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brain buckets and noodle bowls




helmet crack (always better than skull crack)

helmet crack (always better than skull crack)

The Kid (Mason) got a very sweet new road bike this week; partially a graduation gift.  He picked it up Wednesday (it was raining) and rode it for the first time yesterday morning. And not very far.  A bit of rider error on his part, and he ended up off the road and into the roadside ditch.  Fortunately, he wasn’t badly injured – save for a bit of road rash on arm and knee – but his helmet tells a story.  

There seems to be a debate, which can often get quite heated, among cyclists – to wear or to not wear a helmet.  I’m a helmet true-believer.  And I think this picture speaks volumes.

The non-helmet wearing crowd presents a number of arguments, including the perception(?) that vehicles will give more passing room to a cyclist without a helmet. I read of one study in Cambridge, England, where someone electronically measured data from passing cars.  They claim cars gave several more inches of clearance when passing a non-helmet wearing cyclist.  For a couple of extra inches, I’ll wear a helmet, thanks.

Anti-helmet folks also point to the great cycling Meccas such as Amsterdam, where huge numbers of people rely on bikes for daily transportation, yet virtually no one wears a helmet. Does this make our own country’s helmet-wearing trend just a plot by American equipment manufacturers to sell helmets?  Personally, I don’t buy this argument.  Infrastructure differences, political will, and decades of cultural adjustment to the bike as real transportation in cities like Amsterdam make the bigger difference.  

Another argument I have read more than once (and always seems counter-intuitive somehow) is mentioned in Jeff Mapes book, Pedalling Revolution:

(Peter Jacobsen, Sacramento public health consultant) has argued against helmet laws on the grounds that they discourage cycling by building the impression that it is a risky activity (and in fact, mandatory helmet laws in parts of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada did seem to reduce cycling).  And he has argued, as have many others, that risk compensation comes into play:  just as drivers in cars with seatbelts and airbags may feel it is safer to go faster, people wearing helmets may be less cautious.

Mapes goes on to cite some interesting statistics, and a very valid criticism of one of the significant differences in attitude toward cycling deaths in the US (versus places like Amsterdam, Copenhagen…)

From 1994 to 2005, the percentage of fatalities involving cyclists who didn’t use a helmet ranged from a high of 97 percent in 1994 to a low of 83 percent in 2004. New York City’s 2006 study looked at 122 fatalities where helmet use had been recorded.  Only four of those killed had been wearing a helmet.  But that New York study also noted that more than a fourth of those who died did not have head injuries.  So the lack of helmet use could also be associated with other dangerous riding.

Still, all too often in this country, news coverage of cyclist deaths has tended to focus only on whether the rider wore a helmet and not other problems that may have caused the crash.  And it’s clear from the experience of the Netherlands, Denmark, and other European cities with high cycling rates that helmet use is far from being the last word in safety.

But even putting all things automobile or traffic-related aside, the simple fact is this: rider error happens.  It doesn’t take much – a little bit of silt or fine gravel on the pavement, a momentary distraction, a chasing dog, some bad pavement… I have talked with a number of seasoned and experienced cyclists who have had the unexpected accident – and who are also helmet true-believers.  I can’t say for certain that his helmet saved Mason’s noodle, but looking at it afterward, I can only feel grateful that it came between him and the pavement.

Personal choice or mandatory helmet laws, maybe it’s a tough call for some?  But I know what I’ll be wearing….


scuffed and dented noodle-bowl

scuffed and dented noodle-bowl


Mason's new one-up (dealer paint sample) Specialized Roubaix, weighing in at just under 17.5 lbs.

