Saturday, August 28, 2010


This past week has been interesting with a couple of rides in the evenings and an accomplishment of note. I’ll also go ahead and warn the readership that there is a high probability of a mini-rant included in this post.

The rides…

I didn’t get back on my Fuji CCR3 until Tuesday night following last Saturday’s Blue Ridge Breakaway. By Tuesday night after work, I was ready to let go of work related stress and get my legs moving again. The Navigator was headed for her water aerobics course and then we had plans for supper out with the Wood-man and the Navigator’s sister. So, a quick spin was in order for me. I decided to circle in and out of Waynesville.

The weather was most excellent. Skies were clear and we’re just beginning to get a touch of fall in the air. You don’t really see anything different. It’s just more of a feeling than anything although the cool foggy mornings are certainly a harbinger of things to come. Our daytime temps have been in that almost perfect range of upper 70’s and very low 80’s. Tuesday evening was just a fine time to be out on a bike.

I simply crisscrossed my way around and about town and took a moderate climb up Hyatt Creek Rd. to connect back to Old Balsam Rd. before traversing town. I had only been on the road about an hour and wasn’t ready to stop so I headed east out of town by riding some residential streets and connecting to Sunnyside where I began a descent to Raccoon Creek Rd. My intent was to circle back around on Raccoon and head to my LBS, Rolls Rite.

As I was descending Sunnyside and enjoying the scenery, I was jarred to the bone when my front wheel struck some kind of object followed by my saddle attempting to scratch the base of my skull from the inside of my body. Almost immediately, my rear wheel popped up and then I knew I had flatted.

I walked the bike to a shade tree and started replacing the tube. At a nearby house, a party seemed to be underway on the porch. I’m still not sure that anyone there even noted my presence. After removing the blown tube and while checking the tire casing for foreign objects, a jeep drove by me only to stop some 25 yards past my location. The driver backed up alongside me, looked at me, and said “oh, I thought you were a friend of mine.” Having determined that I was not, in fact, a friend of his, he started to pull away and then seem to have an afterthought and inquired if I needed assistance. I thanked him and assured him I was fine.

I finished my repair and headed out to the LBS and, unfortunately, was accompanied by a thump, thump, thump as the tire rotated. Apparently, I didn’t get the tube in properly. I also experienced rough gear shifting. The jolt seemed to have thrown my drive train out of alignment. I was concerned that I had bent the rim on my rear wheel but that turned out not to be the case. John, the owner of Rolls Rite, had me back in good condition and ready to ride by our group ride on Thursday evening.

The accomplishment…

Our local bicycle advocacy group, BicycleHaywoodNC, has been sponsoring Thursday night new rider/newly returning rider groups. The focus has been on helping cyclists get back into shape and to learn to ride properly on the streets. We’ve been blessed to have good turnouts each week although most of the riders have been well experienced overall. This past week we all celebrated the accomplishment of one of our truly new riders. Previously, she had ridden with us and was worn out after about 25% of the route. We hadn’t seen her for the past couple of weeks and wondered what had become of her. We were pleased when she pulled in this past Thursday and was ready to ride.

This time she completed the full 12.5 mile route! We were very pleased and proud of this accomplishment as it was a the fulfillment of one of our goals. Of course, Carolyn did the work! We congratulated her on the accomplishment and told her how proud we were of her. She was going home to call her son and report that she had made the full route this time.

Celebrating Carolyn's Success!(The ladies celebrate Carolyn’s (far right) successful ride!)


This has very little to do with cycling so feel free to skip ahead… I’ve been without my primary computer since last Sunday due to ongoing problems resulting from an upgrade in my operating system (Vista to Windows 7 Pro). After the upgrade, numerous Dell programs including my Verizon broadband account would not work. I spent 2 hours on the phone last Sunday with Dell support to accomplish the deduction (on their part) that “it isn’t working.” This resulted in kicking the problem up to an on-site visit. I purchased next day on-site protection when I purchased the computer so you’d think that meant someone would be out on Monday. You’d be wrong… It took until Wednesday before the Dell on-site tech support arrived and then until Thursday for me to get the computer back. Unfortunately, the computer was the equivalent of a paperweight as NOTHING worked. My computer is now residing with my local CRS (computer repair shop) getting yet another Windows 7 install, which means installing all of my programs again. The only good news for Dell in this is that their tech support is miles and miles better than Intuit’s (Quicken,etc.) If there is a sorrier excuse for technical support than Intuit’s “we’ll call you back” approach, I don’t ever want to see it, hear of it, and certainly not use it! O.K., I quit because I’m now approaching the cross over from mini-rant to full fledged rant and I choose not to spend my time or yours with that escalation. Let me just say that if you have submitted comments to this blog and NOT received a reply, please accept my apologies as I’m working back and forth between two different machines and things are messy…)

Some updates…

Gary Williams, the 61 year old cyclist from Belmont, NC, (near Charlotte, NC) that was so severely injured last week while participating in the Blue Ridge Breakaway remained in a coma into Thursday morning. The last update I had was that the swelling of his brain had receded and the medical staff was hoping to begin bringing him out of the coma yesterday (Friday) and hoped to take him off the ventilator. His wife remains in Asheville, NC near Memorial Mission Hospital. The family asks that they be kept in everyone’s thoughts and prayers with hopes for a full recovery… The cyclist involved in the incident in Clyde in which he was pinned under a horse trailer was treated and released at the hospital. He has been in contact with the Blue Ridge Breakaway officials and reports that he is fine… The Smoky Mountain News provided coverage of the ride. Bro Dave reports that he enjoyed an excellent 2.5 hour ride on his Salsa Fargo in and around Santa Monica, CA on Friday. He reports that BikinginLa perfectly described the ride and even wonders if they weren’t riding near each other at the same time. I do have to go find out what the Greasy Wiener truck is…Meanwhile, Jim Artis over at Cycling Experiences has been hard at work featuring articles on iPhone Apps, the new Garmin Edge 800, and the changes he has made in his design and layout of his blog… The VeloHobo is prepping for his ultra-light tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is sharing with us what he intends to include or not include on his upcoming tour.

Until later,

- Zeke

Wednesday, August 25, 2010



Blue Ridge Breakaway, Part I

Blue Ridge Breakaway, Part II

Blue Ridge Breakaway, Part III

The reporting is done, the ride covered. All that is left are perhaps a few observations and then it’s time to get back to the normal activities of riding in the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas.

A few observations:

  • Haywood County citizens have a rich history of working together for common causes. Perhaps it is the cultural legacy of mountaineers surviving with the help of neighbors and not looking to the government to fix everything. Whatever it is, this ride served as another rallying point for the community and it responded wonderfully.
  • Of all the riders and all the routes, I heard of only a SINGLE incident of an auto buzzing a rider or group of riders. Similarly, I heard of ZERO incidents of dogs chasing riders. Again, kudos to the community members.
  • Comments from participants were overwhelmingly positive about the entire event and most said they’d be back next year and bring friends. This certainly bodes well for the ongoing success of the ride.
  • The local Ham radio operators provided a much needed and valuable resource that came into play quickly when the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed down by BRP officials due to the inclement weather on top.
  • The BRP officials made a wise decision in closing down the ride. The danger levels for riders were simply too high. I’ve been in those situations on the Parkway on both motorcycle and bicycle and they are dangerous. As always, SAFETY FIRST!
  • The care and concern for participants shown by the event planners and organizers would be hard to top anywhere. From providing outstanding aid stations, sag support, and the unexpected rescue of stranded cyclists on the mountain, they did a superb job and should be commended.

