Monday, April 26, 2010


Sometimes plans just don’t go the way you anticipate. My experience is that occurs quite frequently. Take this weekend for instance. I knew that my time to ride would be limited what with all of the normal non-riding chores that need to be done. Normally, we have 3 homes/yards to look after and this is the grass growing time of the year so mowing is a pretty frequent event in my life.

With the knowledge that my time really needed to adhere to a schedule this weekend in order to have any hopes of riding, I got started early on Friday. As I had all of the power equipment at my house, it seemed to make sense to start there. I managed to get the smaller portion of the yard mowed quickly and without incident with the walk behind John Deere and I was progressing nicely on my schedule. I was on target to finish our yard work by early afternoon.

John_Deere_JX75_crop(John Deere  JX75 ) 

…and then things went awry. When it came time to mow the larger area, I mounted my garden tractor with the 52” cut and cranked it over… and over… and over. Nothing, Nada, Zip – wouldn’t start. So, the repair cycle started. Unfortunately, all of my tried and true methods would not work nor would the mystical tapping of the float bowl to which I finally resorted in desperation. Prayers and the swishing of wispy bird feathers over the tractor had no impact. After an hour, I gave up, reloaded the power tools, and headed for my local lawn maintenance shop (LLMS), which is similar in function to my local bike ship (LBS) but 100% of the time way more expensive and much slower in getting equipment back to me due to their backlog of work.

After arrival at the LLMS and after they made some much appreciated efforts to crank the tractor, it was finally announced by the HMiC (Head Man in Charge) of service that, “yep, something’s wrong. We’re gonna have to keep her. We may have to do some compression tests and maybe get into the engine.” Were I a cartoon, at this point any halfway observant individual looking at me would have seen $$$$ signs floating above my head.

So, we unload the tractor from the trailer, wheel it off to the side where it gets to sit in line for a week or so awaiting repair, and I start loading up my remaining power equipment consisting of the aforementioned John Deere JX75 walk behind mower and other tools of the trade.

…and things went slightly further awry. I just happened to notice, when loading the walk behind, that a part had fallen off while in transit to the shop. So… back into the LLMS I go but, this time I get to stop at the parts department instead of the service department. $20.00 later, I’m on my way to my next appointed round… err yard. I’m only 2.5 hours behind my schedule now but it is still salvageable and I’m still clinging to hope of getting in a ride late in the day but before some planned evening events start.

I make it 75% of the way through the next yard when… yep, you guessed it…

…things went significantly more awry. The mower picked up a stick, a walnut, or some other foreign object and shredded the drive belt of my one remaining mower. Ahh! I was so close! So, I load up again and make my second trip of the day to my LLMS carrying the remains of the now shredded drive belt. It was approaching closing time and I knew I needed to get the belt purchased to save time on Saturday. All hopes of riding on Friday were now gone. Fortunately, I made it back to the LLMS just prior to closing and was able to purchase the belt, a simple looking thing I might add.

Friday night’s plan included shopping for a new refrigerator to take advantage of some significant savings in purchase that only applied for a 3 day period in N.C. and only while a state-wide fund of $9 million lasted. By the time, we got to the store, the fund was already down to $4 mil… We made our purchase and was told that it would be about 10 days before it could be delivered. That was o.k. with us because we were really after the savings on the new energy efficient appliance and our old one, while making some interesting noises on occasion, still worked.

Saturday arrived with the hope of a new day and a new schedule. My “best half” and I have company coming next weekend and we needed to “spruce up” the place some. I had some hopes, though not many, of getting in a mid-day ride because the weather forecast was for heavy rain with thunder storms late in the afternoon.

Still, I had to get the mower belt on and finish up my remaining yard before I could pursue riding. (Yes, I too am beginning to question my priorities at this point.) So, with new belt in hand and fully anticipating a 10 minute repair job, I pull the mower off the trailer and start to install the belt. But, hey wait a minute, what’s up with this?

