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

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"You got to know when to hold 'em..."

There's a little bit of The Gambler in all of us, isn't there? Our van full of prospective riders gambled that the weather service would be correct when only a 20% chance of rain was forecast for today in Marion, AL. I gambled on having a ride there in the 1st place, in fact. My travel plans have been up and down of late because of on again, off again business issues, and were complicated on Thursday night when my son broke his arm bone at jiu jitsu practice. With Sharon in FL for work, I had to be available should the need arise to deal with any broken arm fallout. It looked like I could make a Saturday getaway though, and good buddy Bill gave me his last space in his van. Good thing too, because others wanted a rideshare too.

We ignored Bill's Garmin but made it to Marion anyway. Sammy, Joe and I were along to try our hand (or feet, more accurately) at "The Old Howard 100." This was Sammy's 1st trip over, but the rest of us did the ride last year. I think we all did the 65 mile ride last year (which was actually closer to 70). This year that ride was upped to 75 and I didn't think my legs were ready for it yet. The other 3 rode the 75 as a pack and I cruised by my lonesome on the 45 mile route (new this year, I think) It was more like 46+ if I got the miles right. The rain played havoc with the cyclometer. OOPS! Spilled the beans. We lost our weather bet.

In fact, while standing in the parking lot, we noticed bulging blue clouds rolling in from the west. "You know why those clouds are blue?" I asked. Yeah, we knew.

There were a couple of Montgomery area riders to be seen, but fewer than last year by far. We were in the starting area and ready for the signal, when another rider asked Bill, "Will you hold my bike?" Apparently, this guy needed to take care of some ultra last minute business. "Uh, no. How about you lay your bike in the grass or lean it on the building?" The ride was about to start! Truly, not everyone is on the same wavelength. Anyway, it gave us much ammunition for the day. Bill was regularly being asked to hold anything and everything you can imagine. 

The 1st droplets began to fall while we were leaving the staging area at 9 AM. It rained on and off until about 1 in the afternoon. In 10 minutes the roads were wet, and slippery. You also didn't want to get too close to the rider in front of you, for safety's sake in braking, and to avoid the rooster tails of water being kicked up. Why did I NOT bring the fendered bike today?  I rode the Rivendell Road for the first time on an organized outing and with its 32 mm tires, it was very comfy. Bill took his Surly Pacer with Rivendellish 28 mm tires and Brooks saddle. Sammy rode his Colnago go fast bike and Joe was on his regular ride, a custom Seven Axiom.

About 13 miles out, I passed the scene of a bad fall. A woman caught a pothole with her front wheel and lost control, falling hard. I heard later that she suffered a compound fracture of a hand, abrasions, a concussion, and she appeared to be in shock. A subsequent report from a ride organizer said that the rider was at a local hospital with her husband and being attended to. Another rider also spilled and had a lesser injury. We saw her later in the parking lot with her arm in a sling.

Several people had flat tires. A loud explosion in the parking lot signified the 1st one of the day, and I passed several others along the way. There was SAG support, but it was pretty minimal. The folks I saw were all going at fixing the flats and needed no help.

The rest stops were pretty well spaced and staffed by friendly folks. The crew at the 45 mile mark was a riot. They were some retired folks cracking a steady stream of jokes while they grilled hot dogs for us. I had TWO. The other stops were staffed by students who were uniformly nice and had the usual variety of ride stop food. I had 1/2s of PB&J each time.

I rode for a little while with an interesting guy who claimed to know me. He is in the USAF, and as a communications trained officer, now teaches Poly Sci at Maxwell. Hmmm. Must be a secret need-to-know-only basis for how that connection works. His bike was very stealthy though. Black frame, fenders and racks, and black panniers all around. He was wearing a complete dark blue rain suit and had a primo CKR Automotive car stereo system in the panniers. I think he said the amp was a 200 watt unit. He could either use all the circuitry to tune in on global military airwave action, or, as was the case today, rock out to Pat Benatar."Hit me with your best shot!"  Sub woofers behind and tweeters up front. If his rig had a windshield, it would be vibrating to the rythym.

Not everyone was on something fleet of foot, although some the kids at the college were able to average 15 mph on their rail trail bikes. No substitute for young legs, that's for sure. Many did only 30 miles though.

Here's a bike I really liked. She could call it "Rockwell."

She did the 30 mile route and then got to the really important stuff.  Notice the guy behind her. He was a go fast guy who maybe went too fast?  I like to finish a ride and not be dead tired, but I have been there and done that.

There may be a group on Flickr for Valve stem caps, but for now:

"I always feel like, some body's watchin' me, and I have no privacy.."

After the ride, we availed ourselves of the showers. Or tried to. As we entered the shower area in the gym, peeling off yucky wet smelly bike stuff as we went, a GAL pops out of the 1st shower stall and says, "Don't get naked yet guys." WHAT!?!  She thought she was in the GIRLS lcoker room. Since Judson College is an ALL-GIRL school, that is understandable. She adroitly grabbed her stuff and tiptoed down the hall to the female shower venue, and we went in.

So we're in the shower and Sammy calls out, "Hey Bill will hold my bike?" and then when Bill says, "Oh please cut me a break," "Hey Bill, will you hold my...?"

Then, "Does anyone know where Joe is?"  "Maybe he went with that gal to find the other showers?" "Hey Bill, hold our stuff while we go look for Joe in the girl's shower."

Actually, the question "Does anyone know where Joe is?" was heard a lot today. But he was usually AHEAD of everyone else and made the return trip home with us.

After the shower, which featured only cold water, and tiny cramped stalls, and the promise of some excitment, but not the reality of any excitement we headed over to have some lasagne in the dining hall. It was okay, but the ice cream for dessert was really good.

It was a long day. They picked me up at 6:15 and I got back home at 5:30. Fun times. No ride pics as the camera couldn't come out in the rain. The ride home was peppered with a rehash of the day, opinions on love, politics, bikes, cyclists, the business climate, learning French, and the sayings on church signs as we went by and read them. We learned that Bill will be dreaming that some blonde co-ed will be asking him, "Bill, will you hold my ponytail?" She was with the hundred mile riders and we saw her still cycling some miles out as we headed home.

Fun stuff all in all.  For me, 46.9 miles at 14.11 avg. About right and while I was exhausted when I got home, the bike is cleaned up, bike clothes washed and hung up and this report is now done.


No comments:

Blog Archive

The Pace Line