Some final thoughts/ponderings on my personal experience:

Many of us face existential questions in our daily lives. Many of us seek out answers to those questions in man’s never ending quest for enlightenment. I know and embrace many of the “hats” that I wear in my life: husband, friend, co-worker, advocate,  Principle “Keep the Navigator Happy” assignee. The one puzzling question that still leaves me searching for answers is this: After near 3 years in my return to cycling, have I earned the right to call myself a cyclist? In my quest to answer this question, I’ve stumbled trying to elucidate what makes a person a cyclist. Does any amount/frequency of riding qualify? Does a specific type of riding override all other forms of cycling? Was the Unicyclist a cyclist? Is a long distance ultra-endurance cyclist more or less of a cyclist than an individual who focuses more on weight loss and fitness in their cycling efforts? Does completing a metric century or century by and of itself give me the right to call myself a cyclist?

It is questions like these that often come to mind in the wee hours of night, when the darkness of the day is most fully enveloping me. I toss and I turn from the exhaustion in my legs and my back all the while wondering, “Can I legitimately call myself a cyclist” or am I merely a “Fred” in development? (Please note: no insult or injury to anyone name Fred is intended here. I use the term merely because it has been taught to me as meaning “someone who pretends to be a cyclist but isn’t really… They probably have a kickstand and reflectors still on their bike. Again, not my definition.)

Well, at least part of the question was answered for me this past weekend. You may think it is because I completed my first metric century. That would be a logical assumption to make but, it would be wrong. My effort pales in comparison to what many people do on a daily basis. You see, the moment came to me in my ride prep the night before the ride. It wasn’t that I was carbo-loading in my selection of a pasta dish at supper. It wasn’t that I had carefully gone over my Fuji and packed early – well, except for those little things called water bottles. No, the moment of partial truth came to me as I did something that I’ve never done for any sport in which I was involved in my lifetime and I have been blessed to participate in many different sports.

You see, clarity came upon me as I sat on the edge of the bathtub, spreading shaving lotion on my left leg. Yes, that’s right I SHAVED MY LEGS for the Blue Ridge Breakaway. I am CYCLIST! Hear me ROAR! It was a marvelous experience almost as good as the first time I shaved my head many, many years ago. The smooth move of the Gillette Fusion up my leg removing a lifetime’s growth of hair made me shudder with joy. Why, I didn’t even shave my ankles in high school football when they were taped due to sprains.

So, it’s out now. I’ve tried to encourage the Navigator not to be too jealous of the smooth touch of my legs. I let her slide her leg along mine the other day just so she could experience perfection. There you have it! I’m outted. I outted myself. No one noticed at the ride or, at least, no one commented at the ride on my sleek aerodynamic legs. I feel absolutely confident that without having shaved my legs, I would have finished my ride in 5 hours and 15 seconds instead of 5 hours and 9 seconds.

Zeke on Hyatt Creek Road(Zeke – can he call himself a cyclist now?)

I bid you adieu for now. I leave you as I proclaim “I am a cyclist fer sure!”  I’m really uncomfortable with this stubble though. I think I’ll go shave….

Until later,

- Zeke

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



Blue Ridge Breakaway, Part 2
Blue Ridge Breakaway, Part 1


(At the end of Part 2, I said my goodbyes to the Navigator and left the 3rd Aid Station at the Church of God on NC 110 headed for Lake Logan. I apologize now for the lack of images to go with the posting. I was too busy riding to take pictures and I haven’t received any from other sources as yet.)

My previous “hosts”, who had pulled me along with them for a short distance on NC 110 were a fading memory as they had pulled steadily away from me. I was back to solo status along Love Joy Road as I headed south. It was along this 3 mile stretch that my interactions were acknowledgments of and greetings to my fellow metric century riders, who had already made the turn and were headed back. I had approximately 5 miles to go before I would reach that same turn around spot. I began to get a sense of where I was positioned with the riders in front of me but, of course, had no idea how many were behind me on the route and whether they were century riders or metric century riders.

There was a steady stream of riders on their return trip and I observed that groups of 3 and 4 helping each other pull were quite common. After leaving Love Joy for Lake Logan Road, I began to struggle in keeping my pace. I could feel the weariness of my legs and an increasing pain in my knees with each pedal stroke. My mind began to drift to thoughts of whether I would be able to climb Stamey Cove again on this day. It was either climb it or accept DNF status. I sensed my hopeful attitude beginning to dissipate.

I came upon the final climb up to Lake Logan. To this point, Lake Logan Road is a very slight grade increase over a couple of miles. Looking at it, you would almost think it was level. After passing the Lake Logan Volunteer Fire Department, the slight grade bumps up against the mountain and you have a rapid sharp increase in gradient as you climb above Lake Logan and its dam. This is a climb of approximately three quarter miles with a grade increase to around 9% and a false flat in the middle that fools you into thinking the climb is over.

Riders making the return route for the metric century were enjoying their descent of this climb as I pedaled my way up the mountain. I caught up with and passed a couple of fellow cyclists as they made their way to the top. Upon reaching the top of the climb, it is a nice tree shaded descent to the causeway across the upper end of the lake. The 4th aid station was now in sight and it looked busy.

While at this station, I had the opportunity to hear the ham radio operator assigned to this station. Cell phone service in this area is, at best, poor and generally non-existent. Each of the aid stations had ham radio operators assigned and they kept ride officials aware of the various circumstances along the courses. At this point in the day, first word came in from the operators on the Blue Ridge Parkway that it had started to rain at the higher elevations. This was not a good omen!

There continued to be century riders stopping at the station before beginning the 10 mile ascent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I spotted the Unicyclist as he made his way to the station and turned around to begin the last leg home. After consuming some bananas and more Gatorade, I said my goodbyes to the folks at the site and began my own trek to the finish line.

The pain in my knees had mostly subsided and I was only left with the burning sensation of overworked thigh muscles and stiffness in my lower back beginning to set in. I too enjoyed my descent down Lake Logan Road and tried to give out cheerful greetings to those still making their way to the top. The pain on many faces was evidence of their hard work. There were still numerous riders heading toward Lake Logan as I rejoined Love Joy Road. I hoped none of them were century riders because I didn’t see any way that they could make the time cut-off set by the Blue Ridge Parkway officials. It would have been a shame to make it that far and get turned back.

After a very brief stop at the Navigator’s aid station, I was headed toward my second climb of the day of Stamey Cove. This had been the big question in my mind as to whether I would be able to survive two crossings of Stamey Cove in the same day. I had two cyclists, who were clearly riding together, in my view as I began the climb. This side of the Stamey Cove climb is a steady and long increase in gradient until you get to the final approach of the gap. At that point, it jumps way up in grade to approximately 11%.

The rain from the Parkway had now reached the valley and we were being treated to a nice cooling mist as the climb started. The mist became light rain as I got closer to the top. The young couple in front of me had pulled to the side of the road and dismounted about 1/3rd of the way into the steep grade near the top. A vehicle was stopped talking to them and I was hoping that it would move on before I reached their point as I didn’t want to stop and lose my momentum. Somewhere along this ascent, my knees had quit hurting and I was actually feeling pretty good again.

The vehicle moved on and, as I passed the young couple, they called out that the vehicle was warning them of a crash just on the other side of the gap. I made some kind of audible sound acknowledging their information, kept my head down, and kept mashing. I can’t say there was much spin left in me at this point.