…and things went awry – again!. After an hour (30 minutes of which included trying to find the mower manual), of trying to install the belt, I loaded up and headed back – say it with me now – to my LLMS. I get there just before closing time and make my way to the service department. Hopefully, I didn’t really hear a trail of laughter behind me as I entered the store for the 3rd time this weekend. I was quickly informed “yep, ya gotta pull the whole engine on that model to install the drive belt.” Off the trailer we go, into the line for maintenance with a hopeful indicator of getting it back in 2.5 weeks…

Back home I go, only to arrive and be greeted by the delivery of our new refrigerator. So, everything stops in order to empty the old refrigerator and install the new one. Say “buh bye” planned schedule. No riding on Saturday. As a point of interest, the heavy rains did arrive late afternoon and continued into early Sunday morning.

Final connections to the new refrigerator for ice making and water needed to be done on Sunday so a new schedule was devised over morning coffee. Yes, the new schedule included riding. This effort led to the direct formulation of something I’ve known for awhile and others have probably stated better than I will. Here goes…

Zeke’s Axioms for the use of tools:

1) Axion 1: The tool you need is NEVER in the place it is supposed to be which results in wasted time trying to find it.

2) Axiom 2: Upon finding the missing tool, it doesn’t work or some piece of equipment needed to make it work is missing (see Axiom 1) or it too is broken.

Soooooo, after a trip to my LHS (local hardware store) to get the needed items, I finally made the proper connections to the refrigerator and had accomplished most of my work related chores for the weekend. This merely required drilling through the floor, pulling down part of the basement ceiling, locating the tap on the water line and doing my best not to break it off thus flooding the basement or, at least, requiring that the water be cut off.

Late Sunday afternoon had arrived and I was pooped, popped, and tuckered out. The thought of riding had left me as I couldn’t muster the energy to get dressed knowing that I would be in mortal combat with Headwind Harry if I tried to ride. While the day was beautiful, HH was clearly out and about. I had experienced his strength as I rode my Harley to and from lunch and to the LHS. Harry had pushed me around quite significantly on my brief trips to the store.

At this point, I determined that my current position in a chair in the sun on my deck was about as excited as I needed to get the rest of the day. Now, it’s Monday morning and I’m waiting, just waiting -

… for something to go awry.

Until later,

- Zeke

(P.S. For an interesting look at shifting gears in yesteryear, check out Dave’s post today on Dave Moulton’s Blog. Watch the video and then click on the link to see how the video camera was mounted. Ingenuity at work!)

Monday, April 19, 2010


Sunday, April 18th, was my first ride to Asheville of the year. Along with the Wood-Man, I enjoyed a fine afternoon in the saddle as we covered the 38 miles from our starting point to Tripps Restaurant in Asheville. It is Dogwood Winter here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, which means that the Dogwoods are in full bloom and the temps have dropped to cooler ranges. We’ve had frost warnings for the last couple of nights and even a freeze warning one time. Fortunately, the days warm up nicely and that was the case yesterday as we climbed and descended our way into the “big” city.

We took a route along Old Clyde Highway from Lake Junaluska to Canton. If you can picture 3 roads running pretty much parallel, Old Clyde Highway would be the middle road. Part of the time, you’re running along the Pigeon River and the rest of the route is agricultural-to-residential in nature.

After passing around and through Canton, we headed up Newfound Road. Newfound is the longest and steepest of the climbs on this route topping out at 9% grade. I was really feeling my Saturday “work day” of cutting firewood and mowing grass. My legs and lower back felt tight as rubber bands stretched to their limit and I struggled to maintain contact with the Wood-Mans’s rear wheel. I lost about an 1/8th of a mile to him as we crested Newfound Gap and dropped into Buncombe County.

As always, what goes up must come down and I caught back up with him on the descent side of the mountain. From there it was a run across the valley floor where we were occasionally accompanied by the dastardly Headwind Harry, who I suspect was hiding in amongst the pretty white clouds. He seemed to make his presence known mostly on climbs, which of course is his standard mode of operation.

