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

Monday, August 28, 2017

LaGrange 200K Brevet

Saturday's LaGrange 200K brevet had expected and unexpected parts.  First, I expected and looked forward to riding with my rando buddies Dick and Ian.  Unexpectedly, I also got to ride with Brandon and Dub, two rando buddies that I hadn't seen in a while.  The five of us had such a companionable group, and we rode at a similar pace.  I really enjoyed being with them all day.

The route itself turned out to be unexpected.  Last fall, Dick, Ian, and I rode the Thomaston Franklin 200K permanent.  I just assumed that Saturday's brevet route would be the same.  The first clue that it would be different was that the brevet didn't start at the Waffle House in Thomaston, where so many of Daniel's routes begin.

Before any brevet or permanent, I recreate the route in Garmin Connect using the cue sheet, which I then upload to my Garmin.  This allows me to get familiar with the route turn by turn.  Not that I remember every detail, but it's certainly better than going into a ride blindly.  I never would simply upload a provided route file to my Garmin.  As I recreated Saturday's route earlier in the week, it didn't seem like last year's permanent route.  For one thing, I didn't remember going into Alabama last year.  It turns out that the LaGrange 200K route is, indeed, significantly different from last year's Thomaston Franklin 200K permanent route.  Adventure definitely was on the horizon.

I often associate music with my riding.  A snippet of song might get stuck in my head like a mantra during a time trial, keeping me focused.  Also, singing songs in my head or out loud has helped me push through on brevets, particularly 400Ks and 600Ks.  Highlights of Saturday's ride can be summarized through music, too.


For me, Yes was the overall theme music for the day.  About 22 miles into the route, we came to a traffic circle.  As we rode around it, I attempted to sing Roundabout by Yes.  Actually, it's more like I attempted to sing/hum the instrumental part.  There's a reason progressive rock songs aren't more prominent in karaoke.

Dick also reminded me of Yes, in particular the line "move on back two squares" from I've Seen All Good People, because he is the squarest pedalar I've ever known.  I've read about the difference between square pedaling and a smoother, more circular motion.  Square pedaling may not be as efficient, but Dick can outride most other cyclists I know.

Michigan J. Frog

Somewhere along Long Cane Road, Dick dropped back to pick up a bag of food that fell out of his pocket.  The rest of us soft pedaled until he caught up.  I turned into a fire station.  Some small magnolia trees caught my eye because they were blooming several months past the usual flowering season.  I stopped to inhale a bit of their wonderful, lemony fragrance.

This reminded me of a comic strip that a friend had shared with me just a few days before:

About a half mile after we turned off of Long Cane Road, we passed Ribitz Bait and Tackle.  The logo on the side of the building made me laugh out loud.  I didn't stop for a photo (guess which character in the cartoon above is more like me...), but I did find one online:

The Ribitz frog woke up some brain cell I hadn't accessed in at least 30 years.  I remembered a classic Looney Tunes cartoon with a singing, dancing frog who would perform in front of the guy who found him, but in front of an audience, he was like any other run-of-the-mill frog.  When I researched this cartoon memory online on Saturday night, I discovered that the frog even has a name: Michigan J. Frog.  Here's a blast from the past:

Do a YouTube search for several full-length Looney Tunes cartoons with Michigan J. Frog.

Throughout the ride, our group had a general discussion of personality types.  I have a slight Type B streak, but overall I'm definitely Type A.  My rando buddies got a taste of this a couple of times on Saturday.  For example, at one of the controls we had to take a picture at the dam at West Point Lake.  We opted for a group selfie (taken through a slightly fogged up selfie lens):

(L-R: me, Dub, Ian, Dick, and Brandon)
As I e-mailed it to Daniel immediately afterwards, I carefully made sure to list our names in alphabetical order.

We rode about a dozen miles in Alabama.  As we headed back east into Georgia, I sprinted ahead of my buddies to be the first over the state line.  Type B, my foot.

Dick then brought up Myers-Briggs personality types.  He couldn't believe that I'm an I (introvert) instead of and E (extrovert).  People commonly misunderstand this personality aspect.  Being introverted doesn't mean you're shy.  Introverted vs. extroverted has to do with where you get your energy from.  If you get your energy from alone time, you're an introvert.  If you get your energy from other people, you're an extrovert.  I enjoy being with other people - to an extent.  (I'm OK.  You're OK - in small doses.)  I don't even mind speaking to large groups if it's a topic I'm interested in.  However, I thrive on hours of alone time each day.  That makes my occasional social outings like yesterday quite enjoyable.

ZZ Top

An obvious musical connection for the LaGrange 200K is ZZ Top.  ("They got a lot of nice girls.  A haw haw haw." - see my ride report from 11/23/16)  Alas, unlike last year's permanent, Saturday's brevet route didn't go into LaGrange proper; we just cruised around greater metropolitan LaGrange.

Nevertheless, Dub helped me get my ZZ Top fix by being such a Sharp Dressed Man.  He has the coolest cycling shoes I've ever seen:

Appropriately, I heard Sharp Dressed Man on the radio as I drove home.

