Group riding: Things to consider

15Group RidingAlthough group riding is fun and a great place to meet new friends, it can be a bit intimidating. The ride is more enjoyable if you are prepared and knowledgeable about the ride beforehand.

When deciding to join a group ride, know what you are getting into. Distance, time, speeds and ability are all factors to be considered. Asking yourself if you have the right bike for the ride is important. Another question you should ask is what speeds you will be traveling. If you are unsure about practical details like this, contact the organizers. Finally, and very importantly, you must ask yourself, “Are these the right guys to ride with?”

When riding with a group, get there with your bike ready and a full tank of gas. This is just being polite.

Before the start, you should have you clothing adjusted so you will be comfortable during the ride. As the temperature and weather conditions change, you need to be prepared. You will want to have the appropriate clothing for the appropriate weather — and don’t forget about ensuring the same for your passenger, if you have one.

Although most riders do not like riding in the rain, the truth is that if you ride long enough, you will get wet. So bring your rain gear just in case.

Communicating during the ride is essential. Talk with the group or ride organizer about hand signals. The lead rider will set the pace and communicate by hand signals everyone will know. Many of these signals will tell riders to slow down, to turn or to notice a danger on the road. These are helpful for this time of year as pot holes from the winter weather are still prevalent throughout the state.

Do not over ride your ability. If the group is fast, there is no shame is staying back. If you feel the person behind you is too close or you are riding beyond your ability, hang back and let the people behind you pass.

The person in front of you should be responsible to look back and keep an eye on you. You would do the same for the rider behind you. If you lose sight of someone, pull over and, after a minute or so, turn back to check on them. In theory, this should keep the group together as a whole.

My biggest concern when riding in a group is distance. Your No. 1 safety priority when motorcycling is space. Although it looks cool to ride side-by-side, this is extremely dangerous and jeopardizes yourself, the person beside you and the people behind you. To avoid disaster, you should instead stay staggered: stay one second behind the person in front of you who is in the opposite lane as you and two seconds behind the person directly in front of you in the same lane. This will give you room to brake and swerve in the event of a dog running out or that eventual pot hole that is ahead of you.

Motorcyclists have a lot in common. They are all, by nature, risktakers. Knowing when to throw in the towel with a group is something you should be ready to do. So if you come to that point where you no longer feel comfortable about riding with someone, do not be ashamed to let the group know you are breaking off. Chances are that if you are not having fun, they are not either, and it is probably the best decision for all.

If there is a topic you would like to discuss, please contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com.


Fayetteville After Five returns, brings free concerts to Festival Park

11 Minutes

A longstanding local tradition, Fayetteville After 5 brings free concerts to Festival Park all summer long. It happens every second Friday, May through August. Show up ready to enjoy a night of music — and dancing, if you feel like it — under the stars. Come hungry and get dinner from the food trucks on hand, too.

The season kicks off May 10 with ’90s tribute band 120 Minutes. Based in the Triangle area, the band brings the best alternative and radio rock and pop hits from the ’90s. If artists like Nirvana, Gin Blossoms, Third Eye Blind, Weezer, Backstreet Boys, Green Day, The Cranberries, Shania Twain, Cracker, Tom Petty, Smash Mouth and Hootie and the Blowfish get your toes tapping, this is a concert you won’t want to miss.

June 14, Eagles tribute band On the Border takes the stage. This group goes all-out to provide an authentic Eagles experience. Each band member plays their respective band member of the Eagles during the performance. Their delivery of spot-on music has not only garnered them a loyal following, they have been declared the greatest Eagles tribute band in the world by AXSTV and host Katie Daryl.

Fayetteville’s own Rivermist headlines the July 12 concert. Rivermist formally came together in 2014, but the band members have been playing in and around Fayetteville for more than 20 years. A classic rock and variety party band, Rivermist is energetic on the stage and knows how to play to its audience. The band has won several awards locally, including Up & Coming Weekly’s Best of Fayetteville.

Aug. 9, Kasey Tyndall closes the season. Tynda’s debut single, “Everything is Texas,” dropped in 2017. The video was in the top 10 on CMT’s 12 Pack Countdown.

“For as long as people have been breaking hearts or getting their hearts broken, there’s a bar, that bar’s regulars, and its staff to help,” says Tyndall on her website. “We all have that bar in our life — no matter what we’re going through, we’re somehow family when we come together there.”

The gates open at 5 p.m. for all the concerts. Music starts around 6:30 p.m. and ends around 10:30 p.m. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair. No canopies, please. No coolers or outside food is permitted. Service dogs are welcome. The concerts are free.

Visit www.thedogwoodfestival.com/fayetteville-after-five to learn more.

