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, July 28, 2018

Dinosaur Ride - ROWR!

When I do a longer weekend ride starting from home, I sometimes like to incorporate a special destination or theme.  Today I did a Dinosaur Ride.  ROWR!

Chickens are descendants of dinosaurs.  Therefore, I pinned my stuffed animal chicken to the back of my jersey:

He's wearing a bird flu shirt.  That sort of fits in with the evolutionary theme because every year medical professionals try to stay a step ahead of the season's predicted flu strains, which constantly evolve.

This morning I volunteered with a fundraising event for Heifer International, one of my favorite organizations.  Therefore, I didn't get to head out for my ride until about 2:30 PM, but I didn't mind a bit.  The route was 69 miles long, which would take me over four hours.  It was well worth it, though, because of the special grand finale I had planned.

I took two bottles of water and knew I would need at least one refill stop during the ride.  I took the first good opportunity at B.F. Grant checking station on Godfrey Road.  I had gone through one bottle and still had one left, but I sure am glad I refilled there.

Although it was a hot day, I found it quite pleasant.  I enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells of midsummer: deep green foliage against the bright blue sky, the first kudzu blooms, and fields of corn.  I'll take a little heat and sweat any day over the cold winter.

I was going through approximately a bottle an hour.  There were no stores on my route, and so I intended to rely on churches, usually great sources for water if they have outdoor spigots.  I thought I remembered a church on Davis Ford Road that would be good timing for a refill.  Yep, there was Gaithers United Methodist Church, a little country church.

I rode up, and - thank you, Lord! - there was a hose on the side of the church building next to a few tomato plants.  Then, I thought, I'd better not count my chickens (or dinosaurs) before they're hatched.  Sure enough, after I disconnected the hose and turned on the spigot, there was a small dribble and then nothing.

I thought there might be a church on County Line Road, just a few miles farther.  Yes, Rocky Creek Church - they, too, had a spigot but no water.  I wasn't in dire straits, but I was getting pretty thirsty.  I'd have to ride another five or six miles until my next church opportunity.  Hopefully, the third time would be the charm.

Prospect United Methodist Church, please have water...  Yea!  They did.  I downed a whole bottle right there (my stomach didn't even get sloshy), and I refilled for the remaining 10 miles or so.

I was in the home stretch, heading back toward Monticello on Calvin Road.  Suddenly, two medium-size dogs (pit-bull mixes maybe) started running straight toward me.  I tried to slow down and move to the left, but they double-teamed me.  I ran over one of the dogs!  He yelped but got up and immediately ran away along with the other dog, apparently not really hurt.  In the few split seconds right after I ran over him, I somehow managed to stay upright as I rode slightly into the grass on the left hand side of the road.  That could have been bad for one or both of us.  A few seconds later, the owner, who must have heard me yelling at the dogs, called out to me, "They won't bother you!"  Too late.

Just a few more miles, and then came the pinnacle of my ride: a Jurrasic Chomp Blizzard at Dairy Queen!  I had seen this limited-edition flavor advertised on the sign of my local DQ.  As I planned my ride, I went online to find out just what's in a Jurrasic Chomp Blizzard.  It has soft chocolate-covered bits of peanut butter in a base of vanilla soft serve ice cream mixed with chocolate syrup.  Yes, it was delicious!

After I sat down to enjoy my treat, I wanted to take a picture of me chomping at my Jurrasic Chomp Blizzard.  I typically don't do selfies, but I didn't want to bother anyone else in the restaurant to take my picture.  A snap here, a snap there - all I could seem to get was the side of my head.  I guess my arms are shorter than I thought.

Then, in walked Robert!  He had been tracking me on Find My Friends and came to join me for a Blizzard.  What a great surprise!  He was nice enough to take my chomp picture, too:

My chicken/dinosaur enjoyed sharing my Jurassic Chomp Blizzard with me:

It was just a few short miles home from there.  I highly recommend both chicken/dinosaurs and the Jurassic Chomp Blizzard.

By the way, given that my day was filled with dinosaurs and churches, check out the dinosaurs from Jesus's day:

 Actually, this is much more like the Jesus I know:

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Tale of Two TTs

State TT

It was the fastest of times, it was the slowest of times.  This year’s state time trial (TT) championship was on July 14.  For several months I had been including once-a-week interval training in my cycling schedule.  This, along with trying to hang on with the guys at Tuesday Worlds, gave me the intensity training I needed to get ready for the state TT.  As always, it was somewhat difficult to simultaneously work on intensity while also doing ultra cycling events, but hey, what’s a little challenge?

