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

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nycthemeron in Mooresville!

Days 1 and 2 of this year's BikeMS ride, upstate edition, could hardly have been more different. Some things though, WERE the same. The generator used in the meal tent would cut out if both the lights and coffeemaker were on at the same time. Lights we can live without. See for yourself:

Breakfast Call! by you. No lights...

About 100 were pre registered for the ride, but stormy forecasts kept some of those away. We got 30 "dry" miles in. "Dry" because the prodigious humidity provided the moisture that drenched us before the 1st raindrop fell. That 1st drop was in the form of a brief sprinkle, and then we had another, and finally it rained for real. Real as in, flash flood warnings issued. Standing water on the road in low spots, etc. At about mile 32, I pulled into a side drive and donned my rain kit. Pants on sale at Performance and a jacket from Ebay. It was a good field test: how easily can you manage a task when you're tired and wet? The yellow helmet cover went on first, then the jacket and finally the pants. I cycled in open sandals with wool socks, so no need for shoes covers, as in cooler weather. The gear was very comfortable and it worked well. Once I had it on, it really was no problem riding in the heaviest rains. The visor of my cycling cap did a good job at shielding my eyes from the rain, although visibility was certainly limited. Water filled pot holes present dangerous potential booby traps as well. It's more work to pedal through water, but not awfully so. Certainly less trouble than a headwind. The 37 mm Panaracer Pasela tires were surefooted at all times. They make the bike more an all rounder style than a road bike. Gravel, dirt roads, grass, pavement. It's all good.

The rain went on for the rest of the ride. Now I know if I can swing all day in the saddle in rain. The volunters continued to crew the rest stops, for as long as there were riders out on the course. Some sagged back in, but many stayed out there. The ride really was a good one, until the end when there were no longer any road markings to go by. Seeing the ride organizer in a vehicle along the road, I asked for guidance and was pointed. As it turns out, the wrong way. After coming to a T intersection and no signage, I took shelter under a church entrance and cell phoned for help. The organizers realized the A) the rain washed away the most recent paint marks and B) they had sent me on Sunday's route. They came and got me since I was already over the mileage and had no idea where I was.

A good meal, a solid night of sleep and I was good to go for day 2. The weather was just perfect today, perhaps to make up for yesterday. Cooler and drier air, and visible road markings! The staff had pancakes going and we got off on time after breakfast. I rode to rest stop 2 basically by myself, but met the Alabama Power team there. We had pedaled together briefly on Day 1, but they were faster then me on flats, and I was faster in the hills. we separated in the hills, and I finished the day 1 ride pretty much alone. Anyway, today everyone made an efort to keep pace with each other and it worked well all around. I pulled some and followed some. But we were together to he end. This group missed a turn yesterday and was 5 miles shy of the total so they wanted to get that 5 back today. I tagged along so I had some bonus miles too.

Once again, the volunteers were much appreciated and there was enough to eat and drink at each stop. SAG support was good on both days. We talked while we pedaled, and I count that crew (Nancy, Jim, Chuck, and Phillip) as new found friends. Chuck and Nancy are the #1 and #4 statewide "top bananas" respectively. Nancy, in addition to fund raising for MS, fights it herself. It makes her cycling more of a challenge, but she manages. Here's a pic at the 25 mile stop today:

Cycling Chic by you.

When the MS chapter uploads the event pics, I'll add some group shots of us and whatever of interest they may have.

We saw many snakes, driven up from low land by the rising waters. Most of the scenery was farmland. My cotton field pictures were blurry, but here is a typical view of a back country road we traveled today.

On the way from Greenbriar by you.

That's Phillip following me down a hill, the other three are just cresting it. They tore it up on the flats though.  We passed on the offer of a free kitten at the last rest stop today, but here's a little guy who seemed to warm right up to me:
Rest Stop Guard Dog by you.

So, 155 miles, 14.63 mph avg, 2,900' of climb.  It was a fine weekend, night and day. 

Update:  Some more pictures from various sources.

Here the gang heads out on the great adventure:

The pack heads out on day 1 by you.

A closer view of the Amici Veloci jersey:

Starting off on the Bike MS! by you.

Here's a view of my rain kit:

Packing for the weather by you.

Pedaling happily before the rain:

HIghway overpass Day1 by you.

It's looking wetter

Looks like rain  day 1 by you.

Day 2 dawned nice and dry, and featured pancakes:

Pancakes Day 2 by you.

Not only were some riders competitive, some rest stops were too. This one is a 'house divided" for sure:

Rest Stop Harmony day 2 by you.

3 of my new friends, Ned (77 and rides great) Nancy and Charley. They invited my join the APSO team next year.

