Return to Asheville–Part Two

Making Plans

My friend, Eric, was out of the country engaged in ministry work in a South American country during part of August, and I can never remember other people’s itineraries well enough to mentally reference them for the making of my own.  So, because, for whatever reason, I don’t write this information down on a handy calendar, I have to individually consult with other parties to proposed activities, usually more than once, to plan a trip like this one.

He is not my Science Fiction Twin,” (I have none) but he is probably the friend who knows me best and, in emailed communication, he did mention that he has a niece in Asheville, a freelance writer/journalist named Megan, who might wish to accompany us as we monkeyed around in North Carolina’s mountain-high, miniature metropolis.

Booking a room at Asheville for the weekend agreed upon with Brian and Eric proved difficult.  The Four Points, where I’d stayed previously, had no rooms available for my dates, and the rooms of other hostelries in or close to downtown were likewise sold out for the weekend or were priced out of my budget for the trip.  The price of the kayak only offset, a bit, the costs of travel, but the point of the trip was the trip, itself, and to ensure the Pionier found a paddler able and willing to look after it.  I wound up staying at a Holiday Inn Express that, as it happened, is located not far from where Brian and I had agreed to meet.

How to Get from Stepford to Asheville in a Volvo

I took a Friday off work, packed up the kayak (which I’d previously disassembled and photographed), packed up my own travel kit Thursday evening, and planned an early start next morning.  I wound up not leaving the house until about nine due to the should-have-been-foreseen exigencies of school day morning routine. 


Because I’d got such a late start, I drove straight through to Asheville without stopping and arrived there in early afternoon, Eastern Time.  My green ‘98 Volvo Cross Country handled the drive admirably and was a lot of fun to drive on the curving mountain roads.  I erred in bringing with me no water to drink on the way, although I’d made and packed two chicken sandwiches, two bags of trail mix, two apples.  When I got close to Asheville, I telephoned to Brian who gave me directions to a lakeside park in his subdivision, a neighborhood next which my own Burnt Down Plantation Estates near the country club at Stepford pales in comparison.  While waiting for Brian, I got out, stretched my legs, and ate a handful of trailmix.

The Exchange

A tall youngish man of athletic stature, Brian Rider appears about forty years of age.  He arrived in a late-model pickup truck, possibly of Japanese manufacture – the sort that has an extended cab and smaller doors behind the driver and passenger doors.  We unloaded the Pionier from the station-wagon’s cargo area – with back passenger seats folded down, the whole thing fit neatly therein.  I’m afraid I wasn’t articulate enough to answer very well Brian’s many good questions about the kayak and its provenance.  He expressed happy surprise at the hull’s condition and said he didn’t think the delaminated seatback would be very much trouble to replace.


We talked mostly about vocation – calling, not in a religious sense, per se, but about finding and doing the work that in some measure defines the meaning of one’s life.  By the outward indications observable to me at the time of our meeting, Brian is a very successful sales professional.  He said his dream is “to work with my hands” crafting things useful and beautiful from wood (it was wood that we talked about, anyway).  Somehow, from vocation, we began talking about regrets, or, maybe we started with regrets and moved on to vocation.  In my nutritionally deprived and dehydrated state, my recollection is clear only that we discussed both, but the sequence is not so clear to me. 

Regarding dreams, Brian mentioned that he works with his hands with wood, and wishes he could do more of it.  At the time he and I spoke, I’d put my vocational dreams on hold, trying to develop competence in a new job conveniently located near my home.  I’d recently quit a job I’d defined for the past seven or so years by the manner in which I’d performed it, and the transition to the new job in an agency itself in transition was proving difficult.  I recall I wasn’t much willing then to closely regard my calling and instead sought occasional escape from its circumstance through cycling, watching reruns of television shows on Netflix, and generally wasting time that would have been better spent productively. 

Regarding vocation, I do wish to refer any reader interested enough to C.S. Lewis’ address to, it is reported, to a group at King’s College, London, in 1944 – The Inner Ring.  I can be found here.

My regrets, however, have little enough to do with vocation, which may surprise some, considering my education and work history.  Since I began to experience life as a conscious, rational, and moral being, I’ve tried to live in a way that makes ethical sense to me.  Having already experienced enough of the irrationality and immorality of others, that last part of the previous sentence became primary.  As such, the truth of my regrets is that now, at middle age, those of my failures that I regret are the many times I have been intentionally unkind to others.  I recall and sorrow at the memory of having picked on and bullied probably the only child weaker than myself at the parochial school I first attended when my family returned from its European sojourn.  As a father today, I am haunted by the fact that as a child, I had literally no empathy whatsoever for other people, especially other children.  I wish I could make that right, today, but cannot much alter my past by just wishing parts of it away.

