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, July 9, 2018

Peaches & Lakes 200K Permanent 2018

The Peaches & Lakes 200K route is one of my favorites.  I've ridden it several times, but this past Saturday was extra fun.  For this report I'll simply list some of the things that made this ride the perfect way to spend a summer day:

  • Robert - husband and soigneur
  • Clean bicycle (see previous item)
  • Friends, specifically Daniel and Jim H.
  • Box turtle that I stopped to move across the road
  • Sunflowers
  • Warm summer day - not too hot or humid
  • Bright blue sky
  • Towering cumulus clouds
  • Lush green vegetation
  • Waving to other cyclists
  • High Falls State Park
  • High Falls Lake
  • Sticker

  • Mini Moon Pie in Juliette

  • Beautiful roads with little traffic
  • Hitchiti Experimental Forest
  • Rabbit
  • Month-old twin fawns
  • Swooping around a roundabout
  • Crape myrtles
  • Friendly locals at the Lizella convenience store
  • Peach ice cream - in a cone!  (Life's too short not to get a cone.)
  • Dulcimer players

  • Having paced myself well for the hilliest part of the course, the last 10-12 miles

Monday, July 2, 2018

BBQ Bass Bicycle Ride 2018

This year was approximately the 22nd annual BBQ Bass Bicycle Ride.  Robert and I aren’t 100% sure, but we’ve had some incarnation of it (we think) every year since we came back to Monticello in 1996.  It’s morphed a lot since the early days, when 5 or 6 of us rode maybe 25 miles and stopped at Mouldin Tillman’s in Hillsboro for BBQ.

This past Saturday we had 33 people and rode 67 miles.  A friend picked up Fresh Air BBQ, which we enjoyed after the ride in the Jordan Engineering parking lot/grassy area.  Each year I’m delighted at the cross section of cycling friends who join us - teammates, and other people from Macon, Milledgeville, Atlanta, and even Savannah this year!  Thank you so much for being with Robert and me; we treasure your friendship.  Photo credits to Brian Pace.  Ride on!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Magic Ride, Magic Day

Between a particularly busy work week and a 300K this past Saturday, I'm just now getting a chance to write about an all-around wonderful day the previous Saturday, June 16.  It started with one of those rare mornings when neither Robert nor I had to get up to an alarm.  We slept in like lazy bums until 8:00 AM.  It was great!  Then, I planned my morning around a ride just for fun.

My original plan was to go to the farmers market on the Monticello square, followed by a fairly long ride with a lunch stop at the fabulous Mexican market in Eatonton.  Something came up a few days beforehand that caused me to shorten my route - more on that in a moment.  I still had a most excellent outing.

I had breakfast at home before I left for my ride.  Most mornings I eat oatmeal, Quaker old-fashioned oats that I cook in the microwave and then add some kind of mix-in: chocolate chips, pumpkin, blueberries, etc.  On Saturday morning I had muesli, a chilled oatmeal variation that is especially delicious in the warm months.  I also have fresh fruit and plain Greek yogurt (extra protein in the Greek style) with my oatmeal.  On muesli mornings, it all gets mixed together.  Here's the recipe:


2 cups quick or old-fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
8 oz. plain yogurt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Fresh fruit of your choice (bananas, apples, peaches, strawberries, etc.)
Chopped nuts of your choice (pecans, walnuts, etc.)

Combine oatmeal, apple juice, yogurt, and vanilla extract; mix well.  Cover; refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  Add fruit and nuts at serving time; serve cold.  Refrigerate in airtight container up to 4 days.

Yield: 3-4 servings (I eat a third at the time, three days in a row.)

Notes: 1) That's right, you don't cook the oats!  They soften overnight in the liquid and come out with a "cooked" consistency.  2) The original recipe calls for using vanilla yogurt, but I prefer the taste of plain yogurt with a little vanilla extract.  3) The original recipe also calls for adding the fresh fruit to the oatmeal mixture before refrigerating, but I like the texture better by adding the fruit at serving time.

After breakfast, it was off to the square.  I visited with a few of my vendor friends, Shane, Shannon, and Laverne, and bought some okra.  Was that a food truck on the Monticello square?  Yes – Papi’s Tacos!  Immediately I modified my ride plans.  I would come back to the square at the end of my ride and get a couple of tacos for lunch.  What a great alternate plan since I didn’t have time to go to the Mexican market in Eatonton like I had originally planned.

But first, I had one last stop on the square: The Vanilla Bean, where I had second breakfast, an indulgence on these occasional leisurely Saturday morning cycling outings.  I sat outside enjoying some Earl Grey tea and a slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, listening to local institution Les Steele play Georgia on My Mind on his electric keyboard.  It was a good Monticello morning.

