Wow! What an awesome day today. Another day with clear skies and temperatures in the 60F range. When Courtney suggested getting a group together for a ride today, how could I pass it up? She had sent out a note to about a dozen of her friends and we ended up with 7 of us meeting at Go-Tri Sports for a 60 miler up into N Greenville county.
It was never intended to be a hammerfest, and thankfully it never turned into one (ok. there was a few times when we put the hammer down). The plan was to have a spirited ride from Downtown Greenville past Paris Mountain (i.e. USA Pro Cycling Championships Route), then up into Travelers Rest to pick up the route to Tigerville. From Tigerville, we followed the beginning of the classic Bakery ride but did the climb over Callahan Mountain instead of Dividing Waters Road. The route was a lollipop shape as when we descended past Camp Old Indian, we rode over to Dividing waters and followed it back to re-trace our route. The difference in the return route came when we turned up Altamont road to make the Paris Mt climb.
In any group ride, you always have to be concerned about the different skill levels and relative riding strengths of the individuals. Today we had a great group that stayed together despite the occasional gap that formed. We all made sure that we stuck together and regrouped at logical spots.
I was the unofficial (or was that official?) ride leader as I had the route in mind. It is a route I've ridden before and it is not terribly difficult - well, except for the Callahan Mt climb (and descent if you're not a descender). The weather was beautiful and we had to stop to shed a layer just as we passed Altamont Road.
There was a slight chill in the air as we continued into Travelers Rest. As we rode along Hawkins / Bridwell Road Gary wanted us to do a paceline. Unfortunately, he wanted to have the dual pace line with the left line going slightly slower than the right line (I'm sure there is a better explanation of this method somewhere online). This really didn't work out too well. While it is not terribly complicated, it is not something that (your average) riders generally practice. It broke down before the first cycle was complete. No harm, we learned something.
We got up on Tigerville road and put ourselves into a single paceline. We were moving along pretty well, and when I finished my pull, I started dropping back to pull Diane back into the fold. I was about half way between her and the group when I realized I failed to warn them of an upcoming turn. I sprinted when I realized my mistake, but the group had already passed the turn. I caught them and had them turn around. Diane had seen my 'right turn' gestures (as I was screaming at the top of my lungs to the group) and she made the turn. Again, no harm, we all got turned around and back on track. It was a fun little sprint for me also.
On Sally Gilreath Road, it was Gary who first put down the hammer, but it was John and I who kept it pounding. That is a really beautiful road through some really nice farmland. It was such an outstanding day to fly along that road. John and I finished together and the group was not far behind.
As we turned onto Hwy 253, we set up into another paceline (again, the single paceline). This worked out pretty well as everyone got a chance to do at least one pull before we hit a small hill and the group started to fracture a little. We kept the pace reasonable and the group didn't get too spread out. We took a quick re-group at the Einstein bagel shop in Tigerville.
We kept the group together as we made our way out of Tigerville and towards our Callahan Mt goal. As we got to the turn for Callahan mt (where it departs from the classic Bakery route), two of our group decided to follow the classic route while the rest of us tackled the mountain. Art and Gary had a bit of a head start on us as we rounded the turn onto Hwy 912, so John, Courtney and I did our best to reel them in. John and I caught and passed them about half way up Hwy 912, but by the time we turned onto Callahan Mt road, John was beginning to pull away. I tried to keep the gap as small as possible, but he's a strong rider and I definitely didn't have it in me today to catch him. Everyone gave a great effort up to the top, then we rewarded ourselves with the flying descent. It was really wet in one section and that was a little scary, but everyone made it through fine.
We met our other two at the intersection of Callahan Mt road and Old US 25. Courtney broke out her camera and snapped a few photos and we started our return trip. Diane needed to refill a bottle on the way back, so we took a short stop at Einstein Bagels. It was then I noticed Lisa's rear tire. It was so worn that the tread rubber was about as thin as a piece of paper and some of it was de-laminating from the casing. We looked at it closely and decided she should be able to ride it back. Obviously, it would have to be changed as soon as possible after her return!
Our pace dropped a little as we made our way back into Travelers Rest. John had a flat, and the group split for a short period. While John, Art and Gary got John back up and riding, the cycling ladies and I rode on to begin the process of refilling some bottles at the gas station across from the TR Wal-Mart.
From here, Gary and Art took off to return on their own while the rest of us rode together to Altamont Road. Lisa and Diane rode straight back to the cars while John, Courtney and I made our way up and over Paris Mt. There were no personal bests set today. John rode strong, but at the top he said he was starting to bonk.
From that point, it really was just a cruise back to Dtown Greenville where we met up with Lisa and Diane (who thankfully made it back without incident despite Lisa's tire). It turned out to be an excellent day for a ride. It makes me really glad that I live here in Greenville. This place can't be beat when we're having spring weather in the middle of winter.
2 years ago