Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Putting the "Whee!" in Weekend

The RandoDaughter graduated from high school this past weekend. We had lots of family in town, and dinners, and cake, and big breakfasts, and more cake.

RandoBoy goes slow uphill when he is fat with cake.

It was a blast, though, and I was so proud of the RandoDaughter ... but, then I almost always am. She is smart and pretty and funny and talented, of course, but mostly -- as my mom once said -- she "has a good heart." I enjoy being with her, and there aren't too many people that I can say that about.

Riding the Rapha Route

Anyway, after all that cake, and spending Sunday afternoon waiting for the rain (which, of course, never came), I was soooo ready for a long ride on Memorial Day. Fortunately, Gran Fondo (a.k.a., The Greatest Bike Shop in the Universe) had a doozy: Vida Greer's "Killing Me Softly" route in Leiper's Fork.

Vida meticulously created this route to submit to Rapha (makers of some uber-nice cycling stuff) as one of their Rapha Continental epic rides. It does some of the usual roads that we ride down that way, plus a few of the unusual ... and unusually hard ... roads.

Although we started with a bunch of racers, somehow fellow randonneur Peter Lee and I ended up off the front after about 20 miles. He had just done a sub-five-hour century on Saturday -- the Clarksville Rotary Annual Metric (CRAM) -- but you would never have noticed as we swapped off pulls at just under 25 mph. We slowed a bit going up such roads as Ragsdale, which is short but steep, and I slowed down going into corners with gravel.

A few other riders caught up with us as we ate lunch at Fly, but none of them were interested in doing the full 105-mile route. Three tandems rolled in just before we left, but we had been sitting too long by then and needed to move on.

We kept expecting it to start raining, but as we headed south the sun came out. Peter and I missed a turn somewhere in there, so we didn't get to climb up the hill with the cell tower, and then later climb up to Theta. We ended up with only 100 miles, but that was enough to burn off at least two pieces of graduation cake.

Three more rides like that and I'll be able to climb again.

Meanwhile, Further South ...

While we were enjoying short rides (yes, a century is a short ride ... comparatively), Jeff Bauer and Alan Gosart were finishing the new route from the Audax Atlanta sadists: The Long Hammer 600K. Fourteen started ... eight finished (three of them RAAM racers). Need I say more?

If you want to read more about it, RBA Andy Akard posted a great write-up on their site. I talked to Jeff about it last night before the Harpeth Bicycle Club's ride in Cool Springs, and he said it is the hardest 600K he has ever done. It probably didn't help that Jeff had a broken spoke on his rear wheel. He didn't notice it until last night, but sleep deprivation will do that to you.

Jeff described the new route this way: "Imagine doing Six Gaps, and then a 300K, and then doing Six Gaps again."

This one is destined to be epic ... maybe too epic for a Rapha Continental route. I can't wait for next Memorial Day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Red Band

If you read my blog from Wednesday, I’d like to know how you did that. There weren’t any words, so there was nothing to “read.”

But, if you perused my blog from Wednesday (self-satisfied smirk on my face here – yes, I know: It’s not my best look), you may be wondering about the red thing wrapped around my vestigial right biceps in the top picture. That was supposed to be an armband, although it was really a red pocket silk.

Anybody else out there old enough to remember when pocket silks made a brief comeback in the late 80s? Wasn’t that fun?! Ranked right up there with socks with weird designs. We were all trying to spice up the gray pin-stripe uniform in those days.

But, I digress … which should come as no surprise.

At Wednesday’s Ride of Silence, we were supposed to wear armbands: Black to honor cyclists who had been killed in automobile accidents, or Red if you had been killed in an automobile accident yourself.

What? Oh, sorry. Red if you had been hit by an automobile yourself. That makes more sense.

RandoBoy Got Run Over By a Reindeer

So, when was I hit by a car? Well, it was back when I was 14 years old, just before the Early Apoplectic Period. And, to be fair, I did hit the car first.

