Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Go Dog, Go!

P.D. Eastman had it right when he showed how much of life there is to get out and enjoy, if you'll just get out and do it. I hadn't ridden a metric century distance in 7 months. Not since the MS 150 (74 and 79 miles on successive days) in September last year. I wasn't sure if I was up to it. Miles this year are way behind last year. For one thing, we finally have been getting rain. Good for grass and flowers, bad for riders. We rode the Old Howard 100 (I did the 45 mile option) in rain last Saturday, and I was reminded why I opt out of rainy day rides when I can. Some buddies were doing the Metric today and then John posted it on his FaceBook, so I figured, oh, what the heck? I can always cell phone for a bail out if needed, or catch a SAG wagon.

Unlike last year, when only 50 turned out for the Tour Autauga, there were over 80 today. Bill and Sharon Duke put the whole thing on themselves, with some help from their church friends, but mostly by themselves. The proceeds support the Livestrong Cancer care/research effort. This is the 4th year, and they have stuck with it despite the relatively small numbers of riders. It's a fine, challenging route and a shame that more do not come to do it.

It was so nice to see many familiar faces in the pre ride parking lot and catch up on the news. I did not know that Darren had crashed not long ago and broken his shoulder. He still rides like the wind, but he says he is just taking it "easy." Frank was resplendent on "Col. Mustard," a custom Bilenky randonneur bike in guess what color? Tim cruised up from Montgomery on his Windsor steel tourer, rode the 100 mile route all en route to a double metric. WHERE do these guys get the energy? My riding buddy Bill sported Arglye on the jersey, counterpoint to the argyle on my socks. Paul told me he's seen prettier legs than mine on a coffee table. I hardly recognized him without his twin brother, Jim. ("Twins" like Devito and Schwarzenegger, I mean)

Joe and Mike were hemming and hawing over 100 miles or 100 Km, going in the end for miles. They will do fine. Mike put on his compact crank and was surprised at how great it is for climbing. D'oh! He noted that he likes ISIS splined axles over the square tapered on the compact. "Mike, Greg Lemond won 3 TdFs on steel bikes with sqaure tapered axles. I bet he could beat any of us today no matter what we might be riding."  I'll have to get Mike's after action report to se how he liked it. I'm guessing he did.

Just as we were about to leave, Bill and Joe asked me to hold their bikes. Natch. I told them to go lean them up against a handy car, and pointed one out, close to the men's room, in fact.

John and I rode together all day today. I really enjoy his company and we ride at similar speeds. The route has about 4 hard climbs on each 1/2 although the steepest climb only occurs once. Some of the other hills, we see coming and going. The 1st 1/3 of the ride was in cool air, calm breezes and lovely light. Birds were singing, yada, yada, yada. After the monster up at the "Alpe de Autauga" (so noted in paint in the road) we had a bunch of flat to gently rolling miles. The 1st rest stop, in Independence, AL  was 21 miles out and we refueled there. The Click-stand (  Scan the customer bike pictures  closely and see if any look familiar to you.) on my bike was a big hit. We also met up with Karen and Debra, who I see at almost every organized ride I do in AL. Usually from far back behind them. We ended up riding together for a while and that was nice. They hail from points south of here and invited us to some of their rides. I asked for an email reminder. Debra was pretty on pink. Pink Orbea that is. Way cool looking bike. If John was more secure in his manhood and wasn't put off by a pink bike, he might have tried to abscond with it, it was so pretty.

After the 1st rest stop, we had 20 miles of HILLS. Nice ride through Evergreen and back to Independence, except for the miserable big and steep hills in the 5 miles before the stop. We caught up with James from Muscle Shoals in his Shoals Cycling jersey as he was having a quick snack in some shade after scaling a mountain. James rode the rest of the way with us and was pleasant company. He's down here often with in-laws in Billingsly, so maybe we'll see him on a club ride.

At the mid way point of the ride, when it was starting to get warm, and my legs were getting tried from hills, John, who was leading me by 25 yards or so around a turn let out a laugh. "Be sure you look at the road as we go by," he said.

Race organizer Bill knows I would probably be the LAST rider on the metric course, and offered this very much appreciated bit of encouragement. This is not the 1st time he's done this either. What a nice thing to do too. Yes Bill, like the dog in the book, I got going! Btw, my lagging the field has nothing to do with wool clothes or a steel framed bike. The engine is just slow, no matter what vehicle type it's pushing. But I enjoyed almost every pedal crank, wafting scent of jasmine, or unseen critter crashing around in the woods. It was all out there to enjoy.

We decided to make our own Rest Stop #3 at the C-Store in Autaugaville. Karen and Debra were liking the idea of indoor plumbing, and John asked me, "Hey Bruce, will you hold my bike for me?" Yeah, right. The COLD bottle of Power Options was just the thing and after everyone bought or used what they needed, we headed on out. There was one more BIG hill and we caught up with some riders from Cahaba who started to run out of gas in the blazing heat and high hills. Hey, a rest in the shade is ALWAYS a good idea. Pride has no place when safety is concerned. As the mercury neared 90, heat exhaustion could be an issue for people and a rest to get cooled down and hydrated is the way to be safe.

I cramped up from knee to knee (up and across sort of thing) about 10 miles out, but just drank all I could, and took the last hills in very low gears so I wouldn't have to strain against the pedals too hard. I wobbled a little off the road on to the grass at one point and figured, "At least this is soft if I need it" but then I saw the ant hills. In the words of Sammy, I decided to "Man up Dude!" and pedal UP the hill and then things were okay the rest of the ride. No trouble at all on the flats. The headwinds coming back in were irritating but not awful. John was in front often, but even when I was leading, it was manageable. Once the fluids kicked in, all was well. I wasn't thirsty at all, but I was low on liquid never the less.

Pizza and Tee shirts were there for us at the end. My cyclometer was on the fritz, and John says he logged 66 miles. The ride sheet says 62+. I trust John, you know what I mean?  BLUE tees this year, look sharp. They still have the self portrait of Bill Duke on the front though. His wife would look nicer there. Hey Bill, can you get that fixed for next year?  14 mph avg. my USUAL. And I survived. Now that I know I can do the distance okay, it's time to Go Dog, Go!


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