Ned, Nacy, Charley by you.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nut Roll! Updated with pictures

Well, I finally made it over to Albany Ga for the Pecan City Pedalers Nut Roll. This ride benefits a local park, and that is also the start finish point. Google told me to plan on 3 hr and 39 mins door to door, and check in time was 6 AM (AL time). I decided to drive over yesterday and stay the night. That worked out well. The Best Western is right off US 82 in Albany, the park is also close to US 82, and US 82 runs through Prattville. An alternate route was suggested to me at lunch on Friday, namely taking I-85 to Columbus and then coming south on rte 280. I went for US 82 though, because I happen to like seeing what bits of Americana are still along the blue highways. This route did not disappoint. There were plenty of little places to look at and make mental notes to stop and see when I had more time. Back woods roads and all, and I was still at my destination in 3 hrs on the nose. If you've been in a car with me, you know I do not drive fast. Just like my biking!

Up early today and over to the venue. Jim Anne (the ride Grand Pooh Bah) greeted me warmly. It was good to see the Pecan City ladies again. We all rode together in Dothan in 2007. She announced that 299 riders came out today, and we got underway at the appointed hour. With a weather forecast of rain and afternoon T-Storms, I mounted the "duffel bag" (as Brooks G. refers to it) under the saddle with a newly obtained full rain kit in it. Since it is so roomy, a Swiss army knife, a bike tool set, toilet tissue, a tube of Nuun electrolyte tablets, some Propel mix,  and spare parts all went in too. With all of that preparation, you might guess that nary a drop of rain fell, and no mechanical issues arose.

The course was very nice. Pretty rolling countryside with low hills, mainly in the center portion of the route. (I did the 64 mile option) They staff had people posted at just about every turn, just to make sure you didn't miss something and find yourself in Savannah. The maps were very good and had excellent turn by turn directions. Mileages listed were accurate. Rest stops had a great selection of items. The peanut butter (fudge?) and cornflake squares were particularly excellent. Pecans and peanuts were abundant. No themes like our own rest stops, but friendly service and they were spaced out pretty well.

I found a group to ride with to start, but they were so sporadic in pace, that I pulled ahead of them to find a better match to my speed. On the way to Rest Stop 1, I probably tagged along with 3 different groups. I stayed only a few minutes there, just long enough to eat, and pulled out again. Rest Stop 2 was a 10 minute stay. Eat, drink and refill the water bottles. The cool calm day had gotten warmer and windier. I finally found a good group after leaving Rest Stop 2, but as we pedaled on, they kept going faster. My "This is great" at 16 mph became "How long can I hang in there?" at 20 mph. Finally, we made a left turn INTO a brisk headwind and it was MY turn to pull. I pulled for 2 miles but then I was whipped. I dropped completely off and just spun the cranks a while in a lower gear. It was a good 10 minutes before I could get back to my avg, and of course, it was all into the wind now. Which was very brisk.  I began to cramp too. First it was the left foot. Then the right foot. Then the right inside thigh, then the left. Then the calves. Each time, I would spin easily and focus on stretching and relaxing the muscle doing the protesting, while drinking fluids. I lingered a little longer at Rest Stop 3: 20 minutes. Stretching, drinking and eating enough fuel. The pull out from Rest Stop 3 was another 6 miles or so intothat same wind, but I was rested and handled it okay. Then we turned and had a side wind for a while and finally a tail wind. Ahhh!

Back at the pavilion, T-shirt goody bags awaited and a great post ride BBQ lunch. While I eat carbs some on the ride, it was back to Atkins at lunch. Finally, it was time to head home. With the ride in and out of the park, I clocked 65 miles +/-. Time was 4:19. That's spiffier than I usually do, AND I was hauling around luggage too. I was pleased with the result.

I met one other Montgomery area rider there. Willie Pitts. We traded names last week at the Glassner, but we have been on the same rides around the state for a couple of years.WIllie was at Marion this spring, fo example. I asked to come out for a club ride. You'll recognize him on a red Cannondale Saeco team replica bike and wearing the Saeco kit. Say hi if you see him. He's young and quick, and not about to join me on a club lite ride anytime soon.

Pictures as soon as they are available will show up here. Update: Don at Southern Light Pictures has already put the pictures up!
First up is the only example of a wool jersey and shorts on the ride. The cap logo may be somewhat familiar to certain readers.

Next up is a view of the duffel bag containing all the rain gear which turned out to be superfluous. Likewise the saddle cover.

Jim Anne, the Albany bike club president, can ride fast and far. Here she gets the rest of us underway.

I guess this just isn't a pace line kind of bike.... Great KOP though

Fellow Montgomery-ite Willie in his fancy new Saeco get up.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Rearview Mirror

It occurs to me that while we never see ourselves from behind, that is how others often do. In all the Glassner pictures of prior years that Gary has on his website, my only pictures are from the back side. Most of them from this year's ride are the same way. It was this picture from behind taken by Mike on a club ride in June that pushed me back into Atkins mode:


I liked the one in the prior entry a lot better, taken two weeks ago on the club workers ride.  Here are a couple from Glassners. These are both at Le Tour de Rest STop, which was Rest Stop #1 in 2006 - 8 on right, and Rest Stop #2 this year.


I'll be riding tomorrow over in Albany GA (Pecan City Nut Roll). If anyone takes a picture from the back, I'll update this post with it later. Btw, thanks to Patty for noticing at the ride check in table that I'm now smaller than I was.

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