Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hell on (two) wheels

My thoughts turn these days to Tennessee and North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where Ereck and I vacationed last summer. We plan to go again this year. Why back so soon? My family has kept our ancestral homestead in those mountains, just three miles or so from the Townsend park entrance, which makes the Smokies a delightfully economical -- as well as just plain delightful -- getaway spot for us. I have many pleasant childhood memories of those mountains, and returning to them is always a sentimental journey for me.

When you have a vacation coming up, do you ever think about it, like, a lot? Like, obsessively? That's what I've been doing. And one great way to stoke my imagination is to visit GoSmokies, the really fine Smoky Mountains portal on the web site of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

That's where, today, I stumbled across this article about recreational bicycling in the area. I'm not surprised to learn that the Smokies are becoming a cycling Mecca, as the article says, but I also wasn't altogether surprised to read the comments from FryeGuy, a reader who lives in the small community of Walland, near the park:
The obnoxious nature of these amateur Greg LeMonds drives the locals crazy. Don't tell the locals to "Share The Road" as you ride three abreast on a road with no shoulders and now no passing zones thanks to your constant carpetbagging belly aching to BCSD.

What other organization has the power to close the road at my house (locals be damned) so a bunch of middle-aged freaks in tight pants can "race" The Foothills track Club jerks were bad enough but at least it's not every freaking day with them.

Why build back paths and bike lanes anywhere when they're not used. Instead you jerks come to a narrow road in another county with no shoulder to try and impress you dozens of spandex clad friends.
So the guy clearly is an idiot, but anyway, the reason I'm not surprised is that I've heard of this sort of anti-bike rage before -- right here in Wisconsin, where there are regular reports of small-town folks clashing with cyclist interlopers. And Wisconsin is a bike-friendly state, with a wondrous network of rural bike paths. Tennessee so far lacks that sort of bike-consciousness, so little wonder that the cyclists freak the locals out.

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