Sunday, October 31, 2010


One of the aspects of writing a blog that remains interesting to me is watching the statistics tracking visits and page views. Possibly today or tomorrow, I should reach the 10,000th visitor to my site. As I type, I’m sitting at 21 visits short of that new plateau. Averaging 26 visits per day, I may get there there before the midnight hour.


(Will today see the 10,000th visitor?*)

I’ve remarked frequently to friends that writing the blog helps to keep me motivated to ride and, hopefully, to find new and interesting cycling related materials that are of interest to my readers. Through the time that I’ve been publishing this blog, I’ve tried to work hard to utilize technology to make this a more interesting reading experience. I’ve also tried to be vigilant in improving my writing skills that were first nurtured by my parents, especially my mother Ila Jean, a published author herself.

Friday, October 29, 2010


This work week has reached its end and I’ve not gotten in a single ride since last Saturday during the Wood-man’s and my gorgeous trip over to Newport, TN. Between catching up on home chores, a rainy several days, and evening meetings, my Fuji CCR3 has gotten several days of rest.

The cold front following our severe weather pattern mid-week is now firmly entrenched resulting in clear blue skies, which means there won’t be any heat sticking around overnight. This is predicted to be our coldest night of the year thus far. The temp has already dropped into the mid-50’s at my house and the sun is still shining. We’re getting the weather that Tracy, the Springfield Cyclist, had yesterday. Click on the link to get his take on the dropping temps and to see him in his snazzy Team Fatty jersey!

Meanwhile, The VeloHobo has been continuing his perusal of the internet for ultra light cycling. He’s on to some light weight dishes and cutlery from Finland…

Regionally, The Asheville Citizen-Times took an editorial stand supporting more bike lanes and sidewalks for the local community. The editors note the positives to be achieved by continuing to increase non-motorized transportation alternatives. It’s good to see the stance they are taking! Of course, the comments to the editorial are full of the usual “it’s a socialist conspiracy”, “a waste of taxpayer money that only benefits a select few..”, etc. (I’m personally on the verge of never reading comments again…)

Locally, we had our first planning meeting for next year’s Blue Ridge Breakaway. Our group met this morning bright and somewhat early and got down to business. The permitting process is going well thus far and conversations with the Blue Ridge Parkway officials has again been very pleasant and cooperative. We reviewed and considered suggestions to route changes/additions. This is a conversation that will continue for some time. In fact, we meet again next Friday to focus only on routes. We’re asking for permits for 700 riders next year. Given the success of this year’s ride and the early registrations we’re already receiving, 700 may not be enough! If you are looking for a great riding experience in the mountains of Western North Carolina, please check out the website and give us a strong consideration! There should be sufficient routes and mileages to entertain and challenge all comers.

Meanwhile, down in the eastern section of N.C., our good friend Jim Artis is hard at work on his newest adventure, which is utilizing a flying drone to take HD video and images. Jim’s forte is blending technology and cycling. With his latest adventure, he is reaching readers on a global basis as he brings together flying, imaging, and cycling coverage. I can certainly see the day where one of Jim’s drones does a “fly by” of a race and gets a real bird’s eye view of the rider and cycle. Check it out at Cycling Experiences!

Jumping out to the West Coast, Ted at BikingInLA does his usual comprehensive round-up of all things cycling. Los Angeles may be on the cusp of instituting a  significant piece of legislation that allows cyclists to pursue, through the civil court system, individuals who have harassed them . This would put the cyclists on a more powerful footing to get their issues addressed. The bill calls for a $1000.00 fine if the alleged harasser is found guilty.

That’s about it for this wrap-up! Have a great weekend and “keep the rubber side down!”

Until later,

- Zeke

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


(Part II)

This is part II of two parts covering Zeke and the Wood-man’s ride on Saturday, October 23, 2010 from Waynesville, NC to Newport, TN.

To read Part I, CLICK HERE!


In Part I, the Wood-man and I had just competed our 20th mile of the trip and were sitting nicely amidst the colors of Betsy’s Gap. We were ready to mount up and head down…

Monday, October 25, 2010

2 States, 3 Dogs, 21 Miles of Climbing & 1 WWII Veteran

(Part I)

Well, the ride that the Wood-man and I undertook Saturday is hereafter named The Wood-man’s Betsy’s Gap Invitational”  and should probably happen annually from this time forward. As the only invitee to this year’s effort, I was pleased to accompany the Wood-man on a 65 mile jaunt…

Friday, October 22, 2010


Not to be confused with “Thirsty Thursday” wherein local baseball fans flock to our local minor league baseball team (the Asheville Tourists) games and consume massive amounts of beer, I enjoyed a leg loosening Thursday ride of ….

