Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jeff Daniels deserves to be recognized by council, commission

It’s a very rare occasion when I would ever presume to suggest a course of action for the Conecuh County Commission or the Evergreen City Council, but I would like to do just that in this space this week.

In the coming weeks, both governing bodies will hopefully take the opportunity to recognize Jeff Daniels of Evergreen for his “thru-hike” of the world famous Appalachian Trail. As of Monday, Daniels had about 250 miles to go in his quest to become the first Conecuh County resident to ever successfully hike the 2,181-mile trail from its start in Georgia to its finish in Maine.

Daniels, age 53, started his trip in March and hopes to finish it in mid-September. He crossed into Maine on Saturday. For full details about his trip, see this week’s sports page.

Relatively few people have ever successfully hiked the entire trail and to successfully do so requires no small amount of skill, planning, willpower, dedication and toughness (not to mention a little luck).

At the very least, resolutions honoring Daniels’ historic accomplishment would be a very appropriate way to recognize him. The commission and council may already have plans in the works to do just that, but if not, I thought I’d just put the idea out there.

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I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the coolest thing that I saw in person during the past week was an electric bicycle at the Lee Motor Co. car lot in Monroeville.

Tommy Lee, who owns the car lot, had the bike on display Friday morning, and he let a few of us brave souls test it out. The bike looks almost like any other bike you’ve ever ridden, except for a thick central support where a battery is stored and the back tire assembly, which houses an electric motor.

From what I could tell, the bike has three settings. The first allows it to operate just like any other bike. You pedal and it moves forward.

The second setting allows you to pedal and after a few turns, you can feel it assist you as you move forward. I could see where this setting would be useful to someone who needs to do low impact exercise after an injury.

The third setting was the most impressive because after three turns of the pedals, the motor totally takes over, and the bike will go up to 25 miles per hour. On that setting, you can control the vehicle’s speed with a hand throttle that operates just like the throttle on a motorcycle. To totally kill the motor, all you have to do is release the hand throttle.

The bike, which operates whisper quiet, also has hand brakes just like a normal bicycle. The bike’s battery will allow it to travel at full speed for about an hour on a full charge.

I have to admit that I was kind of leery about getting on the bike because I could only imagine how much it must cost. Like a lot of folks, I bear scars from careless childhood stunts on bicycles, and I could picture in my mind having to repair a scuffed up, expensive electric bike after a bad spill on a Monroeville side street at 25 miles per hour.

Surprisingly, the bike, which is of high-quality Swiss manufacture, costs less than $3,000, much less than the figure I had in mind, considering the quality of the bike. I thought it would have cost at least twice as much given the slick, heavy-duty construction of the bike.

In the end, if you find yourself in Monroeville, this might be something you’d want to check out if you’re in the market for a cutting-edge electric bicycle.

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