Quick Hits: November 2018

By Jed Ferris and Will Harlan

New Kentucky Bike Law

The state of Kentucky is playing catch-up on cycling safety; this summer a new law went into effect requiring motorists to give bike riders at least three feet of side space when attempting to pass. According to reporting by the Lexington Herald-Leader on House Bill 33: “Distance is measured from the outermost portion of the vehicle to the outermost portion of the bicycle. For example, a pickup truck with wide-view mirrors would require a space of three feet from the mirrors to the end of the bicycle handlebar.”

The new law allows drivers to cross a double yellow line in order to give cyclists the necessary space, if possible with safe visibility. Thirty-four states already have a similar passing law in place. One of the bill sponsors, Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, said “What I hope it does is educate drivers and cyclists, which I am both, more about bike safety. We have about six fatalities a year involving cyclists and drivers.”

Gear Companies Say No to Walmart

In late August, Walmart launched an online “Premium Outdoors Store,” curated by Michigan-based retailer Moosejaw, which Walmart purchased in 2017. This marked the first time the big-box behemoth would be carrying well-reputed performance gear and apparel from companies like Black Diamond, ExOfficio, and Gramicci. Some of the gear companies quickly decided they didn’t want their products sold through the site. Black Diamond, known for high-quality climbing gear, sent Walmart a cease and desist letter the day after the website launched, and soon after, backpack manufacturer Deuter and Katadyn, known for producing a variety of backcountry water filtration systems, also decided to pull their products.

Poodle Saves Family from Bear

When Tiffany Merrill opened a door at her Black Mountain, N.C., home on the last day of August to let out the family dog, a black bear charged inside. Shocked and scared, she started to scream, telling her kids to lock their bedroom doors. Merrill said the bear—estimated to be between 150 and 200 pounds—was behaving aggressively and getting in her face, when Pickle, her five-pound toy poodle came to the rescue. Pickle started barking at the bear and then chased it back outside the house. After a scuffle between the two animals, Merrill’s 19-year-old son was able to get Pickle away from the bear, but after receiving grave injuries and being rushed to an emergency animal hospital, the dog sadly died. “My hero died saving me from a bear,” Merrill wrote on Facebook. She added, “We lost a big part of our family.”

Overall, throughout Appalachia, incidents of people bumping into bears have been abundant in both developed areas and the backcountry this year. Just before the start of fall, 20,000 acres of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in southwest Virginia were closed to camping due to a large number of human-bear interactions. The closure also affected 17 miles of the Appalachian Trail.


Number of shoes stolen at Clean Soles, a shoe store in Roanoke, Va., that were only designed for a person’s right foot. When thieves burglarized the store during two separate incidents on July 20 and August 25 they mostly raided the display sneakers, accumulating a stolen bounty that was seemingly useless. In an AP report, store operator Rob Wickham said one complete pair of shoes was also stolen, along with some t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. A 17-year-old has been charged in the first burglary.

“It just seems like a natural thing to do. I’m surprised to find there are people who wouldn’t like to do it.”

Gary Cantrell, to a local Ohio news station, when asked why he was walking across the country. Cantrell, also known in the trail running community as Lazarus Lake, is the eccentric, reclusive founder of the Barkley Marathon—a punishing ultramarathon in Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park that’s only been finished 18 times by 15 different runners since it was started in 1986. This summer, Cantrell completed a supported walk across the country, taking an approximately 3,000-mile route from Rhode Island to Oregon, starting in May and finishing in mid-September.

Two State Mile Records Set at Same Race in Tennessee

August was a stiflingly hot month in the South, but that didn’t stop both the male and female winners at the Ed Murphey Memphis Mile—part of the national Bring Back the Mile Grand Prix Tour 2018—from setting state records for the distance. Blazing towards the finish line in a tight four-way finish, Eric Avila won the race with a time of 3:55.43, besting the previous top time of 3:55.65 for a mile in Tennessee that was set in 2014. On the women’s side Shannon Osika took first with a time of 4:25.47, in the process significantly beating the former state record of 4:30.12.

Places to Go, Things to See: