Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Crazy Woman Ride

Yesterday Robert and I went to Chattanooga.  While he did a road race, I had the most delightful ride.  The staging area was near I-24, west of downtown, and the race finished at the top of Raccoon Mountain, a hydroelectric power station.  I did an out-and-back route into the northwest corner of Georgia and then rode to the top of Raccoon Mountain in time to watch Robert cross the finish line.

Before our trip, I mapped my route using Google Earth and Google Maps.  Soon after I began my ride, I discovered that I definitely had picked a good route; I saw pavement markings from an organized ride that had used the same roads that I had selected.  The roads were wonderful, winding through a rural area with very little traffic.  Just a few miles into my ride, I saw this windmill right next to the road:

The most beautiful thing I saw on the ride, however, was too fleeting for me to photograph.  It was the bright sunlight gleaming off of a readheaded woodpecker - glorious!

A few miles later I saw this barn with a vintage-looking Rock City sign:

As I continued around the corner, I was amused to see this updated sign on the side of the barn:

After a while I saw some small apartments that reminded me of student housing.  At first I was confused because I didn't know of any colleges in the immediate vicinity, and I hadn't even made it to the next town of any size, Trenton, Georgia.  Then I made an astounding discovery; this was a hang gliding park!  A number of people were in the large grassy area adjacent to the housing units.  They were doing tandem flights on ultralight aircraft.  I was totally intrigued and wheeled my bicycle over to them.  They were very friendly, and this guy was happy to let me take his picture.  He was like a surfer dude with wings:

He jokingly told me that cycling is dangerous and instead I should go for a ride with the ultralight group.

Thus far, I hadn't encountered any significant climbing because I had been riding in a valley.  It was the same ridge and valley geology as at my May century in Rome, Up the Creek Without a Pedal.  Unbeknownst to me, however, my elevation was about to increase - majorly.  The lovely valley road came to an end, and at that T-intersection, I saw this eye-catching sign:

In cycling and in life, sometimes you just have to deviate from your planned route.  When I learned that it was only 3.62 miles to Crazy Woman Road (very bottom arrow), I thought...must...go...there. I climbed something like 500,000 ft, got to the top of the road, and checked my GPS, which directed me to somewhere in Arizona. So, I decided that any road I ride on is Crazy Woman Road.

I wanted to make sure to be at the finish line to see Robert, and so it was time to retrace my route.  After zooming back down Burkhalter Gap Road, I turned onto the valley road again.  I did stop long enough to take pictures of a few things had attracted my attention when I rode by the first time.  This patch of black-eyed Susans right by the road was breathtaking:

This USGS gaging station, located at Lookout Creek, may not be breathtaking, but I found it quite interesting because I often use USGS hydrologic data in my work:

Note the solar panel that powers the automatic data collector.

The climb up Raccoon Mountain was also pretty significant, but I was expecting that one.  Water is pumped from the Tennessee River at the base of Raccoon Mountain to a reservoir at the top.  Electric power is generated when the water is released through turbines to flow back down to the river.  As I ground my pedals, climbing higher and higher up Raccoon Mountain, I imagined how my potential energy was increasing just like all that water being pumped up to the reservoir.  Crazy woman!

Expect adventure.

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