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

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Chilly Today. Ride Tamale.

Today's calendar was open for both Robert and me - amazing!  A day or two ago, Robert asked me about my ride plans.  I told him I wanted to ride to Forsyth to get tamales at La Pasadita Cafe.  This is a great little hole-in-the-wall place next to a gas station that some friends clued us into (the best kind, eh?).

The first time Robert and I tried to go to La Pasadita Cafe was after Peach Peloton on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.  They were closed.  The second time we tried to go there was after Peach Peloton on the Saturday right before New Year's.  They were closed again.  We finally had success the third time, after a Peach Peloton in January.  Our friends had recommended the tacos.  When I saw that tamales are also on the menu, I wanted to order a tamale and a taco.  Tamales are one of my favorite foods.  Alas, they were out of tamales that day, but the tacos were outstanding!  (We also took our friend Cal's advice to order the special salsa that you have to know to ask for.  It's made with lots of fresh jalapenos and fresh lime juice.)  If the tacos were that delicious, I figured they must make really good tamales, too.  Ever since then, I've been wanting to go back for tamales - thus today's tamale ride.

Robert offered to join me on the ride, and I eagerly agreed.  He even said he'd plan the route.  Great!  How about inviting our Macon cycling friends to join us?  Sure!  He mapped the route and posted a ride on Strava.  We'd start from Juliette at 9:00 AM.  My original plan was to ride from home, but OK.  The bigger bummer is that Robert set his alarm clock for 6:30 - plenty of time to eat breakfast, take care of the dogs, and load the bikes.  I had wanted to wake up without an alarm clock, a rather rare luxury.  It wasn't too big a deal, though, because I wouldn't have slept much later anyway.  In general, I don't sleep too late, even on the weekends.  Little did I know that although my original plan somewhat morphed, Robert's tweaks would make it even better.

We started from the public boat launch next to the Ocmulgee River in Juliette.  It was a cool day.  I wore a long-sleeved, fleece jersey and bib knickers.  Will it ever warm up this year?  Despite the coolness, it was a beautiful morning.

No one joined us for the ride, and so I had Robert all to myself.  No complaints here!

The total route was about 65 miles with tamales at about mile 55.  What a great plan: several hours to lunch with only 10 miles of post-tamale riding.

Robert's route kept us primarily in Monroe County.  I had ridden on most of the roads before, but it had been a while for several of them.  I even got to ride on a couple of roads that were new to me.  Overall, it was a beautiful route with very little traffic.  I am so grateful to live in such a wonderful area for cycling.

The temperature warmed into the 50s.  I was quite comfortable in the cycling gear I had chosen.  The sun shone bright in a blue spring sky.

We identified various breeds of cows as we rode by pastures.  I knew black Angus, Charolais, and Holstein.  Robert also pointed out some Jersey cows, a pretty breed that's not quite as common around here.

I calculated that it would take us a little more than three hours to get to the tamales - plenty of time to build up a good appetite and increase the anticipation.  (As if I needed any more anticipation...)  I had eaten a healthy breakfast and wasn't terribly hungry for the first couple of hours.  I considered not eating anything until tamales but decided that wouldn't be smart.  So, I ate a Clif Bar.  The tamales were still calling my name...

As we approached Forsyth, those tamales sounded better and better.  La Pasadita Cafe at last!

Robert and I went to the counter to order.  Then...

Sadness.  No tamales.  The cashier said they would be ready later that afternoon.  I expressed my disappointment, saying that we had ridden three hours just for tamales.  She apologized, and I could tell she felt bad.  I felt terrible for making her feel bad.  I quickly perked up, gladly ordering some delicious tacos.

That's nacho tamale.
As a bonus, our friends Cal and Cody plus Cody's wife and daughter were there at the same time.  Cal and Cody had just finished a group ride from Bolingbroke.  Getting to see them almost made up for the lack of tamales.  Almost.

The third time was the charm on simply getting to eat at La Pasadita Cafe.  Maybe the third time eating there will be the charm on getting tamales.  Ride on!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Cycling Is Life Is Cycling

A year ago last week, I changed jobs.  It's been a lot of work, but it definitely has been a good change.  I actually have two part-time jobs that keep me busy at least full time.  That's why I don't blog as much as I used to :)  I'm finally writing about some observations that I've made in recent months - the many ways that cycling is like life and vice versa.


