 or 10 speed cassette on the back. She had a pretty basket attached to her handlebars, which appeared to be full of some sort of goodies. My mouth began to water with thoughts of home baked cookies.

The absence of traffic made it quite safe for us to continue riding side-by-side so we could talk. It turns out she was a local girl, whose passion for cycling led her to be a full time rider. Rather than being dressed in the spandex and brightly colored apparel of the day, she had on a fresh looking set of cotton shorts, T-shirt, and tennis shoes which she kept on her platform pedals almost effortlessly. I swear she was maintaining an even push/pull on her pedal stroke the entire time.

Given the pleasantness of the day, I had failed to keep up with our route of travel and I noticed that I was in somewhat unfamiliar territory. I didn’t recognize the area but wasn’t unduly alarmed. My co-rider certainly seemed to know where she was going so I took solace in that and just enjoyed the friendly company. I did note that we seemed to have ridden into a glen where the spring weather was somewhat further along than the area in which I had started the ride. The greens were certainly greener, flowers more fully opened, and the blue skies had a deeper color that I sensed I could almost literally taste.

In short time, I could see an approaching fork in the road. The left fork was river grade and appeared to continue on between the pristine mountain creek on the left and the rhododendron filled banks of the mountain on the right. The right fork began a gentle climb up the mountain. I could see that a more challenging climb would become part of any decision to take the right fork. Decision time was approaching as to whether to climb or continue this pleasant interlude along the creek.

Even though I had been riding a couple of hours at this point, it still only felt like minutes due to the ride being so effortless. I asked my impromptu companion which route she would be taking and was not surprised to hear that she was heading down the left fork. I determined I had the energy and desire to climb. I thanked her for the good company and conversation and realized I had not  been made aware of her name. To my inquiry, she emitted the most pleasant sounding chuckle and said, “Well, my biking friends like to call me Slipstream Sallie so I guess that will be good enough for you to.”

When we reached the fork in the road, I bid her a fond adieu and began my trek up the road hardly travelled. As I predicted, what had been a gentle incline at the fork became a steadier incline within a mile. The two lane road showed signs of damage from the winter storms with potholes appearing on a regular basis. The weather had also begun to change as I climbed with the signs of spring at the lower elevations becoming less and less noticeable as I gained altitude.

Somewhere into the second or third mile of the climb, I noted a cold chill had begun to wrap around me. The previous feelings of warmth and bliss were rapidly being sucked out of me as I continued the climb. The trees were still very much barren at this point and the cold gray granite rock only added to the austere feeling of this mountain road. Grit and gravel were now constants and I had to be careful to maintain my forward motion in a steady seated cadence because I would lose rear wheel traction when I stood to mash the pedals through the increasing incline.

The tree line was approaching now and, on the road just ahead, was a solitary rider. The black and white paint scheme of his bike along with the yellow accents let me know that he was riding a Scott Addict RC. Somehow the colors of his high end bike matched the spring thunderstorms I could see off in the valley. He was dressed all in black in what appeared to be the standard bibbed pants and winter jersey of a roadie. His helmet was black and he had made no effort to wear any hi-viz colors. He was, in fact, quite difficult to see as we moved into a fog bank that had encompassed the road.

His pace was such that I was coming alongside him and could take note of his full beard. His facial expression was one of someone who has suffered on many a long climb. I did my best to greet him pleasantly as I approached. I did not want to make the same mistake that I had made with Sallie so I got down to names quickly. I introduced myself as Zeke to which he bared gritted teeth and said simply “Harry – Headwind Harry.”

Realizing that Harry wasn’t up for company, I tried to pull ahead but could not do so. The incline had become too great and my heart beats per minute had way exceeded my training zone. Breath was short and I was struggling to simply keep the bike vertical. I had only moved a wheel’s length in front of Harry as he maintained his same pace.

It was then that I noticed that his clothing wasn’t spandex and lycra at all. It was an interwoven grouping of bubbles that at once formed a seamless exterior covering and, at the same time, seemed to encompass some sort of scenery. As best my condition would allow, I was drawn to the bubbles and in them I saw scenes of loss and agony. I saw the death of my father and the loss of my beloved dog. In another, I saw the universally recognized look of grief as a young mother mourned the loss of her child. Other bubbles depicted earthquakes and famine.

