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grapes for bikes

65 lbs. of concord grapes, ready for a trip on the Xtracycle

65 lbs. of concord grapes, ready for a trip on the Xtracycle

There were too many grapes.

Our vines were quite prolific this year, and we still had canned juice from prior years.  I hate to see them wither on the vine and go to waste on the ground, so I decided to cut what remained and take them to our local farmer’s market.  Rather than try and sell them – and to avoid messing with scales, or figuring out a way to package them in sellable amounts – I decided it would be a “grape give-away”.

Farmer's Market folks - getting some grapes, giving to a good cause (World Bicycle Relief)

Farmer's Market folks - getting some grapes, giving to a good cause (WorldBike)

I really wanted to figure out a way to add a bicycling element to this outing, so I decided to pick a bicycle charity, and give any donations I could gather at the market to one of these groups.  There are a number of smaller bicycle charities I was familiar with – and one in particular, WorldBike, which I believe was founded by one of the amazing folks at (Ross Evans?) at Xtracycle.  I did an informal survey with my cycling friends on Twitter, and in the end decided to donate to WorldBike.  Please take a minute to watch their very inspiring slideshow on Vimeo; it will move you!

So, I spent a few hours cutting grapes and loading them into the plastic window boxes that make great carriers on my Xtracycle – especially for “messy” loose cargo.  The weather had been kind of questionable, with storms in the forecast, but I new I either had to go for it, or give up on the idea.  Our fledgeling farmer’s market only takes place once a week on Thursday afternoons.  I knew if I had to wait another week, the grapes would be gone and on the ground.

I got everything loaded (including my rain gear) and rode into town, with the skies threatening to open up.  Sure enough, barely five minutes after I arrived at the market, the downpour started.  I managed to stay dry under the overhang of the nearest building, but I was afraid that the trip would be a waste – fearing that not many people would be inclined to be shopping in the rain.  And what would I do with all of the grapes?

... and the rains came

... and the rains came

To my delight and surprise, the people were amazing and most generous.  They stuck it out in the rain, were interested in the grapes and finding out about what I was trying to do for WorldBike.  They were intrigued by my Xtracycle – making jokes about it being the “most original pickup at the market”.  The rain also brought several offers of rides home – which I assured them was not necessary.

It was great getting to meet and talk with several of the sellers – a lady who brought in her beautiful tomatoes, and also sells home-made goat cheese, along with a very friendly gentlemen who sells his locally grown grass-fed beef.  We’d actually seen him at the Amish market back in June when we were bike-camping, and he said he remembered us by our unusual bikes.

People took the grapes for jam-, jelly-, juice- and wine-making, and made some very generous donations.  Even in the rain, there was a refreshing sense of community and hospitality around the marketplace; it was wonderful.

Within about two hours, most of the grapes had been claimed, and the remainder I left with the beef man and a couple of the other vendors.  In the end, I matched the dollars that I had collected, and sent WorldBike a decent donation. The whole afternoon left me with such a good feeling – to have participated in our local market, to see the grapes go to good use, and to have collected a small sum for a good cause.  I definitely plan to revisit the market – as a customer.

farmer's market flowers ...

farmer's market flowers ...

... and home-grown produce

... and home-grown produce

riding home on the greenway - after the rains

riding home on the greenway - after the rains

speak out

If you didn’t hear this from yesterday’s post – here it is again:

Following up … Upon listening, a number of like-minded friends, both cyclists and non-cyclists, have expressed their outrage over what was advocated on the broadcast.  Many tweets have flown around, some have sent emails, written blog posts, written letters, etc., denouncing the station for their reckless promotion of violence toward cyclists.  If you care to take action, I’ve listed three ways in which you can act: write a letter, send an email, and/or file a complaint online with the FCC.  The FCC has a provision to allow individuals to report a station “Broadcasting threatening or intimidating statements about an individual or group”. Personally, when someone expresses a desire to throw something at my head, or go Grand Theft Auto on me, “intimidating” is how I hear it.  It will obviously be up to the FCC to make the final determination, but it could certainly make a point, or at least cause some headaches, if multiple reports were to be filed.

To file a complaint report …

On the FCC complaint page, select: “Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues”

On the next page select: “Unauthorized, unfair, biased, illegal broadcasts” (this is where the FCC provision against “Broadcasting threatening or intimidating statements about an individual or group” is found)

Fill in your personal information, and on the following page you can enter the details about this particular broadcast, including:

Radio Station: WCSX
Radio Frequency: 94.7
City: Detroit, MI
Program Name: Deminski & Doyle Morning Show
Date of Program: 08/05/2009
Time: 8:00am

If you want to write a letter:

Greater Media President & CEO Peter Smyth
Greater Media
35 Braintree Hill Park, Suite 300
Braintree, MA  02184

If you would like to send Mr. Smyth an email:

If you would like to send the station head(?) an email:

If you would like to send the show’s Executive Producer (my brother-in-law) an email:

Finally, if you can, check out this letter sent by LAB President Andy Clarke to the president of Greater Media.  Very well done.

