Jun 2016 25

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I recently spent a week at Nags Head, NC on the Outer Banks with my family for our summer vacation. When I was in high school, my parents moved us to Plymouth, NC a small town in the eastern part of the state (on Hwy 64 about an hour from OBX). While living there for nearly 9 months, we visited the Outer Banks and many of the beautiful islands and lighthouses along the eastern Carolina seashore. This was the first time I had returned since our brief residence 25 years ago.

 

The area is more developed (as expected) now and it is definitely a popular vacation spot. Unlike vacationing in Florida, we didn’t see any other Kentucky license plates, except for a group of friends from our church that were staying up the road from us in Duck, NC. Of course, when I visited the area in high school, it was never during the summer vacation timeframe. My activities included walking the beach, swimming in the ocean, fishing on the beach and offshore, and bicycling!

 

As far as the cycling friendliness of the area, I would give it a B grade. As is the case with most east coast areas, it’s flat and the wind is always blowing in one direction or another. We stayed in a cottage directly on the beach, so my typical route was to ride north and south (out and back) along the roadway. There is a nice paved, wide walking path in the place of a side walk and there were many folks of all ages using it for walking, jogging, or bicycle cruising. The actual road was pretty wide and had a decent shoulder area that many road cyclists used daily, like myself. There were some spots where the pavement could use some work, but all in all, it was not too bad.

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Along the beach access roads, the drivers were very bicycle friendly. I’m sure it helps that it’s not a road too busy with businesses (there’s another 5 lane highway parallel with all of the commercial traffic users). On my last ride, I did venture off the beaten path a little by traveling west across the sound bridge into Manteo and then rode out near Wanchese, a small east coast port town. Obviously, I encountered much more traffic on this journey, but I had no close calls. I used the wide shoulder crossing the bridge but used the road en route to Wanchese and back, and nearly all vehicles passed very safely.

 

I would like to return again someday and venture out a little further, maybe all the way down the Outer Banks and board the ferry over to Ocracoke Island (probably wanna catch a car ride back home). The scenery, though mostly flat, is very beautiful. The native landscape includes many sand dunes, lots of local vegetation, lots of cypress and pine trees, water views of the ocean, sound, canals and swamps, and a good mix of modern and ancient architecture. Also good confirmation that OBX NC is a decent place to visit (or live) with a bicycle, is the many strava segments that showed up on my rides. I was very pleasantly surprised to place a top 10 overall on one of the bridge segments (considering I’m not in great shape right now).

 

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In closing, I would also recommend planning an offshore trip if you enjoy fishing. The Outer Banks area is full of a wide variety of fish to catch both in the surf and offshore, and plenty of different species are always migrating through at various times throughout the season.

May 2016 01

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Why Yours Shoud Too …..

 

Yes, Central Kentucky has lost another life that was struck and killed while riding his bicycle. On the road. Where bikes belong. Where we definitely belong. The Kentucky state legislature just had another opportunity to pass into effect a law that would help make our roadways safer for all to use, however the Senate Bill 80 that passed easily in the Senate, died in transportation committee in the House, probably because of a legislator with some power that didn’t want it passed. Shame on KY lawmakers, however, there is no cycling blood on their hands …

 

Every time a human is hit and/or ran over while riding a bicycle on the road, it is an accident that is typically caused by someone making a mistake, either the driver or the cyclist. We shouldn’t need laws to tell us to share the road and pass another person safely. We already have laws that tell us not to exceed a given speed and not to engage in cell phone media (or any other activity that distracts driving attention), and not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol … all while driving. And we all know how well these laws are obeyed. What I hope to convey to people is to please quit making this an issue of cars versus bikes; and who belongs on the road and who doesn’t. Let’s please begin to get to the root of the real problem. It’s not about a car killing a cyclist, it’s specifically about a human getting killed while they happen to be on a bicycle. And until we change the mindset of non-bicycle riders that we are actual human lives on the bike, “they” will continue to see us as crazy cyclists. That part could have been helped by our legislators, in my opinion.