Mason's new one-up (dealer paint sample) Specialized Roubaix, weighing in at just under 17.5 lbs.


today’s ride: river crossing

crossing the Hiwassee River (Bradley County to Meigs County)

crossing the Hiwassee River (Bradley County to Meigs County)

Exquisite day to ride … sunny, not too hot, little wind, no traffic.  Just doesn’t get any better. 🙂

I’ve done portions of this ride as an out-and-back, but decided to find a way to make it into a loop.  Map My Ride proved to be a very useful tool.  There are limited road crossings over both the river and dealing with the interstate (I-75), but managed to plot a wonderful, low-traffic and picturesque loop.  It touches three counties – starting with Bradley (home), Meigs, and finally McMinn and back into Bradley.  A few hills to make things interesting, but nothing epic.  Otherwise you’ll get lovely gently rolling and smoothly paved rural roads, with a few scenic water crossings.

great pavement, gorgeous scenery (Lower River Road, Bradley Co.)

great pavement, gorgeous scenery (Lower River Road, Bradley Co.)

Two interesting country stores along the way – throw-backs to the rural grocery & bait shop days.  The few miles by main road (Hwy 58, Co. Rte. 163 into Calhoun) all have ample, clean and very bikeable wide shoulders.  Literally an entire lane-width of debris-free pavement to keep out of the way of vehicles.

A great distance for a lovely spring or autumn day.  Just doesn’t get much better…

Here’s the link to the mapped route :

View Interactive Map on

Picture 3

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moving on


the twins graduate

the twins graduate

One of those important mile-markers in life … the twins have officially graduated from high school.  YAY!    For all of their hard work and diligence, both graduated at the top of their class (#3 and #7 in class ranking – 334 graduates), with 4.0 GPA and honors. Yeah, we’re proud.

There were a couple very special teachers along the way, and it was quite moving to see their reaction and their emotions at the graduation ceremony.  Mostly, it just shows how much kids can accomplish when they have teachers who genuinely care and give everything they’ve got to their students.  

So, summer is officially upon us … a chance to kick back a bit, earn some money for college in the fall, and just get ready for the adventures ahead.  Mason and Ross (the graduates) will be continuing with their lifeguarding jobs at the Y, and Dillon is off to TN Governor’s School at University of Tennessee Knoxville for 5 weeks.  Grant will be helping out at the local summer tennis camp once again, and I know that time is going to fly by.  We have some college visits to make for Dillon … so, a family vacation this summer may not happen.

I’m trying to find a few days (or a week) to sneak in a biking trip.  Guess I’m having a case of summer wanderlust, but I just really want to try a multi-day adventure.  I’ve got the bike set-up, the equipment and the legs … just need the time.  We’ll see.

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a snow-y post

Dillon just posted a new video of our Steamboat trip:

Steamboat 09 from Dillon Yost on Vimeo.

Need a dose of snow? Champagne powder, the Bananaman, solving a Rubik’s cube while skiing, and a few fun faceplants … a 4-minute video production compiled by son Dillon. March 2009 ski trip to Steamboat Springs, CO. Good times.

Dillon - just taking a break from all of his video producing...

Dillon - just taking a break from all of his video producing...

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Cleveland, TN, Greenway/Bike Path - after the rain

Cleveland, TN, Greenway/Bike Path - after the rain

Our local Greenway/Bike Path is one of my favorite ways to travel through the more congested parts of the City of Cleveland.  That is, until we have heavy springtime rains.  The path runs adjacent to Mouse Creek, with several street underpasses – all of which wind up underwater with even the slightest rise in the creek.  I guess they had to build it somewhere.

Riding in the rain – I think I’ve finally perfected my rain gear combination: Gore Bikewear Alp-X Rain Shorts, Marmot rain jacket, helmet cover when I need it.  The rain shorts deserve a prize — I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sauna-suit (which happens with full pants). Comfortable, great ventilation and great rain protection at the same time.  Can’t recommend these highly enough.  As long as my seat and thighs are dry, I find that I’m remarkably comfortable in a fairly wide range of temperatures.  

I would love to find a rain vest (?) for warmer temps.  I wouldn’t mind having wet arms, if I could just manage to keep my core dry.

It seems like the news is full of floods, wildfires, crazy weather.  Can’t help thinking about changing weather patterns, climate change … and wondering: how badly have we messed things up?


