It's been a few years since I've been on a rail trail. Two years ago, I rode the Tammany Trace with Sharon's cousins Becky & Vince. The year before that, I rode the Pinellas and Suncoast Trails with Irene and some by myself. I did most of the Chief Ladiga in 2004, when hurricane activity forced the MS150 to relcoate northward from its Gulf beaches venue to Anniston, so I was glad to have a reason to ride it again 7 years later. Riding buddy and FB pal, Dave had set this ride up a long time ago and a number of his friends responded to it. One, Kym, I had exchanged emails with and waved to on the road, (she runs, I ride) but never actually met. Another, Russ, turned out to live ON MY STREET and I never knew this. He-llo! Craig and Carrie who also came were friends of Dave who I never met,although it turns out we have a number of shared friends, and rounding out the field was Dave's wife, who I also had never met. Here is the gang at the start, just north of Anniston.
It was sunny, but cool when we started and very windy. Blowing from the viewer's right to left in this picture. We had some severe weather the day prior, caused by the cold front. I wore all wool, myself, and was happy to have arm warmers on. I was pleased that I got to spend some time with everyone during the day, except Dave, oddly enough. We never rode together, while I was with each of the others for enough time at some point to get to know them a little. Being a social rider, that was the best part of the trip! The trail is what you see here, although not all in such smooth shape, and not on the campus of Jacksonville State, where it runs on the SIDEWALK, believe it or not. Given the winds, I decided to ride up to Piedmont and head back down. At Piedmont, the trail turns east to Georgia, and I didn't fancy coming back into the very stiff headwinds. As it was, we had plenty of exercise pulling into it. Craig, Russ, and Carrie all have aero bars, so I rode behind one or another at times, but mostly just tooled along at what was comfortable for the conditions or the conversations. We were not racing.
I thought about my son's friend, Brennan, who died from cancer last April and wore a wristband with her name on it. Our family is helping with the church Relay For Life team in Millbrook on the 29th of this month, so cancer is something getting a lot of think time from me these days. I rode in a charity event organized by Oncology Supply in Dothan just a weeks ago as well. here's the "We Love you Brennan" wristband:
With several hours of pedaling, there was enough "alone" time for this, as well as the chit chat and camaraderie with the others.
I got to explain why I do not pedal clipped in to Kym and Lisa, and Kym got to feel how merino is really NOT scratchy. (Psst, they make merino RUNNERS clothes too Kym. My riding (and also a runner pal Dove) has recently seen that light go on.) Kym also got to try drafting into the aforementioned wind. She did not dig into it with the exuberance of Danica Patrick at Indy, but she gave it a try. Kym btw did an excellent ride write up of her own. You can read it here: http://www.runkymklass.com/2011/04/40-miles-through-chief-ladiga.html
I really enjoyed meeting rock wall climbing-running-riding-steer roping-pretzel bending yoga limber Carrie. Here she is looking back as she rocketed by me at warp factor 3.
Here are Russ and Kym as well. Both seemed to enjoy their respective rides.
And you know, if I'm on a ride, there has to be food. Dave suggested BBQ and his Garmin said "Dad's" was close by. So we caravan-ed on in and had some good lunch. About 40 miles and only 13.4 mph avg. It was a relaxer ride, and very much appreciated. Hope we do it again sometime.