I was appalled and scared beyond belief and had an overwhelming urgency to get away from Harry, who merely let up slightly on his pace and dropped onto my back wheel. I could sense the sneer coming off of him as he closely tracked my wheel on the climb to the gap. I must have been 200 yards from the gap at this point and was struggling mightily to get away from Harry. To add insult to injury, a strong headwind, almost visible to the naked eye, roared through the gap toward us and sapped my remaining strength. I was running purely on fear now motivated only by the sounds of Headwind Harry laughing behind me.

Finally, I pushed through the wind and crossed the gap into the sunshine and began the descent down this most treacherous mountain. It was a couple of miles before I realized that Harry was no longer on my wheel. In fact, looking back, I’m not sure he came through the gap at all.

Several more miles down the mountain, I came across a small mountainside cafe where the road intersected with one coming from the east. I was worn out and in bad need of sustenance after my harrowing journey. I was on the verge of bonking and recognized the need for fuel for my body. I pulled in beside 4 other bikes that were lined up in a rack at the door of the cafe.

I recognized one of them as belonging to Sallie. I was mighty pleased to realize a friendly face was just through the door. Upon entering into the dimly lit room, the smell of fresh coffee and freshly baked pastries overcame me and I almost wept with joy. To my surprise, Sallie was at a table with Lance, Levi, and Alberto, who it seems had escaped the media frenzy for the day and were out on a friendly ride together. It quickly became evident that they were the best of friends despite the “show” that they put on in the public face. It was also quite evident that they were finding the same comfort and blissfulness in the company of Sallie that I had so recently enjoyed.

I quickly came to learn that their perceived animosity was nothing more than a manipulation of the media to draw ratings for their races. As with professional wrestling, they recognized that fake threats and over-the-top antics were actually good for their business. Here, alone and out of the limelight, they were enjoying the camaraderie of good friends devoted to their sport. I was quickly drawn into their conversation and soon found my fears of Headwind Harry receding into the shadows of my mind. Sometime in the afternoon, I moved to the porch and drifted off into sleep as I soaked up the power of the sun.

I sensed a hand on my shoulder shaking me and a voice saying “Zeke, Zeke! Are you alright? What are you doing down here?” As I slowly opened my eyes and became aware of my surroundings, I found my “best half” standing over me. I discovered I had quietly left our bed during the night as my fever reached its peak. I’m ready for this head cold and fever to go away…

Until later,

- Zeke

Sunday, March 14, 2010


On the last day of Eastern Standard Time and the first day of Daylight Savings time for 2010, it seems I’ve discovered that my cross training program for the winter months has gone horribly, horribly wrong. It seems that my regimen of bend-overs and squats should have been implemented back in November or December rather than yesterday. I’ve been meaning to get to it, you see. I just never got around to it until yesterday. When I started I started with a bang.

My first session was 2 hours of intense bend-overs from the waist followed by some squats and “duck walks”. Given that I am a “multi-tasking master of a man”, I also threw in a number of right and left wrist squeezes during the session in order that I might more firmly grip the brakes when accomplishing intense descents from the mountain tops this season.

My plans to tack on a good ride after my cross training yesterday fell apart due to two factors:

  • 1) cold rainy weather moved into the area just as I was finishing hour two of my cross training
  • 2) I was so worn out from cross training, I probably couldn’t have thrown a leg over the bike if I’d tried.

Suffice it to say that I slept pretty well last night except for the muscle spasms of course. The sun took pity on me this morning and graciously waited an extra hour to top the peak of Mt. Pisgah and shine its welcoming rays into our bedroom. Well, I wanted to think that was what was happening but, of course, it was merely the governmental manipulation of time that gave me an extra hour of darkness.

I was going to pop right up this morning and get to DAY 2 of CROSS TRAINING. I realized that I really needed to compact my schedule as I was little late getting started this year. After wiping the sleep from my eyes, my brain sent the message “POP UP ‘O Mighty Body” to my legs. To which, a weak tweat came back from my left hamstring that went something like this… “you idiot! What did you do to me yesterday? I’ve been talking to your lower back muscles overnight and boy, just wait til you hear from them. There will be NO POPPING UP today, Dude!” I gathered the term “dude” was not used in a lovingly sort of Jeff Bridges way. Clearly, this morning the Dude DID NOT abide.