Note:  With permission, this post is largely copied from the blog of my Twitter pal @AimeesBlog. It tells the story of a mysterious bird found in our goat pasture … and as she says, I guess he flew a little too close to the sun.  (Also think it provides some insight into my goofy times spent twittering.  If you haven’t yet, try it.  Good times.)  Thanks, Aimee!  


To preface the Twitter conversation below, please meet Icarus. I spotted him while I was out in the field with the goats – running but not flying.  He’s a Sora and he has a sore wing.  I’d never seen a bird in this area that looked quite like him, so I took these pictures.




Icarus (from the side)

My pal, @AimeesBlog (Aimee E.) and I had a little Twitter conversation about Icarus & it went like this (my tweets are in green & Aimee’s are in block quote):


Need BIRD xpert; found this while doing goat chores, never seen one before. Injured wing? Can u identify?

@morebikes – Wow. He’s got a pretty beak. What is he?

@morebikes oh, I feel bad. Trying to identify now…

Other view. Stabs my heart to find injured wildlife <-{ Anybody identify what bird this is?

@AimeesBlog You tell me what he is … I’ve never seen one. Kills me that he’s hurt. Now pouring rain, thunderstorms, hail. <-0

@morebikes http://www.americanbirdguid… (I’m looking here)

@AimeesBlog Well lookee there, down at bottom (Rails, Bitterns – first yellow beak thing I saw). Think it’s a Sora (Porzana Carolina)?

Yep – this is him. Thanks @Aimeesblog — you get ornithological gold star today!!! YAY!

@AimeesBlog Now just please tell me you have a wildlife rescue/rehabilitation clinic; I’ll send him to you.

@morebikes What happened, does he have a broken wing? (I’m making a horrible face right now, this sucks)

@AimeesBlog I can’t tell for sure … he can walk/run, but wasn’t flying. Suspect yes, it is wing. It was SO hard to leave him out there.

Need to just let Mother Nature take over, and put my anthopomorphic tendencies aside… (anguish)

@morebikes What do you do? If he’s way hurt, I dunno. These are the hardest things for me. yep you’re right.

@morebikes We should call him Icarus.

@AimeesBlog Perfect.

To Icarus! (wiki)…

And that’s the story of Icarus.

P.S. Aimee read that Icarus’ species of bird is not endangered; as a matter of fact, they are listed as: Least Concern (IUCN 3.1).

P.P.S. Earlier this evening, we needed to do some mowing in parts of the field where Icarus had been spotted.  He was not to be found anywhere in the area.  Hoping for small miracles – I like to think that he managed to move on, safely.  



... the only thing more fun than an Xtracycle: two Xtracycles!

... the only thing more fun than an Xtracycle: two Xtracycles!

Introducing the second set of twins in our family…

Another X has entered our flock.  This time the Surly/Xtracycle Big Dummy (the army-green beauty in the foreground).  This was really a fun build – once again, thanks to Charles at Trailhead for his knowledgeable and artistic vision.  I always thought my Long Haul Trucker was the beauty in the family, but I’m having second thoughts.

Decided to get the second so that Mark can share in the fun.  We’re also hoping to embark on some camping/touring on a local scale.  I think the Xtracycle configuration will serve us perfectly.

Twins … the other pair (the humans) are in the final stretch, with HS graduation only days away.  Exciting times, and I know they are anxious to move on to the next phase in their lives.  The university decisions have been made (won’t dwell on what an ordeal that experience was) – Mason to attend Austin Peay State University for physics and mathematics, Ross to attend East Tennessee State University for chemistry/biochemistry.  So proud of both of them!

Everyone keeps commenting and warning me: “Aren’t you going to be so sad when they leave?”  The truth is, although I will miss them, their presence at home, their company –  I am so excited to see them moving forward, to start making their mark in the world.  It’s a thrill to see what they’ve accomplished, their motivation and passion over what they want to do, and where they want to go.  How can I be sad?  It’s time for this.  The right time.  We’re ready.  And my happiness and pride in them displaces any sadness.

Being the parent of twins … it’s been a fun-filled ride.  (And not the bicycle kind! 🙂

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