TTs have been on the wane in Georgia in recent years.  That’s probably partly due to few race promoters and partly due to less interest – kind of a chicken-and-egg situation.  Therefore, relatively few people signed up for the state TT, especially women.  The women’s Cat 4 and Cat 5 races each had about four competitors.  I was the only Cat 3 women’s racer.  There were no Cat 2 or Cat 1 women racers.  That’s disappointing.

Officially, I’m a Cat 4 with USA Cycling.  Because your category is based on mass-start races (road races and crits), which I don’t do, I can’t ever cat up.  However, you can race in a higher (numerically lower) category on TTs.  I’ve been racing long enough and have performed well enough that it’s fairer for me to compete in TTs as a Cat 3.  Therefore, that’s what I’ve done at the state TT for the past few years.

The registration deadline for the state TT was Thursday night before the Saturday race.  I kept watching the registrations to see if any other Cat 3 women signed up – nope.  Christine is usually tough competition, but I saw from Strava that she was in Idaho racing a TT.  She definitely would have crushed me if she had shown up at the state TT.  Even though I was guaranteed a state champion jersey, I still wanted to race hard.  Therefore, I set a different goal for myself: have the fastest women’s time.

Robert pleasantly surprised me by deciding to do the men’s Masters 50-54 state TT.  He focuses on road races and rarely does TTs.  So, it was extra nice to get to spend the day together.  We headed out early Saturday morning for Hawkinsville.

It was a new state TT course this year.  I had raced a small portion of it on previous TTs in the Warner Robins area, but it was mostly new roads for me.  Robert and I got to recon a good portion of the course as we drove to the start.  There were no big surprises; the terrain was rolling hills, similar to much of our usual riding.

We were glad to see a lot of our cycling friends, including teammates Chad, Tony, and Tina.  Chad was Robert’s biggest head-to-head competition in Masters 50-54. Tony was in the Masters 45-49 category.  Tina wasn’t able to race to due recent surgery, but it was nice to have her there to cheer us on.  (She would have given me a run for my money in Cat 3!)

I warmed up on my trainer as per my usual race procedure.  Despite a guaranteed win in my category, I still felt nervous.  I felt compelled to race my best, regardless.  My theme song for the morning was MC Hammer’s 2 Legit 2 Quit.

As the women lined up at the start line, a teenage girl in front of me commented to her father that she didn’t get much of a warm up.  He said, “Yeah, but you’ve got youth on your side.”  I said, “Yeah, but we’re older, and we have more insurance.”

I was the last woman in the lineup, following the Cat 5s and Cat 4s.  I was glad for the carrots.  If I could pass a few of them, I stood a good chance of having the fastest women’s time.

I was off!  I reminded myself not to put out too much power too soon, as is so easy to do with that initial burst of adrenaline.  My power meter is extremely helpful for this.  It also helps me later in a race to keep my power up.  The key to a good TT is maintaining your threshold power, adjusted up or down a little depending on the race length.  This course was 18.5 miles, which would take me around 50 minutes.  Threshold power by definition is the maximum power you can maintain for one hour.  Therefore, I needed to put out a few more watts than threshold for this race.

A couple of miles into the race, a dog ran after me.  I had been riding toward the righthand edge of the lane, but I had to swerve just outside the middle yellow line to avoid hitting the dog and/or being bitten.  If any of the race officials saw that, I prayed that surely they wouldn’t penalize me for a yellow-line violation given that I had to protect myself.

I approached the first section of the course that had significant climbing.  Hills are generally to my advantage.  I passed three other women in this section – a good sign.

I continued onto the first of two four-lane highways.  This part of the course was mostly flat.  Although I had passed a few other women, I didn’t feel like I was racing that well.  I felt fatigued, and I wasn’t putting out as much power as I wanted.  Still, I didn’t give up.  I kept my head in it as best I could, telling myself to keep pedaling, keep pedaling – strong and steady.

The course turned onto another four-lane highway, Larry Walker Parkway.  This had the biggest climb of the course, about a 4% grade for 0.75 mile.  That’s not huge, but remember that TT bikes aren’t built for climbing.  I put my head down to grind it out, knowing that this could be a make-or-break section for time.

After that climb, it was mostly flat for the remaining three miles.  Just stay in this a few more minutes.  The finish line should be coming up.  Around a curve – there it is!  I gave it all I had.

