In the region in which I live the small town I live in, Lewisville, NC, is a bit of a mecca for road cyclists. Several times a week you will see large groups of cyclists meet in downtown Lewisville and depart for long rides in several different directions. The good townspeople of Lewisville are split on their feelings about the cyclists – some welcome their presence and wonder how the town can make hay out of Lewisville’s reputation within the cycling community, while others find them a nuisance as they wait for an opportunity to pass the riders on Lewisville’s two-lane country roads – but they’ve been a presence for many years and in the ten years I’ve lived here I’ve always wondered how Lewisville came to be known as a cycling hot spot. Scott Sexton’s recent column in the Winston-Salem Journal reveals how it all got started:
(Gene) Gillam was born in Iowa and grew up in Greensboro before heading to The Citadel. He became a pilot with the U.S. Army Air Force and flew B-26 bombers.
Sixty-one times he flew missions over Normandy, northern France, the Rhineland and the Ardennes. He was shot down several times, and was rescued by French families and the French Resistance — the sorts of things that awe us today but were almost routine to men of his generation…
It was through his hobbies that a lot of people got to know Gillam. He was an avid runner and, later on, became something of a pioneer within the local cycling community. That’s where Ken Putnam, the owner of Ken’s Bike Shop, first met and got to know Gillam.
“He used to live out in Lewisville, on Grapevine (Road),” Putnam said. “A group of us would meet out at his house and just go ride. That’s why all the rides now start in Lewisville, because we’d leave from Gene’s house.”
Again, that might not seem like much more than a couple of guys out indulging a hobby — until you consider what has transpired since a handful of oddballs started heading west from Gillam’s house in Lewisville each weekend in the early 1970s.
The routes plotted out by that little group eventually got written down, named and taught turn-by-turn to new groups of riders as they discovered the sport. That small group grew by twos and threes, and turned into other groups of differing interests and abilities.
These days, hundreds of riders leave from Lewisville in any given week throughout the spring, summer and fall.
I read Scott Sexton’s column about Ken Glazener with great interest because Mr. Glazener walks by my house just about every day and unfortunately I knew nothing about him other than:
- He walks alot
- He picks up a lot of trash which he totes back to his house
- I’m pretty sure he lives in the subdivision behind my house because when he returns from his walks he usually takes the road by our house back into the subdivision.
Other than that I knew nothing about him even though I’d seen him for years. Now I know what he’s been up to:
Most days, he walks upwards of 10 miles along Forsyth County roads with an equally scruffy dog by his side, carrying a plastic grocery bag that he fills with discarded cans and bottles…
Glazener is a retired dentist, “not rich but comfortable,” he said, while recounting one of the many times a kind stranger approached to offer a few bucks for a hot meal…
Some days he starts his walk with a plastic bag in his pocket. Others, he figures (correctly) he’ll find one that’s been tossed and he’ll use it. He recycles bottles and saves aluminum cans until he has enough – 200 or so pounds – to rate a trip to OmniSource, a scrap metal yard off U.S. 52 across town.
“I bet I get 300 cans a week,” he said. “Unfortunately most of them are beer cans. If I thought people were drinking them at home, sobering up and then leaving to throw them out on the roadside I’d be wrong. It’s scary to think about.”
The money he gets for the cans, a few hundred bucks a year, he sends to a scholarship fund he set up at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry.
Since our house fronts one of the roads that Mr. Glazener travels I can attest to the fact that most of the bottles/cans discarded from passing cars contained an adult beverage before they were tossed. For 10 years I’ve been finding empty bottles of a certain brand of vodka and more empty PBR cans than I can even count in the ditch in front of our house. It’s disheartening to know that some of our neighbors are boozing it up behind the wheel and that they have such terrible taste.
Next time I see him I hope to thank Mr. Glazener for his service and for being smart enough to do his community service while also getting some great exercise. Let’s just say he doesn’t look close to the age, 71 years old, that’s mentioned in the article.
From the Town of Lewisville’s Facebook page:
**UPDATE ON THE WILLIAMS RD BRIDGE CLOSURE**
The NCDOT now plans replace the bridge as a part of the necessary repairs that are needed due to a vehicle striking it some time ago. While work will start sometime around the month of January 2015, the bridge is not expected to be closed the until next March (2015).
The bridge will continue to be two lanes, but there will be added width to allow for a sidewalk to be added in the future.
The bridge is expected to be closed between March and August, 2015. Please share this with friends and family that may be effected.
NCDOT had said that the construction would begin this summer, so the delay is a bit of a bummer, but the expanded width to accommodate a sidewalk is very good news.
Fox8 has a story about a family in Lewisville, NC that’s experiencing hard times due to a loophole in our country’s safety net. We can argue all we want about how our social safety net should function and how we should pay for it, but I think any of us would be hard pressed to argue against families like this being able to tap into it. This is exactly the kind of situation it should cover:
A friend was searching online for pics of our town and stumbled across a picture from my flickr feed. She emailed for permission to use it on our church's website, and when I looked at it I couldn't fathom how I could have produced it. Just goes to show that the right camera in the wrong hands occassionally produces results:
Taken in Lewisville, NC on Christmas Day, 2010.
