Rode 68 miles today, hadn't ridden that far in about two months. Starting at eight in the morning meant getting up at 6:30. I'm not used to 6:30. Arriving at the start in Kingsport I was surprised by the number of people waiting to ride. 14 of us total, most of whom I've never ridden with before. I'm always a little nervous about riding with people I don't know, not because I can't hang on if need be, but what are their bike handling skills like. I hate to ride in a squirrelly group of riders.
The sky was not looking to inviting, dark, low clouds, with the rumble of thunder nearby. There was a small discussion about waiting it out, but most seemed ready to ride me being one of those. About 5 miles into the ride, just past the last building offering any refuge, the clouds dropped a load on us for about an hour. I didn't really mind though, I was thinking about the cross race I did in January in a downpour and 40 degrees, this wasn't so bad. Eventually the rain stopped and we moved along at a pretty good clip following a valley road on the way to Rogersville. As we started up a rise in the road I noticed a small lump in the road which turned out to be a Box Turtle. I really hate to see dead animals on the road, but there isn't much you can do to help a possum across the road but it's pretty easy to help a turtle out. "Helpin' a turtle out" means gettin' dropped by the group. Fortunately, things weren't rolling along at too fast a pace and I was sure I could get back. Which I did by riding an interval of about 3 minutes. I was almost back to the group when someone else decided to follow my example and "help a turtle out" I kept going and got back to the group.
Riding on a cool day as a result of the rain there is not a lot of sweating going on, but I still drink to keep the energy stores topped off. For me the this resulted in the Pee Interval. Rather than slow the group down I decided to ride off the front and get a big enough time interval to take care of bidness and then reintegrate the group. So, I told my buddy Jeff what the deal was and road off the front. I was hammering along and took a look back to see how I was doing and saw Mike Patterson trying to cross to me. He had covered about half the distance when I thought man he really must have to go. Finally finding a suitable side road I swung off, then I heard Mike yell "oh, sorry I thought you were going for a harder workout".
Once we neared Rogersville we had a pretty good hill to climb which broke the group up a bit and on the other side I found another turtle. This sucker was flat and fast, but I got him across the road. I think it was a baby snapper, maybe? Anyway Turtle Interval II commenced and I had to ride harder to get back than before. We were going slightly downhill, but I caught up as we started up a pretty good climb. When I got back one of the guys asked me if I "had seen the other two?" Crap how'd I miss two turtles? he said "no" with a good natured look of you idot on his face and said "no the two riders". I didn't realize there were two back so I suggested we pull off at the first opportunity and thought It was communicated up the group. Somebody didn't get the memo because we got all strung out on the climb and mixed in with a bunch of church traffic. Mike and I just hammered the climb to the top passing everyone till we reached the top and finally found a place to pull off where we finally got the band back together.
"A kind word turneth away wrath" or makes a redneck talk to you when he just called you a dumb ass under his breath. At the Rogersville pit stop a guy gets out of his car near me with his nascar hat on, makes the remark thinking I didn't hear him. That angered me. So, since the sun had came out and it had turned into a beautiful day I asked him just that. "Beautiful day isn't it" "yeah" he answered with a scowl. "Did you enjoy the race last night" with hint of sarcasm, "yeah pretty much" wouldn't even look me in the face. What is it about bikes and spandex that angers redneckeus east tennesseeus? They really don't know how to act when you speak to them and the realize you are a person going down the road.
After the pit stops we headed back to Kingport on road surface that looked like something from a disaster movie. As I topped another hill, low and behold I saw another turtle in the road ( why do they always seem to be in the middle of the road?) I swung off toward the center line to pick up my turtle when I looked up and saw Mike barreling down on me. All the sudden he clamped down on the brakes slides the bike sideways towards me with the "oh ****" look on his face. I braced for impact. He came to a complete stop in the locked and upright position, parallel to me about a foot way. Mr. Turtle was right in between us, blissfully unaware of the sitution above him. I wasn't sure if Mike was rushing to my aid, or was practicing sliding through a turn? Great bike handling Mike.
Not long after that we came onto some flat roads and got the train rolling, we covered a lot of ground pretty quickly, as we topped a hill near Yuma I sat up to wait on Mike who had dropped a chain. We started off the hill whippin it good when I made a left turn fast and out of the corner of my eye I saw a stop sign. Blew right through it at about 30 miles an hour. That was a pretty scary, couldn't see the sign for the all the tree limbs and weeds. I'm glad a car was coming down the road. I always try and stop at red lights and stop signs as we should since we are subject to all the same rules of the road as other road vehicles. I certainly wouldn't wittingly blow through an intersection.
On the way back on Carter's Valley road I was in the front thinking I new where I was going. coming down the hill I sensed that I needed to turn and looked back and saw someone giving the right turn signal. When I turned around I was about 30 feet from the turn and going about 25 MPH. No time to signal, tapped the brakes leaned steep into the corner and dove into the turn. I pulled that one out of my rear end. Couldn't believe I made the turn and stayed up. Quickly looking back I saw the ensuing chaos of the no signal, quick turn, folks spread across the road and some completely missing the turn. Don't let the guy who thinks he knows where he is going on the front. doh!
When I realized that I was only about five miles from the barn, I was ready to get this thing put to bed, so Jeff and I hammered the last few miles back in. Had a great ride with a good solid group of riders, plus it was made more interesting "by helpin a turtle out"