Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rose Pedal

Man, I was planning on heading down south for a Tour de Macon today, but yesterday's storms kind-of put the kibosh on that one. Time for Plan B. Unfortunately I had no Plan B. Facebook did though. Michael Horwitz was leading up a "winter pace" 45 miler on the Rose Pedal route, which is right up in my neck of the woods. I've got the Huracan 300 coming up in March though, and 45 sounded a little short. But! The start was 17.5 miles away, so 35 out and back by myself, AND 45 in a group. That sounded about perfect.

It was warmish in the morning, high 40's I think. No fleece or shoe covers necessary, just arm warmers, knee warmers and a windbreaker. Woohoo!

I grabbed a bagel at Atlanta Bread and ate it on the way. The ride over felt about like my commute. The map had an error on it though, what it showed as Hopewell is really Holbrook Campground, but the next turn was right so I didn't get too lost.

Holbrook Campground itself:

 Holbrook Campground

The group ride started at Creekview High.

 Creekview High

Go Grizzlies.

 The Grizzley

The school was open for a local church event or something, which was great because I had to pee.

It took a while for everybody to show up, but we had quite a crew going when they did. In addition to Michael, there were plenty more folks there that I knew one way or another. Mark Johnson, Michael from Reality (rocking some mother-burning-down, disco-inferno shades), Michele Z, Amy the-Rolfer Larimer, Lori who's last name I forget, and some guys that I don't know by name, but I've ridden with on the Reality Ride. I met a few new folks including a dude named Bob (or Rob?) who turned out to be really strong and led most of the day and a teenager named Elliot who's riding road and cross in the Cycleyouth program. He was impressively strong all day, struggled at end, but finished with leaders. There were probably some other folks there too that I'm forgetting now.

In winter, everybody is anonymously black with a colorful torso-square. Nobody owns a winter team kit. Even my old BOR winter kit is dead, so I've joined that club too.

 The Field

While we were hanging out waiting for everybody to get going it got noticeably colder and windier. I also realized that my drivetrain is embarrassingly old school. I've been meaning to upgrade it for a while now, but now I have a new reason.

Eventually we headed out and settled into a good winter pace. A little slow, but, I just spent more time up front. Only one guy in our group knew the route very well, the route markers were faded and hard to see, and the DOT had been busy all summer repaving. We took a couple of wrong turns, but it wasn't bad.

I've been harassed by jackass drivers before, but today they bumped up the level of creativity a bit. Two different times, people had their CB's hooked up to their horns or something and were able to broadcast, unfortunately unintelligible, insults at us, and also some other guy in a red 80's-era corvette drove by in the other direction, hung his arm out the window and very slowly raised his middle finger as he drove by the group. It was, at least, well executed.

On the upside, we passed by farms all day, and I saw more cute little squatty ponies than ever before in my life. I'm guessing that for each little pony, there was a very excited little girl on Christmas morning.

We also passed this awesomeness...

 Horse-Drawn Wagon

A mule-drawn wagon. I'd seen them hooking up the mules on the ride in. It was cool to see it in action. I dig that kind of stuff. Old-school.

We stopped at Leon's about haflway around.


I'm out of Clif Blocks, so I'd brought a pair of Snickers with me. In addition to that bagel from earlier, that was my food. Not quite "the zero" but closer to it than I should have come. At Leon's I picked up a king sized Whatchamacallit and a bannana. I meant to refill my now empty bottle, but it slipped my mind. Eh, I had another one. I also peed, because man, I had to pee. That's the one thing that really keeps me off of the road in the winter; having to pee all the time.

About 2/3rds of the way around, the guy in front of me crashed. It wasn't obvious what happened, I just saw him get all wobbly and go down. He could have hit something, or touched wheels, or it could have been a chain reaction from 3 or 4 riders ahead of him. All I know is he fell pretty well, didn't get injured, didn't mess his bike up too badly and didn't take out anyone else. I'd like to claim it was all skill that kept me from crushing into his skidding body, but there was definitely an element of luck in there too.

The wind was a major factor today. We fought it all day. It was gusty, random and strong. So strong that it had had it's way with a bunch of inflatible christmas decorations all down one side of somebody's house. They were mostly toppled and getting slung around, but one obstinant little penguin was still upright and the way it was getting blown around, it looked like it was trying to walk down the street in a hurricane.

It was also getting colder. At first I thought it was just the wind, but it wasn't just the wind. I was on the edge of being underdressed.

When we got back to the high school, it wasn't freezing, but it wasn't comfortable, and of-course, I had to pee again.

We fought the wind all day, but the reward was having it at my back all the way home, which was great because 3 candy bars and a bagel don't count as "much food." The low blood sugar was kicking in big-time as I got back into town and even though I was like 3 miles from my house, I still stopped at a gas station for some Swiss Cake Rolls and OJ. You can guess what else I had to do there.

Oh yeah, I forgot, I flatted earlier too...

 Fixing a Flat

...and discovered some roadkill residue on my bike.


We saw a bit of roadkill, but I don't remember hitting anything. Nasty.

All-in-all, a great ride. Great roads, great people, and no suffering, or, at least no prolonged suffering. I'll have to do a few more of these this winter.

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