Finally, I managed to roll off of our “dial it up to your own number” bed and get to my feet. It was about then that my lower back muscles decided to “provide sufficient and timely alert of being angry”. It seems that the LBM’s (lower back muscles for those of you not in the know) had determined that part of my punishment for yesterday would be that I could not wear socks today. My LBM’s refused to allow me to bend over. Apparently, LBM’s are not social types or they would have realized that my loving “better half” was fully capable of putting my socks on my feet. Hah! Take that LBM’s and, hey, you the left hamstring – calm down!

After several cups of coffee and an almost perfectly cooked waffle at the now smoke-free Waffle House, we started Day 2 of Cross Training for Health and Improved Performance. I thought I’d work out some of that lactate acid by doing some more full waist toe touches and squats. I modified yesterday’s routine slightly by placing my left hand on my left knee while squatting and then lowering myself to my right knee with the use of my right hand. This worked quite well although I didn’t seem to be popping back up with quite the same vigor as yesterday.

Furthermore, given the decidedly late start on my cross training regimen this season, I thought it best to add some hydro therapy to the mix. Thusly, I held a wand in my hand from which gushed water at approximately 125 psi for an additional hour. In order to also work on eye/hand coordination during this drill, I kept the stream of water moving along a solid line of wood and concrete.

Just as I was wrapping up today’s cross training session and getting ready to head for the bike to get that ride in, yet more rain in the valley found us and its cousin snow was peppering the mountain tops yet again this season. As it turns out, we’re under another winter weather advisory for the next couple of days. This doesn’t bode well for any riding early this week. That’s o.k. though because I may need a couple of days to survive this crazy thing I call cross training.

Until later,

- Zeke

Sunday, March 7, 2010


A hint of spring weather to come provided an opportunity this weekend for local cyclists to finally get out on roads that are no longer ice and snow covered although some significant amounts of salt brine still remain in a few areas. I managed to get out for a nice Sunday ride today and had the help of my “best half” in documenting it.

This ride actually had its beginnings last Thursday night when I dropped my bike off at my local LBS to get my new Shimano Ultegra 12-27 Cassette installed. John, owner of Rolls Rite Bicycle Shop, told me he would have it ready by Saturday and would give it a good “once over” to make sure brake pads, etc. were in good shape. As it turns out, we headed out of town early Saturday morning to see our niece play in a softball tournament in Spartanburg so the “Wood-man” graciously agreed to pick up the bike for me and even deliver it to our house so I could ride today. My first order of business today was to document the arrival of the new cassette.



(New Cassette mounted and ready to ride! It won’t stay this shiny very long…) 

Let the ride begin…

I coordinated today’s ride with my wife’s schedule so that she could grab some images for me. We started at the usual place of Bethel Middle School smack dab in the middle of the Pigeon Valley. I headed north on NC 215 toward Canton per my usual route. Kathy would “leap frog” me and get setup for a picture as I made my way alongside the Pigeon River. Traffic was moderately heavy today as lots of folks were out enjoying the mild weather. I started the ride at 57 degree.


(Brief stop at intersection of Stamey Cove & NC 215)









(Running along NC 215 near the new Bethel Elementary School)









(Arriving in Canton at the Recreation Park)

The section from Bethel to Canton is all river grade and unless you catch a headwind, it is normally a pleasant warm-up for a longer ride. Knowing that part of Bridge St. is impassable due to road work, I headed south on Business 23 to skirt around the Evergreen Paper Plant, which is Canton and Haywood County’s largest employer. This ride can be odiferous at times depending upon the current weather system. The byproduct smells of making paper are not always the most pleasant. Locals refer to it as the “smell of money” -  a reference to the importance of the plant to the local economy. In my youth, I can recall the skies being green due to air pollution coming from the stacks and you didn’t dare want to get in the river below the plant. Fortunately, years of work by the plant ownership and employees have resulted in vastly improved air quality and the river is coming back to life.