Brian mentioned that he had heard an address, a convocation speech, given by one George Saunders this year at the University of Syracuse.  I don’t remember the speaker’s name or the name of the university by virtue of having conversed about it – Brian was kind enough to send it to me via email, later.  Saunders is kind of your average socialist, and I think some of his statements are mistakes based on his political/philosophical bent, but he also has attained genuine insight.  Here’s a completely unauthorized verbatim reprint of Saunders’ speech:

Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).

And I intend to respect that tradition.

Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?”  And they’ll tell you.  Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked.  Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

So: What do I regret?  Being poor from time to time?  Not really.  Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?”  (And don’t even ASK what that entails.)  No.  I don’t regret that.  Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked?  And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months?  Not so much.  Do I regret the occasional humiliation?  Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl?  No.  I don’t even regret that.

But here’s something I do regret:

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class.  In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be “ELLEN.”  ELLEN was small, shy.  She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore.  When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” – that sort of thing).  I could see this hurt her.  I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear.  After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth.  At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.”  And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”

Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.

And then – they moved.  That was it.  No tragedy, no big final hazing.

One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.

End of story.

Now, why do I regret that?  Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it?  Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her.  I never said an unkind word to her.  In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.

But still.  It bothers me.
So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

Now, the million-dollar question:  What’s our problem?  Why aren’t we kinder?

Here’s what I think:

Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian.  These are: (1) we’re central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we’re separate from the universe (there’s US and then, out there, all that other junk – dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we’re permanent (death is real, o.k., sure – for you, but not for me).

Now, we don’t really believe these things – intellectually we know better – but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.

So, the second million-dollar question:  How might we DO this?  How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc?

Well, yes, good question.

Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left.

So let me just say this.  There are ways.  You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter.  Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend;  establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition – recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.

Because kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well, everything.

One thing in our favor:  some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age.  It might be a simple matter of attrition:  as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish – how illogical, really.  We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality.  We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be.  We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now).  Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving.  I think this is true.  The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”

And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love.  YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.   If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment.  You really won’t care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit.  That’s one reason your parents are so proud and happy today.  One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever.

Congratulations, by the way.

When young, we’re anxious – understandably – to find out if we’ve got what it takes.  Can we succeed?  Can we build a viable life for ourselves?  But you – in particular you, of this generation – may have noticed a certain cyclical quality to ambition.  You do well in high-school, in hopes of getting into a good college, so you can do well in the good college, in the hopes of getting a good job, so you can do well in the good job so you can….

And this is actually O.K.  If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously – as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers.  We have to do that, to be our best selves.

Still, accomplishment is unreliable.  “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up.  Speed it along.  Start right now.  There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness.  But there’s also a cure.  So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s.  Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place.  Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been.  I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.

Congratulations, Class of 2013.

I wish you great happiness, all the luck in the world, and a beautiful summer.

A week or so later, I think, Brian emailed me three photos of the Pionier 450-S, reassembled and put to good use.  Honestly, I am grateful to him for taking this kayak and keeping it up, paddling it, seeing to it that it does not gather cobwebs and dust in my Stepford garage.


The Cat Who Walks By Himself

I had some other things to write about my first day back in Asheville, but since that was August 2013 and this is February 2014, I’ve lost track of them.  Most of this writing was, I think, done before I was injured last September.  I do recall mentioning to Brian something about the Kipling’s Cat, and I did find an interesting representation of a cat on a wall in Asheville the following day.  My Asheville photos will complete this extremely untimely troika of blog posts, and I expect to complete that sometime in the next two weeks.

Return to Asheville–Update


Apologies for the time-gap between this post and Return to Asheville – Part One.  As I noted earlier in this space, I have been catching up around the house and at work.  Also, late last Friday afternoon, 6 September, I was injured in a fall when I stepped into a hidden drainage ditch or trough alongside a commercial building to which I was walking to make a purchase.  I spent the evening seeking and obtaining treatment.  Saturday morning, early, I had already committed to assist with a century ride event’s registration, then spent the rest of the day trying to adjust to my sudden loss of easy mobility.  Plantar fasciitis does not hold a candle to this injury.