I dropped the okra off at Jordan Engineering to pick up later.  Then I headed down Highway 11 S.

This is my favorite time of year, from approximately Beltane to the summer solstice.  The bright blues and greens of a late spring day, brilliant in the high arc of the sun – magic!  As I rode down Fullerton-Phillips Road, a beautiful rural road with little traffic, I pretended I was on a flying carpet.

I crossed Highway 212, where the road name changes to Hillsboro Road.  It’s even smoother once you cross into Putnam County.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have such excellent riding conditions where I live.

I stopped briefly to check in at Willard, Georgia on Facebook.  Willard consists of an abandoned store where Highway 142 dead ends into Highway 16.  Just because, I like to check in at Willard periodically when I go through there.

I was thoroughly enjoying my ride but still kept an eye on the time.  I needed to leave my house about 2:00 PM.  I had just enough time to ride back to Papi's for my taco fix.

Papi's definitely did not disappoint!  The tacos are made with flour tortillas that are grilled.  You have a choice of meats and toppings.  I got two chicken tacos with the works: lettuce, tomato, onions, and cheese.  They also have a couple of salsa choices in bottles that you can add yourself; I opted for the delicious green salsa.  Of course, I needed a beverage, too.  I was going to order a Coke but then saw something intriguing on the menu board, horchata.  I asked what it was, and when they described it as an iced drink with coconut milk and cinnamon, I knew I had to get that.  What a splendid way to cap off my ride!

By the way, I wore my RAAM 2015 finisher's jersey that day because it was the start of the 2018 team RAAM event.  Also, I wanted to show solidarity with Team Valkyrie from Denmark.  Team Valkyrie organizer Heidi had contacted me last year through Facebook as she sought to have the first Scandinavian women's team complete RAAM.  They finished soon after midnight yesterday - congratulations Team Valkyrie!  (Thanks to Robert for being my videographer  yesterday afternoon.)

So why did I have to be ready to leave my house by 2:00 PM a couple of Saturdays ago?  Robert and I had an appointment at the Southeastern Greyhound Adoption (SEGA) kennel in Acworth to pick up a greyhound!  A few days earlier, I had seen a SEGA post about two male greyhounds needing to be fostered.  Robert and I are ready for another greyhound after losing sweet Mr. Spock last month.  We decided to foster with the distinct possibility of failing fostering (i.e., adopting permanently).

Robert read the online descriptions of Elijah and Lyon.  Both looked wonderful, but Robert was leaning toward Lyon only because Elijah sounded more vocal from the descriptions.  (Our hounds are quiet, and we'd like to maintain a non-barky home.)  After making the several-hour trip, we met Lyon.  We walked him outside briefly (it was raining) and laughed as he obsessed over the papers in an open file drawer inside.  This big boy was full of personality - all 80 lb. of him!

There were actually three adoptable greyhounds that day: Doc Cherry, Elijah, and Lyon.  I wish we could have taken all three, but we stuck to Robert's plan to bring home Lyon.  Happily, Doc Cherry and Elijah both have been adopted since then - woo hoo!

Typically, you use a foster's racing name (or portion thereof) and let the permanent adopter choose a different name if he/she so desires.  Lyon's full racing name is Hakeem Lyon.  Melissa, the SEGA volunteer who met us at the kennel, mentioned that Lyon's dam's (mother's) name is Stevie Nicks.  Robert immediately renamed him Fleetwood.  It suits him perfectly.

Fleetwood did well on the long ride home:

One time he entertained people in other cars when we were stopped at a red light:

It was a lot of change in a few short hours:

I had already planned a rather special dinner that night, and now we had an extra reason to celebrate.  We feasted on some goodies I had picked up at Fresh Market in Macon the day before: Georgia shrimp and a bottle of rosé plus the okra from the farmer's market that morning (fried - another splurge) and some homemade biscuits.  This is one of my favorite shrimp recipes, which I make only when I can get fresh Georgia shrimp:

Savannah Marinated Shrimp

4 lb. peeled, cooked shrimp
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup tarragon vinegar (I add some dried tarragon to regular white vinegar)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium onions, sliced
Salt, black pepper, and red pepper, to taste

Marinate in refrigerator overnight (or start in the morning to eat that evening).  Travels well in a wide-neck Thermos - great picnic item!

Note: Recipe can be reduced.  I make about 1/4 of this for Robert and me.

