Friday, October 20, 2006

VDOT to hold meetings to discuss bicycle and pedestrain program - DON'T MISS IT!

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will hold four
informal meetings in southwestern Virginia to provide information about its
bicycle and pedestrian program and allow people interested in bicycling and
walking to discuss the program with VDOT representatives.

VDOT's bicycle and pedestrian program was formed to ensure that bicycling,
walking and other modes of non-motorized transportation receive the same
consideration as motorized transportation in the planning, design,
construction and operation of Virginia's transportation network.

The meetings to discuss the program will be held in Salem, Forest, Rocky
Mount and Christiansburg from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.:

Salem, VA
Monday, Oct. 30
VDOT Salem District Office
731 Harrison Ave.

Forest, VA
Wednesday, Nov. 1
Forest Recreation Center
1088 Rustic Village Road

Rocky Mount, VA
Thursday, Nov. 2
Workforce Development Consortium
70 Wray St.

Christiansburg, VA
Thursday, Nov. 9
Montgomery County Government Center
755 Roanoke St.

The meetings will begin with VDOT's State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator
David Patton or other VDOT representatives making a presentation about the
bicycle and pedestrian policy. Open discussion will follow.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Florida: Flat, Straight and Hot

I like visiting Daytona Beach. You're surrounded by many cool things: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (someday I will be a pilot), Daytona Speedway (someday I will be a Rolex Sports Car Series Race Driver), the ocean, great beaches...But most of all, I like it because it's flat. Zero hills. Just what I long for after the Poor Mountain Hill Climb a couple weeks prior.

Pookie and I venture here every year to spend a week with her Dad and his new bride (they're newlyweds in their 80s! - very cool).

Usually we go bikeless. This year I took my newly assembled fixie and Pookie took the Green Booger Commuter Machine so we could explore the streets, bike paths and beaches.

Leaving Virginia in October is always difficult - the weather is usually perfect for just about any outdoor activity. Little rain and moderate temperatures have greeted us in Florida the last few trips we've taken. No rain again this year, but the temperatures mid-week topped out in the 90s!

The week began however with daytime highs in the low eighties and little humidity. We took advantage and set out to do a ride that the local Daytona Beach Bicycle Club suggests on their website called the Ormond Loop. This 22 mile jaunt skirts the inter-coastal waterway then brings you back along the ocean. A stiff breeze on the first half of the trip made me realize that flat isn't always easy. I worked a little harder than I thought I would on a "recreational" ride. I think my brain was still on the training and racing setting. Once we reached the half way point, we decided to stop and watch some boats float along the inter-coastal before heading back along highway A1A. The coolest thing about the second half of this particular loop is that you ride on a wide, paved, straight-as-an-arrow bike path along the ocean. The picture tells the story pretty well. You don't have to worry about hair-pin turns on this one!

We finished up by having a bagle sandwich at a little shop along the way. A perfect day for a bike ride.

Before this year's trip began, I had visions of riding mile after mile, day after day along the beach, through the inland parks and on the bikepaths and backroads. Then I realized that we do that all year long when we're training and racing. We gave it a break and didn't ride nearly as much as planned...and it felt good. We shopped, we toured, we lounged, we went to the dog track. We did the tourist thing.

We decided to do a "tourist" bike ride on Thursday (I think it was Thursday. You know how easy it is to lose track on vacation?!) We began by heading back to an area we had visited on the prior year's vacation that we really liked called Ponce Inlet. It's basically the Southern-most tip of the pennisula that is Daytona. Our favorite attraction is the Ponce Inlet Light House. We toured it last year and it's awesome. You gotta do it if you ever visit Daytona - the view is great!
A large natural area borders the lighthouse grounds and we rode very slowly and tourist-like on a cool nature trail we found-paved, no less.

I discovered that 23c road bike tires at 100psi are the worst thing ever when you suddenly find a 3 inch deep pile of sand along the roadside. I did some acrobatic moves and bobbles and somehow managed to get unclipped and stay upright at about 12mph. My life flashed in front of my handlebars. 12mph may not sound fast, but go ahead and try it on your fixie.

So we made it safely to the base of the lighthouse, grabbed a postcard for a friend in Colorado who digs lighthouses, snapped this photo and headed to the beach.
In Velousha County you can drive your car on the beach, tide permitting. We decided to have a go at it on the bikes.

Remember the three-inches-of-sand-along-the-road-life-before-my-handlebars incident? Repeat x 100! Wasn't going to happen. You need extra hard-packed sand and big giant balloon tires with about 20 psi . We had neither. So, we snapped a few more photos and rode around on the pavement a bit more.The week went by quickly, as all vacations do. We're back home just in time to witness nature's spectacular fall color display. I've become pretty comfortable riding the fixie around on the glorious flatness that is Florida, now I have to learn how to ride it around the hills of Roanoke. I better not run into any more sand.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Fixin' to go to the beach

Pookie and I will be spending next week in Daytona Beach, FL.

This is my beach bike. Just finished it today.



Monday, October 02, 2006

King Of The Mountain

I had heard the tales and folklore. The stories of men and women of superhuman strength who could perform feats beyond belief.

I had seen Goliath and experienced his wrath before. I knew how $#@* hard this climb was. I felt the pain of it's 6 3/4 miles last year at this same time of year, for this very same event: The Poor Mountain Hill Climb.

This time around however, I got to witness history being made.This last race of the VA Derailer series is something I look forward to and dread at the same time. I'm somewhat glad to see the race season come to a close in favor of more low key, scenic fall rides. I want to get up this colosus just to get it over with because I know it is going to very painful. I race up this thing on a Singlespeed. It hurts.

This year I came to this event to race, but also to watch a local living legend - one of those with superhuman strength - take on Goliath and smack him around a bit.

You see, Jeremiah Bishop isn't just a mountain bike racer, he's a giant killer. He's the guy who has put a hurting on the European racers who have taken much of the limelight in professional mountain bike racing over the past decade. He's the guy who has won the grueling Shenandoah Mountain 100 a couple times like it was just a nice, easy ride. He's also the most approachable professional athlete I've ever had the pleasure to meet.

He was out to break his own record. The 40 minute mark that he put up in 2004 is incomprehensible to me. My best time is one hour. He was 20 minutes faster on the same 6 3/4 mile course. Wow. I think every single person at this event wanted him to break the 40 minute mark, and he did. I'm not sure of the official time, but I asked him at the top and he was sure it was around 38 minutes. Down goes Goliath.

My wife and I were lucky enough to have a chance to spin back to Camp Roanoke (where the event was anchored, abut two miles from the start of the climb) with Jeremiah and have a nice chat about racing, tough climbs, training...a little bit of everything. We were all torched after the climb, and I'm sure he was kicked after putting in such an amazing performance.

Thanks JB for letting us know that it can be done. His attitude on this race and racing in general is fantastic: You race so you can be the best you can be. Sometimes you win, more often you don't. But, you always have an opportunity to better yourself through racing. He didn't need to come back to Roanoke County for this tiny little event, but he wanted to break 40 minutes. That's cool.