Thursday, October 21, 2010


It was dark: The room was blanketed in the early morning blackness that occurs just before the glow on the horizon marking the daily appearance of the sun. I was again startled from sleep by a bad dream of some sort or another. I lay there beside my still peacefully sleeping wife waiting on my heart rate to drop, the feeling of anxiety to wash away, and my brain to cleanse itself of whatever demons had traversed my subconscious this particular night. Seemingly increasing in frequency as I age, these intrusions happen when it’s too early to get up but too late to go back to sleep. I know the Navigator will be rising shortly to begin her preparations for the day and to fall back to sleep would only make me drowsy and irritable when my alarm sounds shortly. Sometimes, it’s just easiest to get up…

Monday, October 18, 2010


Yesterday, Sunday October 17th, was a beautiful day here in Western North Carolina. We have been on a wave of some late summer – early fall temperatures for the past few days. The nights have been crisp with frost warnings each night but the days have been just simply outstanding with temps in the upper 60’s and the low 70’s. Yesterday made it to the mid-70’s. It was perfect weather for….

Friday, October 15, 2010


Our BicycleHaywoodNC Thursday evening ride was held yesterday following the exit of a 24 hour period of rain and gusty winds. Mid-afternoon Wednesday saw an approaching cold front arrive earlier than anticipated and made riding on Wednesday evening out of the question. The cold rain and winds coated the streets with fallen leaves making for a bad combination of wet slick roads and low light situations. Thursday would be different…

Saturday, October 9, 2010


As I mentioned in my last post, a mysterious crashing sound behind me turned out to be my Planet Bike Superflash as it achieved separation from my seat bag. On Friday, I realized that I knew exactly where the light came off my bike on Thursday’s ride so I decided to return to the scene of the loss and determine the light’s condition. I’ve had the light come off before when hitting a pothole or other bump in the road and it has survived each time. I was hoping it would be the case once again. Upon returning to the bridge crossing the Pigeon River, I found…

Friday, October 8, 2010


After several days of coolish weather that in 3 months we’ll be calling a heat wave, yesterday turned out to be an immaculate day. My juices for riding were flowing. My work duties were sufficiently under control for a change allowing me to beat the end-of-work traffic to the roads. I made arrangements with the Navigator to pick up my clothing and laptop at my office and I hit the road.

An omen was about to present itself for my consideration…

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The weather has had a nice turn for the better today and I’m looking at some great sunny skies and warmer temps for our BICYCLEHAYWOODNC support ride this afternoon. Along with anticipating a nice ride, I’m trying out the new Windows Live Writer that I downloaded and installed…

I realized the other night that, when writing about our gustatory experiences recently on Hilton Head Island, I failed to address the worst eating experience of the trip. It wasn’t on the island itself but rather on the trip home.

Monday, October 4, 2010


The Navigator and I are back from our weekend in the woods hiding from the electronic world. I must say that it was very refreshing not to have a cell phone ringing constantly and interrupting conversation. Our time in the woods at our favorite camp site was well spent and enjoyable as we pursued those activities that we’ve missed throughout this summer.

But, boy, did I miscalculate the temperatures! My expectations of getting some miles in on the Blue Ridge Parkway got sidetracked by my poor planning for what turned out to be cool to almost cold fall temperatures at the mile high plus elevation of our location.

While making our way to camp, we were surprised at the relative lack of fall foliage color as we climbed in elevation. We were one week earlier this year than last when we made this same trip. Last year we were feted with brilliant yellows and bright reds as the trees were putting on their annual show.

Fall Colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway 2009(Fall colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway 2009) 

This year, it was still overwhelmingly green with just hints of yellow beginning to appear. We saw only 1 tree in the surrounding area that had some pretty red color to it.

Friday was spent setting up camp and getting ready to rest. Unlike friends Kent “Mountain Turtle” Peterson and Jack at The VeloHobo, we don’t travel ultralight. In fact, sometimes, I think we’re carrying the neighbor’s “kitchen sink” as well as our own!” Fortunately, when we do get setup, we have lots of the accouterments we need for some fine cooking and relaxing.