Greyhounds usually have to learn about stairs because they have never encountered them before.  Fleetwood started getting the hang of our basement stairs even on the first day.  The biggest thing we're having to work on is teaching him that he can chew only on toys:

He's mangled a few things, but fortunately nothing too serious.  He did eat one of my cycling gloves, but at least I have several pairs.  A few days ago, Robert stocked up on chew toys at Petsmart.  That seems to be helping.  Fleetwood turned two the day before we picked him up, and so he's really just past puppyhood.

As for getting along with greyhound Allie and beagle Shelly, there don't seem to be any worries there:

Oh, yeah - he likes watching Family Feud, too:

Good answer!  Good answer!

It's not quite official, but - pending Robert's final OK - I hope Fleetwood becomes a permanent member of Polyhound Farm very soon.  As if there should be any doubt...

A bicycle ride in June, tacos (with horchata!), fresh Georgia shrimp, wine, and greyhounds - it doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Healthy Newton TT 2018

The Healthy Newton Omnium has been held for a number of years.  It benefits Newton Trails, an organization that promotes, develops, and sustains pedestrian and cycling trails in Newton County.  I like to do the time trial (TT) portion of the Healthy Newton Omnium.  I wouldn't travel very far to race just six miles, but it's right in my backyard and for a very worthwhile organization.

The TT course has had several locations.  For the last few years it's been in Newborn.  The Newborn course has two turns over the rolling hills typical of our part of the Piedmont.

I headed out early Saturday morning.  It was a little strange not having Robert with me (he did today's Healthy Newton road race but not yesterday's TT), but I have enough experience to handle all of my own race logistics comfortably.

I saw several cycling friends as I checked in and set up my trainer.  I was glad to see everyone but wasn't particularly chatty.  I get nervous even for a short race, and I have to focus my attention on the task at hand.

After warming up on my trainer, I headed to the start line for my 8:30 AM start.  I was the first of the 10 Cat 4/5 women.  I would be the carrot for the rest of them.

I felt the usual nerves: kind of barfy and a slight urge to go to the bathroom, despite having hit the port-o-potty a little while previously.  This TT didn't have a start ramp or even anyone to hold me up on my bicycle.  An official counted me down: five, four, three, two, one - go!  For some reason I had some trouble clipping into my right pedal.  However, I got it after a few seconds and didn't dwell on my less-than-auspicious start.

I hadn't even bothered to switch my power meter from my road bike to my TT bike for the race.  With only six miles, I decided simply to ride as hard as I could for the roughly 20 minutes it would take me.  A power meter might even have been counterproductive for such a short distance.

Steady, steady, steady!  Fast, fast, fast!  Smooth, smooth, smooth!  I coached myself each pedal stroke of the way.

Don't slow down!  Keep your head in this!  A climb - go hard!  Maybe you'll pick up a few seconds on the competition.

Only about a mile to go.  Keep going hard!  A speed hump, then another.  Don't worry about it - just keep pedaling.  Finish line!

Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but I left my guts in Newborn, Georgia.  That's the way you're supposed to feel when you do a time trial the right way.  I had ridden at least half a mile into my cool-down before I even began to feel my breathing slow down.

I felt like I raced well; I didn't leave anything out on the course.  When I first uploaded my Garmin data to Strava, I thought it showed my time as approximately a minute slower than last year.  Wha?  Then, when I looked more closely, I realized that I was looking at a Strava segment that is slightly shorter than the entire race course.  My overall Strava time was actually a little less this year than last year.  That seemed more like it.

I changed out of my skin suit and headed to the podium area to await the results.  I had good conversation with Angela, Liz, and Rosie, who were in my category, as well as my teammates Allen and Chad, who were in the men's masters race.

I won!  In fact, I had the fastest overall women's time!  (16:23)  The best part, however, was the zucchini:

A local farmer had come by and given the race organizers a big box of zucchini.  They had the excellent idea to give it to people on the podium.  Best race swag ever!

Later that afternoon, Robert and I went to a Jordan Engineering cookout.  The zucchini made a great side dish:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Red Clay Ramble 2018

Yesterday was the Red Clay Ramble.  It has been in August in the past but was moved to June this year.  It definitely was cooler, but we had the threat of rain due to remnants of subtropical depression Alberto.  Fortunately, the rain cleared out just in time for the race, and the roads drained well.

Seven of us from the Georgia Neurosurgical Institute team signed up for the race.  The guys had several masters categories: masters (40-49), grand masters (50-59), and ultra masters (60+).  Women had only one masters category (40+).  Alas, I’ll never be grand or ultra.

As we gathered at the start line, I looked around to size up my competition.  One of my teammates had said there were six in my category, but I didn’t see any other women at the start.  I was close to the front, and so there might have been other women lined up behind me that I didn’t see.  Regardless, I wasn’t going to make any assumptions.