At the 2 hour mark, we took a brief break at the intersection of Newfound Road and Leicester Highway (pronounced Lester Highway by us locals). The short break did my back good but my quads tightened up. We called our “better halves” and gave them the meeting time at Tripps. They were heavily involved in their favorite form of exercise – aerobic shopping!


(Suttles Quick Mart – site of much needed rest)

After a very short run on the dual lane Leicester Highway, we were running along a ridge that provided a wonderful panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north of Asheville. After dropping down into the Erwin Hills Community, we had a series of climbs that just about drained the rest of my leg power. Mercifully, the climbs ended and we crossed the French Broad River north of Asheville. From here, it was a 6 mile run along the river using some of Asheville’s bike lanes. Normally, I can hang on Wood-Man’s wheel here but that was not the case on Sunday. I struggled to keep him in sight as I started bonking. At this point, I had serious doubts that I would be able to make the final climb up from the river to Pack Square. I did persevere and make it.This brought us to Tripps where I re-discovered the term “rubber legs.”

I was very pleased that the ride was not an “out and back” exercise! I would have given my kingdom, if I had a kingdom, for a hot tub last night!


A point of interest:

I’ve written often about riding the Pigeon River Valley above Canton. Last week, our local paper featured an article about one of the most famous “residents” of the PRV – The Osborne Family Oak. I have a deep appreciation for this tree and the history of our county that time has seen fit to pass under its spreading limbs. I share this story as a further point of interest for those readers, who have noted my writing of the area.




Osborne Boundary Oak to be evaluated for restorative care       
Written by The Mountaineer    
Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:34 

The Osborne Boundary Oak, a historic tree on the Department of Transportation right of way, will be evaluated for immediate restorative care and recommendations for continued care by Lloyd Anderson, an experienced knowledgeable tree specialist, Southern Tree Care, at 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, at the site of the tree on NC 110 at the junction of Wells (1869) and Jeffrey Lane with Pisgah (NC 110).  Observers are welcome.

“The Osborne Boundary Oak was in existence in the days before white man settled Bethel Community,” said Doris Hammett.

According to documentation, an Indian council existed near this tree. When General Griffith Rutherford and his men pressed against the Native American villages in Western North Carolina in 1776, they marched by the tree and forded the Pigeon River.

Read More…


Positive Response from NC DOT:


(Fairly wide, relatively clean gutter -  pre-cleaning.) 









(Example of gutters closing down – sweeper machine just passes over it.)









(Gutter almost completely gone!)

A couple of week’s ago, I wrote an email to the local NC DOT Engineer regarding the condition of the shoulders/gutters along NC 110 and NC 209. I explained that I wanted to be proactive this spring and highlight a couple of areas that might need some additional attention as they did their routine “spring cleaning”. Today, I received back a very nice reply indicating that the local DOT Maintenance Engineer had been to the sites and made a preliminary review of the work needed. I was informed that the work is scheduled to start in 3 weeks. I very much appreciated the kind response that I received and look forward to the widened gutters as I ride these roads! THANKS DOT!

Until later,

- Zeke

MayMyRide Details:

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The summer-like weather continues here in Western North Carolina offering up some fine, fine riding opportunities. Tuesday was another of those warm, bordering on hot, days with nary a cloud in the sky. For my commute home, I’m not sure the weather could have been much better.

Apr13_LoveJoy01(Love Joy Road in the Pigeon Valley) 

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…

I’m beginning to think that a whole new character must reside along the beginning portions of my evening commute along Business 23/NC 209. This area seems to be where I am most likely to get screamed at, insulted, gestured at, etc. this year. The new character, A$$hole Appleton, must hang with Headwind Harry and Congestion Charlie and have the ability to occupy the brains of random people, who may be nice at other times.

Tuesday’s encounter with A$$hole Appleton occurred at the traffic light on NC 209 and Old Clyde Road. I had passed through the two previous lights on the downhill run past the Lowe’s store and the nasty intersection of Hospital Drive and NC 209. I was actually maintaining the speed limit with zero vehicles behind me. I was cruising until I crossed under the railroad trestle and came upon the traffic light. Of course, it was red in my direction of travel so I had to stop.

