I drive my truck up the steep gravel road leading to the Bracken Mountain trailhead, my mountain bike in the back, my journal and pen in my pack.A few years ago, in the face of a budget crisis, the city of Brevard was presented with an easy way out—a developer offered to buy 400 acres owned by the city. Instead, the city of Brevard turned the area into a trail that bridges downtown with Pisgah Forest.For the first time dread doesn’t consume me as get on my bike, because the alternative, sitting down in front of my computer and work on my book, seems much worse.The climb robs me of my breath within the first five minutes, a welcome distraction from thinking about how to write the difficult parts of my book.Writers lore has it that ideas drift about, waiting for a person with whom to partner. It seems possible that among all the woodland creatures, sprites and gnomes spread ideas like fairy dust. While I’m not buying the open-your-hands-and-an–idea-will-find –you philosophy, writing has been tough these past few days and I’m open to muses in whatever form. I pump my legs, which more often than not came out in stomping bursts instead of fluid rotations. As the trail steepens, I push the flat pedals with as much force as I can muster and when I can’t pedal any longer, when my pedals stubbornly and resolutely refused to turn, I push.Ride and push. Sip some water. Repeat. That’s how I summit Bracken Mountain, an elevation gain of 1200 feet, pedaling and pushing and luxuriating in long stops when I sprawl on the forest carpet and stare at the pine needles dancing above in the gentle breeze.The summit sparked my imagination – the forest dense with hardwoods and hemlocks, where rhododendron and mountain laurel grow in abundance. I turned my head at every rustle in the leaves, half expecting to spot wild turkey, a deer, or perhaps even a bear.I press my back into the truck of a solid oak and practice being as still as the tree. Siting in the presence of all those lofty giants, I root myself, going deeper inside of myself and quieting the noise of daily life. Every time my mind wonders and self -destructive phrases loop through my head about how awful my writing is and that nobody will read it anyway, I think about trees.Trees stand exactly where they grow, owning that space, stretching and reaching upward and out. Trees don’t judge. They don’t say that hemlock is a better writer. They don’t look think I can’t do this and even if I do, nobody will ever read it. No, trees stand and stretch and reach for the rays of the sun.I write like a tree, without judgment, accessing parts of myself that I couldn’t before.In the shade of the trees, I write about other adventures, of the endless ocean stretching on the horizon, the turquoise of the Caribbean waters, the relentless sun beating down. Distance frees me somehow to write about those stories without judging their magnitude or worth, to let the words flow knowing I’ll edit later.As I ride back downhill to my truck, my hands hover on the brakes, my mind turned to how riding Bracken was breaking me. Bit by bit, with every pedal stroke mental blocks about what I considered possible are falling down.
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material 13 August 2012South Africa’s Burry Stander made a valiant attempt to claim a medal in the men’s cross-country mountain bike race at the Olympic Games on Sunday, but came up just short with a fifth place finish after a gruelling race.Hadleigh Farm sounds like a pleasant enough place, but the mountain bike track, with its twists and turns and ever changing elevation, including plenty of climbing, is a real challenge, especially when the world’s elite cross-country competitors are duelling one another and racing it at their maximum pace.After a furious start to Sunday’s race, Stander found himself 15 seconds down on the leading trio of Jaroslav Kulhavy, the overall 2011 World Cup champion, Nino Schurter, the winner of this year’s Pietermaritzburg World Cup and three other World Cup events, and the Italian Marco Aurelio Fontana after the first lap.Slip on lap fourThe South African star then put in consecutive fastest laps to haul in the leaders. A small slip on lap four, however, saw him dropped once again as the front-running trio piled on the pace. Stander and Spain’s Jose Antonio Hermida, the winner of the 2010 World Championships, became the closest chasers to the men in medal position.There appeared to be a slight slowing by Kulhavy, Schurter and Fontana on the penultimate lap as