Road biking, dirt road riding on Frankenbike, tandem riding, group riding, time trialing, randonneuring - I love to ride, and I love to write. As I've traveled along on two wheels, I've learned one thing: Expect Adventure. Join me on the journey!

Betty Jean Jordan

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Train"ing Ride

Yesterday Peach Peloton switched from its usual location in Macon and joined up with the Winter Bike League in Athens.  Because that didn't fit into our schedule, Robert and I did a fairly long ride from home instead.  It was nice not to have to get up to an alarm on a Saturday morning.

I came up with a route that was a little more than 80 miles long.  It first took us through downtown Monticello.  Just before we got to the city limits, we saw a skunk waddling along the side of the road.  Robert said that he had seen the same skunk a day or two previously.  Because it's unusual to see a skunk in broad daylight like that, we suspected that it was rabid.  We stopped when we got to the Monticello square, and Robert called animal control.  I felt kind of bad about the potential demise of the skunk but knew that if it was, in fact, rabid, it posed a threat to other animals and humans.  Robert predicted that if the skunk were OK, it would evade animal control.  That's what I'm hoping for.

The day started out quite overcast, but brilliant sunshine and blue skies replaced the clouds a couple of hours into our ride.  That helped to make up for the significant wind.  No matter which direction we went, there seemed to be a headwind!  I just pretended that I was in Kansas during RAAM.  I've been trying to ride in adverse conditions of all types when I can, and wind is one of them.  The two most popular songs from the rock group Kansas were apropos for the day:

"Dust in the wind - all we are is dust in the wind."

"Carry on my wayward son.  There'll be peace when you are done.  Lay your weary head to rest.  Don't you cry no more."

I can already imagine myself getting the "Wayward Son" lyrics stuck in my head as I pedal across Kansas during RAAM.  I told Robert about this, and he suggested another Kansas connection:

"I'll get you my pretty - and your little dog, too!"


Which sound like trains - the perfect tie-in for this "train"ing ride:

Robert and I stopped for lunch about 5/8 into the ride at The Caboose, a restaurant in Rutledge, GA.  A deli sandwich and a side salad were just right to fuel me for the rest of the ride.  By the way, lots of the sandwiches looked good, but I had to pick one with a train theme, the Boxcar.  They also had the Engineer and the Amtrak.

This is my favorite caboose:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rome 200K Brevet

What a great ride with a great group today!  Twelve of us rode together the whole way.  Well, two dropped off at the very end due to a flat – bummer.  Otherwise, it was a really fun ride.

I was especially thrilled to ride with fellow Sorella members Julie and Jennifer:

Jennifer, Julie, and me

I’ve gotten to know Julie over the past year through several brevets we’ve ridden together.  In fact, our first ride together was last year’s Rome 200K.  I met Jennifer thanks to Julie.  Several months ago Julie linked me up with a group of women who will do the Race Across America (RAAM) this June!  I’m so excited!  We’ll be a team of four, including Jennifer, Korey, Lauren, and me.  Jennifer, Korey, and I are all from Georgia, and Lauren is from California.  We’re racing as a Sorella team.  Sorella is a women’s cycling group based in Atlanta.  By the way, I’m also still on the Georgia Neurosurgical team in Macon, doing my time trials and group rides with them.

Weather or Not…
I’ve been riding all winter, regardless of dark, rain, or cold.  Not that I relish getting out in such conditions, but usually it’s not so bad once I actually get out there, thanks to adequate equipment.  Maybe I’ve just gotten numb to it…literally.  This morning we started out around 25⁰.  I’ve got good cold weather gear and felt relatively comfortable, except for my fingers, which still hurt for a while at the beginning of cold rides like this despite my heavy gloves.

Today I experienced something new.  I filled my water bottles at home and carried them inside my nice, warm, car for the 2½-hour drive to Rome.  Within about the first hour of the ride, they froze!  I was kind of gnawing on them, trying to get at least a few drops of moisture.  Fortunately, the temperature rose significantly after a few hours, and my bottles thawed.