A truck came around me on the left and stopped in my lane of travel ahead. One of the ride officials jumped out to warn me to take it slow on the descent because of the crash and because the rain had now increased in intensity and bringing up the oils on the surface of the road. The race official headed on over the gap, which was now in my sight.

I was determined that I was going to go through the gap on my terms so I tried to find the energy to attack, or at least my version of an attack, as I topped the mountain. I rose out of the saddle and began pumping as hard as I could and actually managed to pick up some speed as I approached the crest. When I felt the momentum shift forward and saw my wheels pass through the gap,  I heard a loud scream from nearby. Turns out it was me celebrating my second topping of the mountain on this day.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time to celebrate because what goes up, must go down after all and I was picking up speed on a wet winding road. I started working my brakes bleeding off speed as I negotiated my way down the mountain and into the hairpin turn where the crash had occurred. As it turns out, it was a one person crash and the scene had already been cleared.

We would come to know that this single bike crash was very serious. Details are yet unclear as to what happened. What is clear is that this rider was taken directly to Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville with major head trauma. He was in a coma when he arrived at the hospital and surgery was performed to reduce pressure on his brain. His injuries were on the left side of his body and included broken pelvis, collapsed lung, broken nose, and collapsed left eye socket. His family reported that he was an avid cyclist in the Charlotte, NC area and was preparing for a MS 150 race in the near future. (Note: As of this writing, he remains in intensive care. He has begun responding to stimuli and moving his limbs. The family and doctors are hopeful for his recovery although he remains in critical but stable condition.)

My ride down the mountain was thankfully non-eventful and after one more brief climb, I was in Clyde and turning for “home” on the Old Clyde Highway. The rain was steady and moderately heavy at this point and I was ready to be finished.  As I was making my way out of Clyde along the Pigeon, I came upon the Unicyclist again. I pulled alongside and we started up what would become short conversational interludes as we passed and re-passed each other going into Lake Junaluska. He would drop me on the short ascents and I would pass him on the descents. Of course, we were both soaked from the rain at this point. He was riding only in bibbed shorts and I thought he must be getting cool.

We finally made it to Lake Junaluska and South Lake Shore Drive. Along this way, the Unicyclist and I rode side-by-side and actually had a conversation that lasted more than 10 words at a time. It turns out he was from nearby Fairview, NC and was riding Haywood County roads for the first time. I gathered from him that his longest ride on the unicycle was 96 miles in late December when he rode from Anniston, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia. He explained the workings of the unicycle to me and informed me that it was actually harder on him going downhill than uphill. I had noted that his pedal stroke was very short without any leg extension. He shared with me that he had almost done a “face plant” when he took his eyes off the road earlier and hit a slight depression in the road throwing his body weight forward over the wheel. I can only imagine what outstanding core condition this fellow must have!

We finally reached the end of South Lake Shore Dr. and approached the juncture with US 19. The rain was heavy and auto traffic was clearly ignoring the well marked signs of bicyclists in the road. The Unicyclist and I went our separate ways at this point and I was closing out my first metric century riding solo as I had most of the day. The rain was very heavy at this point and it was difficult to see with both sides of my glasses being wet. The fast moving traffic to my left was throwing up considerable spray adding to the riding difficulty. I recall the feeling that each of my feet had its own hot tub except there was not “hot” in hot tub! The finish was in sight and I did my best to “sprint in.” The Wood-man had cautioned me not to leave anything on the course so I did my best to meet that condition. As I crossed the finish line, the volunteer sitting under her nice umbrella, called out a hearty “Great job! 5 hours and 9 seconds!

I was pleased with the time and the effort and also knew that my actual ride time would be less than 5 hours. My goal had been to maintain a 12 mph average and I knew that I was either right on it or had exceeded it. I was glad to know that I had left nothing on the course. I was soaked, tired, and worn out. It felt wonderful!


After getting into my vehicle and removing some of the wet clothing I was wearing, I called the Navigator to report my whereabouts and the fact that I was finished and safely back. She informed me that the Blue Ridge Parkway officials had shut down the Parkway segment of the century route and had turned away any more cyclists from continuing along the route. She also said that a number of participants were stranded on the Parkway.

I immediately contacted the ride officials and offered to go pick up riders in my truck. I was told to go back to Lake Logan and that I would be dispatched by radio from there. I had to go back to the Navigator’s location to get the truck as I had her Escape and she was driving my truck for the day. On the way, I drove over the course making my 3rd crossing of Stamey Cove. (This one was MUCH easier!)  I noted the riders remaining on the course and called their location back in to the ride officials giving rider numbers when I could. There were only 4 riders still on the course between Clyde and aid station #3.

After a quick exchange of vehicles, I made my way back up to the Lake Logan aid station and joined up with Cross Country Stan and Jennifer, both fellow BicycleHaywoodNC council member. We took 3 vehicles to the Parkway to pick up what we were told were 6 or more stranded riders. The intensity of the rain increased steadily as we drove the remaining mileage to the top. I was running my wipers on full speed trying to keep a clear window. Waterfalls were sprouting up along the sides of the roads as the heavy rain made its way to the valley.

Upon arriving at the Blue Ridge Parkway, we pulled into the aid station and discovered that the stranded riders were all safely ensconced in other vehicles and headed off the mountain. The aid station volunteers were doing their best to pack up in the heavy rains and winds that were blowing across the crest of the mountain. Jennifer and I headed back down to Lake Logan to pick up any remaining riders.

I later found out that Dr. Jim, yet another BicycleHaywoodNC council member, was riding the century route and was on the Parkway before it was shut down but after the rain had started. He came upon a rider, who was going in the wrong direction. When Dr. Jim addressed him, the rider did not acknowledge him at all so Dr. Jim turned and pulled the cyclist to the side. He quickly determined this fellow was already hypothermic. With the assistance of the Water Rock Knob volunteers, the cyclist was warmed and transported to Haywood County Hospital for further assessment and treatment.

The decision by Parkway officials to shut down the ride was well justified. This was one of the hardest rains I’ve seen around here in awhile and with temperatures dropping to the very low 60’s and perhaps upper 50’s, the chance for serious injury was high. I was later advised that a large number of the century riders completed the full course before the heavy rains played havoc on the ride.

For my part, I didn’t end up having to rescue any riders but did get to help transport the Lake Logan supplies back to Lake Junaluska. The hour of post ride adrenaline rush from the weather related activities soon wore off. I was beyond pleased to finally get home and soak in a hot tub of water for awhile!

(Next up: perhaps some final thoughts/observations and hey, it’s time to get back on the bike!)

Until later,

- Zeke

Monday, August 23, 2010



Part one of the ride of the inaugural Blue Ridge Breakaway.


When last I left you, Wolfpen Andy and I had just enjoyed a nice long train ride behind a tandem and 3 cyclists and were making the right hand turn onto Coleman Mountain Road and the first moderate climb of the day for all routes of the Blue Ridge Breakaway

After crossing Jonathan Creek on Coleman Mountain, we were still riding along behind the “train” and beginning the very early rise of the climb to the peak above I-40. I was still on last wheel and then, I wasn’t… The tandem and accompanying cyclists, including Wolfpen Andy, were still motoring on up the mountain at a pace I knew I wouldn’t survive and get to the top. I quickly dropped back into my Kent “Mountain Turtle” Peterson personae and began to “hasten slowly”. 

Coleman Mountain has a couple of small inclines and dips before the main part of the climb begins and you cross under I-40 before making a right hand turn to a straight stretch leading to the top. Wolfpen Andy had dropped from the “train’s” wheels and we rejoined just as we went under I-40. I saw my first cyclist of the day on the side at that point. This person had popped just before the underpass, which is about 1/3rd of the way up the climb.