That was painful.  But then, if you race a TT properly, it’s supposed to be painful.  I really felt like I did the best I could even though my power numbers weren’t what I had hoped.

The race organizers used a timing chip technology that I hadn’t seen before.  The chip was stuck on your helmet.  Even more notable was that results were available very quickly.  Each racer could get a printout of his/her time.  I could see my time and my place in my category, but I didn’t know the times of the other women.  Then I realized that I could check the Precision Race website.  Yep, it looked like I had the fastest women’s time!  I may not have felt my fastest, but it was enough to reach my goal.

Then, I got a surprise; there was a cash payout to the fastest female and fastest male!

That made me even gladder that I had raced as hard as I could.  By the way, the first-place guy was 10 minutes faster than me!

Robert, Chad, our friend Louis, and I went to El Camino in Macon for lunch afterwards.  El Camino has great tacos.  It was also fun to hang out with the entire Masters 50-54 podium:

L-R: Robert (3rd), Louis (1st), and Chad (2nd)
Hoot Owl 200K Brevet

My randonneuring group typically has an overnight 200K brevet in July to take advantage of cooler temperatures and lighter traffic.  This year it was a new route, the Hoot Owl 200K.  I wanted to ride it but decided not to because it was that Saturday night after the state TT.  That would have been too much.  However, because the brevet route included a control (stop) in Monticello, I offered to provide ride support.  So many of my rando buddies have given generously of their time and energy to stage and support brevets, and so I was glad to give a little back.

The local 24-hour Circle K was the official control, but I thought it would be a lot more festive to greet the riders as they rode through the Monticello square in the middle of the night.  My adventure included a pre-sunset picnic with Robert, pitching a tent on the square, and greyhounds!  I’m saving the details for an article in the winter edition of American Randonneur magazine, but suffice it to say, it was a hoot!

Georgia Cycling Gran Prix TT

The Georgia Cycling Gran Prix is an annual stage race.  For the last several years, it was held just up the road in Newton County.  It was moved north of Atlanta this year.  This year’s Georgia Cycling Gran Prix TT was only 7.5 miles long.  I wasn’t thrilled about having to drive two hours for such a short race, but I signed up for it because it was my last real chance to race a TT this season.

Following the previous weekend’s state TT, I had the added incentive of getting to wear my team state championship skin suit again.  That’s great on its own, but it also fits me well.  I have a skin suit that says USA.  It fits tightly like it’s supposed to, but it’s borderline too tight.  I always joke about feeling like a sausage in it.  I’ve borrowed skin suits from Robert, but his are slightly too big for me.  My state championship skin suit is just right.

The workweek before the Georgia Cycling Gran Prix TT was tiring.  I taught erosion and sedimentation control certification classes four of the five days, which is way more than I usually teach in one week.  I really enjoy teaching the classes, but the driving makes for extra long days.  I taught in Marietta on Monday and Tuesday, commuting back and forth.  That made for a 14-15 hour day both times.  Then, I taught in Augusta all day Thursday and half a day Friday.  I did get to spend the night there between classes, but it was another uber early morning Thursday to drive to Augusta.  So, I wasn’t as rested as I would have liked going into Saturday’s race.

The communication about the Georgia Cycing Gran Prix TT was less than optimal.  As late at Friday night, I couldn’t find any TT start times on the race webpage or the race Facebook page, and I hadn’t received an e-mail with start times.  I sent a message via Facebook but received no reply.  The race flyer said the TT started at 8:00 AM.  Therefore, I had to assume I might start that early.  I set my alarm for 4:30 AM (ack!) and got on the road at 5:00 AM to head to Lula.  That would put me at the start by 7:00 AM, enough time to check in and warm up.

As I drove north, spectacular thunderstorms lit up the predawn sky.  I had checked the hourly forecast for Lula multiple times and thought we might dodge the rain.  During the summer the rain can be sporadic in both duration and location.

When I got to the church where the TT was to be staged, I saw a few people huddled under an awning by the door.  I assumed they were other racers waiting out the rain.  When I approached, however, I learned that they were a church youth group about to head somewhere.  The TT had been cancelled!

Man, was I bummed about having gotten up so early and driven all that way for nothing.  I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t gotten the word, though.  An unknowing USA cycling official also showed up.  I tried to console myself with the thought that it could have been worse.  It was better than a crash, for example.  At least I got to listen to a good audiobook during the drive.

So, that’s my last competitive cycling event until the Fried Green 50 in November.  I’m looking forward to some rest in the meantime.

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!