After circling the plant and getting back to my planned route, I enjoyed the first of my climbs for the day. After all, I’ve got to try out the new cassette with the extra climbing gear! North Main St. climbs for about a mile with an average grade of 3.6% until it intersects with Newfound Road. The last 75 yards of the climb is closer to 7% or 8% grade.

Newfound Road continues north and crosses over I-40 at exit 33. There is a nice prolonged descent from Newfound past Plains United Methodist Church. From that point on, you are climbing again. My goal was to check out my “winter climbing legs” and see if I could still make it to the top of Newfound Gap where Haywood County meets Buncombe County.

Just past Plains United Methodist Church and the neighboring cemetery, the climb to the gap begins and covers roughly 1.76 miles to the county line and an elevation of 3039’. The average grade for the full distance is only 4% but the final approach to the gap has a 11% grade for the last .8 mile. By the time I had the gap in view, I was on my smallest ring and crawling in my new lowest gear.









(The gap is in sight!)


(Is there a gear left?) 









(YES! – 3090’ accomplished!)

O.K., so now you’re halfway – what now?

As we all know, what goes up, must come down! I sucked down some fluid, put my wind proof jacket and my heavier gloves back on and headed home. On my way up the mountain, I passed a friend’s home, who was entertaining on her deck. I waved but received only a small acknowledgment in return. On the way back, though, it was a rousing round of waves as the folks were showing their best southern manners. I also passed another cyclist on my swift descent. He had about a half mile to go to the top. I didn’t recognize him but I also didn’t have much time to study him in detail either.

My “best half” passed me on her way to check on her dad’s home and I was passed by a big pickup truck pulling horses. The ride back into Canton was pretty uneventful and I was, quite frankly, beginning to feel the “winter rust” in my legs.

They start them young…

My ride home was punctuated with an interesting encounter with what appeared to be a 7 or 8 year old boy straggling behind two people, who I assumed to be his mother and older sister. I was crossing the bridge on the aptly named Bridge St. when this little person sporting some kind of cross between a Mohawk, mullet, and pony tail literally screamed at me “GET OFF THE ROAD!” Now, I’ve been making some significant effort to not respond when yelled at but this was just too much for me to pass by. I braked and they came alongside me. I looked at the young boy and said to him, “What did you say?” I didn’t say it meanly or with any untoward emotion but I think he wasn’t expecting a response from me.  What had been a grin/smirk on his face changed pretty quickly to a wide-eyed apprehensive look as he took shelter behind his mother. I don’t think she was aware of his behavior because as I rode off, I heard her say “WHAT DID YOU SAY TO THAT MAN?”

The final leg…

From that point, it was mostly a matter of turning over the pedals for the last 6 miles back to Bethel Middle School and my ride home. As I started up NC 110 to the intersection with US 276, I became really aware of how tired my legs were and took particular note of aches beginning in my left knee and ankle. Fortunately, this is still pretty much river grade riding without any climbs. I knew that if my wife stopped, as she caught up to me for the final time this day, I’d be sorely tempted to call it a day and climb into the truck. She did pass me and kept right on going! She saved me the decision of quitting or finishing. So, finish it was and I did.

Final thoughts on the day…

I’ve got to admit to being pretty pleased with this ride. I was concerned that my condition has dropped off so much over the winter, that I’d be dropping way back in managing climbs. Today showed me I’ve “wintered over” fairly well. I really, really like my new cassette paired with my new tires. My Fuji CCR3 is treating me well. I took some motivation today from a great video clip, Commuter Dreams, Best Commute Video Ever featured by Kent Peterson in his Sunday, March 7th post. I encourage you to check it out. Today’s ride was also fun for me because my “best half” shared it with me by making time to take the images you’ve seen in this post. We’ve been watching the Oscars tonight so I’ll close with an Oscar inspired sentiment – “She still sees me in better light than I deserve.”


Until later,

- Zeke

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I’ve written in the past of how my return to cycling after some 26 years came about. I was initially motivated by the fitness and return to health aspects of cycling. As I became more engrossed in the world of cycling and as I experienced it both in real time and virtually through the internet, I began to appreciate the many different aspects of cycling. I must admit that my fund of knowledge about cycling was very, very limited.