Fayetteville hosts 2019 NCAMES Lineman Rodeo

01coverUAC050819001“It’s not easy, day to day, to get an upclose and personal look at what lineworkers do,” said Carolyn Justice-Hinson, communications and community relations officer at Fayetteville Public Works Commission. “In their day to day, it is very dangerous and you don’t want people observing in harm’s way. But (this competition) is a safe environment to watch what they do and learn more about it.” Thursday, May 16, the public is invited to the Military Business Park off Santa Fe Drive to check out the 2019 Annual North Carolina Association of Municipal Electric Systems Lineman Rodeo. The event is free to attend.

Fayetteville last hosted the NCAMES Lineman Rodeo in 2002. Before that, it hosted the very first rodeo in 1998. “Many years ago, (NCAMES) decided to do the rodeo to showcase what electric systems do here in North Carolina to keep the lights on,” Justice-Hinson said. Participants, in the division of either Journeyman or Apprentice, compete in events that display the specialized skills and knowledge they apply in their everyday work. They’re scored on safety procedures, work practices, equipment handling and timeliness.

The rodeo kicks off at 8 a.m. with a brief opening ceremony featuring the Golden Knights, which is the U.S. Army parachute team; the 82nd Airborne Division “All-American” Chorus; and remarks by Mayor Mitch Colvin. The competitive events begin around 8:30 a.m. and last until approximately 2 p.m. 

Events include the Hurtman Rescue, Transformer Load Switching, Three-Phase Fuse Replacement, 4KV Single Phase Pole Transfer, URB Elbow Replacement, and Alley Arm Center Phase Insulator Change. Most involve climbing, with equipment, 40-foot utility poles and remaining stable and in place while performing timesensitive, technical work — then quickly descending back to the ground. The longest events of the rodeo have “drop-dead,” or cut-off, times of 20 minutes. The shortest and most popular event, the Hurtman Rescue, has a drop-dead time of 6 minutes, with points being deducted after the 4-minute mark.

“You won’t see this anywhere else; it’s a one-ofa- kind event that you really have to come and see to appreciate,” Justice-Hinson said. “I personally am amazed when I watch them climb the poles because it takes so much physical strength to climb and stay on the pole, let alone actually do the work once they’re up there. It’s very athletic. … It’s a fun event.”

She added that people bring lawn chairs and blankets for comfy viewing, that there will be lots of interesting equipment on display, and that at least four local food trucks will be present, too.

Carey Jacobs, PWC’s senior technical resources technician, said organizers are expecting more than 100 competitors from electric system cities across the state. “These are cities that have their own electric systems, like Fayetteville,” Justice-Hinson explained. “Other cities (that have their own electric systems) include Rocky Mount, New Bern, Greenville, Wilson and High Point, to name a few.”

The first- and second-place Apprentice and Journeyman, the third-place Journeyman and the Journeyman alternate winners will be recognized at 6 p.m. at the nearby Embassy Suites Convention Center. The winners will go on to compete as a team representing NCAMES at the national level, at the 2020 American Public Power Association Lineworkers Rodeo in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I would love to see a lot of people come out and support not only PWC lineworkers but the ones coming from across the state,” Justice-Hinson said. “A lot of these cities have come to help PWC during emergencies, and we’ve done the same thing for other cities.

“These guys go out in some of the worst conditions — whether it be cold or rain or wind. They’re the ones out there getting services back on and keeping your services on.”

Speaking of the most recent major weather emergency lineworkers had to deal with, Hurricane Florence, she said, “In that one, we had municipal electric workers from other states. Because so much of North Carolina was impacted, everyone was kind of dealing with their own system. We had lineworkers from Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia that came and helped in North Carolina.”

Another plus to the event, Justice-Hinson said, is it provides an exploration opportunity for those considering a career in the field. “There is a shortage of lineworkers,” she said. “It’s kind of an aging workforce. Every company is going to be looking for lineworkers in the future. ... (This event) is a way for people to come out and see what’s happening and talk to lineworkers.

Fayetteville Technical Community College, which PWC collaborated with to create a lineworkers training program, will also be at the rodeo with information. “(PWC) has hired several people from this program, and this last FTCC class (to graduate from the program), every one of them was placed and got a job,” Justice-Hinson said. “I think there were 10 or 12 of them.

“It’s a really inexpensive course, it’s provided here locally, and it’s a really good bet for getting a job.” The course lasts eight to 10 weeks. To learn more, visit www.faytechcc.edu/corporatecontinuing-education/corporate-industrytraining/ and scroll down to “Line Worker Basic Training Course.”

The two days leading up to the rodeo, May 14 and 15, NCAMES will host its 58th Annual Engineering and Operations Conference, which draws 300-400 utility directors, engineers, linemen and all types of municipal employees involved in electric systems each year. The conference will be held near the rodeo grounds, at the Embassy Suites Convention Center, 4760 Lake Valley Dr. Attendees will receive industry updates on topics like issues and trends within public power, mutual aid response and new technology.

