Tag Archives: blue ridge outdoors

Bike Lanes on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Back in mid-May, in the days before my latest Assault on Mount Mitchell, I heard from my old friends at Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine. They wanted me to contribute to a piece about whether bike lanes should be built on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

That article came out just this past week. You can read it here.

When they first approached me, they believed that I would be in favor of bike lanes. If you read my body of work, it makes perfect sense. I’ve long been a strong advocate of giving cyclists an unimpeded place to ride. I said yes, and I agreed to write the response in favor of bike lanes.

The deadline was very short, just a couple days, and I was in the midst of a busy week preparing for Mitchell. I wrote my 500 words with the best argument I could muster, but my writing was half-hearted. I wasn’t feeling it. Since time was an issue, I turned it in anyway.

The editor, possibly sensing the weakness of my argument, asked a good question. She wanted me to recall in the article a time where I thought a bike lane could be useful.

I racked my brain, looked at a few Parkway photos, and couldn’t come up with anything. As I thought about it further, I realized that bike lanes on the Parkway are a terrible idea. There had never been a time where I wished for a bike lane, and I probably never would.

The first mini-climb of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Where would you put the bike lane?

Since the pro bike lanes article was already out there, I turned in the revision. It was still half-hearted, but I’m of the opinion that either side of a debate can be argued. This one just didn’t align with my true philosophy.

I freed up a little time, and went ahead and wrote the same argument from the other side. This time I had passion in my writing, and put together a solid argument. The editor at BRO loved it. The only problem was that they already had someone else writing that perspective, and didn’t need one from me.


A few days passed until I heard from them again. I had put them in a tough position, and I wondered whether my piece might get tossed aside.

They came back and really wanted to use my argument against bike lanes. I was relieved. I felt so strongly about the topic that I was questioning whether I wanted to have my name on an argument taking the other position.

Since the limit was only 400-500 words, I had to keep it short, and they even did a little bit of editing. I could have gone further. One thing that I didn’t get to include was the political aspect. In today’s budget-tightening climate, there’s no way the Park Service would get the millions of dollars of funding to add bike lanes. If they did get the funding, I would much rather they use it on areas where cars and bicycles interact more, such as in big cities. The Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville is a great example of where this has benefited all parties, while also boosting the local economy.

What do you think? Do you agree that bike lanes are not necessary on the Parkway?

We don't need no stinking bike lanes!

We don’t need no stinking bike lanes!

Media Matters

In a couple days, I will be in the September issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine in some capacity. I’m not sure to what extent I will be featured, but I know there will be at least a few quotes, and maybe one or two of my images.

Now seems like a good time to reflect on my recent experiences with the media. There haven’t been many, just some small newspapers and now a small magazine. Contrary to the above graphic, I do not think I am a big deal, but it is nice to get a little bit of attention. They have at least made for some interesting stories.

Longtime readers and my local friends will remember the ‘Push It’ debacle from earlier this year. Long story short, I was pressured to estimate the time it would take me to complete a century ride. I overestimated myself, underestimated the route, and qualified my response with ‘if I push it.’ They ran with that as a theme for a larger feature of the paper. That weekend was bedlam. I heard from a lot of people, including some reputable cyclists I had never met before.

The last one was more recent, and I haven’t discussed it on the blog yet. While I was out in Colorado, I heard from a reporter doing a story for Smoky Mountain News on the Blue Ridge Breakaway. It was my ride of the year for 2011, and I gave an enthusiastic review. It is probably still my favorite ride to date.

I spoke with the reporter for maybe 30 minutes early in the morning from Colorado. Most of the interview went well. He had some interesting questions about the ride and cycling in general. There was the obligatory ‘why?’ question, which I have noticed is commonplace from non-cyclists.

He caught me off guard towards the end of the interview. He asked what I think about while I’m climbing up a big hill (I touched on this in my Loveland Pass write-up). That stumped me, as I hadn’t really given a lot of thought (ha!) to what I think about. Usually I just go with it.

After returning from Colorado, I discussed the question with someone I know who practices transcendent meditation. He said that cycling is a form of meditation, but the journalist was correct that it is rare to obtain a complete state of peace while on the bike. Many people will achieve it once or twice, then continue pushing themselves to try and achieve it again. Some of them never will. Realistically, I probably have not reached this point. There have been many times that, due to pure exhaustion, my thoughts have slowed and I have focused intently on the task at hand. Being hyper-focused on completing the task is not the same as meditative bliss.

Overall I was happy with the piece. After all, he called me an influential blogger. I don’t know about all that, but thanks! He also interviewed BRB’s route director Cecil Yount, as well as Laura and Russ from The Path Less Pedaled. I made a couple errors, including playfully exaggerating something for emphasis, which he quoted verbatim (from the article: “One girl spent about 20 minutes on the ground after she was finished because she was so tired.”).

This upcoming piece in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine should be the biggest exposure yet. They have a readership of around 250,000, mostly concentrated in the Southeast USA. The magazine is free, and primarily aimed at tourists. I have been reading it over the last few months, and have been impressed. They usually tackle an activity every month, and give an overview of where in the Southeast you can enjoy that activity. For example, the August issue was about swimming, so they listed the best watering holes in the Southeast.

The September issue is going to be about road cycling. The piece where I’ll be quoted is about the toughest mountain centuries in the Southeast. Their editors had chosen six rides that were evenly spread throughout their readership. I had only ridden in two or three, but I knew about the others. I also suggested some rides that they had not mentioned, which should be part of a sidebar.

Fortunately I did not put my foot in my mouth this time. At least I don’t think I did. We’ll know for sure when it is released. Despite my participation, it sounds like it’ll be a useful article. I’ll post the web link on Twitter and Facebook.