As a youth, I loved to ride my bicycle everywhere. So, naturally, I was one of those geeky kids that rode his bicycle to school any time the weather was halfway decent. This is, of course, in stark contrast to my life now, when I am one of those geeky adults that rides his bicycle to work even when the weather totally sucks.

It was fall, and the weather was great. I had ridden to school that morning, doing the gentle one-mile climb out of my neighborhood, looking forward to the return trip that afternoon. What 14-year-old boy does not love a long downhill on a bike?

As I started into the neighborhood that afternoon, a telephone company van passed me. I was just getting up to speed, spinning fast, but he was easily doing over 25 mph and I figured he would get out of the way. He disappeared before I started over the steepest part of the descent – a mild right turn where some high-tension wires ran through the neighborhood – so I kicked the speed up a little more.

I was probably doing about 35 mph when I got around the turn and saw the van stopped in the intersection about 200 yards ahead of me. He had not turned on his turn signal, so I assumed that he was turning right. I moved to the left.

He turned left.

I hit the brakes and turned more left, going up into the yard of the house there, hoping that he would make his turn slowly or I could scrub the rest of my speed.

He picked up speed. I didn't scrub.


The bike smacked into the driver’s side door, and my head bounced off his window. I flew over the hood, rolling on the pavement in front of him. He hit the brakes and my bike went under his wheels. I remember getting to my feet as soon as I stopped rolling, thinking he might still be coming. I don’t know if that kept me from getting squished or not.

Once he stopped, the driver jumped out and asked if I was okay. He led me over to the curb and made me sit down, and one of the neighbors on that street came out, followed by all of the neighbors on the street. It was a block party!

Somebody called an ambulance, and somebody else called my house. My grandmother was staying with us, since my parents were out of town, and she soon came by. I kept telling people not to call her, that I was fine, but I really didn't want to scare her.

They took me to the hospital and X-rayed everything. Oddly enough, nothing was broken. I had a few scrapes and a big knot on my head. For some reason, my legs swelled up.

Considering the fact that I was not wearing a helmet, I was pretty lucky. Of course, this was 1974 and the bicycle helmet had probably not been invented then, but that would not have been much solace to my parents if I had been killed.

What could I have done differently? Not much, really. Maybe hit the brakes a little earlier, or figured that the telephone repair guy might not know the neighborhood and could get confused up ahead. Ultimately, although we cyclists should have the same rights as automobiles, we lack the protection of that steel cocoon. We have to be smarter – and sometimes a little more nimble – than cars are.

And having a hard head doesn't hurt, either.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Slower Century

Saturday, as the rain began, five of us from Nashville loaded up the RAAMinator at 6 am and drove up to Hopkinsville, KY, to ride the Little River Cycling Club's century.

We thought we were insane, but it turned out that we were just plain lucky.

The lightning started as we were loading bikes onto the RAAMinator in the parking lot of the Target on Old Hickory Blvd. Well, to be honest, we really think of it as the parking lot of Panera, since they are open at that time of the morning and sell us hot coffee and pastries. With a tandem on the roof and four singles on the back, we began the hour-and-a-half drive, with the rain starting to come down hard, realizing just how much trouble we were in.

You see, if you drive 15 minutes to a ride and it's raining when you get there, you can turn around and go home. But anything over an hour and you are committed. There's just no way to say, "Oh, well, I'll drive an hour and a half back home and go back to bed." When you get home, everyone else will be up anyway, so why even try?

And if you do that drive with four other people, you now have witnesses if you wimp out. And the drive north doesn't go over any rivers, so if you kill all of the witnesses you have nowhere to dump the bodies.

This is what I'm thinking Saturday morning, in the driving rain, heading northwest on I-24. The rain slacks a bit, and then starts up again even harder. And then, just before we get to the start of the ride, the rain stops.

And it never really starts again.

It's cloudy and the forecast is dire, so there's less than 20 of us at the starting line for the century. It's also really windy, so we were all happy to let Jeff Bauer and Freida Barry on the tandem pull us for the first 27 miles, until we hit a steep (15-degree!) hill and all of the single bikes go crazy heading for the top.

Okay, I'll admit that I was in that group. But up at the top, the winds have really kicked up, and it's starting to spit a few raindrops, and I think, "Ooh, it's gonna get nasty now."

So I rode another half-mile to the rest stop and pulled over. Four other guys kept going, and I was tempted to go with them and try for a sub-five-hour century. But that wind was blowing hard, and I knew that Jeff and Freida would be along in a minute and that they might need to hit the rest stop. So I waited up and let the fast four go.

A couple of minutes passed, and then Jeff and Freida came by and we skipped the stop. For the next 45 miles, it was just the three of us -- Jeff and Freida pulling me along in their wake, averaging right about 20 mph. I kept expecting to catch the lead group, but we never did. At the mile 70 rest stop we were joined by Kevin Warren, who designed the route, and he finished up with us.

We got back to the start after five hours and 35 minutes, which isn't bad for a pretty hilly route on a windy day. Although we never had more rain, we got a lot of road spew from shady lanes soaked by earlier showers, so we took the corners and downhills pretty easy. The fast group, which included fellow randonneurs Peter Lee and George Hiscox, got in at 5:21.

It was a beautiful route, with minimal traffic and great views. Kevin comes down regularly to do our Ultra rides -- often with fellow Little River Cycling Club member Barry Meade -- and the City of Hopkinsville should hire him to be a tour guide. Every road we were on was virtually perfect. Maybe it was because I had the chance to enjoy it more by taking the extra 15 minutes and staying with Jeff and Freida, or maybe it was because the weather had turned out so much better than expected. But next year I'm going to get more Harpeth Bike Club members to come up.

The lead group worked hard, and they are all strong riders who will be stronger as a result of their effort. It would have been fun to try to hang with them. But I'll take my slower century this time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bike-to-Work Week - Day Five

Today was the big pay-off for Bike-to-Work Week, wherein everything came together to become ...

Bike-to-Work Day!

I'd have to give it a resounding "meh."

Six Bikes

So, all this week I saw one other cyclist on my morning or evening commute, and he was out training. Based on that, I should be ecstatic that -- this morning -- I saw six other bicycle commuters. Of course, one of them was RandoGirl and our friend Jeff Sammons. And today I rode with them into downtown Brentwood, so it makes sense that I would see more commuters there.

I guess that I just had higher hopes.

It's kind of like the way birthdays used to be when you were a kid. They start out huge, with everyone making a big fuss, and all these great presents. And then you get older and the presents just don't seem the same, and the fuss is not nearly as big. Or maybe you just get jaded to it all, so that it takes more to impress you.

I was hoping for more of a "kid birthday" Bike-to-Work Week, and instead I got more of a "Happy 57th Birthday, Louis" kind of spectacle. No cake, no presents, just a card from your cousin Bernice.


I'm going to post an announcement to the general mailing list of the Harpeth Bike Club, and try to get some of my friends there to post comments here regarding their Bike-to-Work experiences for the week. Maybe there was a bigger party, and I just missed it. Frankly, I'll be satisfied if just a few other people tried it this week, and one of them decides to continue getting to work by bike. I may even be satisfied if there were enough of us out there that cars took notice -- hopefully in a positive way, so that they will behave better around us in the future.

Hope springs eternal. Unless it's Hope Lange, who's probably doing some springing with the captain now.

Good luck with that, Mrs. Muir, wherever you are.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bike-to-Work Week - Day Four

Watching the weather forecast this morning, I knew that today would not be the day to see bicycles commuting to work. It was supposed to rain, starting in the mid-morning, and lasting all thru the afternoon.