We were off!  I have exactly three fast-twitch muscle fibers.  I know because I counted them as most of the guys passed me.  I expected to get dropped quickly, but I have to admit it was a little disconcerting that it took only about half a mile.  Oh, well, I simply remembered one of Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts: If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let 'em go, because man, they're gone.

I did see one woman in the wave that passed me.  She looked like the really fast one who won the open category last year.  I couldn’t have caught her if I wanted to, but she wasn’t in my category anyway.

So, in my solo state, I settled in for a three-hour dirt time trial.  Just keep it steady.  I tried to gauge the fastest speed I could maintain for three hours.  That’s what racing is all about: the maximum pain you can endure for the particular time/distance that you’ll be racing.

After a while, I caught up to a few guys, including my friend Jason.  He called out encouragingly as I rode by, commenting on how I was doing my own thing, picking off other racers one by one.  I hadn’t thought of that as my strategy, but I’d see how it worked.  It sounded more fun than pure time trialing anyway.

I passed one guy.  Pick.  I passed another guy.  Pick.  Here came a guy in a Waffle House kit.  As I passed him, I said, “Mmm…waffles.”  Actually, waffles didn’t sound very appealing at that moment.

Keep on keeping on.  Around mile 16, I caught up to group of about half a dozen racers including – a woman!  How did that happen?  I knew her, too.  It was Laina from the Sorella team, who was in women’s masters category.  I had no idea she was ahead of me.  She was the woman who had passed me near the start line; it hadn't been last year's winner after all.  This is why I knew I couldn’t take anything for granted on my positioning.

As I approached the group, I debated whether I should glom onto them immediately or keep going and see if they caught me.  They were going slower than me at that moment, and so I opted to continue in time trial mode.  If they did catch me, I could jump on the train then.

Within a couple of miles, they did catch me.  I joined the group.  Whew, what a relief to ease up a little from my time trial pace!  I would have been completely justified to let the guys do all the pulling because I wasn’t competing against them.  However, I did take a few short pulls because I didn’t want to seem like a leech.  Besides, my energy level was good.

We dropped a few guys about 20 miles in.  When we got to a several-mile paved section on Fortville Road, it was just Laina and me plus two guys I know, Mark and Nathan.  The guys each took a turn pulling.  We picked up another guy.  I took a short pull as we approached the next turn onto Joe Miller Road, another dirt road.  We had dropped Laina!  Again, I wasn’t going to make any assumptions, but I hoped this boded well.  I was still feeling strong.

More pavement, and we picked up another guy.  I ate the Clif Bar from my jersey pocket.  (I had stuck it in there unwrapped for easy maneuvering during the race.)  My water situation was good.  I had two big bottles.  If it had been a typical hot August day like in previous years of the Red Clay Ramble, I would have barely stretched two bottles to last the whole race, perhaps also grabbing a cup of water as I rode past the last aid station.  Yesterday, however, my two big bottles were ample for me in the cooler weather.

The four guys and I rode on.  More dirt, and then more pavement as we approached Otis Redding’s house.  (I think some of his family still live there.)  We turned onto dirt again, paralleling Highway 11.  There was my friend Chris.  I called out for him to hop on as we rode by.

A mile or two later, we approached another turn in Round Oak.  Mark and Nathan stopped there at the aid station.  I didn’t need any food or water, and so I continued on without stopping.  I was in race mode!

Then it was just Chris and I.  We rode together for several miles and picked up another guy right before the next paved section, Hillsboro Lake Road.  We were back on my home turf.  I pretended it was simply one of my regular after-work road rides to Hillsboro Lake.  I had been pulling a while, and so I moved left to let one of the guys take a turn.  Nobody moved up.  I felt OK, and so I continued on without them, keeping up a pretty good pace.  I suppose I had several mental advantages.  I knew the road and wasn’t demoralized by its constant climb for a few miles.  Also, all those hours in the saddle on brevets surely count for something.

So, it was back to time trial mode for the last 10 miles.  I turned onto Dumas Road, on dirt once again.  I estimated the maximum speed I could maintain for the remainder of the race.  I doubted that Laina (or any other woman) would catch me, but still I glanced over my shoulder every so often, looking for anyone overtaking me.

My fastest time on the Red Clay Ramble several years ago was just under three hours.  Early in yesterday’s race I had determined that I wouldn’t break three hours this time.  My fitness isn’t quite as good as then, and I was pretty sure the road conditions were slowing me down.  Regardless, all I could do was ride my best, which is what I tried to do the entire time.

At the racers’ meeting before the start, the organizers had cautioned that Dumas Road was the muddiest part of the course from all the recent rain.  Still, it turned out not to be as bad as I anticipated.  I kept pedaling, pedaling and even passed a few more guys.

I was kind of sad to pass up my friend Benny’s beer stop, but I was still in race mode.  I was pretty sure I was the first masters female.  Just a few miles to the finish…

I rode as hard as I could across the finish line.  I made it – yea!  Although I didn’t feel quite like my guts were about to spill out like after a regular time trial, I was whooped.  I changed clothes and walked toward to staging area.  My legs felt like lead.

Gratefully, I refueled with a plate of delicious spaghetti prepared by Tom Glover and the other Bike Walk Baldwin volunteers.  I sat with my Georgia Neuro teammates and listened to the blow-by-blow of their race.  Additionally, Van gave me something to aspire to:

Podium time!  I was thrilled to have not only the fastest masters women's time but also the fastest overall women's time (3:14:11 from Strava).

I got a great swag bag, including a really cool item I had never seen before: Hide Your Hiney.  It's essentially a large sheet (tie-dyed!) you connect between your car doors to make a small outdoor changing room.  This will be so much more comfortable than ducking down in the front seat like I've been doing for years.  The Hide Your Hiney has magnets to attach to the car doors, and recycled bicycle tubes cover the magnets to protect your car from scratching.

No hiney here!
My overall takeaway from this race is how different it was from every other mass-start race I’ve done.  During yesterday’s race I never had to surge or bridge a gap; i.e., I never had to burn any matches.  It was all about putting out a steady effort – the maximum possible – the entire time.  Don't get me wrong; it was hard.  It just felt like a different type of spent at the end, maybe one I could recover from more quickly.  Either way, a several-hour nap later that afternoon was just the ticket.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Dublin 600K: A Southern-Fried Brevet

The Dublin 600K brevet is in the books.  I had several reasons for doing this ride.  First, my biggest current goal is doing Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) next year, and I need to get some long brevets under my belt to be ready for that.  The Dublin 600K is the longest brevet on Georgia’s calendar this year.  Additionally, when PBP registration opens next year, the sign-up order will be based on the rider’s longest brevet from the previous calendar year.  A 600K should put me in fairly good standing.  (I wish I could do a 1,000K this year, but my work schedule doesn’t fit with the ones that are offered in other states.)  The only other reason I can give for doing a 600K is that I’m a little tetched in the head.

First Things First

The brevet started in Dublin, GA this past Saturday morning.  Dublin is about an hour-and-a-half drive from my house.  For a shorter brevet, I would have driven down right before the ride.  For a 600K, however, I knew it would be a lot more comfortable spending Friday night at the start.  I had just finished a day and a half of teaching erosion and sedimentation control certification classes in Augusta.  On Friday afternoon I had barely enough time to drive home from Augusta, tie up a few work-related and household loose ends, and head to Dublin for the 600K.  Work hard, play hard:

The next morning six of us gathered at the start: Brad, Brian, David D., Jeff from Tennessee, Ken from Alabama, and I.  Kevin, our generous and hardworking Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA), was there to coordinate and support us.  (Thank you again, Kevin!)  We headed west on the out-and-back route to the Alabama state line.

By the way, the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday was not really on my radar screen.  I vaguely knew that their wedding was sometime soon, but I didn’t know the exact date until the day before when I was listening to the news on the radio.  I thought to myself, “I can’t believe anyone would get up at 6:00 AM to watch the royal wedding!”  Then I thought, “Wayment…I got up to ride my bicycle at 6:00 AM…”

A Seat Post and STEM

I was very grateful to be able to ride with Brian and Ken.  We stayed together the entire time.  Brian is one of my regular rando buddies, and I had ridden a portion of my first 600K with Ken.  Additionally, Brad rode with us to the control in Hawkinsville.  He hung back after that because it was his first 600K (yea!) and he didn’t want to go too hard too early (smart move).

About 40 miles into the ride, I was riding behind Brian as we slowed at an intersection.  I heard a crack.  I thought Brian ran over something and hoped he hadn’t gotten a flat.  About 70 miles in the ride, Brian discovered what had made the cracking noise – his seat post!

We pulled over to assess the situation.  Brian certainly couldn’t continue with a cracked seat post.  Maybe he could make it to the next control by riding on the front tip of his saddle.  Then, Ken had the smart idea to lower the seat post about an inch so that the cracked portion would be supported within the surrounding tube.  That was good enough to get Brian to the next control, but he couldn’t ride the rest of the 600K with such an out-of-whack bike position.

Unfortunately, Kevin hadn’t brought a spare bike, which might have yielded another seat post Brian could have used.  However, I realized that I have several cycling friends who live near that part of Middle Georgia.  Maybe one of them had a seat post Brian could borrow.