The Dixie Chicks

Between Peach Peloton in the wintertime, brevets, and permanents, I've ridden on Highway 109 near Molena and Woodbury a number of times.  Every time I do, I think of an obscure lyric in Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks.  It's a darkly comic song about a very serious topic: domestic abuse.

Lifelong friends Mary Anne and Wanda kill Wanda's abusive husband Earl after the law fails to adequately protect her from him.  Mary Anne and Wanda do him in with blackeyed peas.  They literally get away with murder because nobody misses the good-for-nothing Earl.

"So the girls bought some land and a roadside stand out on Highway 109.  They sell Tennessee ham and strawberry jam..."

On Saturday's brevet we did stop at a roadside stand out on Highway 109 in Woodbury, which was an open control.  I was psyched to see a sign for peach ice cream.  Unfortunately, their ice cream machine wasn't working.  Instead, I bought a small basket of peaches to share with my rando buddies.  I was a little surprised to see peaches this late in the summer.  They probably weren't Georgia peaches, but they still tasted pretty good.

Thank you to Daniel and Joe for such great route support on Saturday!  I look forward to the next Audax Atlanta cycling adventure.  Til then, ride on!  Or as Led Zeppelin would say, "Ramble On"!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Red Clay Ramble 2017

The Georgia Neuro cycling team had a good turnout for this year’s Red Clay Ramble:

(L-R): Van, me, Robert, Cody, and Cal
Cal, Robert, and Van raced in the masters men category (40-49 years old).  Cody raced Clydesdale.  The guys also had grand masters (50-59) and ultra masters (60+).  I raced masters women (40+).  We women got just one masters category.  I’m grateful women were offered masters at all.  That’s relatively rare in women’s racing around here.

Having raced the Red Clay Ramble twice before, I knew what to expect.  Sure enough, the fastest men took off like rockets.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them, even if I drafted.  Therefore, I settled into the fastest pace I thought I could maintain for the approximately three hours it would take me to complete the race.

During the first half of the race, I got to ride with several other people.  One couple in matching kits would catch up to me and then drop back.  The third time they caught me, I said to them, “You’re back!  You’re like McRib.”  You know those McDonald’s ads that have been popping up for years?  McRib – it’s back!  Ironically, the couple’s kits even kind of looked like McRibs.

Drawing on my extensive time trialing and endurance riding experience, I kept as steady a pace as I could, minimizing surges that would unnecessarily use up energy.  Eventually, Mr. McRib, several other guys, and I pulled ahead, leaving behind a few others that included Ms. McRib and another woman.  The two women looked younger than me, and so I figured they were in the open class and, therefore, not competing against me.  Still, I was glad to stay ahead of them.  After a few more miles, my subgroup dropped me.  I had to ride most of the second half of the race by myself.  I didn’t mind, but that took away the energy conserving advantages of riding in a group.  I estimated that my finish time wouldn’t be as good as in previous years.

My friend Jean was also racing in the masters women category.  I knew that she would be my biggest competition.  At the beginning of the race, I saw her take off with the fast guys.  I never saw her again during the race.  Therefore, I focused on my secondary goal, breaking three hours.  Unfortunately, that goal slipped away, too, as I had to do so much of the race solo.

After I had been riding by myself for a number of miles, a guy caught up to me just as we were turning off of Otis Redding Road onto Old Hwy 11.  We rode together for a while.  His kit inspired me.  It read, “I am a racer.”  That reminded me to keep my head in the race and keep going as hard as I could.  Eventually, he started pulling ahead, and I told him to go on.  Back to solo riding.

I didn’t stop at any of the rest stops.  I figured that after the good breakfast I had eaten, I just needed one Clif Bar about halfway through the ride.  I had taken it out of the wrapper and put it in my jersey pocket for easy access.  As for liquids, I drank a good bit before the race and carried two large bottles on my bike, dosing them to myself throughout the race.  At the last rest stop at about mile 50, I was just running out of water.  As I rode by, I grabbed a cup of water from a volunteer.  About half went flying out, but that half cup of water really helped in the final six miles.

The guy in the “I am a racer” kit had stopped at that last rest stop.  I felt a tiny bit of satisfaction in passing him.  But then, he came zooming up to me a couple of miles later.  We started kind of riding together again.  Then, we caught a guy who was on a road bike(!).  I was able to chat with that guy for a few moments as we rode side by side.  His name was Elliott, and he said he had underestimated the amount of gravel on the course.  I gave him kudos for doing as well as he was under the circumstances.

Elliott, “I am a racer,” and I rode together for a bit.  Eventually, Elliott dropped back.  Then, I pulled ahead of “I am a racer” again.

Figuring that I was in second place for masters women, I pedaled as fast as I could toward the end.  Less than 50 m from the finish line, here came “I am a racer”!  He outsprinted me at the end.  Not that it really mattered since we weren’t competing against each other, but I suppose his testosterone/ego just wouldn’t let me finish ahead of him.  Whatever.

My time of 3 hours and 12 minutes was good enough to put me in second place for the masters women’s podium.  I knew that I had raced my best; I couldn’t ask for more.  The Red Clay Ramble is billed as 56 miles of hot and dirty fun.  That is an accurate description.