in which fred takes us to the lake
Ainsley and I met at 9:00 at the fountain today for a quick warm-up loop before the club ride. The way out was predictable, and if you've read this blog long enough, you know the route as well as I do - out along the trail, through Wisewood, right on 221, left on 225, and then across U.S. 25 South along Scotch Cross road towards Ninety Six. The original plan called for turning off onto Hitching Post Road, a dirt road we'd both been curious about but had never ridden down.
Down the road we went, swapping stories as always. I had a chance to tell Ainsley about a conversation I'd recently had with Ana.
"We were watching TV, and they had some ad with vignettes of people doing unconventional things, right? Well, one of the vignettes was people racing lawn mowers," I said. "I told her I'd seen a couple of articles about that.
"Well, she looked up at the screen, then looked over at me and said, deadpan, totally serious, 'I don't ever want to hear in the same sentence about you, Ainsley, and lawn mower racing.' "
He howled with laughter. "If we DO get into lawn mower racing, we'd have to do something with a pushmower and some forks ..."
"Oh, like one of those reel mowers?"
"Yeah, but with some sort of fixed-gearing," he said.
The wind was ferocious, and directly in our faces. By the time we hit 225, I was grateful I'd chosen to ride Belle, my bike with the most gears to choose from. When we hit 25 South, we stopped and considered our options. We finally decided to take 25 back to town, arriving at 10 minutes till.
John Lake, aka Campbell, was waiting, as was David Craig. Strawhorne arrived, then Fred rolled up. Jim rode up a minute later, benefiting from living in town now that he's married. Landon the Silent arrived, Andrew Douglas shocked us by riding when the temperature was below 70 degrees.
We had a spirited discussion of routes before deciding to let Fred lead us out to the lake. We rode down Main and hooked our way over to Durst Avenue, crossing the bypass and riding towards Laurens County.
Of course we were spread out into small bunches as we went. I sat on Ainsley's wheel for a while heading out of town. Beyond the bypass, a gap opened between us, and Jim came around me and tucked in. A couple of miles further and I slipped off the back a bit. Strawhorne rode behind me, explaining that he'd burned a few matches too many on his raging ride Thursday evening.
It's been five years at least since I've descended the big hill on the Old Laurens Highway to the bridge over Lake Greenwood. I was wondering about the climb, but Fred led us left almost immediately onto Sulfer Springs Road.
I'd forgotten what it was like to climb like that. Seriously, the narrow road with the jerky shifts in grade was just like Route 602 in Ferrum, Virginia, the road I learned about climbing and pain on circa 1974. I downshifted and settled in, never quite losing sight of everyone else, but not quite catching them, either.
They were waiting for me at the stop sign where Sulfer Springs crosses Riverton. We had to pry Andrew off the other side of Sulfer Springs, which had nice new asphalt - "My bike saw a smooth road and wanted to go there," he said - and turned right, eventually making another turn and getting to experience a tailwind. Ainsley and I were in agreement that we needed pictures, but his batteries had died, while I had foolishly left my camera at home.
The climb back up from the bridge was one I would once have described as a monster. Today, while I once again slipped off the back, I just chugged along until I rejoined them. We took a different route back, going left onto Highway 246 for a couple of miles until we reached Coronaca and took a right onto Bucklevel Road. I hadn't ridden that road since the early '80s, when I used to ride with Rick Flowe and Scott Reese. I fell off the back on those rides a lot, too.
We were once again stretched out into several small bunches. As I approached some rail road tracks, Campbell was urging me to hasten before the train arrived. Of course, there was no train.
"Yeah, I was pulling your leg on that," he said. "Then I thought, 'you know, that might not be such a good thing to do.' "
I settled in on his back wheel and said, "Yeah, but knowing that something might not be a good idea doesn't always stop us, now, does it?"
We reached Durst, where Fred was watching us pass from his driveway. We waved goodbye and headed on in to town. I said my goodbyes and peeled off onto North and headed home. Total mileage was 36.95 miles, not bad for a very windy day with some stiff hills. Pity about the lack of photos, though.