Of course, on my ride home in the afternoon, it looked like this:

Now, if it had rained, I might have seen the Romulan bikes with their cloaking devices, since they would be ghostly silhouettes as water sheeted off them and their tires sluiced roostertails in their wake. But the roads were dry, and all of the non-Romulans had been frightened away by the predictions of dire weather.

Today's commute report is going to be one of pictures. These are the kinds of things that I regularly see on my daily commute.

Taking the paved trail that connects Green Hills Blvd. to Foxboro Drive, the guys from the power company were working on the high-tension wires. It was windy, too.

And people are always telling me that I'm crazy to ride a bike in traffic. Puh-lease! Crazy is climbing around wires that can immediately fry you, way up high, in the wind. Did I mention that they are way up high?

Later, I went thru a subdivision called Anandale. I always think of that line from Steely Dan's "My Old School" when I ride thru here:

"That'll be the day I go back to Anandale."

Of course, I go back to Anandale most days, so I don't know what Mr. Dan was talking about.

The houses in this neighborhood are huge. This one always strikes me as being the pinnacle of conspicuous consumption, by dint of the three uber-guzzlers in the driveway.

All of these houses have three- and four-car garages, so why does this guy park his huge cars in the driveway? Does he have four really big cars in the garage? I suspect that he may just be showing off. You gotta have some kind of edge in the land of the uber-consumers.

On my way home, I noticed the Bike Route sign was torn up. I thought this was emblematic of how seriously Tennessee takes its Bike Routes, or at least of how my fellow motorists often treat me.

Of course, it's possible that this is just what happens when a screw comes loose. I'm always looking for deeper meaning, but as Freud would say, "Sometimes a loose screw is just a loose screw."

Less than a mile down the road, here's a truck parked in one of the only two bike lanes that I have on this route. Sure, neither of these bike lanes really goes anywhere, but it's still a "bike" lane, and not a "park your truck here while you cut somebody's grass" lane.

By the way, there's a cool web site called My Bike, where you can post instances of cars parking in the bike lane. I thought that I had another shot of this truck's license, so that I could post him up there, but I missed it.

This road is not a bike path; it's Overton Road, and I use it regularly on my commute. This is a classic example of how a narrow road with speed bumps makes for a good bike commuting road, because it scares away cars.

Also, ain't it pretty? I love this stretch of my ride.

From here, I go back via Anandale ("That'll be the day ...") and then cut thru a bunch of neighborhoods. Most of these now have signs congratulating their high school seniors.

Some of the neighborhoods have signs for last week's elections. Here, the signs must have been playing king of the mountain, and Rhea Little's sign is obviously kicking Paul Webb's sign's butt.

Of course, there are a lot of For Sale signs. I don't see a lot of faded For Sale signs, which is good. These are signs of the times, though.

I remember a couple of years ago, on a road I frequently ride, there was a "congratulation to our graduate" sign in the same yard as a "For Sale" sign. You had to wonder if they were selling the house to pay for the kid's college, or if it was a case of "Yee-haw, Velma, the last one's outta here, so let's sell this dump!"

And then, here's my favorite graduation congratulation sign.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bike-to-Work Week - Day Three

I continue to have bad luck finding all of the thousands of cyclists commuting to work this week. Somehow, I did not see any of them this morning.

Occam's razor (which you should not use to shave your legs -- not nearly as good as the Schick Intuition) demands that, when multiple competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, one must select the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It sounds even better in Latin, but -- as a recovering Catholic -- I cannot speak Latin. It is a slippery slope from there to attending mass every morning, plus stations of the cross on Friday and confession on Saturday. This would obviously cut into my riding time. Besides, incense makes me sneeze.

Anyway, back to Billy Occam. By applying this principle, I can only come to one conclusion regarding why I have not been pannier-to-pannier with my fellow bike commuters this week:

The Romulans have begun building bicycles.