The Navigator and Zeke rest...(l-r: Zeke the dawg, the Navigator, and Fiona – the Navigator’s bike) 

As you can see both Zeke and the Navigator have “assumed THE position” for a weekend of R&R. This worked pretty well until the sun went down, the wind kicked up, and the temperatures headed south. Following a light, first night camp meal and PEANUT BUTTER PIE with coffee chasers, we attempted to sit by a pretty good fire but the wind was blowing so hard, it seemed to push the heat of the fire completely away from us.

Keystone Hobbi at the ready!(Travelling Ultralight? I don’t think so…) 

By 9:00 p.m., the winds had increased in velocity to the point where I became concerned about sparks jumping out of the fire pit so we spread the coals and headed inside. We took the added precaution of raising the awning on our Hobbi lest the wind take it to the other side of the camper during the night. It didn’t take us long to climb into our bed under heavy covers and do some reading by the light of our headlamps until the day’s activities finally helped to close our eyes.

Saturday morning arrived quickly enough with beautiful clear skies and 39 degrees of temperature. The morning walk with Zeke and Orla certainly got the blood to moving as the dogs greeted another day and new scents to be smelled at every step of the way. The morning coffee tasted mighty fine as we got as close to the rejuvenated fire as possible. Camp Host Tony Sells and NPS Ranger Jack Campbell stopped by on their morning rounds as they checked to see who had stayed and who had left during the night.

Around 2:00 p.m., I thought the temperatures had rebounded sufficiently for me to get in some mileage on the Fuji CCR3. I shed my warm and much loved Under Armour and replaced it with my summer weight riding bibbs and jersey. I did have the forethought to bring a windbreaker. A short run up the BRB instructed me very quickly that open finger gloves were NOT the way to go on this ride. I looped back to the campsite and swapped the OFG’s for my wood chopping, wood splitting, wood burning full finger over the wrist gloves and headed out again hoping that keeping my hands warm would somehow fool the rest of my body into being warm. It didn’t…

I mostly coasted down the mountain for 3.5 miles turning the pedals more in an effort to stay warm than to gain speed. The light windbreaker did nothing to stop the cold from penetrating my chest. I decided at the 3.5 mile mark that warmth was the better part of valor on this day. I turned around and started the climb back up the mountain. Going slower and working harder did get a light sweat worked up but my desire to ride had apparently gone ahead of me and was back in bed awaiting my return to the campsite.

Upon returning to camp, I discovered that Orla, our yellow Lab, was taking steps to keep her ears warm…

Orla warms the ears...

The Navigator was still practicing her skills at relaxing…

The Navigator ponders the Universe... (My lovely “best half” in repose…)

The winds of Friday and Friday night were no where to be found on Saturday and the clear skies gave way to a beautiful sunset before the stars came out on a moonless night. Tradition, at this particular campground, is to make your way to a specific overlook to enjoy the setting sun as it drops below the horizon of Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap, Mt.Collins and Mt. LeConte. We were treated to another gorgeous sunset. Just as the sun dipped below the mountain, it appeared that the tree line on the far mountains had caught fire as the setting sun turned the trees into an incredible bright red color all along the horizon.

Susnet in the Smokies(A setting sun highlights appreciative campers!) 

The Navigator and I returned to camp and began the preparation of the evening meal of stir fried chicken and fresh vegetables along with black beans and rice. After enjoying the meal and camp fire with our friend Tony, we made our way to Ranger Jack’s abode for a some dessert, the spinning of a few yarns, and – most importantly – the enjoyment of good friends around a warm hearth!

We returned to our campsite flush with good feelings and happiness from having spent such an enjoyable evening. The night’s last walk of Zeke and Orla provided a final opportunity to marvel at the majesty of the light show above us. With virtually no “light pollution”, we almost felt like we could reach up and touch the Milky Way. Jupiter was still amazingly bright in the southern sky. We didn’t see any shooting stars but did take note of how many planes fly the friendly skies all hours of the day and night.

Sometime before sunrise on Sunday, the clouds settled onto the mountain and soaked anything and everything left outside during the night. What appeared to be fat rain drops but was really the moisture of the clouds coalescing on the pine needles provided a spot of beauty in an otherwise cool grey morning. Our temperature was 37 degrees on this morning as we began the process of packing up and leaving for another year. The final weekend of camping at our favorite site is next weekend but scheduling conflicts will prevent us from attending as has become our tradition over the past few years. This weekend was our “goodbye” for the year to this lovely piece of paradise on Earth.

Until later,

- Zeke