they prepared themselves for a tactical, lung-bursting showdown on the seventh and final lap of the course, but it wasn’t enough to let Stander and Hermida close the distance.Czech ace Kulhavy snatched a vital inside line on the last sharp climb before the finish to edge ahead of Schurter for the victory. Fontana, meanwhile, lost his saddle on the last lap, which allowed the two chasers to close the gap on the bronze medal winner. Hermida then sneaked in front of Stander on the finishing line, just four seconds behind Fontana, to take fourth place.Stander’s finishing time of 1:29:37 was half-a-minute behind the winner, Kulhavy, his team-mate in non-Olympic action on Team Specialized.Five seconds off the podiumAfterwards, Stander told reporters: “Fifth, being 10 seconds off the podium [he was actually only five seconds behind Fontana] you can’t be disappointed with that.“Obviously you’re here for a medal, but I gave it my all. I prepared as much as I could and put absolutely everything I could into this year. It was just 10 seconds too slow, I guess.“With two laps to go on that steep climb the guys absolutely smashed it. I was on my max and there’s nothing you can do.“It’s a very fair sport, you give what you’ve got, and if you don’t have it you don’t have it, and the top three guys deserved it today.”Fellow South African Philip Buys suffered a fall at the start of the race, which left him in last place on the first lap. It was a tough break and the going from there was tough. He eventually finished in 35th place, just over 11 minutes behind the winner.Just how tough was the competition? Consider the case of France’s Jean-Christophe Peraud. He raced for AG2R La Mondiale at the recent Tour De Franc where he finished in 44th place overall out of the 153 finishers. At Hadleigh Farm, he was the 29th of 42 finishers.Men’s marathonThe only other South African representatives in action on the final day were Lusapho April, Stephen Mokoka and Coolboy Ngamole in the men’s marathon.April was the highest finisher of the three, clocking exactly two hours and 19 minutes to finish in 43rd place. Mokoka claimed 49th place, less than a minute later, while Ngamole failed to finish.Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich raced to victory in 2:08:01 to win his country’s first medal since John Akii-Bua captured the 400 metres hurdles title in Munich 40 years ago in a world record time.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Five models from 75-100 hp offer compact power solutions for specialty crops John Deere unveils the 5G Series Tractors with narrow and highly-maneuverable configurations to expand the specialty tractor portfolio for vineyard and orchard producers and meet Final Tier 4 Engine emissions requirements.“The 5G Series Tractors build on the success of the 5EN Series to offer customers more choices for their specialty applications,” says Christopher Lammie, product manager, John Deere Augusta. “With two chassis widths for narrow (5GN) and vineyard (5GV) applications, the 5G Series Tractors bring John Deere utility tractor performance into specialty row applications.”The 5G Series Tractors are available in the following configurations and horsepower sizes: • 5075GN and 5075GV: 75 horsepower engine• 5090GN and 5090GV: 90 horsepower engine• 5100GN: 100 horsepower engineThe 5G Series Tractors offer a variety of benefits to vineyard producers. The new models – the 5GV and 5GN – are available in widths of 40.5 and 52 inches, respectively, reducing the chance that crops will be damaged in narrow rows. With a tighter turning radius than its 5EN predecessor, the 5GN reduces operator effort, time and fuel consumption during headland turns. Fuel tank capacity is improved over the 5EN with an option for an auxiliary 7.5-gallon fuel tank on the 5GN. Plus an increased cab width on the 5GN Series creates a larger, roomier work environment.The 5G Series Tractors maintain strong engine performance in the field, plus the 90 and 100 horsepower models can be equipped with optional Intelligent Power Management for an additional power boost. Economy PTO also comes standard in all 5G Series models, which reduces engine RPM by 15 percent, helping reduce input cost for operators.“Customers also have flexible transmission choices with the 5G Series Tractors,” adds Lammie. ”The new 5G offers a mechanical 12F/12R transmission or 24F/12R transmission with PowrReverser.”For more information on the new 5G Series Tractors, see your local John Deere dealer or visit www.JohnDeere.com/Ag.