You see, although in Star Trek movies we often see Klingons with cloaking devices, it was actually the Romulans who invented them. Captain Kirk cunningly stole the device from them, while Mr. Spock seduced the Romulan captain (a female -- Star Trek was not that cutting edge then). Scotty then wired it in, they beamed Spock back to the Enterprise, and -- poof! -- they disappeared.

If you think about it, this was only inevitable. What is Star Trek without "Trek?" And who makes Lance Armstrong's bicycles? Elves. And elves have pointy ears, just like Mr. Spock and the Romulans (although Mr. Spock is a little taller ... unless we're talking Lord of the Rings elves, who are skinny but of standard height ... although I wonder why there are no fat elves in Lord of the Rings).

This logic is perfectly applicable, since it is cyclic. And we are talking cycling here, right?

Tomorrow I'm going to weave a lot on the way in. I fully expect to bump into a bike with a cloaking device, or for the rider on that bike to yell out "Hold your line, idiot!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bike-to-Work Week - Day Two

I actually saw another cyclist coming in this morning, although he did not seem to be on his way to work. This was a guy in Nashville kit on Edmondson Pike, riding pretty fast, with no backpack or panniers or anything, obviously out for a morning training ride.

Jeff Bauer loves to tell a story about what a closet competitive I am. We were riding the Dog Meat permanent one day, and we're at about mile 120 -- coming up Clovercroft Road heading towards Nolensville -- with only five miles left of the 200K, when I see a rider up ahead. He's obviously out for a short training ride on his light racing bike, and probably has done 10 miles or so.

But now I have a rabbit, so I put my head down and take the pace up, and we pass him going up the last long climb on that road. I turn and smile and tell him "Good afternoon," trying to look cool as if I'm not working hard. Then ZIP and we're gone, and all he can do is wonder how he got passed by two old guys on bikes loaded down with lights and bags and junk.

It reminds me of something that Bob Roll once said during a Tour de France broadcast. He and Phil or Paul were talking about some of the riders going out for a little training ride the day before, and how it was a laid-bike easy ride. Bob said, "Any time you get more than one guy out on the road on a bicycle, it's a race. They may not admit it, but it's a race."

So, my point is this: When I turned onto Edmonson Pike, I saw the Nashville guy coming. I can see he's out training, riding very hard on a very light bike. And when he gets closer I can tell he is obviously fast, since he's climbing the hill going at least 15 mph and he looks thin, and his calves are huge. And, even though I'm on a steel singlespeed with 10 extra pounds of laptop and clothes and lunch in my pannier, and this is definitely not a training ride for me, I push it going up the hill.

And when he passes me I try to be really cool. "Hey, how's it going?"

Of course, he passes me going so fast that he only has time for, "Great. Nice day, eh?"

But it doesn't sound like he's breathing all that hard. And I don't have time to respond, because he is gone by then.

But at least I saw another cyclist on my way in to work today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bike-to-Work Week - Day One

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) has decreed that May is National Bike Month, and that this week (May 11-15) is National Bike-to-Work Week -- a red-letter week if ever there was one. It all culminates in that festival of festivals, Bike-to-Work Day, this Friday, May 15.

I am all a-twitter. When an organization with as much clout as the LAB gets behind something, I know that it is gonna be HUGE! I fully expect to be literally elbow-to-elbow with other people all this week as we abandon our gas-guzzling Earth-destroyers in favor of joyously pedaling to our jobs. It will be like living in a Regions Bank ad.

In honor of this truly auspicious occasion, I plan to ride my bicycle to work every day this week ... since it is Bike-to-Work Week. Okay, since I usually bike in at least twice a week that's probably not that big a deal, but this is my chance to mingle with millions of other two-wheeled travellers as they discover the joy that is bicycle commuting.

Today was the first day of Bike-to-Work Week. Here is my report ...

Leaving the 'Hood

On the way out of my neighborhood, I was just a little surprised to find myself the sole cyclist on the road. It was only 6:30 am, and we had some rain last night, so I suppose many of my new-found brethren may have opted for a later departure.

