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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tuskegee - Notasulga

Instead of a Saturday ride last week, The H's piled into the land schooner and drove 2 1/2 hrs to the closest IKEA store, which happens to be in clogged, congested, downtown Atlanta, GA. It was an all day affair, and I felt like we were travelers stranded without correct papers at some foreign airport, desperately trying to get our luggage and get home. The merchandise was all very thoughtfully designed and priced right. The utter lack of help available or detailed information on what you need to actually buy/build it much less so. If you've never been to this place, imagine a triple decker Home Depot dedicated to furniture and accessories, and almost entirely set up as a do-it-yourself scenario. Anyway, the day was fully used in securing what we needed for a cabinet project in the laundry room, and wrestling all 32 packages into the car, and then into our garage to await installation. Right next to the still carton-ed dryer.

The intervening week saw a 6:00 AM ride on Sunday morning with friend Bob and his friend Curt. Just 16 miles in 55 minutes and back home to clean up in time for church. No after work hill drill riding this week, due to volunteer shifts at our church Vacation Bible School. I did get to LOOK at two of my bikes though. They were used as motif decoration ("Race to the Finish") and I wore TdF themed stuff all week as well. No one got the hints..

Back out on the roads again yesterday. After our recent jaunts to Selma (westward) and Clanton (northward), we pedaled eastward to Tuskegee. None of our foursome had biked there before, but we left east Montgomery at 6:00 am to a lovely, if drenchingly humid sunrise. Here's Frank pulling us out. Imagine scrambling along behind a FedEx truck and you get the idea.

He's on a Surly LHT today. He decided on that bike, when I asked in my ride announcement email, "Does anyone know if all of these roads are PAVED?"  They weren't btw. Here's a view of his cockpit. Bonus points if you can ID the handlebars he's rocking.

Here are Mike (Cervelo) and Roxy (Trek)

We rode out on some back roads leading to US 80, which was a smooth ride with gentle grades, opening up to 4 lanes in the approach to Tuskegee. We arrived in time to grab breakfast, but our dining venue selection was limited. We went with reliable, and indulged Roxy's addiction to Frappes as well.

After our meal stop at mile 26, we headed north to Notasulga. Not a single place to eat there (other than a C-store) but a cute little downtown with a crazy junk shop. Some of the stuff looks pretty interesting in fact. Like the Beater Bike in this pic.

We re-filled water bottles and emptied bladders at the C-Store, and while there, a detachment of Auburn Flyers rode up. I'd seen a couple of them on charity rides over the years, and we exchanged greetings. Generally, a stylish group with club or manufacturer kits on and high end carbon rides. They were out of Auburn for a high speed morning 50 mi. Several admired the Rivendell which was kind of cool. One guy shouted out, "Richard Sachs had NOTHING to do with Rivendell!" when I mentioned that he had designed the lugs on my Waterford built 1st year bike. It seems this guy once raced on a Sachs and couldn't stand the thought of a "real" bike like Sachs being tied to the clunker I was on. I've seen this guy ride before. He's fast on the flats, but I can take him uphill. In my un-clipped sandals, on a 21 lb steel Rivendell. Like I told him, it's in the legs dude, not the bike.

Leaving Notasulga, we had to check the turn directions frequently. The way back as plotted went over a number of county roads I had never been on before. It was hillier as well, and after the first big climb (the one leading up to sign below), Mike started to have cramp problems in his legs. We adjusted the route to swing back south where it was flatter, but had to get through some miserable sections of road first. CR 56 coming into Franklin was atrocious. It may not have been re-paved since WW II. Parts were covered in rain washed-on clay and sand, parts looked like runway buster bombs had been accidentally dropped on it from the nearby old USAF training field (The famous "Tuskegee Airmen.") It was also, as this picture shows, in the middle of no where. Yes, this is the road, visible in the picture.

38 mm Pari-Motos handled the surface just fine, but Mike lost a bounced out water bottle, then lost control of the thin tire Cervelo and pitched into the dirt along the side of the road. My body was jarred some too, via the handlebars, although the hammock-y Selle Anatomica saddle, steel frame, and fat tires all helped absorb a lot of it elsewhere.

One feature of taking back roads is that you come across all kinds of attractions you might other wise miss. Like this one, advertised with a sign lettered by the Chik-Fil-A cows:

By mile 50, Mike was walking his bike up highway over passes. He was cooked for the day. Frank consulted his Garmin and we decided to go off route, mostly downhill to a gas station along I-85. We made it, and spent time there making sure that Mike was in the shade, getting refreshed, and calling the Mrs. for a lift back to his vehicle. The Sun was broilng by then, and he was looking pretty red, and not entirely making sense when he answered our questions. When he said he felt better and wanted to continue to ride, we talked him out of it. I've been there, and I know that you only feel better because you are OFF the bike. I assured Mike that he'd feel much better after a good night's rest. Roxy was especially sensitive to making sure that he was squared away before we went off. Mike is a pretty fast rider (we've been on many club rides together), but the humidity then heat and intense sun today caught him by surprise.

Since we were already back on the south side of the interstate, we chose to plot a course back to US 80 and retrace our morning steps. Clouds were forming and the wind picked up, a sure sign of T-Storms on the way. A little sprinkle to cool us off would be great, but lightning was not desired.  We did get a little bit of rain, a few drops only, and we rolled over some still wet pavement, but we stayed in the clear all the way back. On the way out, we had passed a farm that I only noticed once we were by it. Realizing we would see it again, I asked to stop and take a few pictures. I figured that we qualified.

We ended up with a little over 80 miles, including the gas station detour, although I turned my Garmin off when we went to assist Mike a time or two. Officially, 79.01 miles at 15 avg and 2,664/ of climb. My HR was only 132 avg, so I was pleased with how I felt fitness wise. The saddle and tires were really comfortable. The Selle is stretched all the way, and is like sitting on a comfy hammock. No bottom pains at all. I am very happy with the Pascenti tires which now have several hundred miles of use. I wore all wool today and it was basically okay. The Duo shorts are very good and I shrank the Ibex jersey in the laundry, as it is a size L and I am now a size S. Getting all sweaty stretched it back out however. If it won't stay small, it will go on ebay. It hangs down way too low in back, with anything in the pockets. I carry as little as possible, but you need somethings to be close at hand. A Nike Hydro sports towel in a baggie works well to handle sweat in my eyes and wipe off at rest stops. You just squeeze the fluid out of it and it cools you. Nike Hydro Towel
A new-to-me Rapha cap saw its first duty today. This is a tightly woven fine weave cotton fabric and it is hands down the best thing I've had under a helmet in the summer. Comfortable, handles my huge volume of perspiration and keeps its shape. It was in near new shape on Ebay. For about 1/2 of new $.

I'll still wear wool caps often, but these are really well made.

 No rides today: Session meeting this afternoon at church, and then back to the laundry room cabinets from Ikea which are now partially in progress, as Sharon has painted the room in advance of their installation. Here's my Assistant inside one. 

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