I’m glad my phone is my husband Robert’s old one.  It has lots of contact information that I wouldn't have otherwise.  I left a message with Eddie, then with Ray.  Then I remembered that the previous weekend I had dropped my phone into the lake, which had damaged the regular telephone speaker.  I could only use my phone on speakerphone setting.  I had to call both of them back and use the speakerphone to leave messages again.  The second time, Eddie answered.  He said he would have been happy to bring Brian a seat post, but he was in South Georgia plowing fire breaks.

The three of us continued toward the next control with Brian looking like he was riding a clown bike.  A few miles later – of all the luck! – Brian got a flat tire.  Actually, it wasn’t a regular flat tire.  He has tubeless tires and simply needed more air.  While he used his hand pump to fix the problem, I made a few more phone calls.  Tina and Tony live nearby.  Tina’s mailbox was full.  Tony’s wasn’t full, but I got his voicemail.  I left a message, still hopeful.  Brian’s sort-of flat turned out to be fortuitous.

We got back on the road yet again.  A short distance later, a large turtle was crossing the road.  Of course, I had to stop to help.  I told Brian and Ken to keep going, and I’d catch up.  I quickly moved the turtle to the side of the road.  (Always place a turtle on the side of the road toward which it is heading, or it will try to cross the road again.)  Maybe it’s a good thing I did move it because a car came along moments later.

Just after I got back on my bike, my phone rang.  I answered, remembering to put it on speakerphone.  It was Tony!  He said he’d be happy to help.  I called Brian, whom I hadn’t caught up to yet, and asked what size seat post he needed.  Then, I called Tony back.  I’m glad it was a sparsely traveled country road that allowed me to make phone calls while I was riding, which is not something I normally do.

Tony met us at the control in Marshallville:

I was thrilled that my plan actually worked!  More importantly, Brian didn’t have to DNF.  Even Tony was glad that I called because he said that I got him out of mowing his lawn.  Happiness all around.

By the way, I got a new phone.

The Long and Not-So-Winding Road

Soon we came to a 41-mile stretch along Georgia Highway 96 and US Highway 80.  This is a four-lane highway with two lanes in each direction, rumble ridges at the edges, and bike lanes outside of that.  We used the bike lanes as much as we could.  Sometimes, however, they had a lot of debris.  Then we would move to the far-right side of the righthand lane.  That wasn’t too bad because traffic isn’t unduly heavy along this highway.

The Dublin 600K route doesn’t have an abundance of stores along the way.  Therefore, we made sure to take advantage of the ones we did encounter.

Brian had done the Dublin 600K before and knew of The Cotton Gin, a restaurant and inn in Reynolds.  We stopped there for lunch.  I thought about getting a taco salad but went with the catfish po’ boy.  The catfish was delicious, flaky, and not too heavy on the fried side.  Surprisingly, the restaurant didn’t have any hot sauce, but my po’ boy did come with a hot link (smoked sausage link) on top of the catfish.  It was an odd combination that I never would have thought of, but it was oddly tasty:

My choice of sides was fried, fried, fried, or fried: fries, onion rings, chips, or tater tots.  I got the tater tots because I hadn't had them since elementary school.  Now I remember why I hadn't had them since elementary school.

I also got a huge glass of unsweet tea.  Yes, I drink unsweet tea; no one has revoked my Southerner card yet.  As we were filling our water bottles up before we left, I had a great idea.  I had about half a bottle left of lemonade flavored Powerade.  I topped it off with unsweet tea, making an Arnold Palmer Powerade.

The next control was in Geneva, where GA 96 changes to US 80.  We loaded up on food and drink.  (Mostly drink for me – the catfish po’ boy and tater tots felt like they would be sitting in my stomach for hours.)  It was turning into quite a warm day, and shade around the convenience store was scarce.  There were a few chairs in front of the store, but they were in the sun.  Besides, they were occupied by local drunks.  I sat on the curb by the gas pumps, which were covered with an awning.  A couple of guys rode up in a golf cart and parked on the other side of the pumps, and one went inside.  Ken walked up, and the nice golf cart driver offered him a seat:

We would be visiting the same controls on the return trip.  Our second visit to this convenience store would be in the middle of the night, when it wasn’t open.  Therefore, Brian wisely advised that we stash some water in the nearby bushes.

Westward ho!  I’m not easily bored, and I’m pretty heat tolerant, but I had to agree with Brian’s assessment that it was a monotonous road on a hot afternoon.  As we finally neared our next turn, dark clouds gathered on the horizon…

Half Way There

Sure enough, within a few miles the rain started.  We stopped to put on our rain coats.  The rain didn’t last long.  The sun started peeking back out, and it turned into a beautiful early evening.

