Last week, I was talking about "sweet pain," and I thought up a new one Saturday: The feeling that you get when you finish your first brevet.
You're tired (duh), and certain parts of your body that have rubbed against a bicycle and found pain there in the course of a century now know that an extra 27 miles will make that part hurt a lot more. The muscles in your legs are twitching like there's boiling lava just under the skin, and it kind of feels like there really is boiling lava under the skin. You are spent and -- although you don't know this at the time -- it will not feel better for at least 12 hours. Even tonight, while you sleep, your legs will be twitching ... as if they don't yet know that you got off the bicycle.
Okay, so where's the sweet part?
Well, I saw that part about 4 pm Saturday, as we were finishing up my Dog Meat Permanent. We had three new randonneurs out there ... well, actually, two new randonneurs and one new randonneuse ... in the personage of Kurt Schusterman, Mike Willman, and Karla McVey.
Mike and Karla were on Mike's tandem, since Mike's wife, Patty, was off in Colorado for the week. Here they are looking very comfortable going down Armstrong Road on the way to Shelbyville.
Well, at least Karla is feigning comfort. At this point on the route, we had finished the nasty climbs of Pettus and Paw-Paw Springs, and were just tooling along in a nice paceline on the flat road at about 20 mph. It's hard to be really comfortable doing that.
Here's Kurt doing a better job of feigning comfort.
The thumbs up is always good. Had he given me the Contador finger pistol, I would have been concerned.
Behind Kurt is Jeff Sammons, Alan Gosart, and Peter Lee. In front of Mike and Karla, Jeff Bauer (no relation) and Fredia Barry were on another tandem. As I've mentioned before, doing this route sitting in on Jeff and Fredia on the tandem is the way to go -- it's fast and a hard workout, but at least you don't have to fight the wind.
The weather was extraordinary. It had rained a good deal during the week, but Saturday stayed sunny and fairly cool for middle Tennessee in August. It was humid, however, and we were riding hard, so I stayed soaked with sweat. It felt great ... as long as you kept moving.
Just beyond Shelbyville, Vida Greer joined us for a few miles. For some reason, when Vida rides with us on this route the pace gets up a bit, so that this rolling section went by closer to 22 mph. When we got to the control in Chapel Hill, we were all a little cooked. Ice cream at the convenience store helped.
Jeff Sammons went to the Subway there, but the rest of us rolled on for the Henpeck control. The hills return on this route the further north you go, and Vida, Alan, Peter, and I split off from the rest of the group and got a little frisky, sprinting for KOM points and taking hard pulls. Jeff and Fredia stayed with the "virgins," sheperding them on the climbs up Cool Springs and Peytonsville roads.
We all met up again at Henpeck. As I've mentioned before, the food at Henpeck Market is the real purpose of this route. A big plate of cold pasta salad after 107 miles on a humid afternoon, and I was ready to take on the world.
Vida headed home from here, and Jeff showed up as were finishing lunch, so the nine of us soon rolled out for the final hilly 20 miles. We were not fast here, but we got 'er done, and soon we were all loading up the bikes in the parking lot of the Kroger on Nolensville Road, and then getting recovery smoothies at Starbuck's.
This was when the sweet part came for Mike, Karla, and Kurt. Maybe it was just relief, knowing that the ride was over. Maybe it was the smoothies, which were blessedly cold. But I could see more than a little bit of pride there ... the knowledge that they had just ridden further than ever before, finishing a ride even when it would have been sooooo tempting to get off the bike and throw it into the back of the next truck that offered to take you back to the start. Mike, Karla, and Kurt all had that. Kurt was even asking if we could do another 200K next weekend.