Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Introduction to Middle Tennessee Cycling

Have I ever told you about my bike club?

RandoGirl, the RandoDaughter, and I moved to Tennessee during the first week of June in 2005. I was still working for the same folks in Florida, and RandoGirl was working for her new employers up here. The RandoDaughter was doing what most kids like to do during summer break: Chilling out.

After a couple of weeks of unpacking and getting this and that set up, I was ready for a break. I heard about a club century down near Franklin, and decided that this would be a good way to check out riding on some of the hills of Tennessee. I figured that I had done centuries before in Florida, so how much harder could a few hills be?


During the course of that first painful Harpeth River Ride, however, I discovered something about cycling in middle Tennessee ... and I mean something other than the fact that different parts of your legs hurt from climbing than from flat-country biking. I discovered that riding here was a richer experience than it had been in Florida.

First, I found a really well-run ride. Registration was a breeze. Just before the start, we got last-minute instructions, and everybody behaved well as we rolled out. The routes were well marked, with police escorts the first couple of miles, and the roads were nice and smooth.

I also discovered the best rest stops that I had ever seen. These guys had everything -- lots of cold stuff to drink, home-baked goodies, chairs to sit in, and friendly folks to meet. On Florida centuries the rest stops focused on the "stop" part ... if that. You'd slow down and top off a bottle and roll on. But the Harpeth River Ride had stops where you could actually "rest." Since I was hurting from all of the hills, I needed it.

And there were all of these nice cyclists. On a Florida century you find another rider and work together taking short pulls into the headwinds. Conversation is mostly "Car back," "Last wheel," and "Clear." On the River Ride, I actually met people. We gave each other our names and everything! Sure, we would hammer some sections in a paceline, but then we would ease off, spin, and chat in the shady sections. Since I was new to the area, everybody was giving me recommendations on where to ride, where the biker-friendly stores were, and so forth. It was just the kind of basic information that I needed to let me explore further, ramble on, and find the secret gems of my new world.

Right after the River Ride, I joined the club and started attending the Thursday evening and Saturday rides. I met most of the folks that I consider my closest friends there, and first heard about ultra-cycling and randonneuring. This year, I'm an officer with the Harpeth Bike Club, serving as the Ride Coordinator.

None of this would have happened if I had not come out to that Harpeth River Ride in June of 2005. Sometimes -- like about 500 kilometers into a 600K -- I wonder if that first River Ride wasn't a BAD thing, but down deep I know that it wasn't. The Harpeth River Ride really brought me into the world of cycling in Tennessee, and got me riding more than I ever had before.

We're doing it again Saturday, starting at Nissan headquarters in Cool Springs. I hope you'll join us.

1 comment:

  1. Great read man. I really look forward to the ride tomorrow. Lat year's heat almost did me in, but tomorrow will be sweet!

    Dave T...skinny, tall, need to get back into ultra...soon