As I was duly stopped behaving myself like a good law abiding cyclist should, obeying my responsibilities on the road as a legal form of transportation, a horn starts blowing right on my rear wheel. It seems a red small pickup truck driven by a white haired older man took offense that a) I was stopped at the traffic light or b) I was somehow impeding his ability to not go through the red light. I looked at him and he was doing some pretty good gesturing at me with an angry look on his face. I just raised my arms, somewhat pointing at the red light, but mostly out of frustration at this latest interaction. (No one fingered salute here as I stuck to my goal of not being nasty…)

The light changed and I moved on to the gutter and let the jerk go by. He didn’t bother with eye contact as he went by and he had his window rolled up so a blistering commentary from me wasn’t in the offing. Fortunately, the vast majority of vehicles passing me are driven by folks who either benignly ignore me or are out and out friendly.

Upon reaching Richland Creek Road and making my eastern turn so I could ride along the river, I was pleasantly greeted by at least two drivers as they passed me on the two lane road. This is the road where I recently found a knife and replaced it on the bridge railing. I was eager to see if it was still present. It was…

The remaining portions of the ride were pleasant as I made my way down to Clyde, over to US 23 north to Canton, and then up NC 110 to Bethel. I was still feeling pretty good and most of the negative energy from my earlier interlude was gone. What little negative energy remained was soon exorcised as I enjoyed the lovely evening ride along Love Joy Road.

Apr13_LoveJoy02 (A closer shot of the trees above along Love Joy Rd.)

I can only recall 3 vehicles passing me on this 5 mile stretch as I made my way home. I noted an increase in campers at a small commercial campground on Love Joy. There were a few fishermen plying the waters of the West Fork and I even threw my hand up in greeting to two cyclists as I was beginning my run along Love Joy.

After rejoining NC 215 and heading north, I decided one more climb was in order for the day and I split off on Edwards Cove Road. I determined that a good set of burning quads would finish off the day just right. Edwards Cove has two climbs to overcome and then returns to NC 276 very near the entrance to my home. All in all, a fine day commuting home. I think I even detected Slipstream Sallie accompanying me on Love Joy!

Until later,


MapMyRide details:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010



(Spring comes to the fields along Thickety Road)

Monday’s unseasonably warm weather was just perfect for my evening commute home after work. It currently seems that we skipped spring and jumped right into summer with our temps being in the mid to upper 80’s the last few days. Of course, this is bad for the fruit trees and farmers as it will bring about early budding and then damage will occur to the fruit crops when the late-spring frosts occur. In fact, we are headed toward a return to more seasonal weather this Thursday when the highs are predicted to be in the 60’s.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Yesterday’s ride, after an unpleasant start, was excellent and well worth holding onto for a little longer. My work flow yesterday allowed me to get out and hit the road home just before the end of day work traffic began filling up the local roads. I had a good start from the office and enjoyed the “warm up” spin past the Waynesville Recreation Department and onto Howell Mill Road.

After turning northeast on business 23, a split dual lane highway with a nicely done median of trees, shrubs, and flowers, I had started the short climb to the top of the first hill I negotiate. Traffic was moderately heavy by that time with people rushing home to work. I was riding my usual 2 to 3 feet from the right hand side curb. Given that two lanes run east and 2 lanes run west, traffic was not being impeded by me and was zipping right along.

All of a sudden, this car in the inside lane, having absolutely nothing to do with me or my movement, pulls alongside and the passenger in the front seat, yells out at me to “go ride on a damn track.” The car then sped off. I should be used to this by now but the idiocy of these interactions still gets under my skin. I did manage to avoid responding with the “one finger salute” or by yelling something equally stupid back at the guy. Still, it was an irritating moment in the ride that I would soon pay for as I continued on my commute.

