Saturday, March 21, 2009

Being Henpecked

Saturday was the first full day of Spring, so I rode my Dog Meat permanent with Jeff Bauer, Jeff Sammons (no relation), Peter Lee, Alan Gosart, Fredia Barry, John Wade, and Vida Greer. The temperature was in the upper 20s at the start, but it eventually got up near 60. Even better, there was no wind.

Dog Meat can be a fun permanent. It's called Dog Meat because we take roads that seem to have a lot of dogs on the loose. Sometimes, we will count the ones that chase us -- yesterday, we had 17, but we have had as many as 46.

Other great things about Dog Meat are the location -- it starts at a Starbuck's two miles from my house, so I can easily bike there and check everybody in while eating a muffin and drinking a coffee -- and the elevation. There's only 5300 feet of climbing on the whole route, and most of the hills are either rolling or short steep pitches, like Paw-Paw Springs Road.

When the wind is light (like Saturday) and you have a fast tandem to draft behind (like Saturday, with Fredia and Jeff B. hammering along), you could easily do Dog Meat in under eight hours.

So, why do we always take at least nine?

It might be because there are controls every 25 miles. Controls on most permanents like Dog Meat are stores, and you have to go into the store, get them to initial your card and write down the time, and usually buy something so you have a receipt. If you go randonneuring a lot, you learn coping mechanisms to get quickly in and out of controls, so they become like rest stops on a club century: You either ride your bike right up to the table, fill your bottles, scarf something, and roll on, or you lean the bike against a tree and walk around, saying "hey" to all the folks that you haven't seen since last year at this century, find out how they've been, look at pictures of their kids, etc.

Most of the Dog Meat controls are easy to roll in and out of. We stop for lunch at the Subway in Chapel Hill, but if we were really in a hurry we could skip it.

No, the real problem is that last control: Henpeck.

Saturday, we had a moving average of 18.1. Just before 2 pm, after seven hours total, with just over 20 miles to the end and 105 miles behind us, we got here:

Now, if you've never been here, this is Henpeck Market, at the corner of Henpeck Road and Lewisburg Pike, just south of Franklin, TN. It's kind of cute from the outside, particularly when you see the rusted bike in the garden and all the nice tables out front. And, although it's close enough to Franklin to put you on some traffic-ish roads, it's still far enough out that you can find a quiet way to get there.

But that's not what we love about it. We love the fact that, after 105 miles, we can eat anything. And they have really good things to eat.

As soon as we pulled up, Peter ran inside. He came out a minute later, saying "They have it." Here's what he looked like:

The "it" that Peter was so happy about is the tomato basil soup, which they had been out of the last couple of times we were there. When it's cold out, there is nothing like a good bowl of hot soup. And, when you're riding really long distances in cold weather, and you stop, you get really cold.

Inside, the store is always bustling. Everyone that works there is super-nice, and acts like they just live to take care of you and bring you some really good food. And the place has this great homey ambiance -- a little country, but urban cool -- with tables and comfortable chairs to sit in and eat, and even a couple of big comfortable living-room chairs if you just want to sit and drink a latte (they have a coffee bar, too) and read the paper.

If you've still got a few miles to go, it's a regular country grocery store, too, with Gatorade and candy bars if you need fuel, and sun block and batteries if there's too much or too little sun.

Here's the ladies in the kitchen hard at work:

Along with the soup, they're making salads and sandwiches and pasta and great calzones. There's a glass counter full of some of the best desserts around, including a cupcake that you absolutely can not eat all of, no matter how hungry you thought you were.

Here's Jeff's tomato basil soup, and some of that really good pasta salad:

With all of this, it would just be rude to try for a sub-eight 200K.

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