I want my sunroom back.

In addition to all that, on Friday 30 August, I found two young kittens on my front porch when I came home for lunch.  They were there in the evening, still, and my wife and I had to teach them to eat and drink.  We have yet to find a home for them.  I have an almost debilitating allergy to cats, especially, and to most other animals.  They’ve got to go, so getting rid of the kittens is a top priority.  If you want them, let me know; I’d probably drive fifty miles to give them away.

Another Note:

I’m still processing the photographs I took while at Asheville; they fall into five or six rough categories:  kayak; downtown buildings/architecture; downtown graffiti; bicycle tourism; people with whom I visited.  May get them done this evening.

Update:  Got more of them done, not finished.  9/11/13

Return to Asheville–Part One

Resolving a Contradiction

Many of the problems I have faced in life are attributable to some contradiction.  Resolving the problem involves

a) recognizing the contradiction;

b) applying one’s mind to determine the contradiction’s elements;

c) determining a solution that removes some elements and leaves others which

d) results in a diminution of perceived internal tension or stress, said diminution being an approximation of peace.

A Contradiction

A few weeks ago, I found myself looking at my Pionier 450 S in the driveway.  A couple of months previously, I’d put it there, taking it out of the garage, in order to repair some hull abrasions and get out on the water again.  Instead, I continued to neglect the kayak in the driveway as I had while it was in the garage.  Looking at the hull abrasions and recalling that new abrasions appeared each time I’d strapped the kayak to my car’s racks, I knew that the only real solution was a new hullskin.

There’s a German guy who makes unreal good hullskins for out-of-production folding kayaks.  There’s a Polish company that also manufactures skins for folding kayaks, as well as manufacturing a few models that appear to be Klepper knock-offs.  For what I’d wind up paying the German guy, I could probably buy a new Folbot or get close to the purchase price of a new Seavivor (which is what I’d really like to have).  Although fabulously wealthy in ways most people cannot imagine or begin to measure, I and my wife take pleasure in spending less money than we make.  I feel the need to justify every expense.

In the matter of a new hullskin for the 450 S, I simply could not justify the expense.  The reality is that I have not gone paddling since June 2012.  That is in part due to the fact that I haven’t wanted to completely wreck the Pionier’s skin.  But that is also due in part to other circumstances, among them that I am less willing to spend an entire weekend day away from my wife and son, that for a number of weeks during the spring and early summer my son played T-Ball games on the weekends, that I’ve been learning a new job and have been doing some weekend work, etc.

A Solution

For what it’s worth, and remember, you’re paying nothing for it so make your own assessment, I tend to approach or experience life, happenstance, providence, circumstance as manifestations of a created order that, although vast, is personal even though that personal element – the Creator’s mind and intent – while aware of and interested in me, does not necessarily always reckon my preferences, comfort, and convenience as that upon which the universe pivots.  Still, when I wanted to find a name for Pouch E-68 I bought from Ralph Hoehn, I asked the Almighty for a vision, and while paddling on Woods Reservoir, near the causeway that crosses the lake by the VFW, I saw some campsis radicans, commonly known as trumpet creeper, in bloom and of a color that matched exactly my stout kayak’s faded deck.  Pretty clear, if you’re me.

Close to the last week in July of this year, 2013, I found that I earnestly wished I knew of someone who wanted to buy the Pionier.  Whether I approached the Almighty with this request or not, I cannot recall.  What I do know is that within a week my blog received a comment from Brian Rider of North Carolina to a blog post wherein I presented a few photographs of the Pionier’s frame.

In the event that you would ever be willing to let your Pionier go I would like to introduce myself. My name is Brian and I own a c. 1960′s Pionier 520-Z that I have paddled since about 1985 after it was given to my family by a good friend. The reliable old boat finally fell victim to many years of use and I had to put it up permanently around 1999. I really never thought that I would get the boat back on the water. But recently I sourced a new skin and spray deck (I never had an original spray deck) from Wayland, replaced and restored various frame members that had failed and my work is nearly complete. The boat is currently back on the water for gentle use as I have some details to complete. I am on and have read your story about how you came to own the 450-S. What a find! The condition of your boat is amazing in my opinion as I personally know what a similar boat can look like after forty years of use in South Carolina. Let my boat be stand as an example to how well built the Pionier kayaks are, you have a fine boat. Anyway, as a result of the research that I have done trying to find information about old folders I have gotten the bug to collect and I’m eyeballing your boat. I say that with a smile. Would love to share stories some time.