After topping the hill and dropping down through one of the busier intersections in Haywood County, I proceeded down NC 209. This stretch is mostly flat with a small climb that occurs just before you drop down to the Pigeon River. This section of road normally has a nice wide gutter that I can enjoy without having to be in traffic. However, winter debris still populates the gutter so riding closer to traffic is pretty much mandated here.

I soon realized that my quads were feeling heavy and I was enjoying the ride less. It took me just a moment to realize that, although I had not responded outwardly to the interaction with the jerk, I was still pretty much seething inside as I rode along. Without realizing it, I had picked up my pace and was burning more energy than I needed to do at that point. I was only about 5 miles into a 24 mile ride.  My planned route home this date included a decent climb that would require me to me have my energy levels up to snuff. I really didn’t need to burn myself out while expending negative energy thinking about what had just happened.

As I tried to get my thoughts under control and bring my focus back to the bike, I turned onto Richland Creek Road, which runs along the Pigeon River for a mile or so. This two lane road is fairly lightly travelled even at the end of the work day. The N.C. DOT has just replaced a bridge over the river and improved the pavement in that area. As I was crossing the bridge, I thought I saw a knife laying in the roadway. I turned around and circled the object. Sure enough, someone had dropped their Swiss Army-like knife. It had several tools on it and even more bumps and dents from having bounced on the road and probably having been run over a couple of times. I thought about popping it into my tool kit for further examination later but decided that karma might appreciate me leaving it for someone else that had a need for it. I placed it on the bridge railing where it might more easily be seen. It will be interesting to see if it is there on my next trip along that road.

Interestingly, the change in focus helped to dissipate any further thoughts of my previous encounter and I was back to enjoying my ride home. ( Grasshopper, you must but place your focus on the smallest of things in order to see the greatness of the universe – possibly David Carradine, circa 1976.)  I crossed over the Pigeon and turned east on Hyder Mountain Road (State Rd. 1513), which runs to Clyde, N.C. It then becomes Thickety Road. This road is a pleasant two lane road with rollers that is a favorite of local cyclists. Eventually, you come into Clyde proper and pass by Central Haywood High School.

Normally, I would cross back over the Pigeon and take Business 23 into Canton before turning south toward home. Yesterday, I wanted to enjoy the warm weather and get in a nice climb at the same time. The image at the top of this post was taken along this section of the ride. You can see that spring is more noticeable in the lower elevations as the trees on the mountains have yet to put on their fresh light green colors.

Thickety Road winds around following the centuries old contours worn by the Pigeon. I passed some fishermen on this leg of the ride. One pair looked to be a grandfather teaching his grandson how to fish. Only a few years ago, it was not thinkable to fish the Pigeon because of the damage done to the river by the upstream paper plant. Now, however, the Pigeon has come back to life and the warnings against eating the fish have been removed. The noxious odor that used to emanate from the water is also gone.

Thickety Road soon departs the Pigeon for some short climbs through forested areas. There are also a number of small family farms and even a horse ranch or two in this area. I finally came to the biggest climb of the day that crests out at a small country church before plunging back down into the valley and then climbing once again to yet another country Baptist church. The climbs from this side of the mountain will get your heart rate up. I noted my heart rate at 174 bpm on the initial climb. Fortunately, my legs felt good and I pulled across the gaps without contemplating my imminent death due to lack of oxygen.










Thickety Road crosses over I-40 just west of Canton at exit 37. As you can see from these two images, traffic is still light on the interstate due to the rock slide at mile marker 20, which still has I-40 west out of Haywood County shut down. The prolonged closure has been tough on local businesses that rely on interstate travelers for their economic survival. The closure has also highlighted for more than one visitor to the area how fallible GPS units can be as people try to find ways around the slide without following the DOT posted signs. The problem has been so bad that the NC DOT has actually posted warnings to interstate traffic NOT to trust their GPS units!

After exiting Thickety Road onto Champion Drive, it was a nice 8 mile spin up the Pigeon Valley to home. All in all, an enjoyable commute home came to a close. All that was missing was some more cyclists. I didn’t spot a single rider other than myself on the entire ride.