As we made our way to the top, some distance had opened between myself and Wolfpen Andy and I decided to go ahead and begin the winding descent to Iron Duff Road intending that we would hook up again at that point. The top of Coleman on the Iron Duff side has about 5 curves in the top half and is rather serpentine around the point where Jack Pine Drive joins to Coleman Mountain. I had good speed going down and did not have to avoid other cyclists as there were none in front of me. The tandem train was long gone and I was not to see them again.

I was enjoying the descent but got just a wee bit hot into one corner and my heart jumped up into my throat as I tried not to panic and trust the bike. All worked out well and I finished the descent with good speed. At the intersection of Coleman Mountain and Iron Duff Road, I checked for Wolfpen Andy but he was no where to be found.

(Note: In a phone call Saturday evening, Wolfpen Andy told me was descending Coleman behind me when a cyclist blew past him and was way too hot for the curve at Jack Pine. He lost control and went off the road into the bank and assorted bushes, vines, and trees. Wolfpen Andy stopped to check on him and help him to the side of the road. He stayed with him until the motorcycle support arrived before he resumed his ride of the 40 miler.

My best friends live on Jack Pine and I was telling them about the accident at their drive. Nick said he was glad that the cyclist wasn’t hurt seriously but that he’d have to wait for 2 to 3 days to see all of the outcome of that crash. Being familiar with the specific bank and location, Nick advised that it was full of poison oak! Our fallen comrade may be itching up a storm by the time you read this!)


Betwixt and Between seemed to become my theme for the remainder of the ride from this juncture. I rode the full descent to the Pigeon River and the right hand turn onto Riverside alone having no cyclists behind nor in front of me. It was pretty much a solo adventure for the rest of the day. I made my way up Riverside and enjoyed the smells of barbecue being cooked along the way and then made my way up Crabtree Church Road before coming upon a lone cyclist making his way to the top. Just before the peak of the short climb, we were greeted by fans 3 deep along the side of the road cheering us on. Well, actually, it was a father and his two daughters and he was standing behind the two of them. Still, they did cheer us on!

Crabtree Church Rd. intersects with NC 209 and the first water stop of the day was immediately on our right at Crabtree United Methodist Church. All routes of the ride were to come by this position so it was a large stop manned by many volunteers. Everyone was greeted warmly and volunteers offered to hold bikes while the participants refreshed themselves with food, drink, and visits to the portajohns.

Zeke's Fuji CCR3 in good hands!








(Friendly volunteer watching over my bike!)

Crabtree FUMC water stop








(The first aid station of the day laid out with goodies!)

The first of the Century riders had not made it to this point as I departed but we were  soon joined by the young man on his 18” bike referenced in part one of this story. He was still going strong! I’m not sure he had worked up a sweat at this point.

After a short break and refresher, it was back to the course. I followed out two cyclists, who were unfamiliar with the course. As we pedaled along NC 209 to Golf Course Road and then Big Branch, I gave them a short introduction to the remainder of the 60 mile route. In short order, we were climbing up the backside of Hyder Mountain Road and I found myself again riding solo. I recall a nice greeting from a resident as he was putting out his American flag on his second floor deck. Topping Hyder Mountain was a moderate climb leading to a steep downhill descent and the Pigeon River. It was at this point, the 40 milers and 25 milers would return to Lake Junaluska. The century riders and metric century participants turned east on Hyder Mountain Road and spun along the riverbanks of the Pigeon to Clyde, NC where the second aid station of the day was located.

It was at this point that I found out about what appeared to initially be a serious accident. Riders were required to stop at all traffic signs/lights and this location was a major intersection of travel from Waynesville to Canton. A rider had stopped at the traffic light in order to cross over Carolina Boulevard and begin the approach to Stamey Cove. It is unclear to me exactly what happened at the traffic light but the most common report that I’ve received is that a truck pulling a horse trailer pulled up on the left of the cyclist. When the light changed, the truck proceeded to turn right in front of the cyclist and shortened the turn dragging the horse trailer across the curbing and pulling the cyclist under the trailer.

It is not clear at this point why the truck driver proceeded as he did and I do not know whether he was charged with any traffic offense. The good news is that the rider was transported to the hospital and treated for abrasions and other non-life threatening injuries. He was later released and was reported to be home and doing well on Sunday.

The next section of the ride was the most difficult climb for the metric century riders. Well, to be more accurate, it was 50% of the most difficult climb because the planners of the route had us climbing Stamey Cove on the outgoing leg and on the return leg. The two sides are both difficult although their characteristics are different. Along this short stretch before the climb began, I enjoyed a brief conversation with a cyclist, who was riding in support of her friend. The friend was struggling mightily at this point and we had not yet arrived at the climb. We soon parted ways and I made my way up the initial steep climb. On the Clyde side of Stamey Cove, you have an initial steep climb into a left hand hairpin turn and then a LONG steady climb to the top.

I was just short of approaching the hairpin curve when I heard “on your left” for the first time in quite awhile. It turned out to be the lead pack of century riders. I was “hastening slowly” up the mountain and they passed me like I was standing still, which wasn’t far from the truth. It was a humbling experience to be passed so easily on such a steep climb. They were gone and out of sight rather quickly leaving me to my solo ascent of the climb free to wonder if I could have ridden at that pace in my 20’s.

The gap was in sight and I was again greeted by a local resident, who was leaning over the deck of her railing and appeared to be enjoying the morning. I inquired as to her state of being and she inquired as to mine. We both agreed she probably felt better than I did at that moment! The gap was soon under my wheels and I was shifting to the big ring looking for some speed downhill.

The descent to the Pigeon River was swift and fun and my legs were able to recover nicely. A short run up NC 215 and then across Wells Road soon brought me to NC 110 about one half mile short of the third aid station. At this point, we had run along and over the Pigeon River at least 3 times since beginning the route. Soon enough I pulled into the local Church of God parking lot and the aid station where the Navigator was working.

Zeke and the Navigator(Getting my 24 mile (or so) hug from the Navigator) 

A local Girl Scout troop(?) was greeting riders at the entrance to this aid station with signs and lots of energy. The aid station was slightly below road grade and difficult to see without the presence of the Scouts. The Navigator told me later that a gentleman of Hispanic heritage saw the girls and thought it was a car wash. He pulled in and was trying to inquire about getting his car washed. Unfortunately, his English was worse than the Navigator’s Spanish. I’m sure it was an interesting attempt at conversation before he finally figured out he wasn’t getting his car washed!

After a short break and pick up of my water bottles from the Navigator, I was back on the route and headed to the aid station at Lake Logan, which was the turn around point for the metric century riders. It was along this next section after the Church of God aid station that I would begin to see the first of the returning metric century riders leaving me to ponder my relative position among riders on the metric century ride.

I was lucky to catch the rear wheel of 3 riders doing the century route and benefitted from their pull the rest of the way to the NC 110 and US 276 intersection and the beginning of Love Joy Road. As we started a short climb, I knew my time with them was over and said my good-byes and thanked them for the pull…

(In part 3 of my report, I’ll cover the return trip to Lake Junaluska, the most serious crash of the day, a dramatic change in weather, and oh yeah the post race rescue efforts that were made…)

Until later,

- Zeke

Sunday, August 22, 2010


As I sip on my first cup of coffee of the day and rewind the events associated with yesterday’s first ever Blue Ridge Breakaway, I’m finding it hard to locate a place in the story to start. Not only was it the first ride held in Haywood County in many, many years but it was my first effort at a metric century. Successful completion of this event has been one of my goals for this riding season.

