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Not too long ago, we were asked to pour bike paths with concrete. These oversized sidewalks are popular with developers who want to equip their subdivisions aimed at buyers too young for golf cart paths. Those wonderful little roadways are used for exercise and to keep bicyclists off the main highways.

I think these paths are great upgrades. But the only thing wrong is they're hard to get to. Why is it we always have to wait to pour them just before the project is in the final stages? Try the best we can, our drivers are often accused of “destroying” the area around them, not to mention the problem of getting stuck in soft soil.

I guess if they poured the bikeways early, some contractors would eventually run over them with a backhoe or a small dozer, and break off a corner or crack them. Perhaps we ought to hire helicopters with buckets to pour the sections that need replacing.

Did you ever try pushing those little paving machines around with a front discharge mixer? I thought pouring bond beams and pilasters were slow jobs, but these little fellas aren't much faster. Fortunately, most of our contractors are smart enough to use fibers in the mix. That way, at least you don't have to worry about tangling up the wire mesh in the wheels of the machine or the mixer truck. A good, experienced driver in this situation is worth his weight in gold.

Being the adventurous devil that I am, I have often wondered if we could organize a bike path derby. Wouldn't that be fun? We could do it for some good cause and raise lots of money for the American Red Cross or the Heart Foundation.

We could advertise it, ask for donations, and even give away prizes. Being the health conscious people that we are, we could really put on a show. If nothing else, it would be funny. I can already envision some of my competitors donning their multicolored, skintight, riding pants, throwing a leg over their Huffy Mountaineer, (as it would be open to any bike except Harleys) and taking off, weaving in and out of the bushes and rounding the tennis courts.

We could do something similar to golf outings and have a beverage cart going around giving out water and beverages to the contestants. We could also get some of the cement and aggregate companies to participate by throwing in some door prizes, and there you have it—another fun way to sell concrete. You could make this an annual affair, have teams from different areas of the state competing and who knows, we may even have the world series of bike path racing!

Anyway, after several tow truck incidents and replacing cracked and broken sections, we finally finished the project. It really wasn't that bad. On the front end, we negotiated some additional compensation for the extra time the deliveries were going to take and actually made some decent money on the project.

We talked the contractor into letting us service the project after the early morning rush times and it worked well for all parties involved. We are in negotiations for two more projects in the area, and I am still giving some thoughts to the derby. Let me know what you think.

By the way, I had some fun myself with the project. On the day they were punching the job out, I rode my Harley through the whole development and “inspected” the finished product. Don't you just love this job?

jimambrose@aol.com