No Longer in Season

Fall Colors - Bike Fence

Old bikes have their seasons too!

Time-worn and tossed-out bicycles line the split-rail fence along our driveway and although it’s sad to see these bikes growing rustier and older as the seasons pass, I’m glad they have a place to retire where flowers weave through their spokes in the summer and snow dusts their frames in the winter. To me, they become more beautiful as they age. I love their old shattered parts, worn beyond repair, the rust eroding a once shiny frame. I’ve taken pictures of these bikes in every season. I’m particularly fond of this shot — the flower pod and bike both at the end of their season!

No Longer in Season

No longer in season

A Big Snow Day

Winter Snows Blanket the Bike Fence


Makes My Head Swirl

My Head's a Swirl

Not the best way to capture the fall colors!

Riding while under the influence of a camera can be risky! It was such a beautiful fall day for a ride. A couple of girlfriends and I were wandering the backroads out near Townsend and I was enjoying taking a few shots of my friends riding ahead of me, when I notice some curious horses in the pasture just ahead. I once again hurried to swing my camera around to get a shot of this nice long stretch of backroad with the two horses looking over the fence at us. Problem was that I was riding in too low of a gear to pedal ahead to have my friends where I wanted them in the shot. No problem I thought,  just quickly shift gears (mind you I had the camera in my other hand ready for the shot) and then ride up to catch them…in an instant I was on the ground! Looking back there was a small branch of wood in the road which apparently I hadn’t seen in my excitement to capture such an beautiful shot.

Knee BandagedI pulled myself up and then, first things first, I checked my camera for any damage — just fine; then my bike — nothing my dear Jon can’t adjust; and then me — a 3/4 inch gash under my knee with some abrasions on my leg and arms — at least I didn’t hit my head. I rinsed the knee wound with my water bottle and flag down a passing truck requesting a handful of kleenex. My girlfriend helped me make a mock bandage to limit the bleeding and off we went to finish the ride. Our plans had been to stop for lunch along the way before heading back. This was fine as it would offer me the opportunity to put my leg up and let it rest and hopefully curtail the bleeding.

On our way back, I noticed that every bump in the road sent a quick shot of pain to my upper left side and then I laughed at a joke my friend made….that’s when I realized that I also had a cracked rib. RATS! I’ve had cracked ribs before (two different bike crashes) and they are not fun. Not for trying to get comfortable, trying to sleep, trying to laugh, cough, sneeze, hiccup, or any of those jarring types of body things we do often enough. I wasn’t too worried about the knee injury as that would heal quickly enough to let me get back to riding — but the ribs that would keep me off the bike for a little while longer. In the middle of fall!! My favorite season of all!! The picture perfect season!!

My Backroad Friends

Enjoying the Backroad with my Friends

So I end this post with a Note to Self…don’t ride under the influence of your camera. Let your rational brain do some of the thinking! Hopefully I’ll heal quickly so I can scurry around on my bike again — beautiful blue skies and backroads are waiting!

Amber Waves of Grain

Those Amber Waves of Grain

Rolling hills of fall color

What cyclist doesn’t absolutely love fall! What’s not to love when the weather turns cool and the humidity drops, deep blue skies hover over amber fields of grain, and leaves sprinkle like rain? Ok, I can think of one thing — gnats! They hangout in shady wooded sections along the route and heaven forbid if your mouth is partially open or your glasses not securely covering your eyes because those guys are all over you in seconds, but hey, it’s a small price to pay for all the amazing wonderfulness of fall! Don’t you agree.

We’ve had lots of rain this week, almost every day, so it was really nice to have an afternoon with blue skies. The wind was up so leaves were falling like rain, but surprisingly I had a tailwind the whole ride — how does that happen? Past by an old abandoned house that I’ve ridden by all summer and it really isn’t all that impressive (even though that didn’t stop me from capturing it on my camera) but surprisingly fall complements this old rusty, shabby house. The colors bring out the roof in a nice sort of way.

Old House on Glover Road

Fall complements this old abandoned farmhouse!

One thing that I like about Facebook is changing my cover photos often and the reason is that I love making horizontal images. Landscapes often lend themselves to this format. When out cycling I look for these types of pictures. I haven’t framed any yet, but I’m collecting which is step number one for me. Here’s a sample of the first image cropped as a horizontal format.

Try cropping your landscapes into a horizontal format

Fall Horizontal Kyker Bottoms

Ridges with a few trees lend themselves to horizontal formatting

One last shot to share from a ride last week. I had to take cover for a quick storm that came up but afterwards the clouds were gorgeous and this field caught my eye.

