“It would be naive to think that the problems plaguing mankind today can be solved with means and methods which were applied or seemed to work in the past.” – Mikhail Gorbachev
Posts Tagged With: bike
“I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.” – Anne Rice
Well, it’s another “Zero Day“, but with a twist. lol Today there was no firewood cutting, gathering, or stacking. I’m daydreaming and thinking about places to ride my bike.
My mind is full of visions of tree-lined avenues and waterside pathways. Every now and then a scene of cruising down some primary roadway, such as US-441, US-1, or even US-66 (Route 66) sneaks in. I know these are not the quiet routes I am so fond of, but their history has a significant draw to me.
I love traveling to areas that are almost lost in time because of the Interstate system, roads that once were the life-blood of this nation, only to be replaced by an Interstate, then forgotten by the average person.
There are still many of the old gas stations, cafes, and general-stores around, most of which have either been converted into some form of housing, community center, or professional offices.
These are interesting, but the most intriguing are the rare examples that have somehow managed to fight off the effects of time and still look much like they did during their heyday, often complete with antique gas pumps or overhead sign facades, and those that have been “discovered” by a preservation group which restored them to their original appearance.
In their time they were truly architectural works of art. Just like cars, they don’t make them like that anymore. Sure, they were energy wasting hogs with little or no insulation, old creaky wooden floors, no air conditioning, and screen doors which slammed shut with a loud “smack”, but they had charm. A person felt wanted and appreciated when there. The proprietors gave real customer service, and when they asked you to come back they meant it. It wasn’t just something the corporate office told them to say. The customer was treated like a friend, and in many cases they were friends, relatives, or neighbors.
Whenever I pass by, especially when I have time to stop and admire one of these places, I almost feel like I stepped out of a time machine. Nostalgia floods my body and soul. It’s almost like I’m a kid again, at least until reality (or somebody’s car horn) brings me back to my senses.
This is going to be one of the things I’ll truly enjoy about cruising around on my bike… the ease of stopping to admire representations of a by-gone era where friendliness was in abundance, and honesty was common place.
Places like these are portals back to the carefree days of my youth when worry was just something you overheard the adults talking about and nothing was out of reach or impossible to achieve because… well, just because. 🙂
If you would like to see the full-size version of the above photos, or to view a few more photos like these, please visit my Old School Cycling Facebook page .
Note: The thoughts and activities discussed in this post occurred on November 25, 2011.
It’s “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S.A. In hiker terms I took a “Zero Day” today. In other words I had a day with no specific goals nor any commitments to fulfill. A day just for myself meant only for kicking back, relaxing, and maybe some enjoyable exercise. It felt good to not have to rush. As I write this I’m listening to music by Rachmaninov, a Russian composer, conductor, and pianist who lived from 1873 to 1943. While I enjoy most genres of music, classical piano, especially when it’s accompanied by a philharmonic orchestra, is the most relaxing and inspiring. In my opinion, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s music ranks very near the top of the list.
A few minutes were taken to cut and split some firewood, not with a hydraulic splitter but with a splitting maul (a hand-held log splitter that looks a little like a single-bit axe on steroids) and the occasional use of a wedge. The exercise obtained by doing it this way is extremely beneficial plus it gives me sort of an old west feel. Some would call this work, but to me it’s relaxing and another reason to be outside. I cut my own wood from dead trees on my property, never live ones unless they’re endangering the house I’m caretaker of or power lines. For this I use a chain saw. Yes, it’s somewhat ironic I split wood by hand yet use a chain saw to get the wood into usable portions instead of my antique double-bit axe. I will occasionally use the axe when the notion strikes me, or I find my chainsaw is without fuel or chain lubricant, however the chainsaw is my tool of choice. I don’t have an explanation as to why I do one thing the “old-school” way and another thing the more modern way. I just do. Guess that’s just a part of what makes me… me! 😉
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein
I extend my apologies to those who are following this blog for the lapse in time since my last post. This is one of those times of the year where I simply do not have the time, or the energy, to sit down and compose my thoughts like I should. The leaves are doing their miraculous change from green to wonderfully vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. I live in an area where I get to enjoy this transformation every year but others are not so fortunate, so they wish to travel here to view this majestic scenery for themselves.
