JJR crash, getting dropped, a good club ride and an anniversary
Saturday I loaded Belle up into the bed of the truck and drove up to Pendleton to ride the Jubilee Joy Ride. It's been a few years since I did this one. It's a hilly ride with 28 and 63 mile routes, and it's always the first Saturday in April. It's pretty much the first official event ride of the season around here, and historically, it's been the first warm ride of the year. In past years I've come back with sunburned legs.
I got off to a later start than I planned, and it naturally took me longer to get there than I hoped for. I still wanted to do the metric century, though. I was unloading the bike when David Craig, Greenwood Cycling Club member and long-term cyclist showed up. Apparently, we had a crew from the GCC up for the ride, and the plan was to ride the shorter route. I figured I could ride that much with them, then see if I still wanted to do the metric.
I took some quick photos before we took off, getting shots of Joanne and Alan Burkette, Bill Thomson, Connie Boltz and David Craig.
Of course we broke up on the way out. I found myself on David's wheel as we watched the Burkette's tandem and Bill's Trek go up the road, while Connie was adrift a couple of hundred yards behind us. We stopped and regrouped on Fants Grove Road.
The Burkettes were leading aboard their Burley tandem; I was directly behind them, and had settled into the drops for th
e slight descent we were on. I noted we were going about 18 mph, and I was just beginning to think this might be a good ride after all when there was a huge crashing sound behind me.
I glanced over my shoulder, taking in David Craig riding behind me, and saw at least one rider lying in the road. "Rider down!" I yelled at Joanne and Alan, and I slowed enough to do a U-turn and ride back.
It looked pretty bad at the scene. Bill was out cold and Connie was bleeding from a scalp wound. It turned out she had fractures to her elbow and sinus bones and a concussion in addition to the cut. Bill got a broken forearm, lots of road rash, and was unconscious for several. They both left the scene in an ambulance bound for the hospital in Anderson. David later described it as the worst wreck he'd ever seen that didn't involve a car.
So we rode back to the start - where I discovered I'd left my regular gla
sses and my sunglasses case at the crash site while digging around in my saddlebag. I drove down, found my stuff, then followed David to the hospital. Both crash victims were doing better, so I headed back to Greenwood.
Sunday I met the club for a ride from Hodges. In hindsight, the communication was not what it could have been. We didn't talk about the route, and the pack took off like so many bottle rockets. There was a time when I would push myself beyond my limits to stay with them at the start of a ride like that, but that was before the heart attack and bypass surgery. Their backs going over the first hill on Blue Jay Road was the last I saw of them. I later learned they thought I had peeled off to ride with another club member who got dropped.
At any rate, I spent the next several miles pushing along, figuring they'd eventually stop and regroup. No dice. About eight miles or so into it, I sat up and rode my own ride. I went down Blue Jay past Klugh Road to where it became the Old Abbeville-Hodges Road, then past Stevenson and a right turn that eventually put me onto a series of roads on the edge of Abbeville.
I got onto Highway 20 and headed towards Due West, finding a comfortable, loping rhythm. I was riding like a tourist, not a racer, and I decided I really was happy with it. When I got to Central Shiloh Road, I turned right, then pointed Belle down Gilgal Church Road. When I got to 185 I decided I wouldn't have enough miles if I
took the usual right turn back to Hodges, so I went straight across.
It was bumpy, but that's why I ride a steel bike with 28mm tires. It was forests, then scrub woods, then agricultural country. On a longish flat, I saw two large Great Pyrenees dogs out along the road near a driveway. As I approached, a car pulled out and came towards me.
The lady driving made a point of rolling down her windows and assuring me they wouldn't bite before driving off. I thanked her and rode on towards the dogs. They barked, one to my left, one to my right, but didn't come onto the pavement. I assured them I would be a lousy choice of animals to herd, they agreed while saving as much face as possible, and we went our separate ways.
Don't ask me how I managed it, but I wound up getting confused when I hit Pickens Creek Road. I rode for a while, then discovered I'd taken the wrong turn when I reached Highway 178 instead of 185. Hmm. Well, I'd ridden worse, so I pointed Belle down the road and went. The drivers were well-behaved, there was a decent shoulder, and when I saw West Grumling, I took it, knowing I'd seen its other end on 185. It was a fun little road, concluding with a nice little wall of a climb. I went left and back to Hodges and wound up with 30.5 miles for the day.
Tuesday's club ride went better. I wound up riding with John Lake and David Craig for most of it. In the wake of Sunday's ride, we discussed the route with all riders, and agreed on Jim's suggestion we go out Dixie to Hodges, thence to Blue Jay, a left on Klugh, and back in on Flatwood to Dixie and thence home. You can imagine our surprise when Jim took the Lagrone Road option, then apparently went down Flatwood and reversed the course. We learned this later - we'd gone to Hodges, doubled back to check on Jim, then went down Flatwood in pursuit. When we hit Klugh, we turned back towards Greenwood to beat nightfall, ending with 21 miles.
Today I commuted on Julius. It's the second anniversary of my quadruple bypass surgery. Last year I celebrated it by climbing the wicked steep second hill on Klugh Road on a 71-in fixed gear - after having my heart monitor stop working on the first anniversary of my heart attack. No coincidences, right?
Tomorrow night beckons - the first Thursday night club ride of the season, the resumption of the Callaham Challenge. Stripe is oiled up and adjusted, tires pumped up, bottles filled and in the fridge, ready for it. I hope I get there early enough to slip off for an early start, giving me a chance to warm up some before the peloton overtakes me like some poor sod in the Tour who almost got to the red kite alone. It's a great ride, with the options of a little suffering, a lotta suffering, or Phil-Liggett-"he's-suffering-like-he's-never-suffered-before,-Paul" suffering.
There's no such thing as a bad ride so long as everyone is still upright at the end of the day, right?