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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

2012 Glassner Club Century

The Montgomery Bike Club presents it's annual century ride in the Fall. It's quite an undertaking to orchestrate and the folks who manage it usually do so for several years before being ready to hand it off to someone else. When I first joined the club in 2004, Bilee and Patty were the honchos, then it was Michelle and Gary and then it was no one. Last year no one was willing or able to step up and oversee, so there was no ride. This year, Robert and Bonnie volunteered and did a very commendable job of coordinating all the behind the scenes work as well as moving into new areas of publicity. Robert was on local TV in his club jersey, and interviewed on local radio as well.

The date had to be moved because of calendar conflicts Bonnie had so we fell on the same weekend as both the prestigious 6 Gap Century in Dahlonega GA and the Johnny Ray Century in Opelika Al. Next year, our ride will not conflict with those, or any other local outings that I am aware of. Our traditional date had been Labor Day weekend, but moving it later in the month sure made for nicer (cooler) temps. Almost 200 registered to ride and slightly less came out and did it. I think 188 was the tally. I forget.  Our former event chiefs all pitched in and lent a hand. Both with advice and actual physical labor. Many new volunteers stepped up to help as well. Our Prattville Area Cycling Enthusiasts manned a rest stop 37 miles into the course, just after the stiffest climb on the course. Naturally our theme was a red polka dot "King of The Mountains" motif.

Rae, Max, Robert and Alex helped me set up, serve, and take down. The local CB radio club also was there and pitched in.  Our shift was 9:00 - 1:00 but we got there about 7:00 to grab some breakfast with the riders, get our stuff and head out to the rest stop. By about 12:30, they told us all riders were through so we knocked it down, and went over to see if the last rest stop needed any help. Michelle and Phillip had a drug test theme going and BEER. (For workers, not riders) Maybe next year we'll do croissants... They also had this refugee from some ride in France: (The guy with the red horns)

Good ride, good day and fun to volunteer. Hopefully word will get out and bring more pedalers our way in 2013.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bike To The Battlefield

A year or two ago, the AL and MS chapters of the National MS Society merged and we Alabamians had the annual Mississippi ride added to our list of options. I've been to both AL venues multiple times so I decided to "go west young man" and drive over to Jackson MS for this one. They call it "Bike To The Battlefield" but the only cannons I saw were gracing the front lawn of the Hampton Inn when we pedaled into Vicksburg on Saturday afternoon.  It's just 32 miles from our start at Baptist Health in Clinton (outside of Jackson) to the Hampton. If you take US 80 straight over. It's a hair shy of 80 miles if you find every washboard, rutted out and pavement gapped back road to either side. Which is what we did. :)

I left work after lunch on Friday and drove (4+ hrs) to Jackson without a problem. Who knew that your phone works like GPS? Not me, until a coworker showed me earlier in the day. Even plugged in to my dash though, it wears down the phone battery quickly. I also could not switch between a playlist, a phone call, and the GPS well. Bear in mind that I am just now getting the hang of a handsfree corded phone set. Forget Bluetooth for at least 5 years. I'd better just get a regular GPS and use it.

I went over to the early check in for the ride and picked up my packet. A little shy of the donation level for a free jersey this year, I'd kicked in the extra myself on Thursday. This would be my 10th year straight and I wanted the memento. The jersey is a nice design, and they gave me a 10th anniversary pin as well. I rode with it attached to the saddlebag over the weekend.  It was good to shake hands with some of the event staff I'd met before, and meet new ones. All of the staffers were great and this is certainly a good event to take part in. There was a Mexican place on the way back to my hotel and I stopped there for dinner. It was outstanding, with several veggie offerings.

It was cold and overcast on Saturday morning, and breezy. When I got up, I checked the local weather on my Kindle and saw 67 degrees. Bzzzzz. When you do not refresh the display.....  SO, it was like 53 and I was under dressed. I pulled a wind jacket on over the 2003 DOW team jersey from year 1 of my rides, and hoped it would get warmer. No worries, the first stiff climb got sweat going.

The ONLY guy I recognized from a prior ride ("Hey, I know you! We rode all day in the rain in Moorseville! he shouted at me) was going to ride "slow" so I offered to tootle along in the back together. That lasted a mile, and he was gone. Cyclists are notorious liars when they talk about how slow they're going to be, or how bad on the hills they are. I don't think it's intentional, but there you go. I was by myself for a while, then started to pass a number of riders on the hills. We'd leapfrog when they came by me on the flats. Maybe 10 or 15 miles out, a nice gal who was doing just that and I decided to sort of stay together. She had a brake problem and I was able to fix it, so we started to talk some. Her name is Jody and she works on an offshore oil rig. "I'm not a girlie girl" she said. I guess not in that line of work. I liked her and we yakked all the way to the end.  Here we are at a rest stop.