Pretty clear, if you’re me, that this represented a potentially very good solution to my problem and was likely a providential arrangement made by God.  I haven’t been active on FKO since becoming a father, to the best of my recollection, so this came out of the blue, as it were.

I think I emailed him that evening after one of my son’s activities, and over a couple of weeks we worked out the details which included a trip to Asheville that involved another exchange involving an old, lugged steel bicycle and a folding kayak.  The terms of the exchange didn’t nearly cover the costs of the trip, but since it was a trip I wanted to make, the offset sufficed.  The purchase of an old folding kayak, in my admittedly limited experience, seems something more like adoption than pecuniary transaction.

Since I hadn’t seen my friend, Eric, for probably over a year, I checked to see if he was available to visit at Asheville.

Asheville Gear Swap

Early last Saturday morning, January 28, my goal was to leave the house before 5:00 am and drive across the Upper Cumberland plateau to I-40 East at Crossville, then drive through Knoxville and points further East to Asheville, North Carolina, to meet my friend Eric at a downtown hotel parking lot.  I was motoring along that stretch that runs uphill, past the curves, that is between Sparta and Crossville.  At my right, to the East, the sunrise backlit the horizon so that it resembled nothing so much as a freight train speeding parallel my course.  The picture below doesn’t capture the thundering dawn train I imagined; I must have snapped it about three minutes later after fumbling in my backpack for the camera.


The drive from Stepford to Asheville only took about four and half hours.  I enjoyed driving I-40 near the border and through Cherokee Forest into Asheville, especially the tunnels.  Although my 1997 850’s horsepower was anemic even in its day, the standard transmission, front-wheel drive car handles superbly.  As I drove, I listened to the entire book of Genesis on CD, and experienced a surprising emotional impact the narrative never had upon me when I read it.  I arrived at my hotel about 11:30 a.m. local time.


The Sheraton Four Points is, if Tripadvisor and other online hotel review sites are correct, a former Best Western hotel.  But the rates were excellent and the location good – a block or two from downtown and right off the freeway.  After I checked in, I phoned my friend, Eric, who said he was only a few minutes away.  Our goal was to exchange human powered vehicles – a Pouch E68 folding kayak and a 1985 Razesa 12-speed road/touring bike.  As also noted somewhere on Tripadvisor, the magnetic room-keys didn’t work, but the friendly staffer at the desk quickly “made” new ones.  The room, itself, was a bit small but apparently clean.  The room’s WiFi signal was relatively weak, at two bars, but adequate for email, looking at the weather, etc.

We parked at the edge of the hotel’s lot and emptied our cars of gear.  I assembled the kayak so Eric could see how it was done; he took photos to help remember.  I’m still puzzled by the fact that I always look worse in photographs than I do when I check my appearance in a mirror to make sure I’m presentable before I go outside.  I also brought along some miscellaneous gear found a watch I thought I’d lost at a put-in a couple of years ago; it’d probably got stuck to the velcro on a paddling glove for cold-weather I included in one of the boat’s bags.  We’d both brought our lunches and ate them in the parking lot while assembling the boat and monkeying with the bike.  Here’s a picture of the kayak and gear spread out behind our cars in the parking lot, followed by another picture of Eric riding the Razesa to make sure it could still be ridden and also so I could take the picture of one of his final rides on the bike he bought at Madrid in about 1985.

While we worked in the parking lot, the bus driver for the Liberty University women’s basketball team, in town for a game and staying at the Four Points, came over and talked with us about the kayak and about religion and culture.  Something about a folding kayak that never fails to attract the attention of passersby.


I bought that red kayak from Ralph Hoehn at in, I don’t know, maybe late 2005.  I wanted something that tracked straight and was sufficiently sturdy that when bracing knees and feet against the frame, the frame itself would not come apart.  Ralph’s demo-boat fit the bill, perfectly.  When I bought it, it had what I think was its original hullskin – without fore-hatch, deck much faded, a sort of rubber tractor-seat, PVC hull much scuffed and nicked.  Ralph challenged me to assemble it without instructions.  As with any of the folding kayaks I’ve owned, it took not too much time to look at and think about the pieces to see how they must fit together.  I was able to manage the thing without very much difficulty, with maybe one part left over.  I assembled it for the first time in the front yard of the first house my wife and I owned. 