Storm Clouds Moving Out

Storm Clouds Moving Out

Enjoy this beautiful season as it never stays around long enough!

The Loss of Our Old Barns

White Barn with 2 Silos

Old Barn in West Knoxville – picture taken in 2008

I LOVE OLD BARNS! Actually I love most anything that is time worn, coated with rust, crackled by peeling paint, and leaning on a shaky foundation. As much as I am drawn to this sad deteriorating condition, I want this object of my affection to live on forever. It’s so sad to witness additional decay and then the eventual crumbling to its demise.

I’ve been on a mission since 2008 when I started writing Bicycling Routes Around Knoxville, to document our old barns, houses, and stores that I ride by when wandering our rural countryside. Over the years, I’ve watched heavy rains and high winds tear at their structure and foundations until eventually they are totally exposed to the elements spiraling to an eventual collapse. In other cases, Mother Nature slowly moves in surrounding the structure with shrubs, vines, and trees eventually absorbing it into the earth.


Total collapse of the barn, only the silos stand tall – picture taken in 2014

Earlier this week while riding a route I haven’t been on since 2008, I was dismayed to see the total collapse of this beautiful old white barn — only two brick silos remain standing. On other routes I ride, there are similar scenarios — old barns with peeling paint, a handful of rotted boards, frames slightly leaning. Again, here is another barn that hasn’t faired well over the years.

Barn and Silo on Martin Mill Rd

In 2008 this barn was in serious trouble

Collapsed Barn on Martin Mill Rd

Now in 2014 it is beyond repair

Red, white, or weathered gray — our barns are iconic symbols of rural life in America. James Lindberg, a field director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation states, “there is a feeling that losing those kinds of structures means we are losing a connection to a really important part of our country’s heritage.” You might wonder then, why aren’t these barns being restored and preserved? Usually, the reality is that once an old barn no longer has a purpose on the farm it removes the economic value placed on it, also removing the justification to maintain it, so it just sits there, slowly deteriorating.

In some areas of our country, interest is growing to save our barns. Preservation groups have formed and are working on providing documentation of the barns in their areas — photographs, basic information about the architecture, historical character, use and condition. Grant programs are being set up to provide money to assess the condition of the barns and to look at ways to save and reuse them. Funds have been raised where farmers can borrow to make repairs. Others have suggested repurposing barns into homes or businesses. The good news is that some of our adored old barns can be saved and restored! While it is too late for this beauty, I hope we can get some local interest and work together to restore our barns so they can be around for another century! I’ve created a Pinterest board to begin documenting the Old Barns and Farms Around Knoxville. Please share locations, pictures and any other information you might have on other barns in Tennessee and I’ll add them to the board.


Farmhouse on Blaines Chapel Road

Abandoned Farmhouse on Blaines Chapel Road in Rutledge, TN

Discovering new backroads with new scenes to photograph, new twists and turns and hills to climb and descend — it’s the adventure we seek when we head out! Lately, I’ve been on a mission to reride the routes in our guide books. Along the way, I’m documenting the abandoned old farmhouses and barns that are slowly crumbling to the ground. Rarely do I see someone trying to restore these old beauties. They are such a treasure to me and although at the moment I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with my growing photo collection, I’m just happy to ride and discover these charming old places! My Pinterest board featuring Abandoned Old Houses around Knoxville is a start.

Old Sedan Tarwater Road, Knoxville TN

Sadly this old sedan in South Knoxville has been reduced to rust

My collection of photos also includes old cars, trucks and tractors, critters along the way, and anything else that catches my eye. Needless to say, I’m not a fast rider these days — I’ve even taken to riding my touring bike most of the time so I can carry my large, heavy, DSLR camera for those shots that require more zoom…plus it’s just more fun to look through the viewfinder and play around with settings. My small, lightweight point-and-shoot is always with me as it’s perfect for ride-by-shootings. Wearing it slung around back, it’s my quick-draw-mcgraw camera (who remembers Quick Draw McGraw?) fast and easy to swing around and shoot while riding.

US Bicycle Route SystemMy goal for starting this blog is to share photos, tales from the road, and new routes that get discovered along the way. One such route that I’m particularly excited about is the development of US Bike Route 21, currently in the design stage. The route when completed will connect Knoxville-Chattanooga-Rome-Atlanta (ultimately starting at Lake Erie). USBR 121 will connect Nashville and Chattanooga with another route to connect Knoxville to Nashville. I’m thrilled to be helping with this project and will post about its progress as the sections come together. Cyclists are invited to ride the route or sections thereof and offer their suggestions and comments. Visit Adventure Cycling’s website for complete details on the US Bicycle Route System.