I started randonneuring in December 2013.  Brevets and permanents usually start very early in the morning, which means I have to get up at o' dark thirty.  I quickly learned that I could save a little time (i.e., sleep a few more minutes) by eating breakfast in the car as I drive to the start.

I've adapted this trick to my teaching job.  I really like teaching erosion and sedimentation (E&S) control classes, but the days are long.  I get up uber early, drive usually 90 minutes or more, arrive at least an hour before class starts to set up everything, teach an 8-hour class, administer an exam, and drive home.  A 14-hour day is typical.  When I first started teaching, Rita, who handles the administrative side of the classes (scheduling, receiving payments, etc.), told me that I wouldn't want to teach more than two or three days a week.  She was right.  Eating breakfast in the car, randonneuring style, streamlines my day a little bit.  The only difference is that when I'm driving to a class, I wear an apron so that I don't mess up my work clothes.


Both randonneuring and my classes involve a lot of "stuff."  For a brevet or permanent, I have to pack my Garmin with the route uploaded, food, hydration, lights, reflective gear, weather appropriate cycling clothing, etc.  I always make a list a few days before the ride.  Even though I've done bunches of these rides, I make a list every time so that I don't forget anything.

My supply list for teaching includes my laptop with PowerPoint presentations, course books, field manuals, a bluetooth speaker, a projector, a big ol' screen (in case the meeting room doesn't have one), a turbidimeter, paperwork, my notary stamp...  Quite a conglomeration, isn't it?  That's why I have a checklist for this, too.


Rita sends me the class roster the day before.  It's usually around 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon - early enough to know how many books to pack for class, but not a lot of extra time.  It's like getting the list of TT start times the night before a race.


In addition to teaching E&S classes, I'm also the Executive Director of the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers (GSPE).  Most of my GSPE days are 8 hours or less (it's supposed to be a part-time job), but I do get an occasional marathon day, like on MATHCOUNTS competition days.  Whether it's a long teaching day or a long GSPE day, the endurance I've built up in cycling really has helped me at work.  Keep pedaling...

Sleep (or Lack Thereof)

I inherited some pretty big kinks with my GSPE job.  Things certainly are smoother than when I started a year ago, but I've lost a significant amount of sleep in the interim.  I don't have any trouble going to sleep, but if I wake up in the middle of the night, often I have trouble falling back asleep.  It's stress, pure and simple.  I wish ultra cycling events were the only time I had to deal with limited sleep.

By the way, when I'm running on fumes, whether after a long day teaching or after riding a 400K, I have no compunction about finding a safe, quiet spot to pull over and take a nap in my car if I start getting sleepy on the drive home.

On Top of the Pedals

A couple of experiences I've had in just the past week compelled me to finally write this blog entry.  I discovered yet another way that cycling and life remind me of each other.

This past Tuesday evening, Robert and I went to Tuesday Worlds as usual.  Although I hung with the A group for only the first 11 miles, I rode well.  I was putting out power and propelling my bicycle.  I was the energizing force.  This is in contrast to most days when I ride well enough, but I'm a more passive part of my human-bicycle system.  It's not something you can really control, but those powerful days sure do feel good.  Cyclists call it riding on top of the pedals.

Yesterday I went to Erosion Control Day, a day of continuing education classes.  It reminded me that I really love my professional specialty.  E&S control isn't a static body of knowledge; there are new, interesting, and innovative things to learn and implement all the time.  The goal is to keep sediment out of our waters, both for human benefit and that of all the other creatures that rely on us to take care of this limited resource.  Erosion Control Day was one of the best continuing education events I've ever attended.  It got me even more excited about something that I'm already passionate about.  There are plenty of days when I feel like I'm just slogging through, but yesterday I felt like I was on top of the pedals of life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuesday Worlds! Tuesday Worlds! Party Time! Excellent!

Daylight Saving Time started this past weekend.  Some people have been complaining about DST because it's dark when they get up and go to work/school.  Ain't nobody got time for that - DST means it's time for a new season of Tuesday Worlds!

Robert and I headed to Bolingbroke for what we estimate to be about our 15th year of Tuesday Worlds.  It was great to reconnect with our cyclopeeps, especially the ones who didn't come out for Peach Peloton over the winter.