The route took as past some chicken farms – lots of them.  The pungent odor particular to chicken litter wafted around us a number of times throughout the day.  I’m kind of used to it; I live in a rural area, and my father-in-law used to be in the chicken business, to the tune of 40,000 of them!  We also smelled cow manure a few times.  Several of us agreed that cows smell better than chickens.  Additionally, we were treated to skunk a time or two.  And don’t forget the dead possum and the dead armadillo in the road about 10 meters apart.  I didn’t smell them, but they did add to the critter ambience.  That actually made me sad because I love animals of all kinds.  On a happier note, I enjoyed hearing a few choruses of upland chorus frogs, which mate during the winter.  They are the first frog species I hear every year.  Their call (males) sounds like rubbing your fingers over a comb.

The overall theme for the day was little and big.  We rode on both Little Texas Valley Road and Big Texas Valley Road.  Then there was my average power for the ride, 146 W.  Contrast that with Dick, who did a great deal of pulling throughout the day.  Although he doesn’t have a power meter, I joked that he must have had an average power of about 800 W.  He’s a big, strong rider, and I could almost see the watts radiating from his body as he pedaled.

Here’s the last little/big aspect of the day:

Chicken Little returns to the mother ship.

To chase away the winter blues and to entertain myself, I’m posting on Facebook a photo of myself in my chicken mask every day in January.  Friends have even started making requests.  Two friends – including Jennifer! – requested Chicken Little; therefore, I had to oblige.  I made a slight detour to the Big Chicken in Marietta on my drive south after the ride.

Thank you, fellow randonneurs, for terrific companionship today.  And thank you to Kevin, Chris, and Roger for all of your support!

Friday, January 9, 2015


This really is cycling related.  Bear with me…

We’ve been studying a quite interesting book in my Sunday school class called Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas.  It presents nine spiritual temperaments, different ways that we naturally worship God.  Some people are traditionalists and feel closest to God through routine, having a consistent form of devotion and following the rituals of their Christian denomination.  Other people might experience their greatest connection to God as caregivers, attending to the needs of others around them.  No one sacred pathway is superior to another.  God created us uniquely, and so it makes sense that God would delight in the different ways that we worship him, the pathways that he himself created.  A main purpose of the book is to understand and appreciate various spiritual temperaments.  This allows us to function better as one body of Christ and maybe even experience God in new ways.

Each sacred pathway has its own chapter and includes a quiz at the end.  Most people exhibit the characteristics of at least two or three pathways.  Just from the book’s introduction, I had a pretty good idea of where I would score highest and lowest.  Sure enough, my strongest pathways are naturalist (feeling most connected to God in nature) and intellectual (experiencing God through the mind).  On the other hand, one of my lowest scores was enthusiast; I like quiet and order in my worship.  Or, as I heard Garrison Keillor put it, “I don’t do jubilation on command.”  Then there was one sacred pathway that somewhat surprised me: ascetic.  It was my third highest score after naturalist and intellectual.  When I began contemplating the ascetic aspects of my cycling, however, it made a lot of sense that I feel quite comfortable worshiping God this way.

Although we might think of ascetics as monks, nuns, or hermits, the ascetic temperament isn’t limited just to cloistered Christians.  Perhaps it’s simply difficult to understand this pathway amid our fast-paced, noisy, modern life.  (With TVs now on gasoline pumps, I can’t even fill my car in peace!)  Ascetics value alone time with God, free from other distractions.  They prefer a simple, focused approach in their worship.  They might even practice strict or austere physical disciplines like watching and praying in the middle of the night or fasting.  The point is not to subject oneself to such austerity for its own sake.  It’s just that somehow such experiences are transcendent, allowing the ascetic to experience God through hardship.

This gets at how cycling and worship are connected for me.  As I ride mile after mile on a long endurance ride, particularly in solitude, the rhythm of my pedal strokes can become meditative.  Sure, there’s a certain amount of discomfort from riding hours at a time, whether it’s soreness, fatigue, or the need for fluids or fuel.  But at the same time, it reminds me of God’s providence.  It can even be a holy experience.

Although I’d much prefer to ride when it’s sunny and 85, I’m trying to take every opportunity to ride in LTO (less than optimal) conditions in preparation for RAAM – anything to help me toughen up physically and mentally.  That’s why I jumped at the chance to ride six hours in the rain/mist/fog last Saturday and to ride in 30 and wind on dirt roads a couple of evenings ago after work.  RAAM certainly is a good motivator, but I probably would have done these rides anyway.  God’s goodness through the beauty of nature is evident even in the cold bleakness of winter: