Jul 2016 21

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I sat down Sunday evening with my friends Shannon and Nathan Rome in their living room and had pleasant conversation the way neighbors used to do on front porches across the land of the free. You know, back in the “good ole days?” We talked about everything from high school days to our careers to bicycling to my relocation back in my hometown of South Frankfort.

 

Once again, all of the tell-tell signs are evident that my bicycling pastime has been a backseat priority to other things in life as of recent. It isn’t difficult to look up my Strava account and see the lack of activity, or notice that this is our first blog post in a while also. It’s certainly not due to a lack of interest that I’ve been missing in action this season, but as life sometimes goes,  my bicycling just hasn’t been atop my list of priorities. That list has been consumed with life: work, selling, buying, and moving out of and into homes, and all the fun stuff that goes along with that whole process, oh and did I mention work. I’ve also been struggling a little with my knee surgery recovery. I know I need to be much more consistent with my therapy and strengthening exercises, but it hasn’t been a top priority either.

 

Enough with the excuses, it’s again time to create a priority shift and after discussing a late summer cycling event with Nathan, I decided to sign up for the “Bike to Beat Cancer” event in Louisville in September. I’m very excited to get rolling on the bike again, but even more excited to join Nathan’s Frankfort based team for this grand century ride. My most excitement comes from the feeling I have in knowing I’m doing a part in helping to fight cancer. What an awful, nasty disease that has probably touched every single person in America in some way, or will at some point in their life. I only wish I could do more.

 

So on behalf of all my family and friends that either are currently battling or have ever battled some form of cancer, I vow to go the distance for you and hope to raise as much money for research as I possibly can along the way! I truly know the pain and agony I may experience on my bicycling century ride will never compare to any of the pain you all have been through. I would like to personally ask each and everyone of my friends and/or RAM Cycling followers to please consider making a donation on my behalf in the “Bike to Beat Cancer” event benefitting Norton Cancer Institute. … $5…$10…$20……$25…$50…$100….whatever you can spare, I am very gracious for your support and I’m sure cancer patients throughout the area are so very thankful, as well.

 

If if you would like to make a donation, it only takes a moment. Please visit:

https://secure3.convio.net/norton/site/Donation2;jsessionid=00000000.app325a?idb=1589921884&df_id=1600&FR_ID=1150&mfc_pref=T&PROXY_ID=1117154&PROXY_TYPE=20&1600.donation=form1&NONCE_TOKEN=62336DB8D74B97B665D590EC41AFFB8C

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

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