We went through the town of Cataula.  My cycling friend John lives there.  Robert had made sure I had John’s contact information with me as a precaution.  I’m glad I didn’t need it during the ride, but I’m thankful I knew someone in the area.  Brian laughed at how I know all these people in various parts of the state.  I explained that he’s used to the Atlanta cycling community, which has a huge population density.  The Middle Georgia cycling community has to draw from a much larger geographical area.

Our next control was at a Circle K right on the Georgia/Alabama state line.  About half a dozen cute little boys were hanging out at the store.  They looked like they were around 8-10 years old.  They had all kinds of questions about our bicycles and gear.  As I went inside to buy some Gatorade, one of them came up beside me and asked me to buy him a “juice.”  The bottles of Gatorade were 2 for $3.  If I had bought a single bottle, it would have been $2.39.  So, I was out only about $0.60 for succumbing to his cuteness.  I couldn’t resist buying him a Reese’s peanut butter cup, too.  Ken bought a couple of the other kids some gummy bears.  They really scored that evening!  It was well worth it in my mind to build some good will toward the cycling community and between human beings in general.

We backtracked only a few miles to the next control, a motel in West Point, GA.  Kevin had reserved one room, and Ken had gotten his own room.  Brian, Ken, and I were the only ones there from our group when we arrived.  I took a shower in the room Kevin had reserved, and the guys took showers in the room Ken had reserved.

Then it was time for food.  Kevin had planned to order some pizza for us, but he didn’t get a chance because he had to go back out on the course to check on the other riders.  Therefore, we opted for Newt’s Chicken across the parking lot.  As I was the only one of the three of us who had remembered to bring street clothes, Brian said that if I would walk over and get food for all of us, he’d give me his credit card to pay for it.  It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The one thing I hadn’t put in my drop bag was non-cycling shoes.  (I didn’t anticipate having to walk anywhere.)  Therefore, I’m sure I looked rather strange as I clunked across the parking lot wearing shorts, a T-shirt, and cycling shoes.  Despite his lack of street clothes, Ken decided to accompany me anyway, wearing a neon yellow, sleeveless cycling shirt; bib shorts with the straps hanging down; and cycling shoes.  We seemed to blend in pretty well with the locals.

Ken and I returned with a 12-piece mix of fried chicken and two large sides of cole slaw and potato salad.  I even finagled a couple of small containers of hot sauce.  It was a rando buffet:

It was tasty, but especially after the catfish po’ boy and tater tots at lunch, I was definitely at my limit of fried food for a while.  There’s a certain amount of disregard for nutrition that's necessary during a brevet, but I was really starting to look forward to getting back to my regular diet, which contains a lot more vegetable matter.

Randonneuring veteran Brian had laid out the plan: shower, eat, chill for a while, and head back out around 11:00 PM.  I went back to the other motel room, which was empty because Kevin and the other riders still had not arrived, and set my alarm for a one-hour nap.  I slept for an hour and a half.  I didn’t hear my phone alarm go off.  I think that’s because I had put it on airplane mode to make it charge faster – a neat trick in case you didn’t know.  I woke up when Kevin and Jeff knocked on the door.  It was a few minutes before 11:00 PM!  Time to scramble.

Soon Brian, Ken, and I were back on the road.  We planned to ride through the night to get back to the Cotton Gin in Reynolds, the same place where we had had lunch.  Brian had reserved a room there.  Reynolds was a little past the 400K mark, which would leave us less than 200K to finish.

The Witching Hour

For the first few hours of Sunday, I felt pretty good.  I was tired but fairly alert.  It was about 83 miles to the Cotton Gin and a few more hours of sleep.  I could do this!

US 80 and GA 96 had little traffic in the middle of the night.  The whole time we stayed in the righthand travel lane rather than in the bike lane, avoiding potential debris that would be harder to see at night.

We arrived back at the Geneva control around 3:00 AM.  We retrieved the stashed water and borrowed the drunks’ chairs in front of the store.  (Glad they weren’t still sitting there.)  The closed store and dearth of stores in general wasn’t too big a deal for me because I was carrying a small convenience store in my bike bag, a.k.a. the Yogi Bear picnic basket.  I had brought some semi-stale tortilla chips from my pantry, knowing they would come in handy during the ride.  This is about as rando as it gets:

Although we certainly talked to each other during our stops, we were mostly quiet while riding.  However, after the stop in Geneva, the three of us started talking more to try to help Ken, who was fighting sleep.

