Monday, June 4, 2012

Country roads

Don’t ride with me. Just sayin’, I get lost in town, riding my bike, running, even in the car on roads I’ve traveled forever. I manage to get lost. Last week’s bike ride we got lost, but only added a few extra miles. (really would have been ok if I hadn’t chickened out on the little tiny road with giant dogs coming straight at us) Saturday we did it again.

This past weekend’s ride was supposed to be 53 miles. We had a cue sheet, a car GPS, and the Garmin 305 loaded with the course. We still got lost. 81 miles for the day. Lot's of these small country roads twist and turn, have no signs, or don't even show up on the GPS.

It was a great morning for a ride, not a single cloud. Chilly start at about 48 degrees, even wore full finger gloves and a long sleeve base instead of arm warmers. It didn’t warm up until 20 miles or so into the ride. That was the first stop, ditched the full finger gloves and traded for the fingerless. Little bungie thing on the back of the saddle bag held them securely the rest of the trip.

Lots of lessons to take from this ride, the two biggest; money and energy gel. Really didn’t think I was going to need either for 50 miles. Need to be prepared for things that may go wrong. The same reason I always bring a spare tube, some tools, a patch kit and a pump. Those items are always along on each ride, in an large saddle bag. 

frame pump and large saddle bag
Cell phones, I take them on every ride. Even if it’s just down to the greenway from my house, I’ve got my phone. It’s been used once in a emergency and on this last trip way more than I would have thought. Luckily it was charged before we left and even way out in the middle of nowhere it had coverage. Though I'm probably the only hold out who still has just an ordinary cellphone and not a smart phone. Well, except for Angry Runner.

Also was reminded why that little Velcro strap around the frame pump and top of the frame is a good idea. I lost my strap some time last year and never replaced it. G and I were riding along side by side on a flat and his pump fell off. No big deal right? This time no; but sure did make me nervous when it bounced between my wheels, one pedal stroke from taking me down, ouch.

Supposedly the pumps come in handy to whack a dog that gets to close. I've never waited around long enough for any aggressive dogs to get that close where I'd even consider taking a swing. I try to out sprint them, most of the time that's all they're interested in anyways. Not that we haven't had close calls with dogs before, not on this trip.

The courses function on the Garmin 305 is pretty basic. I should have tried it out on a shorter route first. It told us when we were off course. I didn’t ignore it, but thought it was just losing satellite reception because of the hills. Had I known that it would help us get back on the right course, we would have used it. DC Rainmaker has a great site that reviews all of the latest GPS wizardry for runners, cyclists and tri-athletes. This link, shows the course function that I should have read before trying it for the first time out in the middle of nowhere.

I’d spent a hour or more the night before trying to get the course and cue sheet to load on my car GPS, a Garmin Nuvi. Never could get it loaded. Don’t think it has that capability, its several years old and just the entry level model. It worked last week to get us back on track after we got lost. I’ll continue to bring it on the longer bike rides. What I really would like to get is a real map. One that folds, do they even make them anymore?

The wrong turn we took did make us  allowed us to go up one of the big climbs for the area, Burt Bergen Road. I’ve run up one of these climbs on Burt Bergen road a couple of years ago, don’t think this was the same section of road. It’s definitely the toughest climb I’ve ever ridden on the bike. Really enjoy the way Strava has the segment function on their website to compare times on sections of road and to find new climbs. This climb puts you on top of a table top sort of ridge, really expected to come back off this and roll back downhill home for the last twenty miles.

Burt Bergen segment from Strava
This is also where everything started going wrong. Missed reconnecting with our original route by a mile or two, because I was convinced we were going the wrong way. Instead we turned around and went about 10 miles to far south. This is the point where we decided to ask for directions. First guy we ask, at a garage sale, says “he hasn’t been to Murfreesboro in forty years”. Roll out from his place wondering if his directions were right. Stop a guy, heading the opposite direction on a four wheeler ATV and ask him. His directions were different. Damn. We continued down the road with his directions in mind and what the car GPS was telling us.

Stopped at a tiny little Baptist church to rest and fill our water bottles. Mt. Aarat Hoodoo Baptist Church established 1810. Corner of Hoodoo Road and Paul Harrell Road. It was 11:00 at this point. More calls home. I was out of food. G took his only energy gel. We got directions from two different people at this church. After we rode off we joked about the type of directions we would be getting for someone wearing an Arrogant Bastard jersey. 

favorite jersey
At our farthest point out, we stopped at a country store. G went in to ask directions, I sat on the bench outside. We were 15 miles from Murfreesboro, 14 miles from Manchester and 23 miles from where we started. The road back to Murfreesboro was a busy 2 lane, highway 41, parallel to Interstate 24. Luckily it had a wide shoulder. Head wind the entire way, we hadn't felt any wind all day except on top of the ridge. We traded leads, pulling each other along the best we could. We were both pretty well spent at this point. I hit bottom about miles 70, the last miles were a struggle.

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