This morning, I am sore and stiff. I have a headache, my lower back objects to any bending at the waist, and my knees pretty quickly second any objections made by other parts of my body when I try to move. I love it! I take it as a sign that I rode hard and didn’t leave anything on the course.

Yesterday’s ride culminated in many months of work by a vast group of volunteers. The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce was the driving force behind the ride as they hoped to bring in cyclists to our area. As I’ve said many times, we are blessed with some excellent riding country here in Western North Carolina. The Chamber was joined by other community volunteers including BicycleHaywoodNC, our local bike advocacy group, Rotarians, Girl Scouts, and numerous businesses that hosted and “(wo)manned” water stops.

The ride incorporated almost all of the geographic region of Haywood County when you look at the routes. Other than the main retail centers of Waynesville and the very eastern end of the county around Canton, roads had to be blocked, cleaned, and security provided. It would be interesting to know the cumulative total of miles covered by this ride.

Planners of the event had hoped for 200 riders. As of mid-day on Friday, the registration was at 240 and there were still about 5 an hour coming in via the website. We also knew there would be some last minute walk-ins. 300 riders was not looking like it would be a stretch by 4:00 p.m. on Friday.

The weather forecast for Saturday had been all over the board throughout the week. One day we were at 20% chance of rain and the next 50% chance. Most often, the forecasters are really expecting a late afternoon thunderstorm when they are giving out a 50% chance of rain. They are betting that as the day heats up the storms will fire up in the muggy afternoon.

Saturday morning dawned with overcast skies and pleasant cool temperatures. While the clouds looked foreboding, the cooler temps were definitely welcome. I arrived at the site of the start/finish at Lake Junaluska’s Wheldon Gym and was greeted by full parking lots and a grass field already packed with cars. Participants were out and loosening up their legs as I was directed to a parking place and began my own final preparations. I was greeted by many people – some I knew and others I did not. On one hand, they were strangers and on the other hand they were comrades in the upcoming ride. All were pleasant and smiling as we began our day.

Just as I was locking up the vehicle, I discovered my first “rookie” mistake of the day. In my meticulous planning on Friday evening, in which I got everything ready to go so that I merely had to shower quickly and dress on Saturday morning, I had prepped my two Camelbak water bottles filling them with Gatorade and placing them in the refrigerator. I discovered that was where they remained as the clock ticked down to start time. I quickly called the Navigator and asked her to bring them with her to the water stop she would be working. I then set out to locate a water source that would hold me until I got to my own bottles some 24 miles away.

Fortunately, “Wolfpen Andy” was warming up and graciously loaned me a bottle saying one would do him on the 40 mile circuit he was doing. Water bottle crisis averted, we made our way to the starting group and just enjoyed observing the mass of riders around us as the announcements were made at the head of the group. We spotted a unicyclist, a couple of tandems, and people of all ages with the youngest having the appearance of about 7 or 8 years old and the oldest having the appearance of, well, a number of years of accumulated wisdom!

Very shortly, we heard the start and, in a moment or two, our group began to clip in and move out. With the mass start, it was crowded. Fortunately, I didn’t see any crossed wheels or anyone going down as we made our way to US 19 and the early climb of 2.5 miles to the juncture with US 276 (Jonathan Creek). The crowd began to spread out quickly in the right hand lane of the dual highway. Law enforcement and motorcycle support were excellent and kept the faster moving auto traffic away from us. This road is a long straight stretch that afforded us views of the early leaders. The numerous red blinkies on the bikes of those ahead of us provided an interesting contrast to the gray skies and semi-darkness of the dawning day.

The group of riders, who self-selected themselves in the under 12 mph group, were off and gone and you could only see them as small dots in the distance. The majority of the riders were still massed although the thinning process was well underway within 1.5 miles. Wolfpen Andy and I were riding along and noticed the aforementioned young man of 7 or 8 years old. He was riding what looked to be about an 18” bike and his legs must have been pushing 200 rpm! He was drafting his Dad’s (I assume paternity here) rear wheel and doing a great job riding in the group. His line was straight and he was focused. If he can maintain his interest in riding, I wonder what he will be able to do in a decade or two!

After last week’s exercise in getting dropped on this road by Cross Country Stan, Ken, and Christina, I was focusing on riding within my limit and trying not to get caught up in the adrenaline rush of the moment. Wolfpen Andy and I were maintaining my hoped for 12 mph pace for this segment. We were passing and being passed as we made our way to the top of the climb.

After topping the hill and merging onto Jonathan Creek Road (US 276), the crowd had really stretched out. Those faster cyclists,who started in the rear, were making their presence known as they continually called out “on your left” and quite often added “how ya doing?” One such passing group was led by a tandem ridden by a couple with Mellow Johnny jerseys and 3 female cyclists. Wolfpen Andy and I jumped on their rear wheel and we immediately jumped up from 19 mph to 23 mph as we cruised down the flat stretch of highway. We became the “passers” and enjoyed the lift from the tandem.

Very shortly, we made the right hand turn onto Coleman Mountain Road and started the first significant climb of the day, which further created gaps in the riders.

(End part one… Additional posts coming with pics! Next up… Climbing Coleman, crashes, water stops and more!)

Until later,

- Zeke

Friday, August 20, 2010


Our BicycleHaywoodNC sponsored Thursday night ride served two purposes this week. It continued our summer long effort to encourage new and newly returning riders to get out, exercise, and enjoy our community. This week it had the added benefit of serving a final warm-up for me as I go into my first metric century ride on Saturday as the inaugural Blue Ridge Breakaway unfolds.

Our group was somewhat smaller this week in numbers but not effort. The reduced size could easily be written off due to the start of school and the return of tourists to their homes. This was the first week in several in which we did not have a visiting cyclist to ride with us.

We branched out with our route this week and did some “country cruising” rather than staying in town and within the city limits. Our ride included Raccoon Rd., Ratcliffe Cove Rd., Francis Farm Rd. Business 19 & 23 and both South and North Lakeshore Drive around Lake Junaluska.

Being out in the country meant reduced traffic once folks got home from work and very pleasant scenery as we rode by family farms and gardens. We were blessed with improving weather throughout the day and had great late day sunshine and white puffy clouds as we enjoyed the weekly ride.

Thursday Night Riders (A happy group of riders at the base of the Cross at Lake Junaluska)

Today, Friday, is my final prep day for tomorrow’s ride. I had my monthly massage and then picked up my registration packet for the ride. While there, I was able to help load vehicles with supplies for the various stops tomorrow. A lot of (wo)man hours have gone into the planning and implementation of this event.

After arriving home, I gave my Fuji CCR3 a good once over and installed the holder for a new pump that I purchased today. After seeing “Cross Country Stan” use his last week, I realized how much better it was than the small hand pump I’ve been lugging around. I purchased a Lezyne Alloy Drive M with a stated weight of 128 grams. Installation was a snap as all I had to do was remove my water bottle cage, slide the mounting clip under the water bottle cage, and screw everything back down. I liked the hidden hose and clearly marked hose ends for Shraeder or Presta valves. I topped off my tires just to be sure the pump was working.

The Navigator and her sister are working one of the stops on my route tomorrow so I loaded up the truck with their chairs, my work stand to use at the stop, and my floor pump. Hopefully, no one will need their services! Now, all that remains is for me to get myself ready!

