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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

To The Dog House

I think I may be in the dog house for a while with Steve & Tom. I suckered, err, invited them both on today's ramble from East Montgomery through Tuskegee, up to Notasulga, and back via some rural Macon County Podunk towns with the promise of low traffic roads and generally good scenery. "No dirt roads, right?" asked Steve. "Nope" I replied. I last rode this route in July of 2010, and FORGOT that yes, there is an awful section in the middle of CR 56 where it goes from paved to dirt and back to paved again. The road was washboard rough and wore us out just trying to maintain a grip on the bikes. I had it easier on a steel frame and with 36 mm tires at only 65 psi. They were on skinny tire Crabon racer bikes and I'm sure felt it more severely. Neither is talking to me at this point, despite my abject apology for the lapse in memory.

And that was just the first section of dirt. CR 9 runs out of pavement too. We never rode it last year because one of the riders needed to divert to a store and get cooled down and re hydrated. We cut south before we reached that point. I will say the 2d road was mostly a lot smoother than the 1st, but they still weren't talking much to me.

But there was so much more to this ride than even all that!

In addition to the afore named, Frank and Max came out for the ride. I was first there, and used the time to recon up Barganier Rd, which MapMyRide said we could use on the way back from US 80. WRONG. It's a private road for about 1/2 its length, so I knew we would have to take CR 9 back in (the paved portion of it). We pulled out on time. No signs of rain, so I left the rain gear in the car. Turns out, it was never needed, although in the heat of the later portion of the ride, a rain would have been a good thing. Tom has his Subaru running again, now WITH an oil filter. Thursday saw him carting the TREK around in the back of a Chevy and he said the OutBack had died. Glad it was only a loosely applied filter wrench by some un named mechanic. I've done that with a drain bolt before, so I know how it feels.

While we were getting our stuff together, a group of unfamiliar riders pulled in to the John Hall Store parking lot. I walked over to say hello, and Chad introduced himself, as well as Sara and John and a few others. They all ride out of Montgomery Multi Sports and I know them on but have never met them. It was a pleasure. Sleek and fast, they are largely tri-athletes and not a crowd I could hang on the pace-line with. Chad asked if food was involved in our ride today. Of course Chad :). Less speed, but lots of climbing too.

After we left the parking lot and headed up towards US 80 by CR 9, we met oncoming riders from the bike club. Dan, Bill, Frank, David Richard and some others all flew by at speed, but we shouted out greetings, and it was great to see them all.

We made it to Tuskegee in good order and at a quick pace. Despite being on the Saluki, the slowest riding off my bikes, I was able to hang on to the pace-line. Not fast enough to pull it, but I stayed with them. They were running 18 - 20 avg, which is way above my 14 - 16 flat terrain pace. (Generally a 13 - 15 overall avg for me). Max, who had not ridden all week, nonchalantly cruised along at 20 - 22.

I had a plain biscuit with Jam and OJ at the golden arches and after breakfast, we shoved off.

Leaving Tuskegee, I realized I needed to back off the pace and slow down. I continued along at about 16 and keep Frank's Dinotte tail light in sight. Max pulled over at I-85 and waited under the overpass for me and we rode more or less together for a while. It was lovely calm 71 F  when we started but warmed fairly quickly, and while a breeze came up, it was never a problem. By the time we reached our signature attraction for the ride, The Dog House, in Notasulga, the Sun was hot! We pulled in the parking lot only to find that they were not yet open. Workers were there however, and the owner said he could grill hamburgers and dispense ice cream and sodas. Everyone was able to get something and Tom pronounced the hamburgers as "good." tasting like "Friday night football game concession stand food."

We filled our water bottles/packs up and headed off through rural Macon County. It was along this stretch that we encountered the hardscrabble roads, along with an aggressive dachshund that ran out and nearly got under someone's wheel. Not too long after the awful section of CR 56, Frank's drive train locked up as he began up a steep grade. The chain was wedged in between two of his cogs. Max and I stopped with him and Max held the bike while Frank applied Herculean force to the stuck parts, eventually freeing them. His whole cassette was actually loose. The lock ring had spun off the free hub and was loose. Naturally, this allowed the cogs to migrate and open up a space for the chain to fall in. Frank put it back on hand tight and then was able to secure it using the folding electrician's pliers in his tool kit. Next time Frank, carry one of these, will ya? (or, a Stein tool works too. Franks says he has one of these, in fact).

Frank asked me if I would venture a guess as to how his cassette lock ring shook loose. "Insufficient torque when you built the wheel?" I asked, with a straight face.

While we were roadside, admiring Frank's field expedient fix with a Leatherman, a dented and faded pick up truck of unknown vintage stopped to ask about our situation. Two guys and a gal between them. After we told them we had things under control, they said we'd probably be okay, but watch out for "the n****rs."  I could NOT believe my ears. Strains of 'Dueling Banjos" ran through my mind. I have not encountered such overt prejudice in more years than I can recall, and it was very unsettling to see it again. People like that present the greater danger, I suspect. 

Not long after the repair was completed and we got under way again, my left leg locked up from thigh cramps. Steve graciously hung back with me a minute, and I pulled off and consumed a Power Bar electrolyte gel, washing it down with some Propel. The relief was instantaneous. I was able to remount and ride normally for almost another 20 miles. As it happens, after that, cramps came back and I was out of gel. So I drank all I could and geared down to an easy spin for the final few miles of the ride. That and the dirt sections played havoc with average speed, but it was fine for me anyway, overall. And quite the riding adventure.

We used the Gamins to map out an alternate course when we ran into the 2d run of dirt roads. That worked out okay and the mileage ended up being just a little over plan. 71 instead of 68.

And, in the divine Providence department. When I got home and took the bike out of the car, the front tire was so flat it was coming off the rim. 71 rough miles today and no problems. I picked up something in the parking lot that totally flatted me. If you are going to flat, in the back of your car sure beats out with the hillbillies who pick their teeth with a case knife.

It was a good ride other than the rough dirt sections, and I believe that Tom and Steve will someday ride with me again. Maybe with fatter tires though. I had plenty of energy, and am liking how the vegetable diet works on long duration exercise. I drank my usual 1 1/2 oz per mile, but need to up that if I am going to try to ride faster as I did for a portion of today's outing. I've dropped 1/2 lb a couple days in a row now and am enjoying the new way of eating pretty well. I appreciate Sharon's help with all of this.

If you rode today, hope you enjoyed it.



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