Internal Detours
Sunday, February 19, 2006
  another cold fixed-gear ride

The weather was beautiful for much of the last week, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to high 60s. Of course I was working and couldn't ride then. By the time Ainsley and I started swapping emails and plotting Saturday's ride, the predictions were for highs around 40 and rain.

Rain doesn't stop us anymore. After I agreed that we would ride rain or shine, Ainsley responded, "And again if I find icicles on my beard I will think about calling it quits, not that I will, but I will think about it. See you at ten."

I prepared for the ride with a hearty breakfast of oatmeal made with organic milk instead of water, and laden with organic peanut butter and raisins, followed by dressing in multiple layers of wool. The rain cape was rolled up and strapped to my saddlebag, and spare gloves and other impedimenta went inside the main compartment of the bag itself.

Ainsley was already mounted up and ready to roll when I got to the fountain. We discussed which direction to take before deciding we'd just head "out there somewhere." It was an uneventful ride at first, but halfway down the rail-trail conversion we flushed a good-sized hawk from the edge of the pathway. He flew low, maybe four feet off the ground, carrying away whatever small animal he'd captured for breakfast, before swooping up and taking refuge in a tree.

We reached Florida Avenue, and on a whim we turned right and crossed the 225 Bypass. Down the hill, over the bridge, and back up the long hill as it curves steadily to the right until it crests at Alexander Road. Left, and a long steady descent carries you down to another little bridge, another climb, and another stop sign. We turned left and headed out Briarwood.

Along the way, we had stopped a couple of times for Ainsley to shed a layer of clothes, then his balaclava, while I needed to remove my windbreaker and stuff it into my saddlebag. The cloud cover was initially very thick, so much so it made the sun look like the moon. As we rode on, the sky cleared and the world warmed up, just a little at least.

We passed the point of county maintenance and bumped and rattled our way to White Hall Road, turning left and heading out along the flat, deserted route to yet another ghost town. The 28 mm Continental tires soaked up much of the rough road surface, but I still could feel it vibrating against my palms through my gloves.

We were comfortable now, riding at a conversational pace. We crossed Highway 221 and continued on our way to the dead end into Rock House Road, site of the legendary haunted house. Another quick discussion and we turned right onto Breezewood, sparing us several miles of bumpy chipseal road, but condemning us to fighting headwinds on the way in.

As we passed a long, thick hedge by the roadside, we could see movement and hear some sort of growling sound. I wondered, "what in Hell is that?" for a moment, before the man in the tractor hat straighened up with his chainsaw from behind the shrubs. We exchanged hellos and we rolled on.

A moment's rest, then left onto Callison Highway and back towards Greenwood. We both stood to spin up one of the rollers, and were in a strange synchronized dance, my left foot and pedal descending in time to his right. I wondered how long it would take for our rhythms to sync, as Ainsley was riding a 65-in gear, and I was on a 67. We crested the rise and both sat down and the question was shelved.

Back in towards town now, feeling spooked as we found the intersection onto Highway 25 clear, then made the turn onto 225 without having to wait for traffic. We worked our way back in through the Wisewood subdivision and back to Florida Avenue and the rail trail. The hawk had moved on, but there were half a dozen or so pedestrians we got to greet as we passed them by.

It was noticeably colder now, and the clouds were rolling in. About the time we pulled up at the fountain, it was cold enough to warrant pulling my jacket back on. The riders from the 11:00 ride pulled in now, and while they discussed having lunch at T.W. Boons, I gave my regrets and headed home. I found myself wanting another layer, and there was a headwind that hadn't been there earlier.

My final mileage for the day was 32.88 miles.

Five minutes after I got home, the rain started.
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Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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