Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til You're Gone (and Come Back)

While we were in Italy, we were constantly "oohing" and "aahing" (in Italian, it's pronounced "a-oohing" and "a-aahing" -- thank you, Rosetta Stone) over the scenery. The lovely coast, the olive trees, the vineyards ... bellissimo!

As we're flying back, our first glimpse of our native continent was bits of Newfoundland. From 30,000 feet, the seas looked wild and cold, with the wind blowing the tops off of the waves surrounding the small rocky islands. Later, landing at Washington's Dulles airport, we could see the brilliant fall colors of the trees as we came in over the deep blue of the Potomac River. Finally, driving home in Nashville, we saw again the same colors, tempered by our slightly warmer climate, covering the easy hills of home.


Tuesday was crazy, and I had picked up a cold during the trip home. This morning, however, I was able to bike in to work again. The air was cooler than in Sicily, of course, but I was cozy in tights, glove liners, and a long-sleeve wool jersey. It felt great to be back on my bike (nothing personal, Experience Plus -- I just need a longer cockpit), on the same old roads, seeing the same old fellow commuters ... even if they were in cars.

The fall colors canopied my roads, where a few damp spots remained from yesterday's rain. Descending into one neighborhood, I rode through a patch of low fog that made me feel as if I was floating on top of a cloud, ghosting along on vaporous wheels, wispy contrails flowing under my fenders. I sat up and sipped my coffee, then worked hard on the short climb back out. After three days off of the bike, the effort felt good.

A lady in an SUV stopped to let me out at one intersection, and a little red car held back on a fast descent until I waved him past at the bottom. Nobody passed me too closely, or in any blind corners. Everyone behaved.

It was really great to get away for a couple of weeks -- visit different places and immerse myself in the culture, bike with my wife and a slew of new friends over beautiful roads that offered a great mix of challenging climbs, tricky surfaces, and sweet descents. Afterwards (and sometimes during), we ate a lot of great food, drank some excellent beverages, and watched the world go by.

But, do you really have to go to a different continent for that? Well, no. Not really. As a matter of fact, I'm going to tell you how you can take a little cycling vacation ...

Saturday, there's a ride that I guarantee will have some roads that you have never ridden on. It's got a fun mix of pristine pavement, smooth dirt, fast flats, and truly challenging climbs. At the finish, there will be superb cajun food for registered riders and locally brewed beer.

And it's right here in middle Tennessee.

Yes, I'm talking about the Fly Gran Fondo. You may have biked all over Fly, Leiper's Fork, and all points in-between, but there are some roads that you have somehow managed to miss. Vida and Lynn Greer and I found them, and then we put the best of them all together to build this really great route.

This ride will open up some new, heart-wrenchingly beautiful vistas to you, and you will kick yourself if you miss it. Have you ever kicked yourself? It's a good way to pull something. I don't want that, and you don't want that, so you may just as well come on out and do this ride.

Here's a preview ...

Yeah, that's me out there (the screen really does put 50 pounds on you). Recognize the road that I'm riding? Of course not, because it's a secret road! You may know some of the other roads we will be doing, such as Snow Creek or Pigg Schoolhouse. If you read this blog regularly, you may have even heard about how beautiful Cathey's Creek is, or the great shady climb up to Ridgetop.

Well, this route has those ... and more. And, unlike a lot of my routes, it has less of something: This thing's just 65 itty-bitty miles long.

So, come join me and 100+ other riders Saturday, October 23, on a mini-vacation to a unique culture (just hang around the front porch of Mr. Fly's store for a while and you will see things you've never imagined). You'll ride some new (to you) roads through beautiful fall-colored country and enjoy cycling challenges and thrills. If you're one of the 100 registered riders, you'll also get delicious hot cajun food from Papa Boudreaux's and cold beer from Yazoo Brewery when it's all over.

And all the Italian that you need to know is "Gran Fondo."

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