 

Our most recent nearby cycling fatalities just happen to involve very common community citizens. As cyclists, we see ourselves as fully allowed to ride in the roads no matter what the non-cyclist general public think about us (and we are correct). The non-cyclist general public sees us cyclists as crazy, tree-hugging, hippies that ride on the roads wherever we want and are putting ourselves at risk of death every time we ride (and part of that is correct too). This stereotype was actually one that I envisioned of cyclists before I became one myself 10 years ago this summer. While it’s very unfortunate to lose any cyclist life on the roads, two of our most recent fatalities have involved citizens that totally rebuke that stereotypical way of thinking. On our roadways, in less than a year, we’ve managed to kill a lawyer and a doctor within about a 20 mile radius and both just north of Lexington … and they weren’t doing anything wrong (or illegal). They were simply riding their bicycles.

 

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Ironically, both Mark Hinkel and Dr. David Cassidy were members of a local cycling group that call themselves the “Zombie Zone Cycling Club.” I’m not very familiar with their club, however from what I’ve read about them over the past year, they sound exactly like the kind of folks I cycle with most. I enjoy riding in a public group with the Bluegrass Cycling Club on occasion, but I’m more fond of cycling in a smaller group of closer friends more often, and probably half or more of my rides are solo style … just the bicycle, my thoughts, beautiful scenery, and me! The news of Hinkel’s death last year on the Horsey Hundred (an annual charity ride hosted by the Bluegrass Cycling Club in Georgetown) sent me into a dark place, second-guessing my decision to be a road cyclist, and I found myself considering stopping. The location of his death was right out my front door, and it came shortly after I had witnessed a mangled bicycle in a roadway near the beach in Jacksonville, FL while I was on vacation (I don’t know how that one turned out but the scene didn’t look good).

 

On the same beautiful, peaceful Sunday that Dr. Cassidy was killed riding his bicycle, I later heard the news that one of my best friends’ wife had also been hit while riding her bicycle in Columbia, KY and she and a friend had both been flown to U of L hospital in Louisville for treatment. After communicating with my close friend Schmidty, I have learned the details of their accident and fortunately both girls will live, though not without some suffering. His wife Becca and her cycling friend were struck by a driver who turned out to be under the influence of drugs and probably speeding. Sounds kinda familiar, huh? They are both lucky to be alive! I hope you can enjoy the awesome sport of cycling again someday Becca.

 

The primary message I hope to get across to all cyclists, wether you ride for exercise, recreation, or transportation is to Keep On Rolling!! A hard learned lesson I learned last year in dealing with my fear of riding, brought me back to the promise that we are NOT in control. We think we are, and yes we can make calculated decisions that seem to us that we are minimizing our risks by not riding at certain times or not riding on certain roads, or whatever … and yes, statistically speaking some risks are more prevalent at certain times, and on certain roads. But we will never be in total control, no matter when or where we ride, and no matter what we do. You can stop and think about all the times in a day that you are at risk of some form of accident and the fact is, there’s some risk of some type of accident that could injure or even kill us 24/7/365! But we never truly know what, when, and where it could or will happen. I made a strong decision last year that if it was my time to go, I’d rather it happen while I was doing something I love, rather than dying while avoiding an activity I love due to fear of risk.

 

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That decision still holds strong today, and I’d be willing to bet I have some cyclist friends struggling right now with the very same fears I fought last year. As unfortunate as it is to lose any life, it’s a risk we take every time we saddle up and go riding. And as unfortunate as it is to lose well known citizens like Mark and David, the community is starting to see us as humans, instead of just bikes. Yes losing people like lawyers and doctors tends to make a little more noise in the public than losing someone like a plumber, or the stereotypical hippie cyclist, but the message must resonate loudly: WE CAN DO BETTER!! I ask and urge our state lawmakers to make decisions that result in better roadways that are safer for ALL to use, I ask and urge our non-cycling citizens to see us as a human life aboard the bicycle you are about to pass (who knows, maybe we happen to be YOUR lawyer, Doctor, or even your spouse or child), and I ask and urge all cyclists (no matter when, why, and where you ride) to keep the wheels of your bicycle rolling!

 

One final message or request that I have, is for our lawmakers, law enforcement, and persons in our justice system as a whole, to PLEASE start holding the person responsible for killing others accountable for their actions, even when it involves a person riding a bicycle on the road!