The faded red deck was about the coral-pink color of the common trumpet creeper or campsis radicans, which I saw growing on the rocky shoreline of Woods Reservoir the second or third time I paddled the kayak, so it came to me as a sort of vision-quest revelation of the kayak’s name.  Ralph had told me the kayak had never been named, so I was free to find a name for it.

In this kayak, I explored portions of the Duck River up and downstream Normandy Lake, all of Normandy Lake, all of Woods Reservoir, portions of the Elk River up and downstream Woods Reservoir, and most of Tims Ford Lake.  In addition, I paddled Lake Ocoee and Lake Watauga in this kayak.

Here are many of the photos I’ve taken of and from this boat – .

About three years ago, now, maybe a little longer ago than that, but not much, I bought a more recent hullskin from Ralph.  Although it was used, it was not much used.  New hullskin came with a forward hatch, a little better workmanship on the rear-deck closure, as well as better workmanship on the rudder-cables management (plastic sleeves to prevent the cables catching on stowed gear aft, and reinforced exit points on the rear deck).  The problem with the new skin is that it never fit quite right, due, in my opinion, largely to PVC tabs holding the sponson sleeves in position.  Inflated, the left side tubes always pushed up over the gunwale frame in front, and at right, was significantly lower than it ought to have been.  Nothing I tried, in terms of fitting the frame into the skin, could correct this.  The kayak paddled fine, but looked odd to me.  I guess I’m OCD enough to have been significantly bugged by the left side bulging.  Back during the summer of 2011, a couple of times I was so frustrated with the odd fit that I wanted to burn the boat or throw in front of a speeding tractor-trailer rig.

I’m not sure why I got so frustrated with the E68, but I couldn’t tolerate the fact that the deck was uneven left to right.  When I mentioned a couple of months ago to Eric that I wanted to burn it, he said, “I like that kayak.”  He’s paddled it several times.  Here’s a picture of him in it on the Stones River near Manson Pike Trailhead at Murfreesboro:

Eric told me he’d purchased the Razesa bike in Madrid in 1985, at which time he was serving as a short-term Southern Baptist missionary there.  He said he bought the bike for around $300.00, and it was a mid-range roadbike he thought comparable to what’s available currently at about $1000.00.  Eric said he and another guy had ridden from Madrid to the Mediterranean coast and back using this and another bike.  When he got back to North Carolina, he said he’d ridden the Outer Banks a few times with it, as well.  Maybe a couple of years ago, I remember him telling me he hadn’t ridden in a long while and that he’d slowed down his jogging regimen.  Back pain, leg pain.  When I mentioned that during the Christmas holidays I’d ridden a very old (late 60’s to early 70’s) Raleigh Grand Prix at Goldman’s Bicycles, and wished I’d gone ahead and bought it at $119.00, he mentioned that he’d had the Razesa in a trainer stand for the past three years using it as a clothes rack.  Said I could have that bike.  I began researching downtube shifting and Razesa bicycles. 

Razesa-View-1 Razesa-View-2Razesa-View-3Razesa-View-4

The bike’s got a lugged frame, Weinmann brakes, Weinmann rims (the original rim on the back and a newer rim on the front), Shimano 600 derailleur, Simplex (according to Chuck – and I found a West Coast Craigslist ad with photos that seems to confirm this) shifters.  I think the frame’s about 54 centimeters.  The steel frame bike is lighter than my aluminum Trek Navigator.  The lugs have some cool decorative cut-outs.  The rack is original, and Eric included a couple of panniers purchased at the same time.

Later on we had supper at Mafel’s downtown, a place we chose because Eric wanted the salmon advertised on the Daily Specials chalkboard.  Turned out to be a good choice – good food and a waitress who laughed at our jokes.  Inside, somebody’d turned the music up too loud; we ate at a table outside protected from the wind by plastic and vinyl side-curtains.  I took pictures of stuff I saw; because my camera bounced out of my sweatshirt pocket while riding around the parking lot earlier, the SD card got scrambled and I lost some of them. 



The drive back Sunday was pretty uneventful.  I stopped off at the scenic overlook as I drove down to Sparta from Crossville.  I was reminded again that the state of Tennessee is a good deal more than its government – it’s the land, air, water, living things and what the people living here make of it.  Government is limited because it can be nothing else – a flawed human construct.  Below are some photos I took from the overlook.