Monday, June 6, 2011


You’ve read them, you’ve seen them, you’ve maybe even experienced them. The stories that deal with the dominoes affect when problems occur. Sometimes folks will say bad things happen in 3’s. Well, Sunday was my day in the fun barrel…

It was another early August day in early June. The daily temperature was spiking around 90 degrees and you could almost watch the sweat popping out of my skin. The Wood-Man and I had determined it was a good day to ride. After all, any day is a good day to ride! Right?

We met up near Lake Junaluska and started our spin down NC 209 as the Sunday traffic motored on beside us. I was riding pretty easily on Wood-Man’s rear wheel as he broke the headwind. The first few miles went along quite nicely. Soon enough we crossed over to Iron Duff Road at the Haywood Café near interstate 40. The two lane road was fairly quiet as far as traffic goes.

With Wood-Man in first wheel, we came around a bend and into an “S” curve just after crossing over a small creek. Just after coming out of the first left hand curve, I noted something shiny and black moving in the road just as Wood-man was approaching it. It turned out to about a 4’ to 5’ beautiful black snake.It held its position and started to coil just as Wood-Man passed. I went by and, after a moment’s hesitation, the pretty snake started  the remainder of its road crossing journey. At that moment, a vehicle came around the corner and crushed it… What a waste!

I’ve never heard that crossing a black snake’s path was a bad omen. I’m just saying…

The Wood-Man and I continued our ride on Iron Duff Road and eventually descended to the Pigeon River where we turned back east on Riverside. Within about 25 yards I noted a bump in my rear wheel and the bike was reacting sluggishly. Sure enough, I had flatted.

I coasted into some shade alongside the river and dismounted to confirm that yep, I had a flat rear tire. Being the well-prepared rider that I am, I whipped out my spare tube, my air cartridge, my tire levers, etc. The Wood-man and I went to work changing the flat so we could, as Willie would say,  get on the road again.

Stripping the tire and getting the old tube out went smoothly. Wood-man found a tiny wire that was the culprit of the hour having caused the flat. We checked the tire for further foreign objects and, finding none, proceeded to install the new tube into the tire. This was when the fun began.

First no air would go into the tire and we correctly diagnosed that the cartridge had no air to give. Chunk the cartridge and get another one. Hmm, this one feels heavier, which I took to be a good sign. We aired it up some and then remounted the tire to the bike before finishing off the tire. Oh drat, all the air is gone! The second cartridge was now useless. We moved to the hand pump but that proved to be no help either as air was clearly NOT going into the new tube. The Wood-Man used his remaining cartridge. No good, no air, no tire…

We finally decided the second tube was no good. Wood-Man runs sew-ups and I had no more tubes. But wait! I had a patch kit. (Remember that snide remark about being prepared?) So, we patched the original tube and was able to pump it up. Thinking it would hold, we removed the wheel, tire, and tube again from the bike and reinstalled the original, now patched, tube. We remounted the tire on the wheel and topped off the air. Good to go!

Only some 35 minutes had transpired as we went through all of the cartridges and the two tubes that I carry. I guess now I’ll be carrying 4 cartridges, 3 tubes, and a partridge in a pear tree when I ride. You know you can never be too prepared… I might be able to trade the partridge for some tube patches some day.

The rest of the ride went quite well as we climbed out of the river basin and then climbed over the back side of Hyder Mountain. This full route is part of the Blue Ridge Breakaway, which will be held on August 20th this year.

Having returned to our vehicles, I pulled out all the stops on post  ride preparedness. I had the fortunate foresight on this hot day to have packed several cold Gatorades in ice before I left the house. Man, did those taste good!

Our Thursday evening group rides continued this past week with another nice turnout of 10 riders. These rides for “new and newly returning” riders have gone well again this season. We’ve continued our practice of riding routes that demonstrate the very real options to ride to stores and public buildings by bike.

We managed to skirt a couple of passing showers this day. They certainly were welcome as they cooled the air down.

Thursday Group ride hydration...

(At the midpoint, riders enjoy the post-shower cool air at Ingles)

Thursday lunch was an opportunity for Nancy Lux, co-council member of BicycleHaywoodNC, to join me on what is becoming our speaking tour of the local service clubs. Nancy and I have developed our own “dog and pony” or “fixie and geared” if you prefer, show where we talk about the benefits of cycling and tout our Haywood County Bike plan.

BicycleHaywoodNC bulletin board








(Our traveling bulletin board of information!)

Bike Demo by Lux








(Lux explaining her TT bike while Zeke looks on… )

For this meeting of the Haywood Rotary club, we emphasized the economic benefits of cycling  including tourism benefits, economic development, and commuting. Both Lux and I dressed in our “normal” commuting clothes so as to emphasize that you don’t’ have to dress up in spandex to ride to work. We also each brought a couple of bikes to show the very real differences in bike types.

All in all, we received positive feedback on the program and we’re looking forward to our next invitation. So far, we’ve been fed nicely at these events!

REMEMBER: it isn’t too early to register for the August 20th Blue Ridge Breakaway! Groups from Canada and Charleston, SC are already registered and booked!

Until later!

- Zeke


Anonymous said...

It seems that last weekedn was the weekend for flats. On Saturday,, while riding on 209, my rear wheel picked up a finishing nail and I spent about 20 minutes under a shade tree changing out the tube. Afterwards, I rode to RolesRite and pick up a new tube and cartridge to assure that I would make it home with the needed supplies for any additional flats. As far as CO2 cartridges, I have learned to not leave home without at least 3 in my tool bag. It seems that I always blow through the first one, without any benefit to inflating the tire.

David Tate

Unknown said...

I'm currently researching the purchase of a trailer that I can pull behind and carry all possibly needed tools in order to do any kind of repair needed. I'm kind of stuck on the weight issue though. I was doing o.k. until I added the gas grill... You know I just might get hungry while fixing the next flat!

- Zeke

Anonymous said..., those are an endangered species. You should post on those. not many people have seen them or know what they are. Very cool, Jack

Unknown said...

Good idea! I'll see if I can get one from the Wood-Man for picture taking purposes!

I hope you are well!

- Zeke