We also received a warm welcome from Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which has let us use their parking lot as our staging area for a number of years.  Several church members greeted everyone as we arrived for Worlds, giving each cyclist a generous goody bag!  We certainly appreciate their hospitality.

Bill is the de facto Grand Poobah of our group.  Because it was our initial ride of the season, he gathered us for a brief meeting about A group/B group, route, etc..  Then he recognized Rev. Andy, the pastor of Mt. Zion, who was also kitted up to ride with us as he sometimes does.  Bill thanked Rev. Andy, saying, "We don't know what the hell we would do if we couldn't park here."  The group cracked up as Bill realized what he said and apologized.  Rev. Andy let it roll right off his back, saying, "That's biblical."

Every year our group debates how to delineate the A group and the B group.  Have everyone start together and let it split up when the attacks start?  Start the A group and have the B group follow a few minutes later?  There are pros and cons to both approaches.  This year we settled on the latter approach.  I'm sort of in the A-/B+ group.  I like to ride hard, but when the strongest guys surge and attack, I usually get dropped.  I decided to start with the A group and hang on as long as I could.  If I got dropped, hopefully I could join the B group when they caught up.

We headed out on the familiar Tuesday route.  About 6.5 miles in, we got to good ol' Moore Hill (the hill on Zebulon right before Moore Road).  This climb has kicked my butt more times than I can count.  Amazingly, I stayed with the guys.  They started to drop me right at the top, but I clawed back on.  Thankfully, I had a breather for a few pedal strokes when I caught up.

Hmm...Moore Hill was tough, as I expected, but I didn't get dropped there like I did almost every time last year.  Maybe the guys were going slower for the first Worlds of the year.  Maybe it was a fluke.  Or maybe...I might have a better night than I had anticipated.

A little more climbing on Moore - I stayed on.  Left on Shi, then a mile later, right on Hill Road.  The turn onto Hill and the subsequent descent are often my undoing.  This time I hung on!  The pace was about as hard as I could sustain, but it was steady.  As long as there weren't serious surges or attacks, I might have a chance at hanging on for a while.

Another steady effort up King, right onto Highway 41, and a quick left onto Old Macon.  I felt good on the climb before Rumble Road.

Past the church in Smarr and onto Reedy Creek - this would be my real proving ground.  The climbs on Reedy Creek are notorious for plucking riders from the peloton.  The first climb is tough, but I stayed on.  The second, slightly smaller climb - OK.  Then the hardest one - the third, steep climb followed by the false flat to the end of the road.  I made it!

We kept up a fast but steady pace through the Maynard's Mill fly zone.  I had stayed on for more than half the ride.  (I remember back when Robert and I first started riding in Macon - back then I was excited when I hung on for 10 miles!)  I was working hard, but I estimated that I could continue my effort for the 10 or 12 remaining miles as long as there weren't big surges or attacks.

Back on the Zebulon Road lollipop stick.  The guys always hit it hard on these locally famous climbs: Alpe d'Zebulon, Icing on the Kake, and Zeb Kicker.  However, by now I was confident in the power my leg muscles were putting out.

We turned onto Estes for the final push.  I felt fine until we approached Sanders Road.  I expected us to turn right, returning to the church the same way we had gone out, as we've done the last few years.  I must have missed the discussion about going back in on Rivoli.  The peloton continued straight and strong on Estes, and I had to rev it up again after I slowed down for the turn we didn't take after all.  But I caught back on and stayed with the group until - hallelujah! - they sat up for the cool-down over the last couple of miles.

I was ecstatic!  I hadn't hung with the A group the entire time since (I think) 2016.  I know why I was able to hang on tonight.

For the last few months, Robert has had me doing some cycling-specific weight lifting.  I've been lifting weights since I was in high school, but it's mostly been light weights at high repetition to maintain muscle tone.  Now, I'm also doing squats and Bulgarian split squats, using enough weight so that it's hard to complete a set of 10.  These two exercises target the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, developing exactly the kind of power that helps in Tuesday Worlds.

Tonight as I struggled up the hardest climbs and bridged the gap a few times, my lungs felt like they were going to explode - that's not uncommon as I try to stay with the guys at Tuesday Worlds.  The difference is that my muscles felt like they were bearing some of that load of exertion.  It was enough to let me hang on.

Here's to an auspicious start to the 2018 season of Tuesday Worlds!