Category Archives: Cycling

Got a plan for 2012?

Big dreams? Better start planning.

Got a plan for this year? If you don’t, you need one.

If you vowed to be better this year, you need to start planning. You need goals to move you along. You need a carrot to get you out of bed and ride on a morning when it’s 25 degrees out. You need incentive to lace up your Asics and do your weekly track workout when your body is saying it would rather stay on the couch and watch the second half. read more

The Earl of sensible transit: It’s up to us

For a guy who’s dedicated his life to public service and is perhaps the politician most closely associated with forward-thinking transportation policy, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, says it’s not elected officials who drive progressive thinking when it comes to creating livable communities.
And Blumenauer knows livable communities, having lived his life in one of the nation’s most living-friendly — Portland. He went to Portland’s Lewis & Clark College, served in the State Legislator, was a Multnomah County Commissioner, served on the Portland City Council, was Portland’s Commissioner of Public Works, and has served in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he’s currently on the Ways and Means and Budget committees. And he’s played a pivotal role in Portland’s transformation from another American city beholden to pavement into a city that now: read more

Options considered for coastal Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The Croatan's wet nature requires lots of pricey bridging and boardwalk, such as this stretch on the Weetock Trail.

My idea of a good time when I can’t be outdoors?
Sitting around a big conference table with the head of the state’s largest trail system and a newly minted map.
Wednesday, Kate Dixon, executive director of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail attended a meeting in New Bern about the path the MST would take from New Bern to the Outer Banks. Thursday, she took a few minutes to update me the latest developments on the statewide trail, a 1,000-mile work in progress that will one day run from atop Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee border across the Tar Heel state to Jockey’s Ridge at the lip of the Atlantic.
A little over half of the trail is done. There’s a 300-mile continuous stretch in the mountains, mostly along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and another good chunk through the Triangle. East of Clayton, though, there’s a long dry spell before you reach the MST’s exciting conclusion along the coast. It was that dry spell that Dixon wanted to talk about.
Specifically, the meeting a day earlier had been about routing the MST through the coastal Croatan National Forest, from New Bern east to the Outer Banks.
“The problem with the Croatan,” she said, “is that it’s wet.”
Indeed. You can’t go far in the 160,000-acre national forest before you run into a wet area known as a pocosin, or upland swamp. Dixon traced her index finger across a number of old roadbeds that seemed to penetrate the forest. Alas, her finger would stop in a pocosin or simply disappear into the mass of coastal jungle growth. Another option, which the FMST isn’t crazy about, is piggybacking on a US 70 bypass around Havelock. Not a lot of esthetic reward in hiking alongside a divided four-lane highway.
Dixon threw a curve ball, though, when she pointed out a sparsely used rail line that runs between the Cherry Point Marine facility near Havelock to Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, a path roughly perpendicular to a trail coming down the Neuse River. A trail paralleling the Neuse has long been considered the route the MST would take through the coastal plain. The rail line came nowhere close to the Neuse.
“How would that work?” I asked.
“We’re thinking about three types of routes to the coast,” Dixon said.
One would be a paddle route, down the Neuse, to New Bern. Another would be a bike route, following the Neuse as close as possible on less-traveled country roads and passing through the Neuse communities of Goldsboro, Kinston and New Bern. The hiking trail would follow a southerly route, parting ways with the Neuse at Smithfield.
Running a hiking trail along the coastal Neuse is proving problematic on several fronts, Dixon said. In spots, especially in the Let’Lones area below Smithfield, the land is perpetually wet. That’s a problem because the public corridor along the Neuse is only 50 feet wide and much of the surrounding land is privately owned,much of it by folks who have been slow to warm to a public trail running across their property.
So instead, the FMST is looking at dropping the hiking trail south of Smithfield to Bentonville and on to the Bladen Lakes area east of Fayetteville. There, it would make its way east to Jacksonville and pick up the aforementioned rail line, where they might be able to strike an access arrangement. The trail would then tap into the Croatan’s Neusiok Trail and head east to the Outer Banks. Another advantage to the southerly route: there’s more public land to run the trail through.
“It’s just something we’ve started looking at,” says Dixon. read more

This weekend: a Dismal hike, a really cool ride and … lost!

The start of last year's RRRCPBMC.

A glorious experience in a Dismal place, riding with the polar bears, avoiding getting lost (but what to do if you do). Just another diverse weekend of outdoor adventure in North Carolina.

Coast

“Remember that resolution you made to get outside and exercise more this year?,” asks Dismal Swamp State Park. (Hey, if companies are people and are entitled to a voice, certainly a great natural area is as well.) “There’s no time like the present to start!” And this chatty park would like you to start with its Resolution Hike this Saturday. Meet at the Visitor Center at 10 a.m., then explore what POTUS No. 1 and avid surveyor George Washington called “a glorious paradise.” The Great Dismal has a fascinating natural and human history (check out Bland Simpson’s highly entertaining “The Great Dismal: A Carolinian’s Swamp Memoir”) that can’t be captured in two miles, but it’s a start. read more

Dear Diary: I am a cow

"Gosh, according to my journal it's been three weeks since I've done a decent fartlek workout. Better hop to it."

I was thinking I’d just had a bad day on the wall. Then I opened my climbing journal to record my workout and discovered that my last workout, a week earlier, had been “a bad day.” Likewise, the workout before that, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, had been “somewhat aimless.” Aimless and anti-productive, I discovered upon further review: Had it really been nearly two months since I’d done a 5.9 climb? My journal said it had. read more