As part of the community wide awareness regarding the Blue Ridge Breakaway, the local newspaper, The Waynesville Mountaineer, covered the dangers that face cyclists every day with an emphasis on how traffic can interact with the riders on Saturday. This fit very nicely into our Advocacy and Education activities for the year and I was pleased to be able to provide some input to the article. The article is available on-line for those interested.

I’ll be forcing myself up early in the morning and turning on SPOT about 7:30 as the ride gets underway. This time tomorrow I will have either set a new personal best for myself and achieved one of my main goals for the summer or I’ll be one tired, less-than-happy dude! Either way, tomorrow will be interesting!

Until later,

- Zeke

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


This past weekend did not live up to the fun schedule that was laid out in my last post. As noted last Thursday, August 12th, I was turning over my laptop for a clean install of Windows 7. Knowing that I would be without my connection to the blogosphere other than through my Blackberry Storm II, I laid out an ambitious final weekend of preparation for the upcoming Blue Ridge Breakaway on August 21st. Only a small portion of the planned training came to pass. More on that later in this post…

Friday was a sad day for us on two fronts. Our friend Big John Medford was buried following his battle with ALS for the past 6 years. John was a big man with a bigger heart and his passing was felt throughout our community. He was known for his generosity of spirit and willingness to help others. He will be sorely missed.

Big John Medford(John Manson Medford)

I’ll get to the other sadness in our day later… First though, let’s talk riding!

Saturday morning presented the opportunity to try out the 40 mile route for the upcoming Blue Ridge Breakaway. Several of us agreed to meet at 8:30 and ride the route checking road conditions and potential hazards to address before the day of the ride.

I was the last to arrive of the 4 folks riding that morning. Cross Country Stan was already there and warmed up. Ken Howle, one of the race coordinators was making his final preparations to ride and Christina from Sarasota, Fl decided to join us before returning home with her family. We met Christina at our Thursday night ride when she joined us for our weekly beginners and newly returning group ride. She informed us that she had begun riding in April of this year and had just completed her first triathlon.

After final checks and chats, we headed out south and west on US 19, which pretty much immediately becomes a climb of about 2 miles to the intersection of US 276. The grade isn’t bad so I wasn’t expecting any trouble. Ha! Within about a mile, I was already losing the wheel of the  rider in front of me. I seemed to be going backwards compared to my 3 companions. I was breathing hard and struggling. Now, I know that some days you just don’t have it but, generally, it takes more than a mile for me to figure that out. I looked down at my computer and realized that my good buddy Cross Country Stan was taking us out at a 16 mph pace going uphill. I couldn’t do it and found myself adopting Kent “Mountain Turtle” Peterson’s philosophy of “hasten slowly.” So, I did…

I settled into my own pace and slowly hastened right on back up to the crew where they were waiting on me at the crest of the climb. I apologized but told them that going from 0 mph to 16 mph with no warm up was more than this old body could do! From there, we settled into a nice rhythm going down US 276 along Jonathan Creek. This is flat for the most part and we had a nice 22 to 24 mph pace going as we approached the turn to Coleman Mountain.

A right onto Coleman presented the first climb of the day. With warmed up legs, we all pedaled our way to the top and then enjoyed a nice twisty descent to Iron Duff Road. We then dropped down to the crossing of the Pigeon River and took a moment for some pictures and to hash out the ride thus far.

Resting over the Pigeon(l-r, Ken, Christina, Stan) 

At this point, the metric century ride will turn right up river while the century and 40 miler will go left down into Panther Creek. We discovered later in the weekend that a cyclist riding on Rabbit Skin Road was taken down by a loose dog and is now paralyzed as a result. The rider was scheduled for surgery today Tuesday, August 17th. Apparently the dog is well known to many of the area cyclists, who ride that particular route. This event must have happened near the time that we were in the general area and within just a couple of miles. Panther Creek Road goes down the north side of the river and Rabbit Skin Road goes down the south side.

Three thorns over a river! (Three thorns as opposed to a rose between 2 thorns above!)

Upon resuming our trek, we climbed out of Panther Creek and dropped back down into Fines Creek where we checked out a water stop at the Fines Creek Community building. After giving it a passing grade and petting a well fed, happy Labrador Retreiver, we moved on and ran by a pack of dogs laying in and out of the road. One dog began to give chase but it was redirected by Cross Country Stan and his water bottle. Ken will be making a home visit to ask these mountain folk to put their dogs up next Saturday morning. Should be an interesting conversation as, culturally speaking, dogs often have as much or more rights than humans here in the mountains. Hopefully, the folks will be aware of last weekend’s tragedy and will be happy to assist us in getting some 250 cyclists through the county.

We enjoyed a brief stop at Ferguson’s Supply store at the intersection of NC 209 and Max Patch Road. This is also the base of Rush Fork Mountain and we were going to be climbing to the top. From the north side, the mountain is arguably one of the top 5 climbs in the county. The south side is likely one of the two toughest climbs in the area. It is for more experienced riders than I to come up with the final rankings. I do know this – it will wear you down with its 13% grade over approximately 2 miles.

We all made it to the top – some quicker than others and then enjoyed an exhilarating descent reaching 40+ mph on the straight stretch as we blasted past WeKirk Farms and the G.C. Palmer dairy. We had one more short climb on NC 209 to the Crabtree First United Methodist Church where a water stop will be located and the metric century riders will rejoin the route. Time was running low at this point so we opted out of the climb up the backside of Hyder Mountain and headed on back to our starting point at Lake Junaluska Assembly. Christina found some new juice in her legs on this final stretch and pushed us up to about 20 mph pace before we said our goodbyes to Cross Country Stan and made our way around South Lakeshore Drive to the starting point. 38.5 miles later we were back after enjoying a fine morning in the saddle.

This ride really whetted my appetite for the upcoming metric century. I’m looking forward to this Saturday!

The other sad event…

On Thursday evening, the Navigator and I came to the sad conclusion that Mattie Anne, our 13 year old Golden Retriever,  had reached the end of her time with us. Three weeks ago on Sunday evening, we noticed that she was having difficulty breathing. She had been fine up to that point. We took her to the Vet on Monday morning and he took a quick look at her and agreed that she had the swelling in her throat that I had felt on Sunday. He said he wanted to run some more tests and would call us.

Less than 30 minutes later, he was on the phone with me asking that I return to the clinic. His tests confirmed what he suspected when he first examined Mattie. She had lymphoma and it was very aggressive. Without treatment, he predicted that she would last no more than two or three days.

After hearing our alternatives (put her to sleep now, Prednisone to make her more comfortable, or chemo), we chose the middle route of Prednisone. It had a remarkable and quick affect relieving almost all of her symptoms within 24 hours. To look at her, you would not be aware of the insidious disease taking its internal toll. It also bought time for extended family to say their good-byes.

We knew it was only a matter of time until the Prednisone was no longer working its magic and we knew we would be facing a decision soon. Mattie was originally a niece’s dog but spent most of her life at my father-in-law’s home when the niece moved on to other pursuits. My “better half” and I took over care of Mattie some 8 or so years ago when my in-laws began experiencing their own illnesses.

Finally, this past fall was a time when my father-in-law could no longer do the day-to-day care for Mattie and her health needs so she came to live with us and became an integral part of the daily routine along with Zeke and Orla, our two Labs.  Mattie would greet anyone and everyone with a big “smile” and apparently could not be petted to a point of satiation. She never met a stranger, either human or 4-legged. I don’t think I ever saw anyone turn away without a smile on their own face after a few seconds with Mattie.

