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

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Autaugaville Loop

Max mentioned last week that it has been a while since we rode the western portion of our county, or words to that effect, so today we revisited a lovely route that we see all too infrequently, mostly because the start/finish point is a little out of the way. I've done this ride at least annually since first mapping in in 2007 (based on Mike Munk's Bamacyclist web page directions).

Usually I am by myself. One year, Bill R came along, another year, Roger B rode with me, but only to the 1/2 way point. From there he took a more direct route back. Imagine my surprise then when 8 other riders showed up today to do the ride! Frank, Joe, Tom, Steve, Chris, Gabriel, Russ, and Max all opted in for the outing.Max was not quite ready when I came by to get him, so we ran just a few minutes late to the start point, a BP station. We ran even later as I was 4th in line at the single hole bathroom, and had to wait for 3 old men to get themselves, err, ready. You might ask, why I was in that line, and yes, I'm an old slow guy too. The group gathered, and you can see Frank already has his fists held high like Rocky on the steps in Philadelphia.

Left to right, the others are: Tom, Chris, Russ, Gabriel, and Joe

I stayed with the group for just a little bit. I pulled for most of the first few miles, which helped :). I was doing 16 - 17, and Russ pulled up alongside and asked if this was "the pace." I said yes, and he pulled in front of me to take a turn at the pull. Of course, within 300 yds, he was cranking 20 mph, and I pulled out of the line and dropped off the back, allowing Max to close up the gap. Everyone was quite happy to trundle along at a quicker step. For me, the ride is better if I don't get too tired early on, and I just stayed at the same 16 - 17 pace all the way up the steady 1% grade to Independence. Thanks to the bright Dinotte tail light on Frank's Bilenky, I could keep the peloton in sight most of the time. The same thing happened after the store stop. Here, in time lapse photography is how the 1st 1/2 mile went:

Actually, I wasn't ALWAYS the last rider. Most rides are like that, with riders slowing to rest and then speeding up when hey have legs again, so all of us moved around in the ride order at various times. Generally though, some riders like Steve & Tom ('Hammer Time") and now Chris & Russ were up front, with Max and Frank more in the center and Joe and I more toward the back. But, like I said, it varies during the ride. And no one really cares, either.

Gabriel was with us for the 1st time, and expressed pleasure at the route, if not the roasting heat and drenching humidity. It really was hot today, and adequate hydration and electrolytes for cramp prevention were a must. Gabe hasn't found his rhythm with us yet, but he will. He certainly fit right in with us. Lugged steel frame too. The 1st Peter Mooney I've seen and it was a clean looking layout. ( Speaking of lugged rides, Joe was astride his Sam Hillborne and I on Louise, the Rambouillet (both from Rivendell Frank's bike was welded steel, and the other guys were on aluminum or carbon.

Everyone made it to the Statesville Store, which was our only scheduled stop with available water and food resupply. Leaving there, we navigated the flat-lands long the long lazy bend in the Alabama River, turning back on the hilly CR 15 and then the even hillier CR 9, which features the toughest climb of the ride, in my estimation. I mentioned to the others that it was a "nice little pitch" and was being tongue in cheek. I hope no one took me too seriously and then was surprised by a long 9% - 10% climb!

After we cleared that hilly section, it was fairly level, but very coarse chip seal all the way to AL 14. Gabriel was feeling the "burn" as in Sun and heat along with the hills and, here's news: Fishhook was roadside removing his rear wheel to fix a flat tire. Shades of Thursday night in Prattville and a couple of other rides we'd been on. He's certainly been racking up the miles, but it still seems like too many flats. I'd change tires, check the air pressure, check my rims, SOMETHING. His tread was showing strands of fiber so that tire was toast. Joe & I told him to boot it with a dollar bill. Joe stayed with him, while I went on ahead to the stop sign at AL 14 to alert the others. All the good bike parking there was already taken, so they made me rest Louise under this:

Ha ha. Very cute fellas. Fortunately, all the hornets were at an away game today and none bothered me or the bike. While we waited, a local in a pick up came past, tail gate down and truck bed low to the ground from the heavy load of fence posts and lumber in back. He asked if we were okay and we said we were, and just waiting for a friend to fix a flat. Not long after, he drove back by, with Chris's bike in the back with the lumber, and Chris in the passenger seat. Very nice of this kind stranger to help us out!

At this point, Gabriel had started to feel cramps and opted to take Al 14 directly back, cutting about 10 miles off the ride, and most of the remaining hills. Not all though. The rest of us went back on the route and navigated the rollers north of the main road in pretty steady fashion. Frank lagged a little on the hills and we waited for him in what sparse shade we could find at the corner of CRs 9 and 45. When asked how he was, he replied that he has been better. It was getting VERY hot, and baking in the sun while trying to help Chris may have dampened his drive for the day. It would mine, I know. Just a little way further and Max, who was about out of water, stopped at a hole in the wall church from a denomination we were not familiar with. Some sort of holiness church. Max tried to get a hose spigot going, but to no avail. Just as we were about to give up and head on, some people came out of the church and greeted us warmly. Frank asked if they had any water we could get and they went and brought us out a bottle each of COLD water! Talk about your basic Divine Providence for sure!

Not long after we left there, I took a swing from my hydration pack and discovered it was empty! Good thing we got some water. The rest of the way back was uneventful. Mostly downhill from there and when we hit the BP station, Tom, Russ, and Steve were relaxing and reliving the points of interest on the day. We said our goodbyes and packed up, and headed home.

Despite, heat and Sun, humidity and hills, a bit of headwind, and coarse roads, this goes down as a good ride. 53.31 miles, 2,432' of climb, and 14.6 mph avg pace. Russ and the other quicker riders averaged in the 17s.

Couple of away rides the next two weeks. The Marble City Metric next Saturday in Sylacauga, AL and then the initial EVER Alabama Randonneurs Populaire. Yes, Alabama and Randonneur now both can be used in the same sentance. Who'd a thunk it? Which bike will I take? What wool will I wear? Where are all my savvy Oregon biking pals when I need them for advice?

Whatever rides you do, whenever you do them, Tailwinds!



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