Here's a brief ride report from Saturday's Athens 300K brevet. A good crowd gathered at the start, about 15 riders. Nine of us formed a nice subgroup that seemed to ride about the same pace: Andrew, Brian, Chad, David, Dick, Joe (visiting from Pennsylvania), Judah, Michael, and me. Chad, Judah, and Michael live in Georgia but were doing their first brevet with our Audax Atlanta Club. Chad comes from a triathlon background. Michael was using the brevet as training for the upcoming Dirty Kanza (200-mile gravel grinder race), and his sister Judah was doing the brevet with him. Here we all are at the Georgia Guidestones:
The Guidestones are an intriguing point of interest. They consist of granite slabs from a local quarry. (Nearby Elberton is the granite capital of Georgia.) The slabs are inscribed with words of wisdom for humans to live peacefully and sustainably on Earth. The words are printed in a different language on each slab side. No one knows who constructed the Guidestones. Cue "The Twilight Zone" music...
Michael and Judah eventually rode off the front. I thought they might burn out, being new to randonneuring, but they rode strong the whole way. The only thing is that they didn't have a map or cue sheet of the route. Later, they passed us going the opposite direction about 20 miles from the finish. I guess they were trying to find a shorter route back to the parking lot. Michael had mentioned wanting to finish by 6:00 PM because he had to get on the road to go to Florida. A 12-hour finish was a mighty tall order for the Athens 300K.
The other seven of us mostly stayed together, particularly after the control in Royston. I had hoped we could go back to the neat little indoor farmers market that we had found on last year's Athens 300K brevet, but it was closed. So, we opted for more convenience store food:
Andrew tickled me with his observation that we do a lot of things while randonneuring that we would never consider other times. For example, we would never plop down on a curb outside a convenience store because we wouldn't want to mess up our clean pants. On the bike - no big deal.
While I was sitting on the curb, I looked across the street. At first, I was taken aback by this sign:
I thought, "Wow! I've never seen an agnostic church before!" It turns out that the first two letters of the sign were obscured from my vantage point. It's actually some kind of medical diagnostic facility.
The stretch between Royston and Jefferson is pretty far and doesn't have a control. The route goes near the farm of David Nixon, one of our rando buddies. David has graciously provided an extra food/water/rest stop the last few years. We were grateful that he repeated his hospitality this year:
We got to the last store stop, about 18 miles from the finish. I was kind of antsy to get going because I was supposed to meet my husband Robert after the ride at Amici in Madison, a good Italian restaurant on my way home. However, Andrew and Brian wanted to rest a few more minutes. No big deal - I'd rather stay with my group.
Finally, we got underway to knock out the few remaining miles. After a while, Joe started falling behind. It turns out that we didn't take into account the Michelob factor. Back at the store, Joe had had two Michelobs. He explained that he and his rando buddies in Pennsylvania always drink beer during their rides. We Georgia randonneurs aren't teetotalers, but we generally save our merrymaking for after the ride!
Andrew and Brian were so nice to hang back to check on Joe. I rode on ahead to rejoin Chad, David, and Dick so that I could finish and head out to meet Robert.
We finished in just under 14 hours; Andrew, Brian, and Joe were only a few minutes behind. All in all, it was quite an enjoyable 300K, and I managed to keep the pace moderate enough so that I wasn't totally exhausted at the end.
One interesting side note: the Athens 300K route goes on or past roads that have the same name as five people I know: Robert Hardeman Road, John Pruitt Road, Joe Bolton Road, John Stowe Road, and Jim Daws Road. Technically, I don't know John Pruitt, the longtime Atlanta news anchor, but that's still a lot of familiar names.
Speaking of familiarity, several of my rando buddies remind me of musicians in famous rock bands. I've always thought that Kevin, our RBA, looks like Michael Stipe of REM but with more hair. Also, Robert N. looks like Neil Peart of Rush but with more hair. This weekend I kept thinking that Andrew reminds me of someone. Finally, I realized that he looks like Ric Ocasek of The Cars but with less hair. It's cool that my rando buddies resemble so many great rockers!
Ride on, and rock on!