Cutting through another subdivision on my way to Edmondson Pike, however, I kept seeing cars instead of bikes. Maybe the overcast sky had scared these potential cyclists into driving in today, instead. Since so many of the cars were rather large, I am certain that these people are going to their local bike shop to get their rides ready for tomorrow's commute. They will probably be buying fenders, so that they can stay dry as they enjoy the festival that is Bike-to-Work Week.

On into Chenoweth, and over to Shenendoah Road, and I still haven't seen any other cyclists. I keep expecting friendly waves from the passing cars, as I am certain that they are lamenting that they couldn't be celebrating Bike-to-Work Week with me. Maybe the cool morning has scared them, as they had already put away their jackets and knee warmers for the year.

Bread Calls My Name

I went through Anandale, then down Cloverland to Old Hickory Blvd. I still did not see anyone else on a bicycle, although I did see a bike on the trunk rack of a passing car. And the silver BMW that followed me down Cloverland did not try to pass me at all as we came up to the light, so I am certain that the driver was celebrating Bike-to-Work Week in his own way ... a way that has a much larger carbon footprint.

Although I had hoped that all six lanes of Old Hickory Blvd would be full of cyclists by now, it was instead full of cars ... almost as if this were just any other day, rather than the first day of Bike-to-Work Week. When I got onto the busy road, however, many of the cars honked their support of me. Card-carrying members of the LAB, I am sure!

I stopped briefly at Panera, as usual. Although there were no other bicycles outside, and nobody inside was dressed in cycling clothes, I feel reasonably certain that the other patrons were about to mount up on their bikes and head in to their offices. Nobody asked me about good cycling roads from there, so they must have all done their research during the past few weeks. Bon route, fellow travellers!

Riding the Rails

As I rode up Franklin Pike Circle, I seemed to still hear cars on I-65. Although bicycles are not normally allowed on the interstate, it seems the LAB could get a special dispensation for Bike-to-Work Week. It was probably the wind in the trees, however, or a few cars headed to the local bike shop for inner tubes.

But then an Audi passed me in a blind curve, and there was a small pickup truck coming the other way. Fortunately, the truck pulled onto the shoulder -- otherwise, the Audi would have been forced to make the decision that all cyclists fear in these situations, as the driver chooses to either:
    a) hurt myself and others in the car with me as I have a head-on accident with another vehicle, or
    b) kill the cyclist by going back into my lane (NOTE: They rarely consider that it is actually the cyclist's lane)
This is not the kind of thing that I expect to happen on Bike-to-Work Week.

Nobody else came close to killing me on the rest of the way in. A fellow working in the rail yard that I cut through (next to Traveller's Rest) waved "hello" to me, and the guy at the counter in Walgreen's was very friendly. So maybe some people are celebrating Bike-to-Work Week ... just not in as big a way as I would have hoped.

Am I still going to bike in every day this week? Yes, but not just because it's Bike-to-Work Week. Frankly, I think that very few people out there really give a rat's ass.

I'm going to bike in every day this week for the same reason that I don't toss empty gel packets onto the road on fast centuries, and always signal turns even when there's nobody behind me. I'm going to bike in every day this week because the honeysuckle is blooming and it smells great. I'm going to bike in every day this week because it burns a few calories, so I can stop at Panera and get a scone to eat when I get to work. I'm going to bike in every day this week because I like to sweat, and I like to feel my quads burn as I spin like crazy trying to do 25 mph down Trousdale Road.

I don't care if nobody else celebrates Bike-to-Work Week. It's a holiday to me, and that's enough.

RandoBoy Update: On the way home, I saw two other cyclists. One of them had a backpack, so he may have been commuting. He yelled a "hello" to me, and that made my day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Worm Parts

I don't like to complain -- which probably comes as a big surprise to my loyal readers (both of them), since this seems to be what this blog is about, with me constantly whining about cars and cold weather and injuries and stupid things that I have done, often in ridiculously detailed subjunctive clauses (like this one) ...