Toward the middle of last week, Mattie became noticeably weaker and by Thursday, I was having to pick her up so she could walk. Her appetite was off and you could see the weight loss she was experiencing. We are thankful that she never seemed to be in pain but clearly, it was time…

So, Thursday night was a tough night as we tried to wrap her in as much love as possible knowing it would be her last. On Friday morning, we made her last ride in the truck and the Vet and his staff did a wonderful service in helping Mattie move on to her next journey. I sat in the floor and she laid her head in my lap as the Vet administered the sedative. It was a quiet and peaceful transition. I hope that I’m that lucky when my day comes…

Mattie Ann - a gentle soul!(Mattie Anne – a gentle soul has left us leaving a void in our home.)

Until later,

- Zeke

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I would like to report that this coming weekend will be one of incredible challenge for me as a cyclist. Beginning this evening after work, my plan is to have back-to-back-to-back days of double centuries to polish off conditioning for my metric century ride next Saturday, August 21st, in the Blue Ridge Breakaway.

Following Friday’s double century ride, I intend to be transported to the highest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Balsam Richland, which is an elevation of 6053’ above sea level. At that point, I shall commence a bare foot run through the pristine public and private lands adjoining the BRP until I reach Richland Creek as it runs through Waynesville. I will then commandeer a pre-staged inner tube and float my way to the local Bi-Lo’s grocery store where I will embark upon a 12 hour non-stop shopping spree attempting to set a world record for loading grocery carts. 

On Saturday of this weekend, my intention is to complete the aforementioned double century ride and then chop down a stand of Locust trees near my home splitting each one into a 16” logs perfect for burning in our wood stove. Well, it would be perfect if we had a wood stove… Maybe I’ll weld one together in my spare time before Sunday’s double century. Of course, I will use only a hatchet as this will further develop my forearms.

On Sunday, I plan to begin my “slacking off” routine so that my legs have time to recover by next Saturday. I’ll probably only do the double century ride and perhaps a 3 mile swim in nearby Lake Logan. On Sunday evening, I shall spend 4 hours making mad passionate whoopee with the Navigator! If I’m still going at 4 hours and 1 minute, I will call the local emergency room in order to avoid permanent damage. I think this should pretty well fine tune me for the metric century ride next Saturday.

In reality, I’m dropping off my laptop at my local computer shop (LCS) and having a full wipe and new install of Windows 7 done over the weekend. That means I’ll probably be unable to publish any more high quality blog posts until next Monday or Tuesday. Fear not, however, as my weekend schedule should provide some interesting fodder for further tales…

Until later (as in next week!)

- Zeke

Tuesday, August 10, 2010



When I was a young boy
Said put away those young boy ways
Now that I'm gettin' older, so much older
I long for those young boy days
With a bike like you, with a bike like you
Lord knows there are things we can do, baby
Just me and you, come on and make it up…

Hurt so good
Come on baby, make it hurt so good
Sometimes ridin’ don't feel like it should
You make it hurt so good

(with apologies to John Mellencamp and G. Green…

Lyrics and song Hurts So Good)


Mellencamp’s refrain was on my mind last night as I finished up another preparatory ride for the upcoming Blue Ridge Breakaway on August 21st here in beautiful Haywood County. I’ve now completed riding the full 65 mile course in advance of the ride day. (Note: This isn’t a race – just an organized ride)  A metric century would represent a personal best for me in distance so I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

In my preparatory rides, I’ve been leaving my office and then picking up a portion of the route as I commute home after work. Last night’s ride encompassed Hyder Mountain Road, Clyde, climbing Stamey Cove, and then up to Lake Logan and back to Bethel. All told, I covered 30.5 miles in a little over 2 hours averaging 13.8 mph  and climbing a total of 1737’ to a peak elevation of 3112’ at the top of Stamey Cove.

The second water stop of the ride will be near downtown Clyde, NC. A centerpiece of Clyde is the “Big Gun”, a locally well-known monument. We often started our motorcycle rides from the “Big Gun”. All you had to say was “See ya a the Big Gun on Sunday at 11:00” and everyone knew exactly where you were talking about.

The Big Gun, Clyde, NC(The Big Gun – a well known gathering place in Clyde, NC) 

After crossing over Carolina Boulevard, riders will begin the climb toward and over Stamey Cove. This was to be my first ascent of Stamey Cove from the Clyde side. I’ve ridden over it many times on both motorcycles and bicycles from the Bethel/Pigeon River side. That approach to the summit is long with a steep jump in grade just before the peak. I’ve ridden escort on my motorcycle in the past for Bele Chere cycle races that used this route. It was when I first learned just how fast someone could go on a bicycle. I recall having to really get out of their way as we descended through sharp hairpin turns after crossing the gap.

In my mind, the climb up from Clyde had to be worse than the approach from the Bethel side. I had images of the steep climb going into hairpin turns and questioned whether I could make it over the crest of the ridge. I could feel my heart rate increasing as I approached the beginning of the ride yesterday and had to work on calming myself down and letting the anxiety become a useful energy rather than feeding thoughts of “you can’t make it…”

I made the first segment of the climb in good condition and then was very surprised to find myself at the hairpin turn I had so worried about. I quickly thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. I’ve got this suckered covered.” And I did…

I made my way up the steepest part of the grade, through the curve, and then through another curve… uh, then through yet another curve… I then realized that I still had a long climb to the top. I had been so focused on the energy it was going to take to get through the steep part that I had failed to recall accurately just how long the climb was AFTER getting through the hairpin turn. Oh well… There was no turning around now. I just sat back and spun and mashed my way to the top.

Zeke and Jim at Stamey Cove Peak(Jim Artis and I after having climbed Stamey Cove in May 2010) 

In the image above, Jim and I have climbed up Stamey Cove from the east or Bethel side of the mountain. The background of this image is the section I climbed on yesterday’s prep ride.

I was very happy to descend to the river once I pushed my way through the peak. During the actual Blue Ridge Breakaway, we will get the pleasure of riding Stamey Cove in BOTH directions. The second climb will come at or near the 55 mile mark of the ride.

After crossing over to NC 110, I was passed by a convoy of heavy communication company trucks moving south. They created a significant crosswind pushing me to the boundary of the gutter along the highway. After crossing US 276 and topping the first small climb on Love Joy Road, I came around a corner on my descent and spotted all of those same heavy trucks pulled to the side. I also noticed blue lights flashing and then red lights from the Center Pigeon Fire Department.

As I approached the conglomeration of vehicles, I noted a motorcycle being pulled up a bank and loaded into a pickup. Apparently, a motorcyclist had lost control and went over a bank. There were no ambulances on the scene so I’m guessing there were no injuries of import. The rider appeared to be having a conversation with the NC Trooper on the scene.

After clearing the wreck scene, it was  a very pleasant ride to Lake Logan, which will be the site of the 3rd water stop of the day and the turn around point for the metric century riders. Century riders will continue on to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Lake Logan

West Fork of Pigeon










(top – looking north from bridge crossing Lake Logan; bottom – site of the 3rd water stop and West Fork of Pigeon River)


Calling it a day…

I attempted to contact the Navigator from the bridge via cell phone but the signal in this area was pretty poor to say the least. We spent several minutes saying and repeating back to each other one and two word sentence fragments with me trying to get across the message that I was fine and headed back to meet her at Bethel Grocery Store. For her part, she was repeating back what she thought she was hearing. Abbott and Costello would have been proud!

It was a good ride and I felt bolstered by having the knowledge that I had achieved another new climb. Now, it’s almost time to put all this preparation to work in one ride. I’m looking forward to it! At the end of the day, I can truly say “It hurt so good!”