This is where I come in, or perhaps I should say where the delay comes in. My primary business is shuttling hikers to and from the Appalachian Trail, and other trails in/near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, however this time of year I also get calls from people who want to book tours of the area to see the color changes for themselves. I always enjoy performing the shuttles and tours, probably because I have always been a person who much prefers the outdoors to indoors. In college, weather permitting, I studied at one of the local parks rather than going home, rewarding myself at the end of each day’s study session by reading portions of “Walden” by Thoreau, later my choice of careers was weighed by which occupation would keep me outside the most. Anyway, as much as I enjoy these outings they leave little time for anything else. It’s not uncommon for me to be headed out the door at 5:00 am and not see that door again until after 10:00 pm. Not complaining, mind you. I’ve wondered many times if I’d rather be doing something else but I can never think of any other occupation I would enjoy more. Yes, there are times I wish I could just lay out on some warm beach down in Florida or somewhere along the Gulf coast and do nothing but soak up the sun, but I know me. It wouldn’t be long before I would be missing the beautiful mountain scenery, and the conversations with my passengers that come from all over the globe. Now, once winter is solidly here, and the shuttles all but cease, I’ll be dreaming of the beach and probably take a trip or two there, but this year it will be different. I’ll have a companion… my bike! 😉 It’s been years since I’ve combined beach combing with cycling. Perhaps I can do so again, for a while, before too long.
Note: The thoughts and activities discussed in this post occurred on August 28, 2011.
What a beautiful day in the mountains of Western North Carolina and Southwestern Virginia! One would never guess this area narrowly missed the high wind and heavy rain from the outer bands of Hurricane Irene. I empathize with the East coast residents. Having seen several hurricanes during my time in Florida, and by fate, chance, or whatever you wish to call it missed Hurricane Andrew by only half (1/2) a day, I know what these people are going through. While shuttling a group of hikers to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area today we saw caravan after caravan of relief supplies and emergency services headed for the East coast. It was a very welcome sight despite the occasional traffic jam encountered by the increase in traffic. I wish a speedy recovery for these residents and hope everyone keeps them in their thoughts and prayers. Sending a donation to the American Red Cross, or another relief organization of your choice, wouldn’t be a bad idea either, hint, hint.
Here’s a photo of a bicycle I saw at the Virginia Welcome Center on I-81 just Northeast of the Tennessee line. Had to have this pic since the bike so closely resembles mine, minus the stickers of course. 😉
On the topic of cycling… after dropping my hikers off, and having a very enjoyable look around the Headquarters/Visitor Center, I started the return trip home. On the way there we discussed a variety of hiking and world event topics, which always makes the trips seem to go by fast. Now I was alone and able to pay more attention to my surroundings. This area is gorgeous. If you haven’t visited here yet I suggest you do so. You won’t be disappointed. As I traveled through the forested road I envisioned traveling this route (VA-16) by bicycle. It has several hills, none of which would cause much concern to even a novice cyclist, and a lot of curves. One would certainly not be bored with this ride. Near the Interstate (I-81) there are several clusters of small houses, a couple of churches, and a business or two. Simple, quiet, and laid back. I guess during the height of the tourist season this road would be busy, but any other time it’s a peaceful area pretty much secluded and proceeding at its own leisurely pace. I like that kind of community, one where the people aren’t worried about out doing “the Jones’“, seeing who can build the biggest house or having the fanciest lawn,one where you see basketball goals out front for the kids (or the young at heart), tricycles parked haphazardly near the front porch and toys scattered around the yard, or a young couple walking down the road hand in hand oblivious to everything else going on around them. Yes, this area is going on my list of places to bike. Perhaps it will be added to your list also. 🙂
Note: The thoughts and activities discussed in this post occurred in July, 2011
A while back I watched a repeat of Texas Country Reporter on RFD TV. This episode included an interesting segment titled “Tour de Hood” where they featured a cycling group in Houston, TX that is open to anyone and everyone who wishes to spend a weekend morning cycling. They cycle ride around a different neighborhood each week for exercise and companionship. Simple, huh? On the surface it is, but the purpose, mission, and drive for this featured activity goes much deeper.
