Thursday, June 26, 2014

Crossing Paths

Herein is where I do some shameless self-promotion and bragging.

How Do You Say “Allez” in Italian?

I had my one good chance to see some Trans Am Bike Race participants on Tuesday afternoon.  I blazed south from work after anxiously watching the Trackleader updates as Paolo Laureti and Giorgio Murari closed in on Berea.  Adam Guske of Fort Collins trailed behind close enough that I figured if I completely missed Laureti and Murari I could wait him out. 

As the “peloton” crossed through my neck of the woods Mike Hall closed in on the finish as Jason Lane and Ed Pickup spread themselves across Virginia.  Jesse Stauffer and Juliana Buhring had passed through Berea earlier in the day and were tracking across Eastern Kentucky.  The two Italians I came across were running sixth and seventh.

Trying to pin someone down with Trackleaders isn’t as easy as it would seem.  The Spot trackers aren’t exactly live, and if you’re trying to get close to someone it’s maddening when the point updates and they’re twenty minutes down the road.

I was hoping to get ahead of them and get photos as they came through downtown Berea past Boone Tavern, but after I got off the interstate in Berea I saw they were east of town heading for Indian Fort.  I headed on down the route and shortly came across the two cyclists.  I drove on ahead to a side road where I could pull off out of the road and got photos of them coming past.  Giorgio gave me a big thumbs up as he cruised toward Big Hill.

"The Italians are coming! The Italians are coming!"
Paolo Laureti (in front) and Giorgio Murari along KY 21 east of Berea

At least he didn't jam a frame pump in my spokes!

I got back in the car, passed them once again, and drove up Big Hill to wait and get photos of them coming up the long steady climb with a backdrop of Pilot Knob and the surrounding Cumberland Plateau.

I knew it would be a few minutes so I scouted my shots and then sat back down in the car to wait.  Soon enough they came quckly up the hill, both sporting big grins as they climbed Big Hill.  Then they were onto the Plateau and heading on for the Atlantic.  I headed home to see what images I captured.

Laureti and Murari mostly traced my Drip Rock Century route from McKee to Booneville and stayed overnight in Booneville on Tuesday night.  Mike Hall was gunning for the beach as they bedded down.  He finished at 12:30 am June 25 in Newport News, Virginia after starting in Astoria, Oregon on June 6 and following US Bicycle Route 76: the Trans America route.  Over 4,400 miles in 20 days…un-freakin-believable!  And unsupported!

I can’t help but fantasize about the possibility of doing this race someday. 

June 25, 12:30am

Master Planner

"I'm going to present the trails plan to the First Lady on Tuesday.  Someone from your office should be there," Elaine Wilson of the Kentucky Office of Adventure Tourism said to my boss.  We were meeting to go over final edits on the plan.  Shane looked at the calendar on his phone.

"Uh, I'm on vacation next week," and then he looked at me.

It made sense that I was a second choice to go.  I took over writing the plan when the original writer left to go have a baby.  I'm not the author of the plan, but co-writer is an apt title for my role in the drafting of the first Cross Kentucky Master Trails Plan.  The authorship was a collaboration between Adventure Tourism, the Sheltowee Trace Association, and the state ADDs with Bluegrass as the primary ADD doing all of the grunt work including the actual compilation of information, writing, and mapping.

Initially I was simply a consulting member of the team due to my modest experience with trail development and construction.  But once my co-worker left on maternity leave and the deadline came rushing headlong at us I was asked to step in and take over primary writing duties.  Even still there were no less than three other writers, our graphic designer, and our GIS guru.

It's been slightly surreal even before the invite to Frankfort to meet the First Lady.  A week before our wrap-up meeting Elaine emailed Shane asking if we could look into ways that the USDOT could better incorporate equestrian facilities in the state.  The Governor and First Lady were meeting with Secretary of Transportation Foxx the next day and needed any suggestions we could provide.

I found out when I received a near-frantic phone call at home: "Can you look into it and see if there's anything we can offer?"

I hung up and giggled to myself.

"What?" My wife asked from the other side of the kitchen table.

" I can say I've been asked to advise a White House cabinet member."

Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration, but it makes for a good story.  In the end we blew that opportunity, but it came out of the blue and we only had a few hours to consider the issue.

The trails plan, on the other hand, seems like we batted it out of the park.  There were four of us that met with Elaine, First Lady Beshear, Secretary (of Tourism, Arts, and Heritage) Stewart and their respective staff members.

Alas, we blew the photo op with the FL too, but I got this one of the Capitol dome from the inside!

The meeting went very well.  We've got some edits and additions to make, but all-in-all everyone seemed to be pleased with the plan.

So it was a token what?  For a moment I had the First Lady of my home state's undivided attention.  Maybe it's a fluke I ended up there, or maybe it's the result of a lot of hard work.

Today I'm back in the office and plugging away at mundane work.  And that's okay.  It's actually somewhat relaxing to plug in my headphones and zone out to some mind numbing data entry.

I felt like taking a mental health day but all this grandstanding has put me behind on my regular duties.  I’ve got to get caught up and maybe get ahead a little.


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