Brian and I started getting very sleepy, too.  He dealt with it by significantly increasing his speed.  Ken bridged up to him quickly, but it took me a few miles to catch back on.  In the meantime, I began singing to myself, whatever came into my head.  It was mostly theme songs to old TV shows.  I also sang a few classic rock songs whose lyrics I could remember in my fuzzy-headed state as well as a commercial jingle or two.  I remember calling out "Ricola!" somewhere on the outskirts of Butler.

Then I did something new, kind of voluntarily and kind of involuntarily.  About every five seconds I growled.  I was thinking of an article I read recently about a scientific study that showed that athletes who grunt during a short, intense effort put out measurably more power.  I guess my growling worked.  After a while I didn’t have to work so hard to keep my eyes open.

At last we made it to the Cotton Gin in Reynolds.  Relief at last!  The guys generously let me have one bed, and they shared the other.  I felt kind of guilty seeing them hang off the edges.  I should have offered to sleep on the floor, but they probably wouldn’t have let me.  We slept only about an hour and half, but you wouldn’t believe what a difference that made.

The Push to the End

I woke up at about 7:00 AM and ate the hard-boiled eggs and apple from my Yogi Bear picnic basket.  In addition to Clif Bars and similar bike food, I really like having some real food among the provisions I pack.  I was fortunate to have this breakfast because there were no restaurants open on Sunday morning in Reynolds.

After the fried chicken excursion in West Point the night before, Kevin had ordered pizza for the other riders.  Brian asked me to carry some of the leftover pizza in my Yogi Bear picnic basket, which I was glad to do.  Handily, it served as Ken’s breakfast on Sunday morning.  We both marveled at how heavy the bag of pizza was as I got it out of my bike bag.  I should have billed Brian for the freight charges.

Brian had a Pop Tart and a Frappuccino, but he’s a big guy and needs a ton of calories.  His lack of a real breakfast put a hurting on him later that morning.  We stopped for the second time at the control in Marshallville – more convenience store fuel, but Brian was jonesin’ for something substantial.  We had one last control in Hawkinsville before the end.

Brian spied a Huddle House in Hawkinsville and made a beeline for it.  He got a hamburger and loaded baked potato, and Ken ordered a big breakfast.  I got a waffle and turkey sausage – not a huge meal by brevet standards.  I wasn't terribly hungry, but I knew I should eat.  My energy level definitely was better for the rest of the ride.

Happiness and delirium look a lot alike.
As is always the case on longer brevets, the last 20 miles or so seemed to last forever.  A little conversation did make it easier.  At the end I was fatigued (obviously), and all my contact points with the bicycle (hands, bottom, and feet) were sore.  Even so, I was OK and felt better than at the end than after my first 600K.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

On the drive home, I ate a few provisions left in my Yogi Bear picnic basket.  I got sleepy after a while, and so I pulled into a parking lot at a quiet country church for a 30-minute nap.  That was just what I needed to finish getting home comfortably and safely.

I was so happy to see Robert and the hounds!  Between my classes in Augusta and the 600K, I had been away from home for three nights.  We're rarely apart for that long.

Brushing my teeth and taking a shower made me feel much more human.  Despite my fatigue, I cooked dinner.  (I enjoy cooking, and it relaxes me.)  Robert opened a bottle of sparking wine to celebrate.  I relished our healthy meal of salmon with sesame noodles and bok choy plus the biggest, greenest salad I could assemble.

Post-Ride Analysis

It’s interesting to compare my performances from my two 600Ks.  A 600K has a 40-hour time limit.  I did the Dublin 600K in 34:12.  The fact that I had a comfortable time cushion at the end is a testament to having two strong riding companions the whole way and relatively little climbing (12,000 ft).  In comparison, two years ago I did the Double Caesar 600K in 34:53.  However, I rode much of that one solo and had nearly 22,000 ft of climbing.  Now I have a better feel for just how well I did on my first 600K.

I've also worked out a few technological kinks.  On these longer brevets, I charge my Garmin mid-ride with a battery pack attached to the top tube of my bicycle.  A few weeks ago when I did a 400K, the mount for my Garmin was too cramped, and I mangled the end of the charger cable.  On this 600K, I used a different mount configuration, and it worked perfectly.  The battery pack is supposed to be good for at least two full Garmin charges, but on this 600K I used it only for one partial charge because I also took advantage of wall charging at the restaurant in Reynolds and the two sleep stops.

I had a backup Garmin as well, but I didn't need it on this ride because I was able to keep the first one charged.  It was nice to be able to upload a single ride to Strava rather than having to splice together several segments.

Training-wise and gear-wise, I'm making good progress toward being ready for PBP next year.  The Dublin 600K makes me eligible to preregister on January 28, 2019.  Ride on!