I like to think that my wife and I make our contributions to reducing the human carbon footprint. We’ve recycled for years and a motorcycle has been my personal primary mode of transportation for a number of years. For an abundance of that time, I was mostly motivated by the enjoyment of riding the motorcycle and not really invested in the concept of or even desire for reducing our carbon footprint. I do own a Ford F150 and it does get used quite often to pull a camper, cart trash to the dump, move the dogs from point A to point B, and to transport landscaping tools from site to site. A full sized truck is still an important part of my existence.

My thoughts today are rolling around on this subject because of a link I enjoyed on Ecovelo yesterday. Tammy Strobel has just e-published her book Simply Car-Free, which is an accounting of how she and her husband made the move from a 2 car, stressed-out, in debt lifestyle to simpler more “intentional living” sans cars. You can read the first 3 chapters on-line for free, which is exactly what I did. You can then purchase the book if you are so interested. (Full disclosure: I don’t know Tammy Strobel and she, of course, has no idea who I am. I receive no remunerations for this link.)


As I indicated, the topic got me to thinking about moving to a car free lifestyle vs. a car-lite lifestyle. Several of the early comments about her book yesterday were from people with children, who were pretty much indicating that going car free was out of the question. I would note that Strobel didn’t say, in the 3 chapters that I read, that going car free was the ultimate goal for everyone.

My “best half” and I had an interesting conversation about the concept over supper last night. The gas prices of last year really affected our use of our vehicles and we became much more aware of the economics of running two vehicles. We began carpooling whenever possible and taking the vehicle that gets the best miles per gallon. I would tote my bicycle in to work in the mornings and then ride home in the evening. We weren’t saving gasoline with the one vehicle because she was still making the same trip. I was, however, greatly improving my health and reducing health related costs.

I did my best to have one day per week where I used zero gasoline. I was fortunate in having a job situation that allowed me to stay at home and work. Simply going more car-lite last year made a significant impact on our household economics because I wasn’t spending as much on gas. I was literally using no more than 1 tank of gas PER MONTH in my truck. Using the motorcycle, I could get 46 mpg and could go a week or more on 5 gallons of gasoline.

We live in a rural environment with virtually no cycling infrastructure, which is vastly different from Strobel’s current living environment in Portland, Oregon where a serious commitment to cycling infrastructure seems to be the norm. In my mind, I think it must be easier to live a car-free lifestyle in an urban area. I could be wrong, of course, as I’ve never lived in an urban environment and have no plans to do so in this lifetime.

In my mind, I can see more ways to become more car-lite. The 16 mile round trip to the grocery store isn’t out of the question at all. Other shopping needs could easily be met by bicycle even within our existing lack of cycling infrastructure. I do have trouble conceptualizing full time commuting knowing that my wife is driving within 2 blocks of my office. It sure seems easier to ride along with her in the morning.

I started this post with a reference to having gained a better and broader understanding of the cycling world. I’m back to that point within the context of becoming more car-lite. One lesson that I’ve learned during this winter of southern snowstorms is that my skinny tire race bike is not the best particular version of a bicycle to use for commuting and transporting goods. Now I find myself contemplating a new addition to the Zeke stable. Rather than focusing on that new F150, I find myself looking for a touring/commuter bike.

Bro Dave may have led me to an answer today. He, too, is looking for an additional bike and sent me a link to the Salsa Fargo.



I’ve been considering a mountain bike since the snows drove the Fuji CCR3 inside and me to the trainer. I’ve liked the looks of the Fargo and have developed my own speculation about owning a 29’er. I told Bro Dave that I had even noticed this bike in advertising in one of the many bike mags that I read. The reviews are positive as a tourer/commuter/non-technical mountain bike and it is well built for adding racks/bags/panniers. Who knows, maybe one will find its way to my humble abode this year.  (Note to wife: I just saved us approximately $35,000.00 by going from a new truck to a new bike.  Aren’t you proud of me?)

So, will we ever become car free as Strobel and her husband have done? I don’t see it happening until we give up driving due to old age or other infirmities. I do see becoming more car-lite and I can only believe that it is a move in the right direction. Check out Strobel’s book. Maybe it will create for you some discourse and creative thinking as it did for me.


(Note: This is a late entry but I couldn’t keep from adding it. Thanks to Bro Dave for submitting this “going green” idea. Check it out HERE!)

Until later,

- Zeke