 I also met Al and Regina and one or two other folks. We had trouble staying together though. These folks are like 3-5 mph uphills and 17 on the flats while I am 8-10 uphill and 14 on the flats. Particularly THESE flats. The roads were VERY rough. Had I known this, I would have put 37mm tires on the bike instead of the 28s I came with. The bike was fine though. Everything worked despite being bounced around a lot. A steel frame and leather saddle absorbs much road buzz.

Rest stops were spaced pretty well and lunch came at about noon. The volunteers were super, and SAG was always around for those who needed it. I  saw several bikes drop out from broken spokes and other maladies along the way. It got a little warmer during the day and the jacket finally came off for the last 20 miles or so. I had a wool base tee on and it was enough. The back roads between Jackson and Vicksburg were not too pretty, and there was plenty of climb. The hardest was a mile section at about 10% grade. Over rough roads. Vicksburg was much prettier with large antebellum homes and pretty fields. We ended the day on a looongggg 4% climb and were happy to see the hotel when we pulled in at 3:30. Great room,  HOT SHOWERS!!, nice place and we were fed a filling pasta dinner. OUTSIDE in the cold. Brrrrrrr. Obviously planned before the weather turned, and shortened so we didn't need to stay out overlong.  Going to sleep was not difficult.

I was up early Sunday and enjoyed the usual coffee ritual. CAREFULLY eyeballing the actual weather conditions, I wore a long sleeve wool baselayer and tights along with thick wool socks and full finger wool  gloves. None of it came off while riding. Not a stitch. It was colder and windier on Sunday than the day prior. Good news: delightful roads. Bad news: tougher headwinds most of the day. I looked for Jody at breakfast and didn't see her. Obviously she had enough of dragging along in the back with me. Some tall skinny whippet looking dude shared a toaster with me, and later they told me, "Hey, he's from Montgomery too."  We never did actually meet, but his name is Craig. I sat alone with my bagel and apple butter, when a gal asked if the next seat was taken. Her name is Lenise and she's a full time nursing student from Hattiesburg. She has a lovely Trek Madone, but is a newish rider. The hills on Saturday were tough for her, but she finished. We rode together from the start and I noticed that she never used her small chainring (compact double) so following that suggestion and getting her cadence up from about 46 to 72, she seemed happier on the hills. Lenise was afraid she was slowing me down, but the social part of riding is what I love. Also, since I wasn't having to work hard, I was sitting up IN A HEADWIND and really enjoying looking around at deer, hawks, cows, whatever. Much prettier scenery on day 2 and more than 1/2 the day was spent on the Natchez Trace. I definitely would like to do more of that. Eventually, Lenice was walking up 2% grades and we parted company, as a SAG vehicle stayed with her and followed her all the way in. I would have waited at the end for her, had I not been facing the 4 1/2hr drive home. She was determined to finish and I am sure she did. She has gotten serious about diet and exercise and is enjoying the feeling of being able to do a lot more than before.

At the last rest stop, Robin Rae, ( our fearless leader, mentioned that SAG service was very popular. Many folks had enough of the headwinds on the Trace, or had mechanicals, or just had pedaled as many miles as they cared to. I pulled in to the finish at the same time as the day before, and was fresh and ready for more. No problem!

The MS Society will post pictures eventually and I'll link them here. (Jody & Lenise:  I didn't ride with a camera this trip.Since Sharon's June surgery (and then August 2d surgery) my riding has been a little less, so I was unsure how back to back long rides would go. They went fine and I'm pumped about doing more. Just at my relaxed pace, that's all. It's hard to believe that 10 years ago a very kind rider in Midland MI invited me on my 1st MS 150. "Ride 150 miles? You're nuts!" was my reply, or close to it. I emailed Ed this week to express my appreciation for that invite and to wish him and his family well. Ed sent back a note that he was excited that I'm still plugging away at it. There are many good causes out there, and none of us can work for all of them. But all of us can do something, and raise our children to understand that doing for others is a GOOD thing that also makes us feel good. Sharon and I have worked on Relay For Life and I do the MSBike. I thought 10 years might be all for me, time to find something new. But, ahhh, maybe not :)


 And finally this great shot of Jody expressing our common feeling about finishing the ride and working to finish the fight against MS.

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