This is an unselfish endeavor. They operate only from donations. When donations are slow in arriving activities are paid for out of the organizers own pocket(s). What makes this even more amazing is that those participating do not have to bring anything, or do anything special, other than show up! Tour de Hood supplies everything to those who need this generous helping hand. No bike? No problem, it’s supplied, as is the water, food (fruit for health), and bicycle helmets. They even organize group camping trips with all necessary items, other than clothing, supplied if necessary. The camping trips take riders to various spots in Texas and range from one to three nights. Both of these activities are also planned for readers of this blog. Hopefully we will eventually be able to supply some, if not all, of the necessary items to those who would otherwise be unable to participate.
Originally the organizer of Tour de Hood, Dr. Veon McReynolds, wanted to promote healthy living. His premise was that a person doesn’t have to constantly visit a gym, but can instead make healthy living choices such as taking a weekly bike ride. This weekly activity has gradually evolved into something people from all backgrounds, ages, races, and family units can do together for a leisurely historical and beautiful ride around the neighborhoods, or “hoods” of Houston. Dr. McReynolds feels that these things are missed by most of us in this fast-paced world, much like the personal feelings I described in my Rediscovery post. Taking a bicycle ride, even a short one, can put us back in touch with these things while improving our health and over all outlook on life so why aren’t more people doing this?
If you would like to view the episode referred to above you may do so on YouTube by going to – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKCcYQQQMTo .
The information contained in this televised report really touched me. I had been searching for a way to do something for cancer victims, more specifically prostate cancer survivors such as myself, but couldn’t come up with any viable ideas. This episode provided me with the idea, and pathway, I had been searching for… promote awareness of this disease and help its victims by engaging in a healthy activity, cycling. [See Purpose] Cycling is an activity that serves to re-build the strength and stamina lost during the fight of, and recovery from, a dreaded disease while giving participants an opportunity to get their minds off fears and concerns by enjoying the sights and sounds always around them. This idea, Old School Cycling, thanks to Dr. McReynolds and Texas Country Reporter, was born! 😀 Please take a minute to visit their respective sites and either “like”, tweet, or email them a note of thanks.
Note: The thoughts and activities discussed in this post occurred in mid February, 2011.
The weather today was gorgeous for this time of Winter. It was fairly warm with bright sunshine and only a few fluffy white clouds floating around a deep blue sky. Today was a shuttle day. A couple of hope-to-be thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail needed a shuttle from the Atlanta airport to Springer Mountain, the Southern terminus of “The” trail a few miles outside of Dahlonega, GA. The ride typically takes about 3 hours so we had plenty of time to talk and discuss a variety of subjects. When we finally got out of the heavy Atlanta metro traffic, and onto the half-way deserted two-lane roads, our talk turned to the weather and the natural beauty which surrounded us. We were in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains now. The winding road rose and fell as the miles clicked on with each curve unfolding a vibrant new scene before us.
A few miles from our destination we came upon a group of cyclists peddling hard up the mountain road. As I cautiously passed the cyclists, my hikers began discussing biking trips they had taken in preceeding years. I listened as they described the grandeur of places they visited, the friendliness of people encountered, and the thrill of completing different types of road courses. My mind flashed back to the days I rode my bike often, days I took the time to enjoy some of the simpler things, days I not only biked through small towns and observed the old historic buildings, but stopped at a small family owned cafe or diner for a snack and to talk with people gathered there. Whatever happened to those days? I have always thought of myself as being basically the same now as I was last year, 5 years ago, even 15 years ago. Something was different now. Somehow I had changed without realizing it, becoming much like the person I told myself back then I would never become, rushed and too busy for the things that matter most. I missed those old times. Is it true you can never go back? Possibly, but you can always try to recreate them again if you have the gumption.
After I dropped the hikers off for the start of their 2,100 plus miles of adventure and discovery I headed home, my mind filled with memories of past excursions on my bike, some of them long, others short, but all were fun and exciting in their own unique way. My hikers may be on a path of discovery but I had discovered something also. Feelings were surfacing I hadn’t experienced in years, and it felt good, really good. I wanted those experiences back. I had to have those experiences back. I would get those experiences back, along with the excitement, exploration, and adventure that had been put on the back burner oh so long ago. My mind’s made up. I’m going to pursue this thing everyone now calls cycling. I have a bike somewhere in my mini-warehouse that needs to be dug out of all the mess, cleaned up, then ridden. There are websites to visit, stores to browse, and miles of roads just waiting to be explored. Yep, a good dose of rediscovery is just what I need. 😀