While everyone else is distracted with the not-really-that-important presidential election of 2012, here at the JonLowder.com media center we're concentrating on far more consequential news — the return of 7-Eleven to Forsyth County, and Lewisville in particular. From a somewhat reliable source (the Winston-Salem Journal):
7-Eleven Inc. has returned to Forsyth County and surrounding areas, bringing its Slurpee drinks and Big Bite hot dogs.
The re-entry into the local market after more than 20 years is part of the convenience-store chain’s recent purchase of 13 stores previously operated by Fast Track. Terms of the deal were not disclosed…
Locations of local stores switching to 7-Elevens include 2375 Lewisville Clemmons Road in Clemmons, 1005 S. Main St. in Kernersville, 5076 Styers Ferry Road in Lewisville and 5916 University Parkway in Winston-Salem.
Rebranding of the stores will occur from December through early February.
People, this is far more exciting than the opening of Trader Joe's at Thruway. After all, does TJ have Slurpees? Case closed.
Here's the Lewisville location – I'm sure I'll meet you in line at the grand opening.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal Lewisville has wooed Hank Perkins away from North Wilkesboro.
Hank Perkins, who has been town manager of North Wilkesboro for 10 years, is leaving his position to become town manager of Lewisville.
Perkins announced his resignation at the end of Tuesday night's North Wilkesboro town commissioner meeting, according to town officials. He'll work out a 30-day notice and begin his new job in July.
I drove through downtown Lewisville this morning and saw the WFMY van parked by Shallowford Square and wondered what would drag the Triad's CBS affiliate, based in Greensboro, so far west. Murder and mayhem? Bear sighting? Missing blonde woman? Nope, none of the morning show news staples were cause for reporter Tracey McCain to visit our fair town. Rather, she was there to do a regular segment for the morning show that involves her "betting" $5 with the studio hosts to see if they can answer trivia questions about the town she's visiting that morning. The result is a nice little story about Lewisville featuring interviews with Mayor Dan Pugh. Enjoy.
Kevin Jennings, CEO of BeTheChange, wrote in the Huffington Post about a campaign his organization is promoting called Opportunity Nation, and in the process he shares a bit of his life story which began here in Lewisville, NC:
Opportunity Nation is a campaign to bring Americans of all ideologies and backgrounds together around a plan to return the U.S. to the Land of Opportunity that it once was. We are working with scholars from the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the Brookings Institution to come up with concrete, bipartisan policy proposals that will make a difference in people's lives. We've organized a coalition of more than 250 organizations, representing more than 50 million Americans, to support this policy agenda. And we've built a leadership council of nearly 100 prominent Americans — from Mayor Mike Bloomberg to journalist Arianna Huffington to Rev. Rick Warren — who are committed to using their influence to promote opportunity.
I realized this weekend that I never really escaped that trailer park in Lewisville, North Carolina, because today I have undertaken the same work on a macro level that my Mom took on in a micro level way back in the seventies: making sure the next generation has it better than mine has had it. And I am proud of that fact: after all, it's the American thing to do.
Here's a video of Jennings sharing his story:
Anyone who lives in Lewisville, NC knows that our town is a pretty popular destination for cyclists. I'll often hear grumbling about the inconvenience of having to wait behind large packs of riders, aka pelotons, on some of the beautiful country roads that make the town such an inviting place to live and bike. I don't hear many complaints about individual riders, or groups of two or three, but that's because they're relatively easy to pass even on our two lane roads with no shoulders.
All that being said I've also seen some crazy decisions made by impatient drivers. Passing just before a blind curve, passing on a rise with oncoming traffic too close for comfort, passing too close to the actual cyclist, etc. Part of me understands the frustration – most of us aren't cyclists and thus don't understand the draw of riding on roads when you could just toddle on down to Salem Lake or Muddy Creek and ride on trails without inconveniencing drivers – and I especially feel the frustration myself when I'm running late for something and am stuck behind a bunch of cyclists. But you know what? We need to get over it.
Here's the deal: just because most of us aren't cyclists and don't understand the draw of riding on our roads, there are obviously people who love it and that's their right. And "right" is the correct word because unless the laws change cyclists have as much of a right to the road as drivers of cars and motorcycles. Sure they need to follow the rules just like we drivers do, and I'm sure that some of them roll through red lights or do rolling stops at stop signs, but I'm also pretty sure that the same percentage or more of drivers do the same thing, and I'm absolutely positive that almost every driver in Lewisville has pulled a (technically) illegal passing maneuver on a cyclist.
Why am I bringing this up now? Because I just read this article about a Winston-Salem cyclist killed in an accident in Greensboro, and although it sounds like there might have been mitigating circumstances (blinding sun) it still reminded me that I'm in constant fear of seeing this kind of story in Lewisville. Whether we see our visiting cyclists as a blessing or a curse we need to respect their right to the road, and do everything we can to make sure we all share the road safely.
On a related, but different note: I think a nice little entrepreneurial venture would be opening a temporary refreshment stand near Shallowford Square. (Think hotdog stand with healthy stuff instead of hotdogs, chips and sodas). The cyclists tend to park downtown and launch their rides from there so I'd imagine they'd be willing customers once they're rides are done. There are also lots of folks who walk and jog downtown these days so I'd imagine they'd be a good market too. That's assuming you can get a permit from the town to do it, but it might be worth a try.