6.16.2009,10:43 PM
Tennesee Putt-putt Day
Or "My Gyroscope is Broken!!!"

Now I really know how much internal balance is required to ride a bike. Safely, that is; aka without falling down.

It started yesterday and worsened through the day. I thought a good night's sleep would take care of it, but I was wrong. When I opened my eyes in the tent and looked outside, the tree limbs and leaves weaved back and forth, my head was spinning sideways inside. Uh oh. It didn't go away.

Every time I turn my head sideways or look down, everything spins and I lose my balance. When I turn my whole head, the world keeps spinning. Or so it feels.

Hoping this would just disappear, I suggested we start out with tame roads this morning. I wasn't sure how well I could ride. So we rode south about a mile or so returning to the country road where the TP Biker rally was. I found out real quick on the first curve that my internal gyroscope is broken. My proprioception is way off kilter.

Proprioception is feeling where your body is in time and space - spatiotemporal body awareness. We all practice that when we walk, jump, run, sit down, and especially, ride a bike - all without knowing we are doing it. Because it is subconscious.

Maneuvering corners requires an orchestration of 'knowing' where the bike is in respect to angles to the road, movement (acceleration and deceleration) and knowing where all the parts of your body are in relationship to the bike, road and time. it's a ballet of time, space and motion. Sometimes we think about all this when we are doing it, sometimes it just occurs naturally. Because parts of it are subconscious: how we respond and know when to respond.

When that internal sensor is broken, it can all fall apart. Knowing my equilibrium was dysfunctional, I rode slowly. But when I rode slowly around a curve, I found I couldn't respond accurately; I couldn't lean. So I wobbled and flailed, uttered "Whoa!!!" and set myself up as straight as a pogo stick. I was going to have to putt-putt around curves (about 10-12 mph).

We rode down a beautiful narrow country road that wound around the side of the mountain and along creeks and through the forest. It was like a paved forest road. Uneven ground, like gravel, threw me off, too. That also requires that internal gyroscope. Then we decided to head back to straight flat highway and go into town for lunch.

I felt bad for shortening the ride and restricting it to pavement, but I wasn't in any condition to ride anything else than straight smooth tarmac.

On the way back we stopped at a cemetery out in the middle of the forest. It was well taken care of and, from the abundance of flowers, visited often. Azalea bushes were in bloom, flowers I haven't seen since leaving north country.

Ed pointed out a pair of babies that had died within a year of each other, in the same family, and in childbirth. Childbirth mortality was common until the last 100 years with the advent of modern medicine. But these two babies were born only within the last decade. This is something you don't see often in modern times here in this country.

A few graves were very modest and unassuming compared to many others that were marked with large stones and flowers (plastic and real). This particular site was marked by with a small flat stone -born in 1908, died in 1980, involved in Korean and Vietnam wars- and covered with soft green moss.

On the way back, we rode down into the field where the biker rally was. Nearly all the campers and eventers were gone by that time, but the orange porta-potties were still there. I had to use one. I took a quick photo of the main event area across the brook that separated it from the campers' area.

We rode into town (Tellico Plains) to find a place for lunch and iced tea. We found The Prospector's Place, a relatively new establishment (it wasn't there last time we were there in '07).

We sat outside in the covered porch and ate good sandwiches and iced tea. When the young waitress came to our table, I was astounded: here was my daughter. Well, it wasn't really, but this young lady not only looked just like her, but also had the same mannerisms! It was very weird. The only difference between her and Tanaya is that she has brown eyes (Tanaya has blue) and Tanaya is a bit taller. Our waitress was very personable and friendly, stopping by to chat quite often.

After lunch, I suggested we take a quick little spin through the small town square. It is a VERY small town square, but very quaint. The main road loops off the beginning of the Cherohala Skyway and several small shops line a narrow offshoot road.

One of those shops is Tellico Plains Motorcycle Outfitters owned by Mike (Dursel?) and his wife. They are BMW riders and also ride in the nearby forests; Mike is a participant on ADV and TNAdventureRiders forums. I didn't expect their store to be open on a Sunday, but Ed noticed they were, so we stopped in to say Hello.

Claire (if I remember her name right; I have terrible name amnesia) was very friendly and we chatted about local happenings, riding off road, maintaining the single-track trails in the national forest (those two have almost single-handedly maintained them) and other things. I tried on Oympias one-piece Stealth suit, their mesh version of the Phantom, and was greatly impressed. Jack raved about his, so I wanted to see how they were. They are more comfortable and vented than my two-piece mesh gear! This fall I plan to order a neon yellow all-weather Phantom to replace my worn out and leaking winter jacket.

We saw a new ice cream shop across the street and had to try that out, too. While we sat outside and ate our wonderful ice cream, a local came sweeping into a parking spot on his Husky 510. What a neat machine that is! And it's only as tall as my waist.

They day turned out to be hot, we were hot, so I took a shower (what a great shower facility they have here!). Even Wiley took a shower!

So, I'm hanging out here for the rest of the day to get my gyroscope back in working order. I want to get out on those forest roads soon!!!!!!!!


posted by Macrobe
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