Sorry. Where was I? Oh, yeah ... complaining.

It's been raining here in Tennessee the past week or so. A lot. It rained on us Saturday at Three-State Three-Mountain in Chattanooga, and that totally sucked. 3S3M is just about my favorite century in the southeast -- partly because it's a really nice course with two great and one horribly tough climb, but mostly because the folks in Chattanooga give cyclists the best support ever.

The Chattanooga Bicycle Club caps the ride at 2,500 entrants, and it usually fills up. At every rest stop, they have tons of volunteers giving you food and drink, and there's volunteers at almost every turn on the course to keep you from getting lost. At the dangerous turns on descents there are people warning you to slow down, and EMTs to cart you away if you don't.

The ride begins and ends in downtown Chattanooga, where there are people stopping traffic for you at every intersection as you leave in the morning and return in the afternoon. You literally do not have to put your foot down as they wave you past lines of motorists. As one crossing guard said to me the first year I did this ride, "Bicycles come first here in Chattanooga."

Usually, there's a bunch of my friends from the Harpeth Bicycle Club, and we get together for dinner Friday night. This year, we ate at Provino's, which is part of an old Atlanta chain that RandoGirl and I used to frequent when we lived there. We had to wait an hour to be seated, but it was worth it. Killer garlic rolls.

I was riding with RandoGirl this year, as I did last year. Her plan was to do the entire century. That had been her original plan last year, but she had two strains of flu in the early spring and wasn't able to train. I rode my Salsa singlespeed (with fenders, which came in handy as it rained in the morning that year) and pulled her on the metric.

It rained again this year, with the rain starting about the time that the ride started. About 12 miles in, we started up Suck Creek (the first of the three mountains). We were pretty wet, but the climbing felt good. And the rain picked up when we got to the top, so that the descent had everybody clamping down on their brakes, shivering with the cold, taking corners at five miles per hour, and not having any fun.

At the bottom, we watched a lot of people bail on the century and opt for the 40-mile route. A fellow randonneur -- Bob Hess from Knoxville -- joined us, and we decided to go on and see what the weather did. Maybe we would just do the metric.

Now, here's the thing: When we did the metric last year, the sun came out and the weather turned fine. While the weather forecast held no chance for a sunny afternoon this year, we hoped that the rain would at least ease up.

And RandoGirl had trained for this ride. So, at mile 40, when we had to decide whether to just do the metric or go on and do the century, she wanted to do the century. I told her, "We can't get any wetter, and the day should only get warmer." And we went on.

Of course, from then on the rain turned to a light drizzle and RandoGirl did just fine. Her back started spasming on the second mountain (Sand, which is tougher than Suck Creek), and she was in a lot of pain on Burkhalter Road (the last part of the climb up to mountain three -- Lookout Mountain), but she did it. It took just over eight hours, but she can now say that she has done 3S3M.

So, what am I complaining about?

Dead worms. This time of year, when we get this much rain, for some reason worms turn all lemming-esque and get out onto the wet roads. There, they get squished by 23c bicycle tires, and their parts spray up onto my bike's frame and into the fork, brakes, derailleurs, and other components.


It took me two hours to clean my Lynskey and RandoGirl's Bianchi. If you let the dead worms dry, they break off when you wipe the frame down, but then you can't get their guts out of the cable housings. If you wash them off while they're still wet, little parts tend to wash into other areas on your bike. I'm pretty sure that my rims are full of worm puree.

So, maybe next year we won't sign up early for 3S3M. Maybe we will wait until the Monday before, and only try to sign up then if there's absolutely no chance of rain. It will mean that we won't find a hotel room, and may not get to have dinner at Provino's with everybody, and won't be pampered by the City of Chattanooga, but it will keep me from scrubbing worm splatter off of everything Saturday night.

Ah, who am I kidding?