Internal Detours
Sunday, September 10, 2006
  it gets dark earlier
I rode Tuesday night on Stripe, something like 20.5 miles. I'm embarassed to admit I don't even remember who I was riding with. I do remember that it looked like it might rain, hence the choice of mounts. That will change whenever I finally send Stripe off for repainting.

Wednesday I led the club ride from downtown at the fountain aboard Belle. We got off to a late start, something like 6:15 instead of the usual 6:00. As a result, we took the Pembroke Road shortcut in the middle of the ride and the straight-shot-down-Alexander-Road near the end. We wound up splitting into several different groups. For a change, I rode with the lead group of Bradley and Fred. I ended up with 24.9 miles, which would have to do.

Thursday I rode the short version of the Callaham Challenge. It was Belle again, as I wanted a slightly more laid-back experience. It was a pleasant, if not memorable ride for me. We took the shortcut up the length of Old Abbeville-Hodges Road, and somewhere in there I remember riding behind Connie, who was drafting off of Campbell. About 9/10s of the way down Dixie Drive, Campbell pulled off and announced he wasn't pulling anymore. Dang. So Connie pulled, then I pulled for a bit, then we got to the top of the rise where Dixie and Deadfall converge.

Friday we had a Greenwood Cycling Club meeting. Normally a Monday night affair, having Labor Day and September 11 as the two likely Mondays naturally pushed it to another time slot. We heard a presentation on the Five Points of Life Ride that will be coming our way next month, then had a loose-jointed, sociable meeting. One topic of discussion was Jim Cox's fondness for really ratty cycle shorts.

I told the story about a Friday night ride out of Abbeville five years earlier. Jim was wearing threadbare shorts that evening, as he had on numerous occasions. He denied it, of course, and said we were making it up. At any rate, as we climbed up a hill, my sitting on his rear wheel, he started whistling, almost but not quite getting the tune right. It took me a moment to realize he was whistling "Moon River."

On the way out the door afterwards, Ainsley and I decided to ride fixed the next day.

Ah, Saturday. Of course I was late getting out the door and on the road, complicated by a conversation with a neighbor about her cats (the cats are frequent, but welcome, visitors). I got Julius up to flank speed, and managed to get to the fountain by 9:03 - in time to be greeted by the duct tape on the back of Jim's cycle shorts.

There was a large turnout, including Jim and Bradley, Fred, Campbell, Tommy Davis, Drew, Connie, Vonona, Donnis and Ainsley. Of course the group splintered dramatically as we headed out along the rail-trail conversion. I dropped back with Ainsley towards the rear, and as we watched the lead elements hit Florida Avenue and streak off down the road, we agreed that the pack had decided to dispense with all that "regroup and ride together" foolishness. Hmmph.

So we rolled along on what was apparently an out-and-back to Cedar Springs ride. By the time we crossed Mt. Moriah Church Road, we had sorted out our group - me, Ainsley, Vonona, Connie and Donnis. We bumped along over the rougher stretches of Briarwood, across Whitehall and down to where the road ends in Verdery, where we stopped and talked about the rest of the route.

It was an uneventful ride out to Cedar Springs Church; no dogs, no bad drivers, just a bumpy bounce along the macadam to where the road splits at the stage coach station. Connie expressed confusion about where we were, so I dug my map out of the Banana bag (I had switched out the Carradice Pendle the night before) and showed her.

Back out along Cedar Springs Road, picking up Donnis and Vonona and going back via Promised Land. Whitehall has a nice new surface now, not quite buttery asphalt, but much better than the crumbling chipseal it used to be. When we hit Briarwood and the way I home, I stopped the group.

"We can go back on in and have about 30 miles," I said. "Or we can go straight here, hit Rock House, and come on in with about 40 or so."

It was a beautiful day, and the temperature was moderate. Ainsley and Vonona opted for the long ride, while Connie and Donnis headed on in.

We rolled along at a social pace, Ainsley and I both pushing 70-in gears while Vonona settled into a rhythm on her bike. After crossing 221, we went down the long slow hill to the bridge, then climbed up towards Rock House. I looked down at my cyclocomputer, saw the speed and the time, and managed to get a quick photo. Someone told me once that one can make a wish when it is 11:11. I don't know if that's any weirder than yelling "Popeye!" and kissing one's palm and smacking it to the ceiling of the car when an oncoming car has a dead headlight. It's still a neat idea.

We rolled on down Rock House Road. By this point, I know roughly where to look for the house behind its screen of young trees. Julius was a positive symphony of rattles on the tarmac, between the frame pump's parts clattering and the cracked Nitto bottle cage's damaged ends grating. I love bumpy back roads, but I was happy to hit the smooth asphalt that starts near the intersection with Stillwell Road.

The German Shepherds were out at the intersection of West Scotch Cross and 225. I was in the lead, and had gotten to the intersection before the dogs woke up. Vonona and Ainsley described it as, "The older dog there, the one with the hip dysplasia? He saw us, went back and got the younger dog, and then they came towards the road." They stayed in their yards and watched our backs as we headed back to town.

I had 43.4 miles when I got home. I think it was my longest ride, and certainly my longest fixed-gear ride, since June.
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Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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