** 8/14/09 update: I just found out that League of Michigan Bicyclists has started a petitions drive, you can sign it here: Boycott Greater Media for intolerable remarks against cyclists They have a 1,000 signature goal; we can help them out.

shock jerks & my apologies

Earlier today I read this post ( by a fellow cycling advocate and twitter friend.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard similar stuff before, but I found some of the blatant aggressive anti-cyclist language used by these “shock jocks”, Deminski and Doyle, particularly offensive.  Cyclists have been called “arrogant”, “jerks” and “idiots” before, but I’ve never heard a public declaration by a “media” person stating “…you’d love to lob something at their heads”, and “… makes you want to go Grand Theft Auto on them, but you can’t” (in reference to the violent video game where characters are beaten to death).

Here’s the actual audio clip by Deminski and Doyle from radio station WCSX in Detroit:

OK, I found it more than sufficiently disturbing and offensive – filled with not only grossly inaccurate stereotypes about cyclists, total lack of knowledge over cycling rights and legislation, and violent and aggressive suggestions for drivers when encountering and passing cyclists.  Enough said – I know it’s the game the shock jerks play.  As a friend so aptly put it – don’t buy in the shock jock stupidity; it’s exactly the kind of rage they’re trying to elicit.

But the experience became more interesting … I have a brother in-law who is a morning show producer for a Detroit area radio station. Couldn’t recall the name of his station, but decided to email my sister in-law, asking if she or my BIL knew of these guys.  Never even mentioned the bike spot in my query.

What came back to me literally knocked me off my chair.  Not only does my brother know these shock jerks, he works at the very station – with them! It appears he is the executive producer of the show!  And apparently neither my SIL or BIL find anything wrong with what was said.  (At the request of, and in respect for, my husband, I have subsequently edited this post – regarding my personal feelings over this particular matter).

I extend apologies to all of my cycling friends and peeps – for this offensive garbage that was facilitated, in part, by members of my extended family.

I just have no words right now.  I sent a picture off to brother- and sister-in-law … a picture of their own cycling family members.  Next time they condone calling cyclists “jerks” and “idiots” deserving of having things thrown at their heads, I hope they will think of us.

Call your own family arrogant jerks and idiots and advocate violence against us...

Call your own family members arrogant jerks and idiots and advocate violence against them...

rainy riding & wild ponies

Grant covered in Virginia Creeper trail grit.

Grant covered in Virginia Creeper trail grit.

A few days late in posting this.  Took a trip last weekend to the western mountains of Virginia, to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail and to do a little hiking/camping in Grayson Highlands State Park.  Unfortunately the weather didn’t seem to want to cooperate.  Wonderful low pressure system with plenty of rain was on the menu.

Soaked and trail-grit encrusted feet.

Soaked and trail-grit encrusted feet.

Arrived at Grayson on Thursday evening. Rain.  On Friday the plan was to ride the Creeper Trail – which is an absolutely lovely ride, part of the Rails-to-Trails system.  The trail runs thirty-five miles from Whitetop, VA (on the NC border) through Damascus, to Abingdon.  A nice gradual downhill grade from top to bottom, with numerous trestle bridges crossing a beautiful mountain whitewater river.  Many shuttle services are available to drop you off at the top, allowing easy downhill riding for the youngest to oldest of cyclists.  Over the years, it’s become one of our favorite places to ride – a 3+ hour drive from home.

We intially wanted to ride from bottom (Abingdon) to top (Whitetop) and back down again, forgoing a shuttle.  But given the weather conditions,  we decided to ride up from Damascus (not quite mid-point), back down, and see if things would clear up and we could ride the lower portion to Abingdon – and back up to Damascus.  In Damascus we stopped at one of the local outfitters where they had weather radar pulled up on a laptop, and it looked like the worst of the system was moving out of the area.  Apparently, the radar lied.

We spent over 2 hours slogging 18 miles up to the top through non-stop rain,  Even with rain-gear (but no shoe covers), we were soaked and covered in trail grit – a nice crushed stone/cinder(?) black mess.  By the time we got back down to Damascus, we’d had enough.  Just wanted to rinse off, dry off, and get clean dry clothes and shoes on.  So much for our Creeper Trail plans.

It was so wet (and I was so filthy), I didn’t even try to mess with my camera – which is sad, because it’s such a beautiful trail.  This site has some nice photos – from days when the weather is more agreeable.

One of the beautiful views from the Appalachian Trail, heading to Mt. Rogers

One of the beautiful views from the Appalachian Trail, heading to Mt. Rogers

On Saturday, the weather seemed to be improving, so we headed out for a hike to Mt. Rogers – the highest point in VA.  The Appalachian Trail connects with several of the Grayson/Mt. Rogers rec area trails, and offers gorgeous open views of the mountains.  Saw lots of backpackers and dayhikers.  Grayson Highlands S.P. is also home to herds of wild ponies, which roam the mountains throughout the year, and each autumn they hold a round-up to auction off a few ponies to keep the population in check.  It’s always incredibly fun to hike along and be greeted by the ponies – who are very tame, curious, and people-friendly.

We had initially planned to backpack/overnight for one night up on Mt. Rogers, eventually scrapped the idea for various reasons.  It was nice to day hike, packing up only our lunch and the camera.  Fortunately, the weather cooperated.  More pictures are up on my Flickr site. (Yes, I was told I took too many pony pictures … I just couldn’t help myself).

It may not have turned out the way we had planned – from bike weather to backpacking plans – but we still really enjoyed the weekend, and highly recommend a trip to this lovely area.

Mason takes in the view

Mason takes in the view

my favorite wild thing

my favorite wild thing