Until later,

- Zeke

Friday, April 2, 2010



This past Tuesday, March 30th, was a magnificent day in the mountains of Western North Carolina. It was truly a great spring day. Temperatures started off cool in the morning but quickly warmed. By time for my daily walk from my office to the Smoky Mountain Cafe for lunch, a jacket was not needed and sunglasses were highly recommended. I think that I recall that the cafe had their door propped open for the first time this season.

By the end of the workday, we were pushing the mid-70’s and it was a day calling out for a ride. Upon arriving home, I quickly ditched computers and clothes and dressed for a late day ride. It seems that I stay pretty close to home this time of year and tend to ride a loop through the Pigeon River Valley. Tuesday was no different.

I start my loop at the Bethel Middle School and head down river toward Canton, NC. I noted pretty quickly that there were lots of people out and about walking the track at the school. There also seemed to be lots of traffic as some sort of event was just ending at the school. Throw in the end of workday traffic and good old NC 215 was busier than usual. The good news was that, without exception, all of the drivers were courteous and gave me plenty of room as they passed. I tried to be a helpful “traffic director” and would let them know what lay around the curves and whether they could safely proceed around me. It may have been my imagination but there seemed to be more pleasant hand waving as they passed me on this particular day.

The 5 mile run down to Canton was simply pleasant. As I approached Canton, I passed the local baseball field for Pisgah High School. The parking lots were full as a game was in progress. Rounding the next curve and crossing over the Pigeon River brings you into Canton’s Recreation Park area and it too was teeming with lots of activities. Many people of all ages were out and walking the trail, playing basketball, swinging, and just apparently hanging out.

A right hand turn took me by Pisgah’s softball field and yet another group of parents and friends watching the girls’ game in progress. In Memorial Stadium, there was yet another event of some sort. I imagine it was a soccer match. I mention this because seeing all of these young and old people alike out exercising and being involved in physical activities turned out to be an interesting contrast to a conversation that I would have on Thursday evening. (See “Of Note:” below)

My ride continued on my usual route up NC 110 to the intersection of US 276. The 5 mile run back up the river was typical of this section of road. There is usually more traffic here but the gutters are wide enough so you can ride pretty comfortably out of the flow of traffic. Winter debris is still abundant on the sides of the road resulting in times of quick dodges back into the main roadway but, still, a pleasant safe ride is the norm.

I wanted to extend my riding time so rather than turning northwest on US 276 and toward my home, I crossed over US 276 and began climbing Love Joy Road. The initial section of this road includes a relatively gentle climb above the river. At the top of the climb is a pull-off nice enough to unclip and grab a quick bite of power bar and some fluids. I also took the opportunity to grab some images.


(My Fuji CCR3. The grass still has its winter colors.)


(Looking south on Love Joy Road.)









(Look closely and you can catch a glimpse of the Pigeon River running through farmland just below Love Joy Road)

Love Joy runs about 3 miles in length and is a quiet 2 lane road traversed largely by local home owners and farmers. The Pigeon River Valley is a very productive agricultural area and is the focus of local conservation efforts to maintain it as small family farms rather than turning it over to yet more housing developments and mobile home parks.

Mar30_PigValley04 (Looking northwest across the Pigeon River Valley)

Ratcliffe Mountain can be seen in the distance of this image and, if you can note the shaded cove in the middle of the image, you can see the “holler” where my “best half” and I live. The sun “sets” at our house around 4:00 p.m. this time of year. I’m often fooled into thinking it is later in the day than it really is because of shade and shadows involved in living on the north slope. Fortunately, it also helps us stay cooler in the summer!

