Feed me (exhaust), Seymour: You’ve seen them by now — the season’s first poison-ivy victims, staggering around, scratching at blisters, begging you to hit them with calamine lotion. A misplaced step off the trail or a minute’s careless weeding in the garden is all it takes to contract an epic case of contact dermatitis. And if Western North Carolina’s PI crop seems especially rampant this year, here’s a news flash: Separate studies at Duke and Harvard universities have recently shown that poison ivy flourishes in the increased carbon-dioxide levels that drive global climate change. Furthermore, the studies suggest that a rise in greenhouse gases also stimulates the plants’ production of urushiol, the chemical culprit behind that nasty itch.
Feel the burn: If you’ve got titanium legs and lungs the size of garbage bags, make plans now for the first annual “Tour de Tuck Bike Challenge,” scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 19. The demanding, 102-mile, timed-cycling event sets out from Sylva, includes 11,000 feet of elevation change, and takes in 40 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as the Tuckasegee River valley, from which the event gets its name. (Is it just us, or does the event’s name also bear an unsettling resemblance to a brand of hemorrhoid medication? Oh, never mind.) A shorter 60-mile ride will also be available. The entry fee is $40 through Aug. 5, $45 afterward. A full field of 200 is expected, so interested cyclists should register soon. Registration is available online at www.tourdetuck.com or by calling Greg Duff at (828) 400-5868.