About two months ago I started not one, but two new jobs! I’m excited, and things are going well, but I’m still getting my feet under me. Although I’m riding lots, I haven’t had much time for writing. Last weekend’s ride, however, is definitely worth a report. It was my first brevet that started in another state.
The Mountain Music 200K, hosted by the Alabama Randonneurs, began in Ft. Payne, AL. Originally, I had planned to do a permanent that day, which is the only Saturday this month I have available to keep up my R-12. Then, when my rando buddy Andy posted on the Audax Atlanta Facebook page about the Mountain Music 200K, I changed my plans. Not only did this present a terrific cycling opportunity, it gave me an excellent chance to visit my father and stepmother. Ft. Payne is about a 3.5-hour drive from my house but only about a 1.25-hour drive from theirs – definitely an easier early morning drive to the ride, especially gaining an hour going west to the Central time zone.
I had a wonderful visit with Daddy and Marian – so wonderful that I stayed up way too late. I barely got six hours of sleep before I had to leave for the ride, but it was worth it to get to see them.
The drive to Ft. Payne was easy, almost entirely on interstates. A little rain fell right before the 6:00 AM start. Fortunately, it cleared out, and we had a dry ride.
When I got to the high school parking lot where the ride started, I was delighted to see not only Andy, but also Robert N. from the Audax Atlanta club. We Georgia randonneurs made up nearly 50% of the seven riders doing the brevet.
|Me and Andy (photo taken by Robert N.)|
It was a beautiful morning. Although I had to wear arm warmers, it was a good tradeoff because the cool dampness brought out the fragrance of the prolific honeysuckle along the roadside.
After about seven miles, we began our first significant climb of the day, three miles at about 7% into Mentone, AL. I have to admit that although mountains aren’t my favorite terrain in general, I do kind of like climbing them on my bike because I’m built for it. I was the first one to Mentone. This had a drawback, however.
As I followed the route and turned off of the main road in Mentone, I noticed a cool photo opp, one of those things where you stick your face in a hole to take a picture. One of my life rules is never to pass up one of these photo opps. Unfortunately, I had gotten to the top of the climb first, and no one was there to take my picture. It wasn’t the typical animal or other similar scene. It was a plain brown board with three holes and “Mentone, AL” across the top. Delightfully prosaic.
Mike, Max, and Robert soon caught up to me. We rode together for a number of miles. Mike and I in particular rode at about the same pace. One time we were riding past a peaceful herd of cows. Mike said hello to them and then confessed to me that he talks to cows. As if I would think this was odd. Not only do I do the same thing, earlier that morning I had sung to a buzzard. It was a variation on “Blue Sky” by the Allman Brothers Band: Don’t fly Mr. Buzzard. I’m just riding down the road.
About 66 miles in, we got to the second big climb of the day, just after the control in Menlo, GA. This one was about two miles at 8%. Relatively speaking, the overall elevation gain wasn’t outrageous to be in a mountainous area: a little over 7,000 ft in our 132-mile route. One thing that makes riding in the ridge & valley topography of NW Georgia/NE Alabama unique is that you can minimize your climbing by staying in the valleys. You only have to climb if you get up on one of the plateaus.
Mike soon caught up to me after this second big climb. We rode together to the next control, which was also our last store stop. Max arrived soon after Mike and I did, and the three of us mostly stayed together for the remainder of the ride.
A highlight of the day was riding through the Little River Canyon National Preserve. An incredibly scenic road winds around the canyon and offers multiple, beautiful vantage points:
The brevet included several info controls. The last one was at a fire hydrant:
|I think I'll go for a ride.|
I felt good at the finish, a bonus given that I then had to drive 3.5 hours back home. I said goodbye to Mike, Max, and Bruce. Bruce is the RBA for the Alabama Randonneurs, and he did a fantastic job of putting on the brevet!
About an hour into my drive home, I started feeling really sleepy. I pulled into a large, busy travel plaza along the interstate. After making sure my car doors were locked, I took a 30-minute nap. I woke up refreshed and drove the rest of the way home without feeling sleepy at all.
Thank you to all my Alabama and Georgia rando buddies for making my first out-of-state brevet so fun and successful. I hope to see you all again soon!