Internal Detours
Saturday, April 22, 2006
  tour de georgia and catching up

Ana and I have a new tradition. We drive down to catch the finish of Stage 1 of the Tour de Georgia in Macon, eat really good Italian food, stay overnight at a great bed and breakfast, then come back to Greenwood the next day.

We got to town and checked in to the 1842 Inn, Macon's coolest b & b, then collected the cooler and walked a couple of blocks down the street to Washington Park. Built in the '30s by the W.P.A., it's possibly my favorite park ever. It's small, hilly, and splits the difference between small-town Southern and Japanese garden. We picnicked on turkey-stuffed pitas, roasted asparagus and home-made potato salad, then walked down Orange Terrace. We passed Washington Square, aka the Atlantis, which had originally been called the Novarro - yes, the exterior was redone, but allegedly they didn't save any of the original architectural details on the inside.

Near the other end of the block we stopped in front of the Palisades. Of all the apartments I ever had, the only one I ever really loved was my downstairs flat in that glorious 1905 structure. The landlord, a retired urologist, lived in the building. Sometimes he'd have a bit too much to drink and would play 1930s cocktail jazz piano at 2:00 in the morning, but it was all right - he was a good pianist. I lived there for less than 11 months, but I have great memories of the place. I paid $200 a month to live there. The place has since been renovated into condos. The last time my old place was on the market, the asking price was $285,000. Ana snapped a picture of me in front of the building, then we walked back towards the park.

On the way, we stopped at what was once Capitol Cycle shop at the corner of Orange and Washington. It's a coffee shop now, a nice one, with wireless internet access and good beverages and polite, helpful staff. It was weird for me, though. I kept looking towards the corner, half expecting to see the stunning chromed '60s Paramount I had admired for more than 20 years. It was on a big rack, chained for safekeeping. That one, at least, got saved. When Capitol decided to move, two flatbed trucks worth of vintage bikes in the basement went to the scrapyard and were cut up within 72 hours. We got our coffees and headed back to the Inn.

Last year we hung out downtown and watched the big sprint from about 100 meters away from the finish line. There's not as much to see there, even if the peloton does roar past four times on the circuit through the city streets. This year, we decided we'd watch from the sidewalk in front of the Inn. We were maybe 40 yards from the crest of the last hill on the course. From there, you get the long view as the racers come around the corner from Washington onto College Street.

There was time for a leisurely loll on the front porch. I read the Macon Telegraph's articles on the race, including the information on the area's cycling clubs. I was amazed at how few cyclists the clubs apparently had - the Greenwood Cycling Club has been able to muster more riders in past years. Ana was not impressed with the paper, and I realized that I could remember that I once worked for the Telegraph, but it felt like another lifetime ago.

It was time. We walked out to the brick sidewalk. Ana had her $9 pencam and mine, and I had the Canon. The first three times the pack roared by they were on the opposite side of the road. The last time, they flew past on our side, maybe three or four feet away from where we sat. I could feel my hair being blown around as they rolled past while I keep taking pictures.

It wasn't just the peloton that I focused on. The stragglers were amazing to watch, especially the last guy. When someone asked why the car following him had brooms attached to the front bumper, I explained that they were there to sweep the field - and that the last rider would die before he got into that car if he could help it.

After the race, we ate at Olive Garden before going shopping at Barnes and Nobles. The next day we did some more shopping before heading for home where a project awaited us. We were up late Wednesday framing the five digital paintings Ana had going to Altered Esthetics' show in Minneapolis, a task that we had hoped to do a week earlier before discovering Ana's supplier had shipped her the wrong size frames. It all came together in time, and they were ready for overnight delivery by bedtime.

Thursday I rode with the club. Speedy Young Zac was there, and he wound up pulling the group I rode with along 185 and down Dixie at much faster speeds than I am accustomed to. Surprisingly for me, I hung on, and at the end of the ride found I'd done 25.6 miles with an average speed of 17.95 mph, which is much faster than I normally manage.

Saturday's club ride was probably rained out - I was running late due to a family automobile emergency, but I still managed to sneak in a 20.5 mile ride. It was much slower than Thursday's pace, but I was still happy.
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Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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