Enjoy the ride … @KPtheMasher

Apr 2016 22

 

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I often catch myself in the middle of a ride where I get lost in the moment and think out loud that “this is one of my favorite roads.” Truth of the matter is, those moments can happen on any ride. After deep reflection on this matter, it seems as though I experience two types of fog zones when cycling. I define a fog zone as the moments when I get so lost in thought or releasing thoughts, that I can nearly forget where I am or not realize how I got there. Surely we all experience this from time to time … driving to work or any familiar location and when you arrive at the destination and think to yourself, I don’t really remember driving here?!

 

Well, when that type of mind boggling moment occurs but you’re not really lost in thought, there’s a good chance that you are traveling along one of your true favorite roads and just happen to be lost in the moment. I’ve realized this more than once. When it’s easy to just look around and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings, or it dawns on you that the scenery reminds you of a time from your past, you’re definitely on one of your favorite roads. Whether you enjoy flats with a challenging headwind or fast tailwind, the pain of categorized climbing (like me), or bombing down wicked technical descents … if you find yourself on this type of road that appeals to you and enables you to utilize multiple senses at the same time, you have identified another one of your favorite roads.

 

I have quite a few of my own favorite roads, most of them falling in the area I rode most, closest to home. However, there are a few that are driving distance away too. I consider myself a climber. When I think about what route I’m going to ride, I always identify my ride by which hills I can find and climb. I know many others that plan their rides to avoid these very same hills. I’m admittedly not the strongest climber, although when I am in great masher shape, I can hold my own with anyone I ride with. It’s really tough to claim my favorite climb, but I’d say my top 5 are (in no specific order): Clingman’s Dome from Gatlinburg, TN; Mt. Mitchell from Marion, NC; Black Mountain from Cumberland; Little Shepherd Trail Rd. near Harlan, KY; Leaving Burkesville, KY towards Dale Hollow State Park; and Duncan Rd. near Frankfort, KY.

 

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This is certainly subject to change on any given day, but I’d probably name Camp Pleasant Rd. leaving Peaks Mill headed north as my most favorite road. There’s something about that road that gets me lost in the aura of riding my bicycle. It leaves the Elkhorn Creek canoeing hub town of Peaks Mill towards historic Stamping Ground in Scott County. For about three and a half miles it slowly climbs at around 1-2% grade, winding back and forth along a smaller creek bed through the carved out cliffs. It passes a road side church, several other rural roads, and numerous abandoned homes, sheds, vehicles, and other lawn furniture pieces. There’s a falling apart swinging bridge here and there, and other driveways that cross the creek either in the creek bed, or on an ancient makeshift bridge. The grade is easy, you can really push the pace if you want, but just remember it’s several miles long and the final quarter mile turns just steep enough to use up most or all of your gears but only for a brief moment. Then as quickly as you crest the hill, you’re flying down the other side. That three mile stretch to the top is probably my favorite road.

 

Having said Camp Pleasant from Peaks Mill to Union Ridge Rd. is probably my favorite, it’s not my only one. I would certainly include Lloyd Rd, Gaines Rd, and White Oak in Scott Co. as a few of my favorite roads along with Clifton Rd, Pisgah Pike, and Delaney Ferry, and McCracken in Woodford Co. Glen’s Creek Rd, Duncan Rd, Devils Hollow, Shadrick Ferry, and of course, Camp Pleasant Rd are all of my favorites in Franklin Co. Just a few of my other favorites are Pottershop Rd near Bardstown, Scott’s Ridge in Marion Co, the stretch of the Redbud Ride along the Rockcastle River, the stretch along the creek from Columbia to Burkesville, new favorite is the climb up through Nada Tunnel and Red River Gorge near Slade. Oh and how could I forget a few of my favorites in Bourbon Co? Definitely have to include the Colville Covered Bridge loop and Peacock Rd as my favorites (on some days, those two may be my most favorite). Obviously, the roads that lead up my top 5 favorite climbs listed above, are also some of my favorites too!

 

Where and what is your favorite road?! Let me know …  @KPtheMasher

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