Another day in town of trip-chaining by bike. Stop for coffee, pop into the bike shop, visit our local history museum, drop by the library (and more coffee), hit the grocery store for dinner-to-go, and home again; a bit of a list, and I again apologize for a rather lengthy post. Despite multiple destinations, I will log today’s Utilitaire checkpoint as #9 – museum visit.
In the section of town known as Five Points, we have a very nice regional history museum – the Museum Center at Five Points (and I am sorry to say that the above photo is not the museum, just an old building on the Five Points Corner ). The museum is one of those places I don’t make time to visit often enough, so I am grateful for the Utilitaire challenge and the reminder to make the visit. In addition to the permanent collection of local history and artifacts, the current temporary exhibit features an impressive collection of vintage and modern quilts. As much as I loved viewing the quilts, I was really more interested in taking some time to explore the permanent collection more thoroughly than I have had time to in the past. I learned a few things – including (according to the docent I spoke with) the fact that the industry responsible for “growing” and placing our little town on the TN map was kitchen stove manufacturing. Not only was there a Hardwick Woolen Mill, but also a Hardwick Stove Company, among others.
Since my time was my own today, I was able to read, look and explore a little more. Other things that caught my eye (in addition to the quilts, of course) were a vintage camera and an old grocery bike, along with a interesting collection of daily household items.
Coming to the museum in late March will be a new photograph exhibit that I am definitely looking forward to – a collection of black and white photographs from Knoxville photographer Don Dudenbostel on aspects of Appalachian culture that are fading from existence. From roadside culture to moonshine distilleries to snake handling (yeah, snake handling) … this should be exceptional. I’ve admired some of his other work (x-ray imaging) in the Bluff View Art District in Chattanooga, and it is pretty incredible.
As I was leaving the museum, I discovered I had just missed seeing my friend Jenn, who is an education director for the museum and had been there for a meeting. Sorry Jenn. But I definitely need to ask her for a favor — any chance we can get the museum facilities people to install a bike rack?? (hint, hint) 😉
I left the museum and stopped at the library where I ran into one of my “other” sons, Tim, who had finished his college classes for the day and spotted me parking my bike. We had a cup of coffee and did some catching up in the library coffee shop before he headed off. With all of the boys at schools here, there and everywhere, I don’t get to see these guys as often as I used to – and I was so touched that he was kind enough to take some time to re-connect. My boys have the most amazing friends.
library bike rack
Winding through neighborhoods, with spring colors reminding me of the some of the quilts from earlier in the day. On to the grocery store for a assorted salads for a simple supper, and then home. A very good day.
pansies, reminding me of quilts …
Everyone is going separate ways today, but my beloved and I managed to take a little time out to ride for coffee before he heads out of town later today. Utilitaire checkpoint #2: coffeeneuring. Once again a traverse through town on the Greenway, and for whatever reason, I am always compelled to stop on this bridge. I want to start keeping a tally. There are other bridges, other underpasses, other places I ride through and across as often, or more frequently, than this bridge… but I always consciously think about this location, this bridge, whenever I cross it. I have no idea why.
As for coffee – I know that Starbucks often gets a bad rap. Yeah, it’s not some trendy local roaster, I can’t get a latte with a picture created in the froth, but it’s really about the only game in town. I tend to avoid the Inman Street Coffee House run by the Salvation Army, because I have a personal aversion to the big screen tv’s they have hanging on the walls playing Fox News, and I take issue with some of the national organization’s position statements. Sorry, Tim (and the other kids who work there). At Starbucks, I am always greeted with a smile and treated very well by the barristas I have come to know, I’d rather listen to music than blaring tv’s, I’ve made a few friends here (both cyclists and non-) and truthfully, they manage to make the best skinny vanilla latte in the neighborhood. Not to mention, it’s a convenient ride off of the Greenway.
Rode back, no time for trip-chaining today unfortunately. Time to get on with the other stuff. Sigh.
coffee on the go
I don’t know the official high temperature today, but my window thermometer read 74’F … and in the course of a week, nature has exploded into springtime. While I should have been doing other things, I was seduced by the weather …
Just things seen by bike (and apologies for double-posting today).
You know you’re battling a decent headwind when you have to pedal going downhill. Such was the case for the day’s Utilitaire ride (which actually took place yesterday, but I was to lazy to post last night).
The destination was to be #1: Work. And while I am not technically employed by the Red Cross, my volunteer “job” with them is about as close as I get to having to go “to work”. Heading out today I knew there was rain in the forecast, so as most cyclists know, the best insurance against having it actually rain is to pack rain gear. I also decided to just leave the “real” camera at home, as I didn’t want to mess with waterproofing measures (and I apologize in advance for another series of iPhonography in this post, as well my lengthiness today … hit the delete button if you wish.)
I battled a nasty headwind all the way in. Gusty, brutal and not so much fun. Decided to stop for coffee and catch up on a little bit of reading before hitting the office.
From coffee stop to the office, the scenery is always fascinating to me. I like riding through the old industrial district, passing by the old Hardwick Woolen Mill. Last month, a fire destroyed the Cleveland Chair Company. The reports have pointed to arson. Demolition of the remnants of the building(s) have turned the scene into a huge and textured pile of ruins. (And at this point I was hitting myself for not bringing along my other camera).
riding by the ruins of the Cleveland Chair Co. and the old Hardwick Woolen Mill
I spent the rest of the day at the office, scrubbing disaster response case files – making sure the paperwork is in order and that all of the information has been correctly entered into the computer system. While I was at the office, I got some very sad and troubling news that had been announced the day before. Restructuring and funding cuts from both the American Red Cross and United Way are eliminating key positions in our Chapter. Our tiny paid staff has now been reduced to two. Two.