The rodeo grounds in Military Business Park will be easy to spot, with rows of 40-foot utility poles in place. The park is located off Santa Fe Drive. FTCC’s CollisionU center, at 2821 Procurement Circle, is located within the park for people who would like an address to put into their GPS. For more information, visit www.ncames.com or call PWC at 910-483-1382.

Derby Run honors Justin Lopes

10The Derby Run LogoJustin Lopes was captain of the soccer team his senior year of high school. He was a member of Honor Society, Key Club and Lafayette Baptist Church. Justin loved to play baseball and soccer. He was family-oriented and loyal to those he loved. In 2014, he died unexpectedly, at the age of 21. He was a rising senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in finance. In honor of Justin, the Derby Run was established. This year’s Derby Run takes place Saturday, May 18, starting at Terry Sanford High School. The 10K run will begin at 8:15 a.m. and the 5K run/walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. They are both timed events.

“David and Andrea Phillips started the Derby Run in 2016 and thought it would be a good way to remember and honor Justin’s life,” said Donna Lopes, Justin’s mom. “It has continued to grow each year. It started as a fun run the first year, and basically people got together and we walked.”

They have added a 10K run this year in hopes the event will continue to grow. The goal is to have between 200-300 runners.

“The proceeds from the event will go to local charities to benefit children,” said Lopes. “The charities are The Child Advocacy Center, the Justin Richard Lopes Memorial Scholarship of Cumberland Community Foundation, and Cy’s World Foundation.”

Each runner will receive a T-shirt and a sports bag filled with coupons from local vendors. 

The top three overall male and female winners will receive trophies and gift certificates from Fleet Feet.

Awards will be given to the top three male and female winners in each age category, for best derby-themed costume, best derby-themed hat, best derby-themed stroller, first dog to finish, first stroller to finish and largest team.

Bunker, the mascot for the Fayetteville Woodpeckers baseball team, will be on site, along with Kidsvile News! celebrity Truman the dragon and Sweet Frog’s mascot. There will be face-painting for the children.

“In the three years that we have done this run, we have been able to donate over $25,000 to charities that benefit children in Justin’s memory, because of our generous sponsors and Derby participants,” said Donna. “The Derby Run is a way for us to help others in his memory.”

The cost of the 5K for ages 12 and under is $20, and for ages 13 and over, it is $30. The cost of the 10K for all ages is $35. Teams with four or more participants for either race will receive a $5 discount for each runner. Pets are allowed but must be on a leash. Packets can be picked up Friday, May 17, at Orangetheory Fitness from 5-7 p.m.

Registration is at 7 a.m. for participants who did not preregister. For more information or to register, visit its-go-time.com/the-derby-run.

Fort Bragg Fair returns

10FairEach year, people living on Fort Bragg and in the surrounding communities wait for the announcement of the Fort Bragg Fair. This year, the fair runs May 1-12. There are games, amusement rides for all ages, food vendors and entertainment. The best part about this midway is that the rides and entertainment are all included in one admission price, and parking is free.

Although the fair is a Fort Bragg event, the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds are open to the public via easy access off Bragg Boulevard. The installation also provides free Americans with Disabilities Act parking for persons with disabilities, which is accessible from Bragg Boulevard through Howell Street.

Fort Bragg Morale, Welfare, and Recreation has quite the entertainment lineup for carnival goers of every age and background. Children can enjoy a live appearance by a Sesame Street favorite: Cookie Monster will appear live May 2 at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Various music performers will appear onstage, covering music genres from country to rock and everything in between.

Bands or performers are scheduled May 2-5 and May 9-12. Weeknight performances start at 5:30 p.m. Weekend performances begin at 3:30 p.m. Performers for this year include Corey Lutchen, the Mango Band, The Fifth, the Island Time Band, Steel Country Express, and the Phaze Band. Also performing is a local Fayetteville band, Rivermist, voted Best Local Band by Up & Coming Weekly for 2017 and 2018.

“Like always, we’ve got a variety of rides for all ages, (and) food, games and prices providing a fun and safe environment right here on Fort Bragg for our soldiers and their families,” said Keagan McDonald, Fort Bragg MWR event lead.

Admission varies by day, age and a couple other categories, but each admission includes unlimited rides and the prospect of enjoying the live music and other scheduled entertainment. Children shorter than 36 inches are free when entering with their group.

Fort Bragg MWR also hosts customer appreciation days each Monday through Friday of the fair from 5-7 p.m. Admission is $9. Or, come celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 12, when all mothers are admitted for free when they are accompanied by a paying child who is 36 inches or taller, up to age 17.

Fort Bragg Fairgrounds is located at Howell Street and Bragg Boulevard. For more information, call 910-396-9126 or search “fair” on the MWR website: https://bragg.armymwr.com.

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