Until later,

- Zeke

Saturday, August 7, 2010


This past Thursday was an up and down weather day. I was watching the skies from my office window for approaching storms while keeping an eye on local radar. Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. are our BICYCLEHAYWOODNC sponsored group rides for new and newly returning cyclists. Our general weather patterns come in over the Balsam Mountain range and I have a great view from my office window of these mountains. On  Thursday, it was alternating between dark and foreboding and partly cloudy with sunshine. All the significant weather appeared on radar to be to our northwest moving in an easterly direction. I was hoping we had a nice evening ride in our immediate future.

Thirty minutes before time to leave my office, I remained very hopeful that no storms were going to pop up. As I left my office and headed for our LBS where the Thursday rides originate, I noted black clouds marshalling along the northwestern mountains separating Waynesville from Maggie Valley. By the time I arrived at the shop a couple of other council members had arrived. A 4th member arrived just as the first drops of rain hit. Within 5 minutes, the streets were flooded and lightening was popping all around us and right on top of us. The old trick of counting seconds between thunder and lightening to determine the distance of the storm was useless because the sound and light were occurring within milliseconds of each other. One Mississippi… BOOM!

A quick survey of the 4 of us determined that everyone was willing to wait it out before making a decision to cancel. We checked out radar again and could see that no more obvious storms were nearby. After about 30 minutes, the wind began to drop, the rain ceased, and the heavy thunder and lightening had moved on to the south and east. Seemed like a great time to ride to the four of us!

As no new or newly returning riders had appeared during the storm, we decided to add a little oomph to the ride. Leaving the shop, we headed to the nearby roundabout, took Raccoon Creek Rd. to the intersection of US 276. Of course, we were drenched in the first quarter mile as the roads were still running with water and we were all shooting rooster tails as we rode single file along the roadway.

Crymes Cove Road was our first climb of the day. It is a 13% grade for .75 mile and got all of our heart rates up. The descent had to be taken somewhat slowly as lots of gravel and grit had washed into the roadway from the recent storms. Crymes Cove dumps right into Country Club Drive, which is a deceiving climb. It starts out with only a slight grade but then jumps up in the last quarter mile to around 9% or 10% to the crest of the ridgeline.

Following another descent and traverse of a couple of quiet residential streets near the Waynesville Country Club, we were back on South Main, which is a short part of our normal Thursday evening ride. We made our way through the Super Wal-Mart shopping center and then up Hyatt Creek. Hyatt Creek is connected to Plott Creek via Green Valley Road so we made our third and easiest climb of the day. As we came back together at the intersection of Plott Creek and Green Valley, I remarked that we had only ridden 7 miles. Jennifer, our strongest climber, said “yeah, but 6 of them were all uphill!”

The brief stop at the peak of the road provided an excellent view looking east over the valley in which Waynesville proper is situated. The storm had moved on and clouds that had recently immersed themselves in the trees of the surrounding mountains were releasing their tentative hold on leaf and limb and rising back to the sky. What had been a very muggy atmosphere before the ride was now a very comfortable and pleasant upper 70’s in temperature.

From this point, we were riding either downhill or river grade until we made our way back to downtown Waynesville and cruised down Main Street. Being a significant tourist town means that there are almost always lots of visitors to the area and they had certainly vacated their shelters from the recent storm. Sidewalks and store fronts were full of folks making their way to the local eateries.

Our ride terminated back at Rolls Rite. We had ridden only about 12 miles but it was a very good workout that left me feeling quite satisfied and pleased with our effort. On a night that looked as if riding wouldn’t happen, we enjoyed a wonderful outing on two wheels.

Of note…

It isn’t too late to register for the Blue Ridge Breakaway on August 21st. Participants and volunteers to support the ride are still desired… Charleston, SC police reverse their findings in the death of a Low Country cyclist… Have YOU signed the Pledge? Laura and Ross of the Path Less Pedaled make their way through Western North Carolina..

Until later,


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


The last several days have seen me doing more reading and writing than riding, which is a condition that I need to correct in order to be prepared for my first metric century ride on August 21st. I was “gifted” with a fine piece of writing by my friend Nick on Monday morning – an ugly day at the time and the usual, for me, Monday morning blahs of being back to work. The piece titled “Four Corners, Two Wheels” by Christopher Solomon appeared in the July 29th edition of the New York Times travel section. I expressed my displeasure with my good friend for sending me such a fine piece of writing about cycling knowing that I had to be enclosed in my office as computer networks and equipment failed all around me. The piece definitely made it hard to stay in the office.

Quite popular in the cycling-related blogosphere today is People For Bikes. Both Ecovelo and BikingInLA featured stories on the organization. Check out both of these sources for more information on People for Bikes and BE SURE TO SIGN THE PLEDGE!

Bro Dave out on the West Coast took some time away from his basketball coaching duties and  has been making some mods to his recently acquired Salsa Fargo. He reports:

… I have made some mods to the Fargo. I didn't have the "Woodchipper" bars that came stock on it, but I really liked the Albatross bars that I had installed on the Crankforward. I thought I would give them a try on the Fargo. Switching the bars was pretty easy. I didn't have to undo any cabling so that helped tremendously. I'll try the Albatross bars out and see if they are going to work for me. I also mentioned that I was switching my tires over to tubeless with Stan's Notubes. I had tubeless ready rims on the Crankforward and liked them. After my roofing nail flat last weekend, I decided to go for it. This too was pretty easy. I just watched the Youtube video of the installation on the Stan's Notubes website and followed that. I had a little trouble getting the rear wheel to seal up initially, but it finally did. There is no way you could do this without a CO2 inflator. Better yet, if I had a good air compressor it would have been even easier. All in all the "wrenching" went pretty well for someone who has no "wrenching" skills. Of course if I roll a tire or my bars fall off on a descent, then I'll have to revisit that boast!


Check out the mods (sideview, topview, cockpit view)…












It’s also good to see Jim Artis getting back to one of my favorite “ladies”. Jim has been working the last couple of days on getting “Silk” back roadworthy. Silk is Jim’s Catrike 700 that is one beautiful ride. “She” donated some wheels for Jim’s recent excursion with his HPV Fargo but she’s coming back together now in a slimmer, for the moment, form. Jim is applying his knowledge and experiences from the recent Fargo tour regarding lighting to Silk’s new incarnation. Check it out at Cycling Experiences!

I’m curious if anyone has used the Garmin Oregon 400T on their cycle as a replacement for a bike computer. I purchased the Oregon 400T last year but haven’t really gotten much use out of it. I realized that some of its accessories are a heart monitor and cadence sensor. The travel screen seems to show all of the other essential data that I would want PLUS it gives me topographic and mapping utility. It almost seems to be a larger version of the Garmin Edge 705. I would have to invest about $150.00 in order to use mine on my Fuji. That is substantially cheaper than purchasing the Edge 705 but, at the same time, would be a large investment for something not to work. I tried my old model Oregon Scientific heart monitor but it wouldn’t pair with the Oregon 400T. If anyone out there has tried this particular setup, I’d sure appreciate some feedback!

Finally, if you still need a fix for Tour De France topics, you might just consider pre-ordering what sounds like an interesting DVD box set of movies. The set entitled “Heart of the Peloton” features 3 DVD’s covering in-depth and behind the scene stories of professional cyclists. I’ve already sent a short email to the Navigator suggesting that this might be a very nice gift for SOMEONE close to her. I hope I haven’t slipped down the list of people “close to her…”

Until later,

- Zeke