I reached the southern end of Love Joy Road where it intersects with NC 215. Normally, I would turn back north and return to my starting point. On Tuesday, I felt pretty good and had ridden the only semi-serious climb on Love Joy without problem. I decided that, given continuing daylight, I would turn south on NC 215 and ride toward Lake Logan. The road here has no shoulders and you are running along the west fork of the Pigeon with some 10’ to 15’ drops into the river if you don’t pay attention or, God forbid, you get pushed off the road by a passing motorist. As I began the initial mile of this section, the sun was no longer to be seen as the mountain range was blocking it and I began to have thoughts of turning back. Fortunately, my indecision simply led to a return to sunlight just a couple of curves further south. In short order, I passed the Lake Logan Volunteer Fire Department and received a warm greeting from the local volunteers and then quickly passed by the turn off to the Daniel Boone Boy Scout camp, site of many wonderful memories from my days as a youth in scouting.

I intended to turn around here and head home but I was still feeling good and enjoying the day. Just past the Daniel Boone turnoff begins a climb of some more significant length and grade. While my ride this day would average a 2% grade, the climb to the peak above Lake Logan is a grade of 10% and has certainly increased my heart rate in the past. Having not done many climbs this season, I was curious to see if I would make it to the top so onward I went. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to get to the top without having to find my “Lance Spot”.

By this point, the sun had dropped in the sky and I knew I needed to boogey on back home as I really didn’t want to be on this 2 lane stretch of highway in the dark. Just prior to beginning the descent, I noted a solitary hawk framed by the deep blue sky as it rode the day ending thermals high above me. It was then that I noticed the peace and quiet that surrounded me and became more aware of the emerging beauty of spring.


(Oliver “Babe” Yount) 

Memories of my Dad came back to me as I negotiated the run down the mountain and toward home. I realized that it was 15 years ago to the day that he had died following a year’s battle with metastatic colorectal cancer. Some days, it seems like only yesterday that he was helping me build fence around our home and other days it seems like an eternity since I’ve heard his voice or saw his big smile after telling a good joke.

Oliver “Babe” Yount, along with our mother, was as strong a supporter of children as anyone who has ever lived. His dedication to the 3 of us (Bro Dave, me, and our sister Cindy) knew no bounds. If he wasn’t our actual coach in Little League, he was in the stands offering encouragement and support. It didn’t matter whether it was youth sports, our time in high school athletics or my brother’s years at Appalachian State University as a football player. The Babe was there. His support extended to our friends as well. I have great memories of Babe coaching us and even of watching him in the stands enjoying my brother’s many exploits on the field, court, and diamond.

On this day, as on many days, my heart was filled with gratitude for the lessons our parents taught us about being active and athletic and enjoying the pursuit of physical activities. I know beyond any doubt whatsoever, that even though I’m on the downhill side of my own time on this planet, Babe would still be there interested in my riding and supporting me all the way…

Of note: Last night I had the opportunity to dine with Claudia Nix, our local N.C.Transportation Committee member and co-owner of Liberty Bicycles in Asheville, NC. Claudia is just back from the Bike Summit in D.C. and shared some of her experiences at that event. She clearly is enthused with the energy and directions the Secretary of Transportation laid out. She also talked about how this current generation of children is forecast to live shorter lives than my generation due to inactivity, too much TV/video games, lack of training in how to be physical, and the onslaught of diseases in children previously reserved for adults. Hypertension and Type II  Diabetes are becoming common place in children!

We were joined by Heather Strassberger, a regional planner, for the Land-of-Sky Regional Council. Heather works with the French Broad Metropolitan Planning Organization and has great interest in bike/ped improvements. She had an interesting point of view when she informed us that she didn’t like referring to bicycles as alternative methods of transportation. She said that walking is the ONLY natural form of transportation and that every other method of movement including cars and truck is really alternative modes of transportation. We had an interesting conversation about Complete Streets and N.C.’s alleged movements in this direction. It was a pleasant evening and I will hopefully be able to bring some of their energy back to our local bicycle awareness council, BicycleHaywoodNC.

The sun has crept over the mountain now and our home is flooded with sunlight as this Good Friday starts. The day is young and full of hope. May your weekend be filled with love and joy!

Until later,

- Zeke