Archive for tennessee


Happy New Year to Mom

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"Baboo" Weatherly

Happy New Year! It was a year ago today that I held my mother’s hand as she quietly slipped away forever.  It snowed that day in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and is a day I will  always hold in quiet reverence.

May your New Year’s Day be a joyous one – and spend it with a loved one.  I will.

Categories : events
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Whitewater Extravaganza!

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Michael's Group

A group of us Internet marketing city folks made the journey to SE Tennessee on June 12th to ride the rapids!

Latron Thorne organized Saturday’s event, with a dozen people taking the plunge and riding the 5-mile gauntlet over Grade 2-4 rapids on the Ocoee River, site of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Whitewater events. Afterward, we all drove north to Cupid’s Cove log cabin in Coker Creek, TN to spend some quality Bar-B-Q time together.

Special guides from the Ocoee Adventure Center did a great job getting us downstream alive, and we thank them!  They get to do this 2-3 times per day, from March to November.  Whatta crew!

Latron's Group

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July Fourth Trail Ride on My Uni

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Michael CraigI didn’t know what to expect.

I took a sort of “scouting expedition” to Tennessee this past weekend to determine the suitability of riding the Cherohala Skyway on my Unicycle next year.  My early optimism quickly vanished. 

I discovered that the CS is rather lacking in its  accommodation to cycles of any persuasion, whether a  bicycle OR unicycle.  There is no road shoulder at all, and the traffic is rather thick (at least during this Fourth of July weekend), and the curves and hills were a bit trickier than I remembered! 

I figured I have three options as far as riding the Cherohala: 

1) Join the bicycle event next June so as having extensive company during the ride,  2) Ride in the dead of winter when traffic will be very slight or non-existent, or 3) Don’t ride the Cherohala at all. 

The first option appears to be the most logical – and accommodating, since I’d be “covered” by many others during a ride.  The only problem with that option is that I would be slower than the 2-wheelers, hence still vulnerable to the onslaught of summer traffic when alone.  Also, the bike ride did not go the length of the Cherohala anyway, but took several detours. 

The second option is not appealing for obvious reasons (i.e., cold, ice and snow!) and the third option was viable only if I could find a suitable riding alternative.   I may, in fact, choose this one if I can find a more practical venue within the next few months. 

While in the mountains I visited Indian Boundary Lake (just off the Cherohala) to let my wife enjoy the beach while I traversed the 3.2 miles of bike trails around the lake perimeter.  It was great fun, but much harder than I am used to!  The trail was not paved, but consisted mostly of packed and loose gravel, mud, roots, narrow bridges, and the occasional big rock.  I fell four times and dismounted an equal number of times during this trek, but finally made it back around.  I was tired, but felt the glow of a sense of accomplishment.  

I also experienced the exhileration of riding over the dam, a 100 yard wide,  18 inches thick concrete structure at the river cutoff point.  Truth be told, it was covered on both sides by a chain-link fence, but still . . . the sensation of balancing on a concrete highwire was something that rarely presents itself!  A fall would not have sent me over the edge, but would certainly have produced a few nasty results!

I’ll be returning in a few weeks to check out some other trails, roads and path alternatives to the Cherohala.  Stay posted! 

Categories : General, Unicycling
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Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a Recovering Unicyclist . . .

Old UnicycleWhile it sounds like some disease, its actually not.  I recently discovered that Unicycling is HOT these days – sort of like off-road biking became back in the 1980’s.  And the good news is I already knew how to ride . . . actually since I was a budding teenager in 1965!

But I had not been on one in over four decades.  Although I still had my old one, the seat was torn up and the wheel was flat – not exactly in mint riding condition (see pic on left).


So I set out to see if I could repair the old Lizzie.  Walking into the Marietta, UnicyclesGeorgia store of was like stepping into some ancient brain cells that I’d tucked away for 40 years and just dragged out.  I felt like I could finally come “out of the closet” and tell everyone the truth.  I was delighted to discover there were OTHER weird people out there just like me!

Long story short…

My father (actually Santa Claus) gave me a unicycle on Christmas Day of 1962.  I was a little tyke, not prone to ride such strange contraptions.  That changed when I turned 13 and decided to risk life and limb and either ride the darn thing or die trying.  After two weeks of scraped ankles and bruised legs and wrists, I finally rode . . . and soon got hooked.

What a thrill!  This was a skill that very few people had at the time (and still don’t) and I really reveled in being able to explore new places throughout my neighborhood in the city of Savannah, Georgia.  I even learned to climb steps and do a few other tricks and felt more at home on my “Uni” than I did on  bike. 

But along with special skills come special problems.  My Dad, you see, became head of the 1965 Arts Festival in Savannah, and I used to love riding around downtown . . . that is until one day he told me to “stop showing off.”  I guess he felt embarrassed by people’s comments and didn’t want to have to explain why his son acted like some circus clown.   

Whatever.  Deep down I was hurt, but did as he requested.  My enthusiasm became suddenly dampened and I rode very little after that. 

Fast forward to 2009.  After learning that my mentor, Raymond Aaron of was a unicyclist, I had a sudden urge to take it up again.  I never threw out my old unicycle, and always thought I’d give it to some kid someday – a day that never came since no kid I know wanted it.  So I set a goal to ride the 43-mile Cherohala Skyway between Tellico Plains, Tennessee and Robbinsville, North Carolina by the end of next Spring.  To do that, I needed a workable cycle and some practice! 

Josh TorransWhen I called the Unicycle shop, I talked to Josh Torrans and learned more about unicycles than I had known the entire 6 years of riding them.  After convincing me I would suffer mightily trying to cross the mountains on my little 24-inch rust bucket, he invited me to try some other models at his store.  

I went there today, and must say I had a great time!  I could actually ride the same size (24″) in a newer model, the 29-inch, and even the 36-inch “road warrior” used by tour riders.  I was again hooked.

OK, Josh, you got me.  Here’s my $300 bucks plus $30 for that weird riding helmet . . . (we didn’t need no steenking helmets in 1965!!)  Now all I need to do is practice. 

Oh, by the way, here is a picture New Unicycleof my NEW Uni – the one I will get to know intimately over the next year…

Anybody up for a little Unicycling ?

Stay tuned for updates on upcoming blogs.  I’ll probably even have a video camera with me during some trainings so you can laugh when I fall and break my 57-year-old toucous…

Categories : Goal Setting, Unicycling
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