The Bradley County Emergency Aid (funded by United Way, closely connected with our Red Cross Chapter work) has been cut, along with the women who have worked so tirelessly helping people in crisis in our community. Just as troubling, we are losing our ARC Volunteer Coordinator – the amazing woman who schedules our disaster team rotations, recruits and arranges for training of our volunteers, and holds our volunteer staff together at the seams. It’s shocking, troubling, and I can’t even begin to envision what the future holds for our local Chapter. It is difficult enough to recruit capable, willing and trained volunteers to fill all of the positions – from teaching CPR/First Air/AED to fundraising to disaster response – but if they expecting the volunteer coordination duties to be taken over by our stretched-too-thin volunteer staff, I can’t even begin to imagine what is to come. I think it spells disaster, ironically.
Needless to say, it was a tough afternoon in the office. It’s difficult to see anyone lose their job, even harder when it happens to friends and people I have so much respect for.
Left the office and headed back into town in fading light. Decided to hook up with my son (on his way home from tennis practice) and my husband (on his way home from work) for a quick bite to eat. No sooner did we sit down, I receive a weather-alert text on my phone: hail-producing severe thunderstorm warning. Yay. Storms were already spawning hail, lightning and even a tornado warning directly west of us, and the fun was now heading our way.
So, do I attempt to beat the storms and head home as planned on my bike, or do I give up the night riding and toss the bike in the back of my husband’s car and hitch a ride home? I had my rain gear. I had insurance. I decided to ride.
Now a quick word about night riding. I won’t go into a full-blown review of bicycular (I like to make up words) lighting – we have a boxful of various lights in our household, but I will tell you a little bit about the lights that work very well for me.
On my helmet, I use a Light & Motion Vis 360, which I absolutely love. As the name says, visible from all sides – front, rear, sides. Spotlight in the front (with amber sidelights), and blinking rear light (also with amber sidelights). On and off the helmet in a snap, long light life, USB rechargeable.
On my bike, I use a Niterider MiNewt 600 Cordless (which replaces an older corded MiNewt Mini that is still in our stash), along with a couple of PB SuperFlash Blinkies on my seatpost and messenger bag. The MiNewt 600 is a big improvement on the corded Mini; although a little heavier, it is brighter, cordless, easier to mount on and off of the bike, also USB rechargeable.
My own philosophy on night riding is kind of two-fold:
- In town, among streetlights, storefronts, traffic, it’s imperative to be seen. Lots of lights front and rear, top and bottom, and my high-vis yellow jacket with reflective striping do a good job making me visible.
- Outside of town, when I hit the rural two-lane backroads, sparsely populated with no streetlights, and effectively pitch-black under a cloudy sky with no moonlight, it’s not only a matter of being seen, but being able to see. I find that the two-light system works best for me here – my headlamp to a point further in the forward distance, and my bike-mounted light giving me a bright pool just ahead to better see pavement conditions and road debris.
nightriding: in town and on pitch-black rural roads
Needless to say, the ride home was exhilarating. The winds that were my foe on the way into town in the morning had now become my friend as a tailwind. It was like flying home, without much effort. Record time, I think. Outside of town I flushed a couple of deer in the roadside woods – fortunately not onto the road in front of me. The sky would momentarily light up with lighting in distant clouds, and the thunder would rumble a few moments later. It was an exciting adventure. But I arrived home before even a drop of rain fell.
Perfect timing; it’s what happens when you pack insurance. 😉
Utilitaire 6.12: it began as a trip to the bike shop, #8 on the control card (for the second time). And then transformed into a fun family-friendly community ride on the Greenway, and finally a quick stop for dinner – along with picking up a few boxes of girl scout cookies. Mmmm. 🙂
Dillon is home from school for a quick weekend visit, and we took a ride to the bike shop. Our shop owner, Charles, had also gotten a small group of us together at the end of the day for what is hopefully the first of many more family fun rides on our local Greenway. The idea is to bring families together for some easy and kid-friendly rides, promoting a little more bike friendliness within our community, and working on building/strengthening an advocacy network. I think there is also a leaning toward trying to fill the rides with “bicycle variety” – fixies, cargo bikes, and other non-typical bicycle”oddities”. As the weather warms up and the days grow longer, we hope to include other activities like themed rides, bike picnics, frozen yoghurt stops, maybe even a wine-and-cheese type of stop for the adults. Who knows? We’ve also talked about incorporating some of the Utilitaire-type destinations and goals into the mix, but ultimately to appeal to a wide range of cycling abilities and interests, and get more people out on their bikes.
We left from the shop, rode the Greenway from end to end, and stopped to a few minutes of discussion and planning within our fledgling start-up group. I think we all had fun; I know I did. Mostly, I hope we can grow the group and the idea … I would love to see more of my local friends join in the fun. I took a lot of photos and am posting a few – hope these friends don’t mind, as I didn’t really get permission.
After the group ride, Mark, Dillon and I headed back, stopping for a quick bite on the way. I didn’t manage to get a full-fledged night ride in as I had hoped … but we did get home before it started to rain. Night rides will have to wait for another day.