In The Warm, Wet Embrace of Julia

By Cecil "Zeke" Yount | Sep 20, 2016

Well, I can check off my bucket list “ride a bicycle in the early stages of a Tropical Storm” as my friend and fellow cyclist Woody and I had the distinct pleasure of being about 4 miles away from our abode on Hilton Head Island last week when Tropical Storm Julia first began making an appearance on shore. While I was hunkered down in the driving rain and spinning as fast I could maintain, I thought of the recent participants in the Blue Ridge Breakaway caught in the heavy rains at near 6000’ elevation. I was very thankful that it wasn’t 51 degrees as they had endured.

The week was our annual sojourn to the island when I find it hard to make excuses not to get out and ride. Excepting TS Julia, the weather was great and our daily routine of breakfast, ride, nap, eat, sleep, and repeat was great. The number of people riding bicycles on HHI is truly amazing. You see all types of riders: local folk commuting to work, experienced cyclists riding for fitness and training, but mostly you see tourists on rental bikes, many of whom probably haven’t been on a bike in a while. Separated bike paths allow for riding pretty much anywhere on the island, except of course gated locales such as Sea Pines.

For about three hours on Wednesday, the brunt of TS Julia swept across the island with sustained winds in the 40 to 45 mph range with accompanying heavy rains. I enjoyed just watching the storm and the horizontal rains. I was particularly impressed by an egret type bird that stayed glued to a pine limb just outside my window. The bird clung to the tree as it swayed back and forth and as rain pelted it from all directions for the entire event.

Changes in Vulnerable Users law… As a reminder to motorists and cyclists alike, effective October 1st, motorists may legally pass slower moving cyclists and moped riders on a double yellow line when it is safe to do so. HB 959 passed by the legislature now allows legal passing in “no passing zones” if all safety requirements are met. The bill clarifies that cyclists have use of the full lane of travel and increases the minimum passing distance from 2’ to 4’. Most notably, it officially sanctions crossing the yellow line when safe to do so to avoid traffic stacking up behind cyclists. Of course, courtesy by both cyclists and motorists remains a necessary ingredient to safely Share the Road. For more information on the new law, visit BikeWalkNC’s website.

The fall riding season is upon us and some great opportunities exist for both motorists and cyclists to enjoy the changing colors of the landscape. To paraphrase what they used to say on Hill Street Blues, “Let’s ALL be careful out there!”

For more information, visit www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org . You can also send email to gr8smokieszeke@gmail.com.

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