Welcome to carbonstories.org. On this site you can learn about Michael Johnson-Chase and follow my blogs. With some exceptions, this site follows "theme based" cycling tours focusing on social and climate related issues. Slowed down observations of the world over days, weeks and months at 10 to 15 miles an hour can reveal a depth and quality of understanding about our environment often missed by faster modes of travel.

Blue Ridge, Post 2

Day 3, Post 2, Blue Ridge Cycling Tour  

If you had trouble with the Garmin link yesterday, I think I've solved the problem. Just click on the sentence in red right here: Check out my road cycling activity on Garmin Connect

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1795892979

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The day began well, although early on I found myself on a gravel road. I don't mind riding on them for short distances, although my touring bike is not built for long hauls on gravel. But the road was pretty and I had it to myself, so it was a treat to be on it so early in the day.  

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And then I realized why I was on gravel. This road inked to Carolina Stalite, the world's largest producer of lightweight aggregate. Sometimes known as crushed gravel, this stuff creates a great surface for driving and cycling. And if we would back off our misplaced idea that repairing infrastructure means building more roads (which is the last thing we need), Stalite could be used as an inexpensive and environmentally effective way to maintain roads. This stuff is inexpensive, doesn't buckle, and best of all, is permeable, so it will absorb rainwater and minimize erosion and damaging run off. Imagine my delight in finding this plant. Ironically, as I came toward it, I thought it was an out of place coal plant. But, no doubt to North Carolina's relief, they mine and manufacture little coal. In fact, NC has a reasonably healthy solar industry, which you can read about here.

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A short while later as I continued my westward journey I came across this bizarre artifact. I remain puzzled about it. Is this a pro-life endorsement? Is it good old fashioned misogyny? Is it a joke? Or art? 

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There are some clues. Next to it is one of the oddest effigies I've ever seen, and I've seen enough to think there's an opportunity for an enterprising cyclist to create a coffee table book focused solely on roadside effigies (yes, maybe I will do it). Americans are very good at creating and maintaining them, and I've seen some beautiful and touching ones. But this one? Lil Trent died in 2011. Does he really need to be identified by a Confederate flag? 

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I saw dozens of these signs again today as I rode west. They are in heavy use for at least 100 miles. As commercially produced signs, each one is the same, and if you look closely you will see that in the lower right hand corner there is a website: thankyoujesus.org. If you google it, you will find ...a holding page for a nonexistent website. Yet, someone's making a lot of money selling these signs. The commodification of everything has now extended itself to religion. Jesus as a brand? 

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As I was writing my post yesterday, I created an entire thread about applying observational skills to roadkill, and then edited it out. But today when I saw this junkyard, I had the thought that dead cars are a form of roadkill in their own right. The death of our instruments of migration - which is ironic, given that animal roadkill is the result of our killing their migration. 

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I had about 22 miles left for the day at about 4:30 when storm clouds appeared rather suddenly. The clouds became an intense rainstorm, and when I finally got to a motel (with the help of a local who kindly drove me for the last ten miles because the rain was too intense to bike in safely), I discovered that several tornados had touched down nearby. I have a question for anyone who might know the answer - have you ever heard of someone being hit by lightning while riding a bike? I'm thinking not because of the rubber tires, but I would appreciate hearing otherwise if that's the case...

More to come,

Michael

 

Blue Ridge, Post 3

Blue Ridge, Post 1